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‘The White Lotus’ women just made Emmys history

In the lead-up to this year’s Emmy nominations, most pundits expected the HBO anthology series “The White Lotus” to pick up multiple acting bids, but almost none were bold enough to predict its eventual haul of eight. Nearly every member of the first season’s ensemble cast has a shot at the gold, with Murray Bartlett, Jake Lacy, and Steve Zahn competing in the Best TV Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actor category and Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell, and Sydney Sweeney taking up all but two spots in the corresponding female lineup.

Although 15 other limited programs have amassed at least three featured male notices apiece, “The White Lotus” is the first to net more than three supporting actress bids. Furthermore, it stands as one of only three live action shows of any genre to receive five same-year nominations in a single primetime acting category. This is also the first such instance to involve a quintet of women.

In 1982, the NBC police procedural “Hill Street Blues” broke new ground as the first series to dominate an entire acting lineup at the Emmys. Supporting actors Taurean Blacque, Michael Conrad, Charles Haid, Michael Warren, and Bruce Weitz were all nominated for their work on the show’s second season, and Conrad emerged victorious for the second year in a row. Four years later, all five nominees in the then-genderless Best Comedy Guest Performer category hailed from the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show.” That situation resulted in a win for Roscoe Lee Browne over Earle Hyman, Danny Kaye, Clarice Taylor, and Stevie Wonder.

Until “Hill Street Blues” surpassed it, the record for most same-category and same-year acting nominations was held by “Roots.” In 1977, the eight-part limited series received a total of 13 acting bids, including two sets of four in the now-defunct male lead and supporting Best Single Appearance in a Series categories. In the 45 years since, “Angels in America” (2004) and “The Normal Heart” (2014) have respectively been the only limited program and telefilm honored with four simultaneous same-category notices (both for their supporting men).

Drama series that have been nominated for the same acting award four times in one year include “The West Wing” (supporting actor, 2002), “Game of Thrones” (supporting actress, 2019), and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (supporting actress, 2021). On the comedy side, there is “Will & Grace” (guest actor, 2005), “30 Rock” (guest actor, 2008), “Modern Family” (supporting actor, 2011 and 2012), and “Saturday Night Live” (guest actress, 2016; guest actor, 2019 and 2021). In 2022, both groups grew by one, with “Succession” and “Hacks” collecting four bids in the Best Drama Guest Actor and Best Comedy Guest Actress categories, respectively.

After “Roots” and 1976’s “Rich Man, Poor Man,” “The White Lotus” is tied among limited series for having the second most same-year acting nominations overall. The other three with eight such bids are “Holocaust” (1978), “Angels in America,” and “When They See Us” (2019). All five previous shows at the top of the list ultimately won at least one acting and one other prize. “The White Lotus” is up for 12 additional awards, including Best Limited Series.

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