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The Emmy nominations have become a day for television critics of all shapes and sizes, including this rotund but lovable charlatan, to rip those responsible for their oversights, their out-of-touch way of being a year or two too late on classics, and every single year for leaving out The Wire. David Simon got Treme in there as a miniseries this year though, so that’s something…I guess.
I must say though, today’s snubs felt more egregious than in years previous. But first a little bit of good news as several categories feature three or more nominees that could and should win, which seems a bit higher than normal but in a good way. The last 12 months has been an exceptional time on the flat screens of the world and the limits on nominees always leave a few on the outside looking in, but as Tim Goodman said in the Hollywood Reporter, that should change.
While it wasn’t surprising, the Emmys will have quite the Orange tinge as the first season of NETFLIX’ Orange is the New Black debuted with 12 nods, including for Best Comedy Series, Lead Actress for Taylor Schilling, and numerous Guest and Supporting nominations. What might be more impressive for Jenji Kohan’s powerhouse is the second season, by nearly every indication including my own, is superior to the freshman effort. It won’t be eye raising in the least if the prison yard has a stack of Emmys in a few weeks. It seems clear you can just hand them Best Comedy right now and also make sure Uzo Aduba is in attendance to pick up her Guest Actress honor for Crazy Eyes. She has to compete with two of her co-stars in Natasha Lyonne and Laverne Cox. The always good Kate Mulgrew also has a good shot in the Best Supporting category.
NETFLIX, as a whole, is the new Emmy darling. It’s replaced AMC and supplanted FX. In addition to Orange, House of Cards also racked up plenty of nominations, including one I like for Reg E. Cathey, who remains one of the few notable things about FX’ underwhelming Lights Out drama from years ago and who simply does great work. You know a network has the Emmy’s hearts when Ricky Gervais gets nominated for Derek, a show almost no one has paid any attention to whatsoever. 31 nominations for the streaming service has to be a nice way for Ted Sarandos to wake-up on a Thursday.
Breaking Bad got everything it deserved and if it wins in every one of those categories, you won’t get an argument from me. Cranston, Paul, and Gunn all nominated, plus Best Drama series for the back half of its brilliant fifth and final season. It’s maybe one of the three best shows of all-time and unlike some of the other yearly staple Emmy favorites, it ended just as strong as it started.
First time nominee Lizzy Caplan was tremendous in Masters of Sex (as well as Party Down) and it’s great to see her get recognized for it, but the entire Best Lead Actress in a Drama category is invalid for one simple reason: Tatiana Maslany was left out again. I’m not sure how, except in Emmy world, it’s possible to omit the best performer in one of the four biggest categories for the second consecutive year. Not only should Maslany be nominated for Orphan Black, she should then be walking on stage to accept a trophy for that performance. It’s astonishing and it’s sad that she’ll remain the best actress on television and receive nothing for it. It’s almost a complete damning of the Emmys as a whole.
Another show dangerously and deplorably left out is The Americans, which is certainly more worthy of a Best Drama nod over Downton Abbey at this point, or are we all just insane? Downton is a show made for the Emmys, but one where the subject matter and perceived gravitas far outweighs its actual value, especially in 2014. Put The Americans in first or Masters of Sex and the category would be much more just. Put them both in and just expand the nomination rules a bit as Goodman mentioned and the vitriol drops significantly.
With the success and the ratings of The Blackllist, I expected and am disappointed to see James Spader left out, but I’d campaign first for Matthew Rhys, who was just spellbindingly good on FX this season. I’d easily campaign for both of them over Jeff Daniels, who, although always very good, was on a show that barely survived and ended horrendously. You can add Michael Sheen in Masters of Sex to that list as well. All three of those shows were far better received across the board than The Newsroom. Margo Martindale got the lone acting nod for The Americans, and while she was excellent, it’s probably more because she was great in Justified four years ago than anything else, #BecauseEmmys.
True Detective had fewer episodes than Fargo and also featured a story with a defined beginning and end, but it’s too important to HBO (because Thrones hasn’t been an award juggernaut) and thus is on the Drama slate. Both shows deserved their nominations, however, and ironically in both Lead Actor categories, we’ll see the shows cannibalizing themselves. Thornton and Freeman competing on the Miniseries side and Harrelson and McConaughey on the Drama side is most interesting.
