For the first time in what feels like an age, the Emmy voters have managed to shake up the nominations for the 2014 awards, but only by a little bit. But, hey, isn’t a little bit of a shake up better than having pretty much the same nominations year in, year out? I don’t envy the Emmy voters. Even as a regular punter who just watches TV for fun, and occasionally for work, I find it extraordinarily difficult to keep on top of all the shows going on that might have a chance at grabbing themselves an Emmy nom. I’m pretty far behind on Boardwalk Empire, I still haven’t even started the latest season of Hannibal, and I’ve only just caught up with Trophy Wife, so goodness knows how the Emmy voters try and cram everything in to make a decision.
But there are still some problems with the Emmy nominations, and they’re blatantly obvious this year. Of course, TV is now moving into completely different realms, with the non-traditional viewing methods of Netflix and Amazon Prime (which, no doubt, will be accepted more willingly thanks to the successes of the likes of Orange Is The New Black) and with network TV finally being considered as worthy as their cable siblings thanks to stellar seasons of The Good Wife and (apparently) Hannibal, but there are some nominations placed in the oddest categories. It is a common phenomenon, moving a show or an actor into a less crowded category to give them a bigger chance of winning, but it does also make it look like the Emmys have no clue what a show actually is. But before we get on to more specifics, let’s break down each of the main categories, shall we?
Let’s start with the big guns, Outstanding Drama Series. There’s not much surprise in this category, the biggest being that apparently people are still giving a shit about Upstairs, Downstairs…I mean…Downton Abbey. Even the people that are still watching it don’t seem to care that much about it. Homeland has finally been given the boot after a pretty awful last season to be replaced by True Detective which, from the outset, was always going to be a shoe in for a nomination with such big names on board. It is odd, however, that True Detective has wormed its way into the Outstanding Drama Series category despite it essentially being a miniseries. Both Fargo and American Horror Story, which follow the same anthology style True Detective is set to follow, have been submitted as miniseries. It makes the Drama series category pretty crowded and has also led to a fair few big snubs. The Good Wife had one of its best seasons yet, The Americans had an incredibly strong start and has only grown since its first season, as did Hannibal yet all have been passed over in favour of the kind-of-blotchy second season of House Of Cards. Christ, if you want a schlocky political drama, chuck Scandal in there. There’s definitely a lot of squatting going on here, keeping much better shows out, but that’s just how the Emmys work. Although Mad Men has had a pretty brilliant last season so far, the real race is probably between Breaking Bad and True Detective; the veteran finally throwing in the towel and the rookie already making a scene. Whilst I did enjoy True Detective, for me, it just doesn’t stack up to the final season of Breaking Bad which was as intense as the tracking shot in True Detective but spread out over a whole half season of edge of your seat tension.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, aka, which actor is going to beat Jon Hamm to an Emmy is also pretty typical. Jeff Daniels is a pretty weird nomination seeing as, although he makes a decent effort of trying to make a pretty poorly written character interesting, The Newsroom is pretty damn awful. Swap him out for Matthew Rhys and his terrible disguises (but great acting) in The Americans or even Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal and I’d be happy. Jon Hamm, at this point, probably just goes along to the Emmys for the booze and food (although he might have a shot at it next year if they submit the final half season what with Cranston finally out and no Harrelson and McConaughey). Again, as with drama series, it seems nicest to give it to Cranston as a final hurrah for his role as one TV’s greatest characters but then again both Harrelson and McConaughey brought their big screen acting chops to the small screen and did it with great aplomb. Even though True Detective’s story was a bit ropey, it was the chemistry between those two that kept it so interesting.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is also pretty standard fare with yet more nominations for Claire Danes’ cry face and Kerry Washington for getting shit done while having sexy times all the time. It also features a nice nod for Lizzy Caplan who blew everyone away in Masters Of Sex, though it is the only major nom for a brilliant show which came along nicely as Breaking Bad finished, working as almost a palate cleanser for the intensity of Breaking Bad’s final half season. Julianna Margulies is my pick for this category because, even in the worst episodes of The Good Wife, she’s always been utterly captivating, particularly recently. My only major issue with this category is the complete lack of Tatiana Maslany in her half a dozen roles on Orphan Black. Even from that first season, she was the reason why the general absurdity of Orphan Black worked, because she managed to flip from one clone to the next with such ease, each clone as interesting and complex as the last. It’s kind of understandable why she, and Orphan Black in general, was mostly passed over given the Emmys not being too big on sci-fi, particularly on a channel such as BBC America.
