Five Nights of Creative Arts Emmys?! Here's a Cheat Sheet to Help Sort It Out

6:00 AM 9/14/2020

by Michael O'Connell

Longer than a political convention, the crafts show will hand out 101 awards in a week.

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Courtesy Photos

One unexpected side effect of the coronavirus pandemic making an in-person Emmys impossible: The infamously long Creative Arts presentation will now be even longer.

Stretching five nights and culminating with a two-hour televised event on FXX, the marathon reimagining of the annual Primetime Emmys appetizer will be hosted by comedian Nicole Byer and will hand out awards in a very chill 101 races. Beginning Monday, Sept. 14, and initially streaming on the TV Academy website, the ceremony will be divvied up by genre.

For those reluctant to tune in every night, here’s an easy guide to when the top categories will be called.

  • Monday, Sept. 14

    A few top reality categories will hold for Saturday’s main event, but night one of Creative Arts includes one marquee race. The team behind Queer Eye will see if it can win a third consecutive title in the outstanding structured reality program race — fending off newcomers A Very Brady Renovation (HGTV) and Love Is Blind (Netflix).

  • Tuesday, Sept. 15

    Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience makes a play for a second win in the live special field, facing off against the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, the Oscars, the Tonys and the Golden Globes.

    In the outstanding variety sketch series category, NBC’s Saturday Night Live will attempt to hold on to the crown. It faces competition from HBO first-timer A Black Lady Sketch Show and Comedy Central’s just-canceled Drunk History.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 16

    Compared with the first two evenings, expect at least a few more boldface presenters to grace the streaming show during nights three and four. That’s when things become extra technical, starting with awards for cinematography, costumes, production design, and sound mixing and editing.

    This main crafts night, however, could prove prophetic in terms of which series stand strong chances in the Primetime Emmys’ main races the following week. History has shown that winning multiple Creative Arts Emmys bodes well for TV’s Biggest Night.

  • Thursday, Sept. 17

    The second night of scripted kudos will focus on shortform series, so maybe struggling upstart Quibi will finally get some good news. With the more traditional races, Pharrell Williams (The Black Godfather), Ingrid Michaelson (Little Fires Everywhere), and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Watchmen) are among the talents with songs in contention for outstanding original music and lyrics.

  • Saturday, Sept. 19

    The two-hour finale is the most crowded category-wise and promises the most star power. All four guest actor and actress races, historically the Creative Arts’ main event, will be handed out during the FXX telecast — with Maya Rudolph notably competing against herself in the comedy category. Yet actors will not be the only ones in the spotlight during the event. Contests for outstanding animated program, TV movie, unstructured reality program and host of a reality competition or series will all be decided during the night.

    The reality-host race will determine if RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race) reaches a category record with five wins in a row — or if he’s toppled by new blood. The Queer Eye guys, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi, and Byer (Nailed It!), the Creative Arts host herself, are all in the mix for the first time.

    This story first appeared in the Sept. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.