This morning brought the announcement of the 2014 Emmy nominations, and as usual, pretty much no one’s happy. Well, the nominees are probably happy. But every TV watcher or fan will, as is always the case with these awards, have some bone to pick, from "Walking Dead" fans who don’t understand why the biggest drama on TV is ignored by the Television Academy (spoiler: because it’s super boring), to your grandparents, still holding out for recognition for "NCIS."
But some omissions are more egregious than others, in our opinion at least, and so below, we’ve rounded up the biggest snubs from today’s announcements. But, because the Television Academy can do some things right, and to balance it out, we’ve picked out some of the happier surprises as well. Take a look below, and let us know what you were shocked by, for better or for worse, in the comments section.
HBO made a bold and bullish move by pushing "True Detective" into the drama category rather than miniseries, whereas FX’s "Fargo," although conceived as an anthology show like its rival, stayed in miniseries. Team "True Detective" might be regretting their decision somewhat: the much-acclaimed show managed a very solid twelve nominations, but "Fargo" took 50% more, with eighteen, the second most of any show. I thought it would do well, but maybe not that well… In part, that can be put down to the show being more of an ensemble piece—the FX mini picked up four acting nominations against two for "True Detective." But the slimmer pickings meant that it was able to clean up in other categories too, and has been grabbing some unexpected headlines as a result. FX haven’t yet announced a second season of "Fargo," but given today’s nods, it’s surely only a matter of time.
"Orange Is The New Black"
Again, I’d figured that "Orange Is The New Black" would be a strong contender, but it was always something that could have gone either way: some find the show’s decision to compete in the comedy race to be disingenuous, and it’s so different from everything else that it might well have underperformed. But the show picked up twelve nods, including ones for director Jodie Foster, creator Jenji Kohan, supporting actress Kate Mulgrew, and best of all, ‘Orange’ dominated the guest actress category, with Natasha Lyonne (Nicky), Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes) and Laverne Cox (Sophia) all earning nods. Given how the show’s ensemble has grown over time, maybe they’ll pick up all six slots next time around… The success of the series, plus thirteen nominations for "House Of Cards," saw Netflix pick up more nods than rivals AMC and Showtime.
In our predictions piece, I said that I’d like to see a nomination for IFC‘s wildly uneven hit-and-miss parody miniseries "The Spoils Of Babylon," if only because it pokes fun at the kind of show that often dominates these categories. That didn’t come to pass, but surprisingly, star Kristen Wiig did sneak in a nomination. Wiig was pretty strong in the series, so it’s gratifying on that front, but doubly so because she’s competing against Minnie Driver in a Lifetime movie and Cicely Tyson in the turgid "Trip To Bountiful. "
Kate McKinnon & Fred Armisen
Other SNL vets did well too alongside Wiig and the four (!) guest actor nominations it picked up for hosts Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Louis C.K. and Jimmy Fallon. Fred Armisen (who was never nominated in over ten years on SNL) picked up a shock Supporting Actor nod for his work on his own sketch show "Portlandia," having earned writing nods for the series in the previous two years. The show’s one I’m way behind on, but it’s good to see him recognized for a passion project like this one. A nod for Carrie Brownstein next year, maybe? Meanwhile, a current star of ‘SNL’ also got a surprising nod, as Kate McKinnon picked up a Supporting Actress nomination too. McKinnon’s been a rock star in her couple of years on the show so far, so now she’s in the door, this should be the first of many.
Back in the days of "The Office" and "Extras," Ricky Gervais was a serious Emmy favorite, but he hasn’t had an acting nomination since the latter wrapped up in 2008. As such, that he beat out the likes of Robin Williams, Thomas Middleditch, John Goodman and Andy Samberg for a Lead Actor in a Comedy nod was definitely a shock, but Gervais is back in for Netflix‘s "Derek" this time around. A conflict of interest means that I haven’t written about the show, but while the series splits people down the middle, it’s good to see him in the mix again.
William H. Macy
Three seasons in, and Showtime‘s "Shameless," which is well-liked, but not spoken of in the same hushed tones as some of the more prestige-y cable shows, had failed to make much inroads with the Emmys. So this year, a decision was taken to submit the series as a comedy rather than a drama, and while it still only picked up a handful of nominations, it did pay off in one major way, with a nod for lead William H. Macy. The actor’s the kind of star who the Emmys usually respond to, but he never actually cracked the drama race, and we’d assumed that would be the same here. But with weaker competition, Macy made the cut, and while I don’t adore the show, he certainly deserves the recognition.
The cast of "Game Of Thrones" is so expansive, and talent-stuffed, that it’s difficult for anyone, bar Peter Dinklage (who won in the first year, and has been nominated ever since) to rise above and be deemed nomination-worthy. Last year, Emilia Clarke did make the cut, but as I predicted, the show giving her lousy material in season four saw her miss out. But someone did take her place: Lena Headey, who plays Cersei. Again, I’d argue that this wasn’t Headey’s strongest year (she was really especially terrific on season two and three), but she has the highest profile of anyone among the supporting cast, and has continued to be consistently strong. Let’s aim for Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner before the show wraps up, though…
This one is definitely in the category of "happy surprises." "Masters Of Sex" was generally deemed to be a longshot for nominations, without the universal critical adulation or stellar ratings of some of its rivals. And the (underrated) series did miss out on Best Drama Series, and Best Actor for Michael Sheen, but we were delighted that it did earn five others (that’s more than "Homeland," and the same number as "The Good Wife"), and most importantly, a Best Actress nod for the stellar Lizzy Caplan, who was one of the dozen actors we singled out as particularly rooting for. Along with nominations for Allison Janney and Beau Bridges in the guest actor category, that suggests that Emmy voters are responding to the series more than expected—maybe a bigger haul will come next year?