It’s kind of getting a bit samey now, you guys. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series is basically last year’s selection with Jon Voight thrown in for some reason. Peter Dinklage has a pretty good chance in this category this year, particularly if voters are considering this past season which was packed full of scenes that are perfect for an Emmy sizzle reel (the end of Tyrion’s trial being one of the major ones in which he spits his words out with such venom and loathing, it’s electric). But, then again, as with Cranston there’s always the chance that they might give it to Aaron Paul who already has two awards to his name to see him home and making him suffer with people asking him to say “bitch” in the street for just a little bit longer. The biggest omission here is another Breaking Bad alum, Dean Norris, who had always been Breaking Bad’s secret weapon that was finally brought out in this final season with superb results. Maybe he’ll get something soon for Under The Dome and we can pretend it’s for Breaking Bad? Nah, probably not.
Lena Headey finally being given some nod for her fantastic work in Game Of Thrones makes the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category actually pretty good. Maggie Smith is obviously there (because duh!) and both Christina Hendricks and Christine Baranski return after respective stellar seasons, particularly for Hendricks in Mad Men. The real winner here, though, is going to be Anna Gunn and we all know it really. You just need to watch Skyler through one episode of Breaking Bad’s final season, “Ozymandias” especially, to know this is basically on lock for her.
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series needs to go to Reg E Cathey who was actually given something to do in the last season of House Of Cards and was, without a doubt, the best thing about the otherwise patchy season. I would be happy, however, with Dylan Baker taking it home for The Good Wife seeing as he is consistently my favourite guest star on the show to the point where I get overly excited when I see his name in the opening credits. He’s so brilliantly slimy and loaded with black humour, transforming the show into a whole other beast for an episode. Similarly, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series has a pretty obvious winner in Diana Rigg who swooped into Game Of Thrones and added so much sass and shade it was like watching a medieval special episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Eye rolling, sarcasm and just out-and-out disdane for people, Diana Rigg transformed the Queen of Thorns into the most fascinating character who stole any scene she was a part of, especially when paired with Charles Dance and the two chewed away at the scenery like hungry termites.
Outstanding Comedy Series is where things start to get a little interesting, and also a little bit weird. Of course we have The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family because do you even fucking follow this damn awards show? But then we also have Silicon Valley of all things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed its first season but it did definitely feel like it was still trying to find its feet. Still, more to Mike Judge et al for making such an impact straight away. Veep gets a nod too, particularly after its frankly incredible last season which was just packed with incredible jokes and fantastic performances, and even Louie gets a shout out, though I feel that it’s more of a “look at who arty we can be. It’s not gonna win, we just want to you to know that us Emmy lot are cool too!” nomination than anything else, though it’s nice to see it get a nod for an interesting last season. The confusion in this category comes from the placement of Orange Is The New Black. Sure it can be funny as hell but it can quickly turn into something altogether very bleak, particularly post-the Tricia incident in its first season. Although, being placed in the comedy category it might have more of a chance of the victory it rightly deserves for being one of the best damn shows of probably all time. Overlooked in this category, though, is the stellar Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which came out running creating what felt like one of the most confident premiere seasons in a long time. It already surprised by taking home the Golden Globe so it seemed like a sure thing that it would grab an Emmy nod but apparently not. Broad City also managed to get overlooked despite being one of my favourite comedies of this past year but, then again, I don’t decide these bloody things, do I?
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series is a pretty awful category by most accounts. As with Orange Is The New Black, Shameless is apparently now being classed as a comedy but I suppose it does move William H Macy out of the pretty hefty Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, making it a bit easier for him. Jim Parsons is back, obviously, and will probably run away with it again but I would like to see Louis CK win it just so he’d go up in stage in his signature black t-shirt instead of a fancy suit.
