The Emmy nominations came in and there were very few surprises – most of the nominees are repeats, though the lead actress in a drama field is particularly crowded with seven entries, which I guess means that TV’s becoming more female-friendly. There were some omissions that I thought were unfortunate (I’ll get to those in each category).
Outstanding Comedy Series: The Big Bang Theory, Girls, Louie, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veep – I’m glad Veep got its due – it’s a very funny show, and I think Louie is excellent. The Big Bang Theory had a bonanza year in its ratings, which probably explains why its on the list, but I don’t think Modern Family had its best year, and I don’t understand how Parks and Recreation, which had its best year, so far, this past season did not get a nomination. 30 Rock just wrapped up this year, so this nomination is more of a send-off nod than a comment on the quality of the show (which was good, but not its best). I’m a little surprised that voters didn’t feel nostalgic and throw in The Office, despite it being very uneven this past year. I also know that folks will pine over the newly-departed Happy Endings.
Outstanding Drama Series: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, Mad Men – all of these are excellent, quality shows. I’m hoping Mad Men will win – despite it being an uneven season, it still is probably the best thing on TV. Also, even though I’m happy Downton Abbey got a nod, I think it’d be wise for Emmy voters to give some love to PBS’s other Brit import, Call the Midwife, which is just as satisfying.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Damian Lewis, Homeland; Kevin Spacey, House of Cards; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom – As with the drama series nominations, none of these guys are undeserving, but Cranston’s such a repeat offender that I’m a bit tired of seeing his name. I’m hoping, probably in vain, that Hamm will win for Mad Men – even though the season was a bit of a bore, I think he should get a trophy before the show ends (I’m hoping he doesn’t go the route of Angela Lansbury and never get some hardware).
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama: Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Claire Danes, Homeland; Robin Wright, House of Cards; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men; Connie Britton, Nashville; Kerry Washington, Scandal – this is a very crowded field – 7 nods (!), and all pretty deserving – though Britton’s nod for the soapy Nashville is a bit of a surprise. I could’ve done without her and had someone like Elizabeth McGovern from Downton Abbey in her place. Claire Danes will probably win, and good for her, though I think Moss had a banner year over at Mad Men – she’s really become the show’s MVP, with a brilliant performance – sad and often hilarious.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy: Jason Bateman, Arrested Development; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory; Matt LeBlanc, Episodes; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Louis C.K., Louie; Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock – I’m thrilled Bateman got a nomination – I love Arrested Development, despite some of the critical rumblings. Parsons led a ratings-high year for The Big Bang Theory and always does good work, but I think new folks need to be included in this list. I think LeBlanc might pull a win because his performance as a fictionalized, unlikable version of himself shows a surprising range for the actor (and all but scrubs the ignominy that was Joey). Louis C.K. is also a brilliant comic – and a wonderful comic actor. Baldwin did great on the truncated season of 30 Rock, though I always thought he should be in the supporting actor category. I also Adam Scott would’ve gotten a nomination for Parks and Recreation, it’s not easy being hilarious and the straight man in a sitcom, and he does so with aplomb, and it’s a shame that his understated word doesn’t get enough recognition.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy: Laura Dern, Enlightened; Lena Dunham, Girls; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep – I’m a little over Dunham, so I’m not all that excited for her nomination, but otherwise the list is pretty spot-on – though again, the brilliant Lisa Kudrow was shut out for Web Therapy. While I’d love to see a repeat win for Louis-Dreyfus (one of my favorite comediennes), and a sentimental win for Fey would be nice to see, it really should be Poehler’s year – it’s time she won for her wonderful work as Leslie Knope (she should’ve won last year as well).
Outstanding Miniseries: American Horror Story: Asylum, Behind the Candelabra, The Bible, Phil Spector, Political Animals, Top of the Lake – I didn’t know they still do mini-series, but I’m rooting for Top of the Lake, the taut mystery-thriller set in New Zealand.
Supporting Actor in a Drama: Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire; Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad; Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad; Jim Carter, Downton Abbey; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; Mandy Patinkin, Homeland – Cannavale’s a bit of a surprise, since Boardwalk Empire‘s zeitgeist moment has passed, also Breaking Bad is getting a lot of (undeserved) love. Happy to see Carter get a nod for Downton Abbey – hopefully he’ll walk away with a trophy for his excellent work.
