Why The Mandalorian's Emmy Nominations Are More Impressive Than You Might Think

the mandalorian

Sci-fi and horror fans usually don't have a whole lot to celebrate during the yearly awards-season campaigns that serve to muster up attention for projects both prestigious and commercially successful. And while the 2020 Emmy Awards nominations weren't quite as friendly to the horror genre, sci-fi shows and superheroes featured quite prominently throughout. In particular, Disney+'s The Mandalorian scored a heavily impressive 15 nominations, bringing the first-year streaming service a total of 19. As awesome as that already sounds, The Mandalorian's Emmy love is even more interesting than one might expect.

The Mandalorian Earned Star Wars' First Live-Action Emmy Noms In 35 Years

In the franchise's long history, Star Wars has somehow only crafted a small handful of live-action TV projects, and one of them is the infamous 1978 Holiday Special. So even though animated series such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Rebels and Resistance have been recognized by the Daytime Emmys and Creative Emmys, the franchise's last live-action project to get a Primetime Emmy nomination was the 1985 TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.

For the 38th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor was a winner of a jury-awarded prize for Outstanding Visual Special Effects. Beyond that, it was also nominated for Outstanding Children's Program and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Special, though it didn't win in either of those categories. (The previous year's TV film Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure also took home the Emmy for Outstanding Visual Special Effects.)

Nearly All Of The Mandalorian's Season 1 Episodes Got Nominations

While times have changed over the years, many modern TV shows attempt to garner maximum Emmy attention with the smallest number of episodes possible. For instance, first-year series such as Hulu's The Great will submit (usually expensive) pilot episodes, with others will submit marquee episodes from elsewhere in the season, and usually ones with attention-grabbing guest stars. But Disney+ took a different route with The Mandalorian, which earned nominations for seven of Season 1's eight total episodes, which is a wildly high percentage for any series, much less a brand new one.

Below is a breakdown of all the nominations received by The Mandalorian's standalone episodes. which excludes season-encompassing noms such as Outstanding Stunt Coordination and Outstanding Drama Series. (More on the latter below).

Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour): Chapter 1Outstanding Sound Editing for Comedy or Drama (Half-Hour): Chapter 1Outstanding Special Visual Effects: Chapter 2Outstanding Sound Mixing for Drama (Half-Hour): Chapter 2Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: Chapter 2, Chapter 4, Chapter 8Outstanding Fantasy / Sci-fi Costumes: Chapter 3Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special: Chapter 6Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour): Chapter 7Outstanding Music Competition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score): Chapter 8Outstanding Guest Star in a Drama Series (for Giancarlo Esposito): Chapter 8Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (for Taika Waititi): Chapter 8

As you can see, the only Mandalorian episode that didn't get recognized was Episode 5 ("The Gunslinger"), which took place on Tatooine and featured the always excellent Amy Sedaris as the Yoda-sitting Peli Motto, as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Ming-Na Wen as assassin Fennec Shand. It's obviously not automatically clear why this episode is the odd one out in terms of Emmy nominations, but one can be relatively sure that Disney+ had it submitted in at least one of the above categories.

Again, it's not so rare anymore for TV shows to submit multiple episodes like this, and series such as Watchmen and Ozark also gained nominations for a similarly large subset for the 2020 Emmys. However, neither of those matched the 87% success rate that The Mandalorian did, which is just about as impressive as it gets.

The Mandalorian Could Do What No Other Star Wars Project Has

As it was implied before, Star Wars isn't exactly the most awards-friendly franchise in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the highest of honors. So it was definitely a shocker to hear that The Mandalorian had earned the Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, for which it will compete against such critical darlings as The Crown, Succession and Better Call Saul. (As well as fellow sci-fi-ish drama Stranger Things.)

This marks the first time a Star Wars project has been nominated for a top prize at a major awards show since Star Wars: A New Hope earned its Best Picture nomination back in 1978. A New Hope was also the only franchise entry to earn Best Director, Best Screenplay and acting nominations, though it didn't win any of those, either.

If The Mandalorian should go on to win Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys, it would in some ways become the most prestigious project anywhere in the Star Wars franchise. Obviously awards don't mean all that much in the long run when it comes to projects that have followings as large and rabid as Star Wars, but if Mandalorian would take home that top prize, imagine how much that could help make future projects such as the Obi-Wan miniseries even more polished and awesome.

All eight episodes of The Mandalorian Season 1 are available to stream on Disney+, with Season 2 still scheduled for release in October. Meanwhile, while waiting on the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards to debut on Sunday, September 20, check out our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what else is debuting soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.