By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A mixed bag of new shows and old favorites on Thursday saw surprising Emmy exclusions for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon and a surprise nod for short-lived character Barb Holland from Netflix's "Stranger Things" in the race for television's highest honors.
NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" were snubbed in the variety talk series category in favor of more politically scathing shows - "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee."
While NBC's breakout multi-generational family drama "This Is Us" earned 11 nominations, its lead actress, Mandy Moore, was left out of the best drama actress race.
USA Network's cyber thriller series "Mr. Robot" was snubbed just a year after its star, Rami Malek, won the best drama actor accolade, and Lena Dunham's final season of "Girls" found no love with Emmy voters this year.
Winfrey was overlooked for her well-received role in HBO's TV movie "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," although the show itself earned one nomination.
The absence of HBO's double Emmy-winning medieval fantasy series "Game of Thrones" this year - ineligible due to a summer season debut - left a gap in the drama race that unsurprisingly was filled by the network's new sci-fi drama "Westworld," which earned a leading 22 nominations.
"Saturday Night Live" also got an unusually high 22 nods after enjoying a six-year ratings high thanks to its scathing takedowns of U.S. President Donald Trump and his advisers.
Alec Baldwin's Trump impersonation, Kate McKinnon's portrayal of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway and Melissa McCarthy's recurring guest spot as an enraged White House spokesman Sean Spicer all earned them Emmy nominations.
"Saturday Night Live" has won 50 Primetime Emmy awards in its 42 years on air.
Among the biggest surprises was a nomination in the guest drama actress category for nerdy teenager Barb Holland, played by newcomer Shannon Purser, on Netflix's 1980s supernatural sci-fi "Stranger Things."
Barb became a viral phenomenon after her sudden and gruesome death on the show, prompting online tributes and songs to the character and fans petitioning "Stranger Things" creators The Duffer Brothers with the hashtag #JusticeForBarb.
On Thursday, the Duffer Brothers celebrated the show's 18 Emmy nominations and paid tribute to Barb, saying "Gone but never forgotten!"
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bill Trott)