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What's eligible for "Outstanding Main Title Design" at the Emmys this Year?

by Nathaniel R

105 shows, that's what. This is a peculiar obsession of ours because, apart from the handsome site Art of the Title, it gets precious little attention, interest, or coverage online. The awards aren't given out on air and sometimes they make terrible mistakes as to what's nominated or excluded (same as it ever was, in any category). Nevertheless we'd argue that title design is important, not just in the soulless connotations of "branding" but in its soulful counterpart "identity". A show's title sequence gives you just that (if it's good), setting the tone. We curse Netflix for letting you skip past opening titles if you're bingeing. To our way of thinking if you won't sit through the opening titles, you don't deserve the show...

A show is generally only eligible for this category in its first season with the exception of major refurbishings of those opening titles. Some long running shows that are eligible again this year include (but are not limited to) Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Game of Thrones (which won the category in 2011) since both of those shows renovated their credits for their finales. Another exception is anthology series which tend to be eligible each year since most of them revamp their credits each time to reflect the change in tone, stars, and theme: American Horror Story (three previous nominations in this category) and True Detective (one previous win in this category) are both eligible again, to name two examples. 

Here are 16 or so memorable examples from those 105 eligible titles that we could find quickly that you might see nominated (voting is happening right now and for the next two weeks...)

It's hard not to love the Game of Thrones opening even if you're not a fan of the show but sometimes the simple ones can be as impactful. Pose's super short in your face glittery explosion of just that word with Billy Porter's voiceover is perfect. 

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Reader Comments (9)

Okay, having just watched fifteen of the 16 offered here?

Should get in:

Good Omens


Strange Angel
Love, Death + Robots
Game of Thrones S8
The Walking Dead S9
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S4
Gentleman Jack


The ABC Murders
American Horror Story: Apocalypse (I've never liked the AHS title sequences. They've always been overblown to the point of lacking style.)
Castle Rock
Tuca & Bertie (Wow. Kirby: Right Back At Ya!'s theme is shaking its head and walking away. The song part of it SUCKS. Name repetition, seven seconds of babbling, cut to title. And then... there's the actual intro part of it. Even if you stripped out the vocals, pushing the focus further to the imagery/flow? This would still suck. Tornante isn't good enough, animation wise, to pull off what they're going for here. Most kids shows do this kind of intro better, frankly.)
I Am the Night

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina should win this IMO

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPfan

I LOVE the titles for Kidding. Give that one a nom for sure.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I have a very strongly held opinion about this category - Succession. Perfectly designed for that show.

A couple others I like, but not nearly that much - AHS: Apocalyse (just doing the usual AHS thing, but fits the season well) and The Haunting of Hill House.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

ScottC - You are right on the mark about Succession. And Nicholas Brittell even composed the main title theme.

I also think The Good Fight's opening credits deserve a nomination (will that show get any love at all? Probably not).

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

It's a shame that the Netflix/South Korean zombie show Kingdom isn't even eligible. Those opening credits are beautiful.

I love this topic -- thanks for covering!

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

Archer should have won this multiple times by now.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

It's a shame the main title sequence for Fosse/Verdon wasn't more notable as the teaser and official trailers for the show were quite something.

Ryan Murphy & Co. sure know how to churn out some memorable, evocative main titles.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I love the black and white thing in I Am the Night. How very Des'ree of them.

June 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

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