With Amy Poehler, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Lena Dunham, and Edie Falco, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series is a pretty strong category with all pretty deserving of the award, but I would quite like to see Poehler take home the Emmy despite the last season of Parks & Recreation being neither here nor there. Julia Louis Dreyfus is probably going to take it, though, and I’m pretty OK with that. Taylor Schilling for Orange Is The New Black is pointless, though, because she definitely is not a lead in that show. OITNB is an ensemble show through and through and is held up by its stellar supporting cast.
Andre Braugher or we riot! Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series is a pretty great category too, with yet more Tony Hale who really does deserve any praise he gets for his role in Veep, but Andre Braugher is the true stand out here who showed that the once hard-boiled detective in Homicide: Life On The Street had some proper comedy chops in Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the deadpan police captain who is a constant highlight. His nomination kind of makes up for the snub of the show itself but only a little bit. Adam Driver might also have a shot, given that he actually had a fair bit to do in this last season of Girls, though nothing will really beat the Adam-centric episode, “Boys”, which was a highlight of Season 2. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series does see a fair bit of shaking up occurring, with both Sofia Vergara and Jane Lynch being replaced by Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live’s real MVP, and Kate Mulgrew. I have never seen Mums but I really just want Alison Janney to win it because I love Alison Janney! That’s a good enough reason to want someone to win something, right? Of course it is!
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series is a pretty unexciting category, though Steve Buscemi’s nom for his role as a man tasked with making celery cool again in Portlandia is truly inspired. I would, however, like to see Gary Cole take this home for Veep who, although didn’t have much to do this past season, was always a treat when he popped up on screen. Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series this year should just be renamed “Which OITNB star is going to win it” because, let’s be fair, they pretty much all deserve it. If they could do a Sports Personality of the Year 2012 and just an award to the entire cast like they did the entire GB Olympic team, then I’d be more than happy, but it definitely is a tough fight between Uzo Aduba, Natasha Lyonne, and Laverne Cox.
Having True Detective in another category has hopefully made things much easier for a Fargo Outstanding Miniseries win. It doesn’t have much competition, its main rival probably being American Horror Story who pop up every year to no avail. The White Queen and Bonnie & Clyde aren’t likely to put up a fight and Luther’s last season wasn’t exactly amazing compared to its previous two, so I have my fingers crossed for Fargo which is one of my favourite shows of 2014 so far. I don’t know much about the Outstanding TV Movie category, but apparently one episode of Sherlock counts as a TV movie? Crazy Americans!
Martin Freeman sees himself with a nomination for both Oustanding Lead Actor and Oustanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Fargo and Sherlock respectively. Though his dodgy American accent in Fargo might let him down in the Lead Actor category, as well as facing off with his co-star Billy Bob Thornton whose performance was a highlight of that show for me, he might have a chance as John Watson, though there is such a glut of nominees from The Normal Heart (nope, no idea) that law of averages means one of those will probably win. Colin Hanks does get his first nom for Fargo which is nice (cause he definitely wasn’t going to get it for Dexter now, was he?)
Today I learned that Kristen Wiig was apparently in a miniseries. The Oustsanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie category is slightly lost on me because I haven’t seen any of the shows in it but I like Jessica Lange and she always looks pretty frightening in AHS so I’ll plump for her. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie is all about Allison Tolman in Fargo, though, who came along and just stole everyone’s hearts. She is, however, facing up against some big names such as Kathy Bates and Julia fucking Roberts but I have every appendage crossed that Tolman wins this one so she can give a no doubt adorable speech.
To finish off, we need to talk about the biggest snub of this Emmy season. Forget The Good Wife, forget Orphan Black, forget Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it’s an absolute travesty that RuPaul’s Drag Race was passed over for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. My first experience with RuPaul’s Drag Race was this past season when I finally decided to take the plunge into the sequin and shade filled pool and became well and truly obsessed. I have since become an ardent supporter of the show and so to see it ignored in favour of Top Chef (which also managed to knock out Masterchef US as well!) is terrible Emmy news.
It is pretty difficult to try recognise every show equally (love you Broad City, you’re a winner in my heart) but this year’s nominations have some pretty crazy omissions and it does find itself stuck in a bit of a rut despite being open to new entrants. Still, come August 25th, we will still all watch it and complain when our favourites won’t win and I’ll just be sat in the corner waving my Broad City flag in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, some last minute surprise might occur and they win. Maybe.