Supporting Actress in a Drama: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey; Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones; Christine Baranski, The Good Wife; Morena Baccarin, Homeland; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men – this is a disappointing category because yet again, Kiernan Shipka did not get a nomination for her stellar work as Sally Draper on Mad Men. I love Hendricks, and thought she did a fantastic job, but Shipka really outshone the whole cast of the HBO drama with her brilliantly complex and nuanced performance. I guess voters don’t like to include child actors in the competition – a shame, really, because of the nominees, she arguably did much better work. Smith, at this point, can do her role in her sleep, but still manages to steal every scene she’s in, so if Hendricks has to lose, I’m okay with the Emmy going to Smith. A quick side note – if PBS is now a serious contendor for the Emmys, then Call the Midwife‘s Miranda Hart should’ve gotten a nod for her lovely performance as Chummy.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Adam Driver, Girls; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Ed O’Neill, Modern Family; Ty Burrell, Modern Family; Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live; Tony Hale, Veep – I love Modern Family, but even I thought this year was a bit of a let down, so I don’t get Ferguson and Burrell getting automatic nods, though it’d be great to see O’Neill finally honored, because I love his work as the patriarch, Jay Pritchett. But sentiment aside, the trophy should go to Hader, who showed a jaw-dropping versatility on SNL, and I’m not sure if the show will recover from his departure. I do think that Damon Wayans, Jr., and Adam Pally deserved nominations for their standout work in Happy Endings, but no one watched the show, so…
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory; Jane Lynch, Glee; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family; Julie Bowen, Modern Family; Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie, Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock; Anna Chlumsky, Veep. I was hoping The Big Bang Theory‘s good fortunes would extend to Kaley Cuoco, one of the most underrated comedic actresses on television (the Critics Choice Awards voters thought she was good, giving her an award this year). I also hoped Casey Wilson would’ve gotten nominated for Happy Endings. Also Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland deserves recognition for her work as spoiled daughter, Haley Dumphey. And it’s also time that folks recognize just how important Aubrey Plaza and Rashida Jones are to Parks and Recreation. Final gripe: Ellie Kemper’s brilliant turn as the sweet Erin Hannon on The Office – even though the show pretty much bit this past season, she was a consistently funny and lovely presence, and more than deserves some Emmy love. Anyways back to the actual nominees: Vergara and Bown are the reasons I watch Modern Family so if either wins, great (though it’d be awesome to see Vergara win for her Fran Drescher-like performance). I’m glad Chlumsky got a nod for her hyper-competent Amy on Veep – Chlumsky more than holds her own when up against the brilliant Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But I hope, in vain, that Krakowski wins – her performance on the final episode of 30 Rock is deserving of the award – she was funny, vain, crazy, and then wonderfully sad (her performance of “Rural Juror” still gets to me).
Lead Actor in a Miniseries: Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End; Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra; Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra; Toby Jones, The Girl; Al Pacino, Phil Spector – This category is always movie-star heavy and Damon, Douglas and Pacino are all Oscar winners. Cumberbatch is becoming a favorite with American audiences, though it’s interesting that Parade’s End is a miniseries, and Downton Abbey is not according to the Emmy voters. Another interesting note is that of the five nominations, four of them are based on real-life people, which again, is another popular theme for this category. Whlie Cumberbatch got near-universal acclaim for his work in the period drama, and Jones is wonderful as Alfred Hitchcock, I think this will be a race between Douglas, Damon, and Pacino with the two older stars running a tiny bit ahead.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries: James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum; Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum; Scott Bakula, Behind the Candelabra; John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter; Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake – All deserving nominees, though Quinto and Cromwell should be the two running neck-in-neck – but again, Top of the Lake was so fantastic, I’m hoping for a sweep.
Lead Actress in a Miniseries: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum; Laura Linney, The Big C: The Hereafter; Helen Mirren, Phil Spector; Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake; Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals – Lange’s a repeat nominee, and has a good shot, though Mirren’s a popular actress with voters. Linney’s brave performance in The Big C should endear her to voters – this was a fantastic show, and I do like Linney a lot, but I’m hoping this will be Moss’ year with Top of the Lake, a brilliant thriller, which critics heaped praise on (Moss in particular got a lion’s share of the plaudits).
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries: Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum; Imelda Staunton, The Girl; Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals; Charlotte Rampling, Restless; Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias – First I’m a bit surprised that legendary actress Debbie Reynolds didn’t get a nomination for her work as Liberace’s mum in Behind the Candelabra. Woodard is so consistently excellent, she becomes an automatic nominee in whatever she does, this time redoing Shirley MacLaine’s work in an all-black version of Steel Magnolias – the original was pretty soppy and ridiculous, so I’m fine with the remake – and Woodard is predictably excellent in the role, and has a great chance of winning. Paulson also might win in a possible American Horror Story sweep, as she’s gotten terrific reviews for her work and the series is very popular.
Outstanding Reality Host: Ryan Seacrest, American Idol; Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers; Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars; Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway; Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance; Anthony Bourdain, The Taste – I hate reality shows, and I don’t get giving reality hosts an Emmy, but if gun-to-head, I’d give it to the always awesome Bourdain, even if he’s slumming in the Food Network rip-off.
