Why Is NBC's The Blacklist Always Ignored By The Emmys?

The Blacklist Donald Ressler Diego Klattenhoff Aram Mojtabai Amir Arison Harold Cooper Harry Lennix

(Image credit: Virginia Sherwood / NBC)

The 2019 Emmy nominations are out! Although that's about as excited as some TV viewers might get, considering what got snubbed this time around. Among those that did not make the cut in the acting categories, and almost everything else, was NBC's fan-pleaser The Blacklist. That’s right, the latest season of the crime drama (its sixth) was ignored, and it's sadly not the first time that has happened. Another year, another snub for the James Spader drama.

The Blacklist is a genre show on a major network with a talented array of performers, not to mention a terrific swell of skilled writers and directors. To be six seasons in and still going narratively strong is telling of how well the show is doing with fans. There are few series that possess that level of creative stamina, but the Emmys once again did not feel inclined to honor everyone's efforts.

To date, no one in The Blacklist’s cast has received a single acting nomination, and in fact, the only yearly nomination it does get is for Stunt Coordinator Cort Hessler. What makes every other Emmy snub all the more upsetting is that the NBC series turned in yet another bravura season. One that saw James Spader’s Raymond Reddington confront the greatest enemy of all – death. It is not as if there was a shortage of exceptional performances to choose from elsewhere, either. Let's dive deeper into why The Blacklist deserves more Emmy attention.

Creator/Showrunner Jon Bokenkamp Gets So Much Right

Almost to be expected at this point, series creator Jon Bokenkamp & co. delivered a tightly constructed thriller for Season 6, with storylines touching down in ample Emmy-worthy territory. You cannot get much more emotional than Red following up his near-execution by having that "final talk" with Liz. In that performance, viewers also saw Megan Boone’s Liz tell Red that she loved him, despite still not knowing his true identity. This season has arguably given Boone her most exciting acting terrain yet.

It makes you wonder what it would or could take for the thousands of Emmy voters to recognize The Blacklist outside of its admittedly solid stunts. The written dialogue, performances, and other plot-centric highs are all there. Albeit, the series is a veteran drama at this point, in an awards field that often adheres to newer, non-broadcast series. Still, age hasn't stopped other shows from garnering attention after years of being ignored, so here's hoping things could change for The Blacklist.

The Blacklist Cast Is One Of The Best Ensembles Around

When the Emmy voters snub The Blacklist, they're not just ignoring the show, but also crucially passing over one of the best ensembles on TV. The series’ ability to pivot focus towards literally any actor for a solid episode is as top-tier as it gets, in my opinion. Few streaming or cable shows could sustain such a swift pace in the 22-episodes-a-season world of broadcast TV, and yet the crime drama has proven it can, time and again.

For instance, both Amir Arison (Aram) and Mozhan Marnò (Samar) were grievously ignored by the TV Academy. Both of them knocked it out of the park during one of The Blacklist’s most pivotal episodes, which turned out to be viewers' farewell to Samar. Amir Arison and Mozhan Marnò showed such a tremendous range of emotions throughout the two-part installment, and then some, that it is sad to not see them recognized.

Or even Hisham Tawfiq. He gave such a strong performance in Season 6, as Dembe’s conflict with Red took him on a compelling personal journey.

Why Is James Spader Still Not A Top Contender?

We've already discussed that The Blacklist is not a show whose cast has a great Emmy track record. But why has an actor that has gotten recognized by the Emmys in the past for other projects been ignored so consistently for The Blacklist? Especially when he is still getting high-drawer storylines and delivering top-shelf work. That is a rare combination for a series that has over 100 episodes and no end in sight.

For reference, James Spader has gotten two Golden Globe nods for his work on The Blacklist, and his work as Red has also gotten nominations from other organizations. When it comes to the Emmys, though Spader has gone completely unrecognized in the past six years.

To date, James Spader has only received Emmy Award nominations for his work on The Practice and its spinoff series, Boston Legal. This year, the Emmys ignored Spader’s work even as he continued to turn in one exceptional turn after another.

I felt like James Spader took a lot of chances this year. With the audience now relatively clueless as to who he is actually playing, Spader charged up the enigma quotient extensively. There were times that he was charming and funny, dangerous and lethal, contemplative and resolute, and all without missing a beat.

What it will take for the Emmys to recognize the crime drama is tough to know. The Blacklist delivered a highly engaging storyline with Red’s jail time and near-death, following up on Season 5's twists and turns enjoyably. It has had episodes large and intimate in scale, without compromising its character-driven roots. As a fan, it will always be a winner in my book.

The show has been on the media’s radar since in recent years as well, as an anchor for NBC in the Friday-night lineup, which used to be a place where shows went to die. Now, though, things are getting just as competitive as other primetime evenings, with The Blacklist as consistent as any other shows going into the weekend.

After all of this summer’s premieres have come and gone, The Blacklist will be back with its Season 7 premiere on Friday, October 4, on NBC! New episodes of the crime drama will air on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET. For now, you can catch up on previous seasons of the series via Netflix along with lots of other upcoming content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.