Awards show junkies got everything they expected at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards. Succession and The Bear took home a truckload of golden trophies, with the former closing out its legendary run in glory and the latter just getting warmed up (Hulu’s chaotic cooking dramedy was actually cleaning up with nominations from its first season way back in 2022 due to the Emmys’ strike-related delay) These behemoths left many shows out in the cold, but none more so than Better Call Saul

AMC’s intricate, thoughtful spinoff to Breaking Bad was nominated 53 times throughout its six seasons but never won a single statuette (and yes, that’s a record for futility). Casual viewers took to social media in shock. At the same time, those in the know already had memes and other jokes ready to fire away, as it’s become somewhat of a running gag that the Bob Odenkirk-starring vehicle would never take the crown. Everyone can see it’s a travesty that Better Call Saul never won an Emmy, but what are the real reasons it never did? We can’t get inside the voters’ heads, but we can use historical references and other educated speculation to decipher this grave misdeed!

Breaking Bad Already Won 16 Emmy Awards

Better Call Saul’s transcendent predecessor, Breaking Bad, was an awards season darling for half a decade. Vince Gilligan’s crime thriller won 16 Emmys in 58 tries, often snuffing out deserving foes. Bryan Cranston took Outstanding Lead Actor awards from legends like Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Hugh Laurie (House), and even Matthew McConaughey (True Detective). With four trophies in his house, many fans wondered why Heisenberg turned into a gold glutton. Save some for the others, Mr. White! 

Cranston’s performance was 99.1% pure, so we can’t fault the voters for continuing to reward greatness, but it may have arm barred Better Call Saul’s actors right from the jump. The show already sat in the shadow of its brother, so it feels like the voters decided any wins for Saul were wins for Breaking Bad, a show that certainly didn’t need any more. This shortsighted approach demeans the unique singularity of the prequel series, a show that transformed into a brilliant character study, a heartbreaking romance, and one of the best dramas of the 21st century.

Game of Thrones and Succession Took Over 

If Better Call Saul had won an Emmy, another show would have lost that same category. It’s vital to look at the competition and see the alternatives. At the beginning of Saul’s run, Game of Thrones cleaned up nicely. In fact, the HBO fantasy series became an awards juggernaut never before seen, winning 59 Emmys. This total is good for second all-time (behind Saturday Night Live). Game of Thrones famously dropped off in the last couple of seasons, but voters didn’t seem to care a bit, instead rewarding the series for past glories and lifetime achievements. Better Call Saul needed to win in the early going because it was still in the pop culture zeitgeist, with Breaking Bad recently ending. The further we got from the original show, the less relevant the series was to casual viewers. 

Then Succession came to town. The HBO satire about a wealthy family of miserable people delivered novel commentary on the current state of politics and familial issues in America. The dialogue snapped, the writers were whip-smart, and the voting body immediately recognized Jesse Armstrong’s work as a modern mastermind. Better Call Saul would have been better off stealing something like Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series in 2017, but that went to The Handmaid’s Tale

What Is Better Call Saul’s Legacy Without an Emmy?

In a weird way, Better Call Saul never winning an Emmy adds to its already-stacked reputation in the TV fandom. It has now become one of the most popular picks for the very relevant (in this writer’s opinion) TV nerd discussion of “What is the best show never to win an Emmy?” Remember, touchstone series like The Wire and The Leftovers never won an Emmy. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, New Girl, and BoJack Horseman also have empty trophy rooms. All of these shows are just as or even more popular and relevant than the series that won an Emmy. 

Nobody uses awards shows to determine what matters the most in TV history. Awards are a nice gesture of recognition for creative efforts, but aren’t NBA championships or tennis grand slams. The Primetime Emmy Awards are a fun, if divisive way to debate our favorite programs while snobby, faceless suits dole out their opinions in the background. Better Call Saul is one of the best shows in TV history, and that statement would remain fact whether they went 0 for 53 or 53 for 53. 

The post 0 for 53: Why Better Call Saul Never Won an Emmy appeared first on Den of Geek.

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