2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Talk Series


We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. Afterward, final voting commences August 17 and ends the night of August 28. The 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will now take place Monday, January 15, live on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our previous thoughts on what to expect at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards here.

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The State of the Race

If there is one part of television that hit a screeching halt when the writers strike commenced, it is late night television. But even before then, at least one Outstanding Talk Series nominee had a host depart. Add in how the rules changed (pretty much solely to remove the dominant “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” from the race, in hindsight), and it becomes clearer how this year is a turning point not just for the Emmy category specifically, but the whole genre it represents.

To put things into perspective, a broadcast network has not won this award since 2002, despite being the standard bearer of the format. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has had an unprecedented chokehold on the categories honoring late night talk shows, with the show itself, or one of its alumni like John Oliver winning year by year throughout the majority of the new millennium.

While that was not a big deal at first, since “The Daily Show” does have pretty much the same weekday output as something like “The Tonight Show,” John Oliver’s HBO series being showered with this particular Emmy started to feel unfair because it was only weekly, and sans many of the variety elements its competitors have to execute (i.e. musical performances). If “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” another one-a-week show on Apple TV+ were to win, it would be true to its title. There would likely be some push for another reform that’s based less on format and more on frequency, something like Outstanding Nightly Talk Series.

Sure, part of the situation is due to the WGA and SAG strikes, but James Corden and nominee Trevor Noah left their posts this TV season, and they still do not have successors (the former is having his timeslot replaced by a CBS revival of game show “@Midnight”). The alarm bells are ringing around traditional late night talk shows dying once this generation of hosts move on, but Emmy wins are often a lifeline for on the bubble shows. If “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the most nominated of the bunch, were to win the Emmy, the pro of it signaling that network late night talk shows still have some juice, would outweigh the con of it suggesting voters are still hung up on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” extended universe.

Power Rankings:

  1. “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS)

  2. “The Problem with Jon Stewart” (Apple TV+)

  3. “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (NBC)

  4. “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)

  5. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)

Will Win: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”
Could Win: “The Problem with Jon Stewart”

Should Win:
“Late Night with Seth Meyers”

More Category Predictions:
Outstanding Animated Program
Outstanding Scripted Variety Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: John Oliver’s HBO series has won the category designated for late night talk shows seven years in a row, even though his program only airs on Thursdays, and does not involve bringing on guests. The introduction of the Scripted Variety category this year, changes things, primarily by moving “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” out of the category. Still, Outstanding Variety Talk Series/Outstanding Variety Series has gone to a “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” alum every year since 2003, so Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah could keep that unprecedented streak going.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (submitted as a Scripted Variety Series); “Ziwe” (submitted as a Scripted Variety Series); “My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” submitted as Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special); “Conan” (ended); “Desus & Mero” (ended); “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (ended)

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