We liked "Silicon Valley" a lot, and it was well-received by TV critics, but it never struck us a particularly Emmy-friendly show: a young cast that didn’t look like movie stars, dick jokes, lots of tech talk. But it actually did much better than we figured it would. It failed to get any acting nods (with the late Christopher Evan Welch the saddest omission), but picked up nominations for directing, writing and best comedy—a testament to the power of HBO. If its schedule partner "Veep" is anything to go by, the show might well do better and better as the years go on.
Make no mistake, "Modern Family" is still a big swinging dick in the awards, with a Best Comedy nomination along with nine others, more than any comedy bar "Orange Is The New Black" (which, again, is really a dramedy). But there’s definitely signs that the bloom’s coming off the rose of ABC‘s juggernaut. The series started off with fourteen nods, went to a high of seventeen in its second season, then dropped to fourteen, then twelve last year, and now ten for its fifth season. In Supporting Actor, where it once got two-thirds of the nominations, only Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were nominated, and Sofia Vergara failed to earn a nod for the first time. I haven’t seen the show in a long while (roundabout the time it was clear it was telling the story of a gay couple who never touched and argued constantly), but we hear it had a creative renaissance after a couple of duff years, so a haul barely in double figures isn’t gonna make anyone happy. And it suggests that "Louie" or "Orange Is The New Black" could end up toppling it for the first time when it comes to winning the category.
Best Actress in a Drama was a brutally tough category this year, so something had to give, but I wish it hadn’t been Elisabeth Moss. The actress has been a nominee for "Mad Men" every year since the second season of the show (and got another for "Top Of The Lake" last time around), but fell off the rostrum this year in favor of Caplan and co. An argument could maybe me made that this wasn’t Peggy Olsen’s finest half-season, but then Michelle Dockery did almost literally nothing on "Downton Abbey" and still got a nod, and "Mad Men" and Moss are just leaps and bounds above that one. Hopefully, the show will find a way to get Moss back into the running for the final run in 2015.
"The Good Wife"
"The Good Wife" has long been an Emmy favorite, and delivered its best season bar none in Season Five, which saw the series taking risks and delivering a level of consistency like never before. On the plus side, Julianna Marguiles and Josh Charles managed to nab nods having missed out last year (in fact, Charles hadn’t got one since season two), but the series otherwise failed to make the return to the Best Drama line-up that most had been touting it for. The series had run a bullish campaign, making fun of the likes of "True Detective" on the show, and touting that they were making double the number of episodes as any of their rivals, but it’s possible that it backfired among voters. Or it’s possible that the bright lights of prestige cable drama proved too much to overcome.
"Brooklyn Nine Nine" (and other new network comedies)
It hasn’t been a banner year for the network sitcom on a number of levels, and that was certainly reflected by the Television Academy. There was no chance of little-seen critical-darlings like "Enlisted" or "Trophy Wife" getting in, but more popular series like "The Millers," "Mom" or "The Goldbergs" seemed like they might figure in, of those series, only Allison Janney for "Mom" made much headway. The best hope seemed to be the Golden Globe-winning "Brooklyn Nine Nine," which had a terrific debut season. But the show only got a nod for supporting actor Andre Braugher, suggesting that it’s as destined to be overlooked as "Parks And Recreation."
Dean Norris and Rian Johnson
"Breaking Bad" certainly went out on an Emmy high: previous winners Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn all got more nods, and the series got a whopping sixteen in total, more than it’s ever earned before. But there were still some notable omissions. The great Dean Norris had never been nominated for playing Hank, generally overshadowed by co-star Paul, but many figured he’d make the cut this time around in recognition of the power of his character’s final arc. But ultimately, there wasn’t room for him: perhaps his absence from the last few episodes made something of a difference? Meanwhile, Vince Gilligan was nominated for directing, but at the expense of the great Michelle MacLaren (who did "Buried" and "To’hajiilee") and Rian Johnson (whose "Ozymandias" might have been the show’s best episode, and which did nab a writing nod). We supposed Johnson will have to console himself with some little "Star Wars" movie he’s making…
"True Detective" did incredibly well, and even managed Best Actor nominations for both of its leading men (there was some fear that Woody Harrelson might have been overlooked in favor of the showier turn by McConaughey), but the Emmys certainly seemed to think that it was all something of a two-man show. And while many had touted Michelle Monaghan for a nomination, but failed to materialize. In fairness, the character was mostly underwritten, but the always excellent Monaghan did manage to flesh her out to some degree, so it’s a shame to see her out in the cold. Still, Monaghan might have a chance down the line: she’s playing the lead in a new Ryan Murphy pilot for HBO called "Open."
"The Americans"/"Hannibal"/Tatiana Maslany etc. etc.
When it comes to the Oscars, there are certain movies that are just too challenging, too outside the Academy’s wheelhouse, or simply too underseen to ever end up being nominated for anything. That’s why we assume that say, "Under The Skin" isn’t going to be a major force at the Oscars early next year. This is all a long way round of saying that we’re not surprised that "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany wasn’t nominated, that "Broad City" missed out on best comedy, or that "The Americans" or "Hannibal" weren’t among the Best Drama nominees (or, indeed, got only one nod between them). In Maslany’s case, she’s well-liked, but the show doesn’t have the viewership to beat out tough competition, while "Broad City" skews young and feels slight against "Girls" (which also missed out on a nod this year), while "The Americans" has just failed to get traction with Emmy voters, despite being blindingly good, and "Hannibal" was never going to be their cup of tea. That said, it’s still somewhat outrageous that the latter didn’t even get a nod for cinematography (or music, sound and editing), given that it’s clearly the best looking show on TV).
What are you thoughts? What else was overlooked, and what were you pleased to see? Let us know below.