Then there’s Jon Hamm, who in what’s probably the most egregious reality in Emmy history, has never won for Don Draper. He’s been nominated every year, but he’s never won, and if you look at that loaded category, it’s very possible that streak will continue. He’s going to have to deal with the True Detective besties, Frank Underwood, and that Walter Hartwell White guy.
Parks and Recreation being left out except for Amy Poehler remains expected and sad, but what’s astonishing is leaving out Brooklyn Nine-Nine and honestly, leaving out The Goldbergs in at least some comedic category (ahem Wendi McLendon-Covey). Silicon Valley and Veep are very worthy nominees and will definitely challenge Modern Family, though everyone is likely playing for second behind Orange. Edie Falco gets yet another comedy nomination for Nurse Jackie, which isn’t, wasn’t, and never will be a comedy. Edie is awesome and she takes heat because of things outside of her control. That’s another argument we make every year.
Because of its success on CBS, The Big Bang Theory takes plenty of shots from hipsters and “above it” people, but I’ve got no problem saying it’s one of my favorite half hours of the week and has been since the first season. This past year’s run was also very strong. I’m especially pleased to see Bob Newhart get nominated for a Guest role for Professor Proton. Jim Parsons remains as good at what he does as anybody in their field and his continued nomination is evidence of it. He also received a second nod for his work in The Normal Heart.
Back to overall thoughts, it isn’t that those nominated did bad work, it’s that the Emmys give us the same thing every year and sadly are predictably out-of-touch and behind the times. The show feels incredibly stale and the snubs become the story rather than the great work of the nominees and the incredible age we’re living in right now as fans of the medium. Grasping onto the now fully-declined Downton Abbey is the biggest example of it.
Another one of the traditional nominations is Modern Family, which although still a good program, is recognized more for what it did rather than what it still does. It’s now the Derek Jeter of the Emmy Awards. If it won this year, which it won’t, it would tie Frasier at five for most ever in the category.
Melissa McCarthy’s back for doing nothing new, but again no Wendi or maybe more disappointingly, no Emmy Rossum…again.
Alison Tolman was superb in Fargo, but she has a trio of competitors from American Horror Story: Coven AND both Ellen Burstyn and Julia Roberts to deal with…so I’m not holding my breath there.
I love that Gary Cole got a Guest nom for Veep. That’s all I have to say there…Hale and JLD no shock nor should there be but there’s so much more to that cast and Cole added plenty to the product.
Thank goodness the voters didn’t forget about Cumberbatch and Freeman (nominated twice this year) in Sherlock: His Last Vow, although the show itself didn’t crack the nominations for Miniseries.
The big question in the Miniseries or Movie category is whether Fargo can get the job done or whether the topical and extremely good The Normal Heart will walk away with a fleet of gold. They’re drastically different and I can make a case why the Emmy voters will learn heavily in one direction or the other.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Game of Thrones, it’s because the show got 19 nominations and I have no problem with any of them. It’s one of the best shows out there and I’m glad to see it get recognized for its success. The Emmys has traditionally ignored the show, again why HBO submitted True Detective as a drama.
I’m never against Christina Hendricks, but Elizabeth Moss in the first half of the final Mad Men season (what was eligible) was maybe at her best and she’s long been ignored in final tallies. Her character became unlikable early in the year, but was a knockout as “Waterloo” concluded.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine was the belle of the Golden Globe ball, but the Emmys only seemed to notice Andre Braugher. But at least they DID notice him, because he was magnificent.
I have grown to understand American Horror Story is good. I just don’t like the show. It’s just not for me and I’m okay with that.
The rose continues to fall from the Homeland shrub as expected. Danes gets her due again as does Patinkin, but no Damian Lewis and no Best Drama nod. The reinvention of the series this fall will either save it completely or you can wave goodbye to its award consideration.
Anna Faris was likely a longshot for Mom, but she was really good. Janney, another Emmy favorite, did get some love. The Best Actress in a Comedy Series category was going to leave someone on the outside looking in, because Dunham, Schilling, Falco (unfortunately), and Louis-Dreyfus were all shoo-ins, again #BecauseEmmys.
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