Outstanding Reality Show: Antiques Roadshow; Deadliest Catch; Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives; MythBusters; Shark Tank; Undercover Boss – I like that these reality shows aren’t the gross, watching people beat each other up/sleep with each other/be horribly racist kinds of programs. Antiques Roadshow is pretty iconic and legendary, and I hope it wins a trophy for PBS, though I’m surprised that the very popular Duck Dynasty didn’t get nominated.
Outstanding Reality Competition: The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, The Voice – I find these kinds of shows very boring but if I had to choose, I still think Project Runway, despite its old age, deserves to win, only because it’s a creative competition, and some of the show’s value comes from actual talent. Top Chef is also good in that way because it honors hard work and creativity.
Outstanding Variety Series: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Real Time with Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live – The title of this category is misleading and dated as variety connotes musical numbers and garish costumes, and stiff awkward guests and SNL is really the only entry in this group that is sometimes guilty of that. I like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, but I’d take one of them out and throw in The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. SNL isn’t going to win, despite it’s decent year, because despite some solitary moments of glory, it will never repeat its salad years from the 1970s, and has ossified into an institution. The real competition with be between Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Bill Maher, and I think Colbert will (deservedly) win.
Outstanding Variety Special: Kathy Griffin: Kennedie Center On-Hers, The Kennedy Center Honors, Louis C.K.: Oh My God, Mel Brooks Strikes Back!, Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday, 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief – a surprisingly excellent list of entries for this obscure category. I would hope that the Kathy Griffin special would win, because I’m a huge fan, but she doesn’t have a chance against Louis C.K. and Mel Brooks, two comics who are much more revered (unfairly so). They also might cancel each other out. Also the good intentions behind 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief will probably prevail.
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama: Nathan Lane, The Good Wife; Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife; Rupert Friend, Homeland; Robert Morse, Mad Men; Harry Hamlin, Mad Men; Dan Bucatinsky, Scandal – This category is often about stunt casting, but like the miniseries nominations, lots of movie stars get nominated in this category. Lane and Fox were especially popular in The Good Wife, though Bucatinsky’s role in Scandal is just the kind of role that gets these kinds of awards. I love Morse in Mad Men, and though I thought Hamlin was funny, it’s little more than a Roger Sterling impression. This will be between Lane and Fox.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama: Margo Martindale, The Americans; Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones; Carrie Preston, The Good Wife; Linda Cardellini, Mad Men; Jane Fonda, The Newsroom; Joan Cusack, Shameless – I love Rigg, Cusack, Martindale, and Fonda, and Preston’s good, but this will be Cardellini’s year for her incredible and controversial role as Sylvia Rosen, Don Draper’s mistress in Mad Men – it’s a complete reinvention for the former Freaks and Greeks actress. This wouldn’t be the case, though if Shirley MacLaine would’ve been nominated for her showy turn in Downton Abbey – for some mysterious reason she was left out of the running, which seems a bit unfair.
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy: Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory; Nathan Lane, Modern Family; Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie; Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live; Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live; Will Forte, 30 Rock – Newhart will win this – regardless of the caliber of the other performances, though Louis C.K. was especially impressive hosting SNL. Pop star Timberlake also has proven to be a reliably funny guy with his SNL hosting duties, and may get another trophy, but that’ll be the upset – it’ll go to Newhart.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy: Molly Shannon, Enlightened; Dot-Maire Jones, Glee; Melissa Leo, Louie; Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live; Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live; Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock – I enjoy Shannon, and think it’d be nice if the former SNL comedienne would win a trophy. McCarthy also was great this year, hitting a second home run in a row doing a great job hosting. Wiig’s hosting was disappointing and shouldn’t have gotten a nomination – Christina Applegate’s hosting was far funnier. Stritch also has a good chance of winning, giving a hilariously funny performance as Colleen Donaghy, Jack’s domineering mother.
Outstanding Animated Program: Bob’s Burgers, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Enter the Dragon, Regular Show: The Christmas Special, The Simpsons, South Park – The Simpsons is a very old show now, but still delivers, so I’d place my bets behind that classic, though it’s disappointing not to see Seth Green’s brilliant Robot Chicken.
Outstanding Children’s Program: Good Luck Charlie, iCarly, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, The Weight of the Nation for Kids: Quiz Ed!, A Young Arts Masterclass – all decent programs – iCarlyi I find to be especially clever. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee has always been head-and-shoulders above the other shows, so I’m hoping for that show – I’m curious what the rules are because I don’t see the always-brilliant Sesame Street or Arthur…
Outstanding Informational Series or Special: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Brain Games, Inside the Actors Studio, Oprah’s Master Class, Stand Up to Cancer – I love Bourdain, and hope he gets this – though Oprah Winfrey needs another Emmy to hopefully deflect from the middling success of her OWN network.