The idea of making ten Emmy Award-related wishes with relation to LGBT-themed television series would more or less be impossible just a few short years ago. But the 2014-15 season has been a remarkable landmark when it comes to programs featuring prominent LGBT characters or storylines. Consider the collective weight of “Orange is the New Black,” “Looking,” “Please Like Me,” “Cucumber,” “Grace & Frankie,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “House of Cards,” “Transparent,” “Modern Family,” “Broad City,” “Shameless,” “The Fosters,” “Halt and Catch Fire” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” And then think back to a decade ago, when this list pretty started and stopped with “Will & Grace.” It’s an incredible change of pace, and one we hope the Emmys reward in big gay spades. And in many cases, we’re pretty sure they will. But here’s a few nominees are fingers are crossed for in particular, most of them not exactly likely to hear their names called tomorrow morning…
1. “Looking” for Best Comedy Series
One of the most glaring examples of why the Emmys’ new rules stating a “comedy” is a half-hour series while a “drama” is a full one doesn’t quite work is HBO’s dearly departed “Looking,” which while occasionally quite funny is overall as “dramatic” as they come. But it doesn’t matter anyway. The chances of the series getting an Emmy nod under either categorization is about as likely as HBO deciding to take back its cancellation. Which is too bad, since its second and final season was a stunning depiction not simply of gay men but of the emotional state of contemporary American privilege. And also offered some of the best performances on television (in particular, add Jonathan Groff and Lauren Weedman to this list). Here’s hoping the 2 hour TV movie HBO is offering to wrap things up blows everyone away so much that a year from now it’ll get a few deserved nominations in those (typically much less competitive) categories.
The chances of the overly stuffy Emmy voters giving either of the women of “Broad City” a nomination are slim to none — especially since (and we’re not complaining about this part) the Best Comedy Actress category is probably the most competitive of them all. But with all due respect to the glorious Abbi Jacobson, we hope if just one of them makes it in, it’s Ilana Glazer.
Playing television’s undisputed best bisexual marijuana enthusiast, Glazer nails a mix of stoner physical comedy and somehow loveable self-absorption… and is in our minds the funniest woman on television in a landscape refreshingly chock full of them.
3. Titus Burgess for Best Supporting Actor (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
The Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category has a mind-blowing amount of people playing gay characters in the mix with very good chances at nominations: Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family), Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen (“Grace and Frankie”), Andre Braugher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). But to be honest, we don’t really care so much about those guys getting in, particularly the “Modern Family” men who have been keeping out fresh blood in this category for years. And while Waterson and Sheen would technically be considered such if they get in, “Grace & Frankie” is all about Jane and Lily to us and we’d prefer if a man from another Netflix comedy makes the cut instead. And Titus Burgess seems to genuinely have a shot at doing so for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” where he stole scenes and created viral videos as Titus Andromedon — the titular character’s struggling actor roommate. Waterson and Sheen have enough Emmy love already. Check that box for Titus (and for “Peeno Noir” in the original music category).
4. “Cucumber” for Best Drama Series/”Banana” for Best Comedy Series/”Tofu” for Best Informational Series
Even less likely to find Emmy love than “Looking” is its British counterpart “Cucumber” and its sister series’ “Banana” and “Tofu,” which aired Stateside on Logo. One of the series’ most masterly aspects are their blend of realism and fantasy. When the shows premiered in Britain this January, there was a backlash of queers who cried wolf about an inability to relate to the characters’ situations: they had too much sex, they were too old, they were oh-so-cliché, they were too flawed. In defence against this angelic viewership, we’d like to come out and say that the people we saw in the show felt very real to those we’ve known and those we’ve encountered, from all walks — in ways both whimsical and miserable. But the chances Emmy voters even saw the series to decide that for themselves is a fantasy in itself.
5. Amy Landecker for Best Supporting Actress (“Transparent”)
Media attention surrounding Amazon’s extraordinary series “Transparent” has largely revolved around its titular woman Maura, which is fair enough. But the series’ other primary LGBT character is arguably just as fascinating. Maura’s eldest daughter Sarah — played by the remarkable Amy Landecker — begins the first season of “Transparent” as the most heteronormative of the entire cast. Straight married with kids and money, Sarah is on paper the only Pfefferman offspring with their shit together. But that falls apart very, very quickly as Sarah dives into a season long attempt at re-invention that mirrors her “moppa” Maura. As Maura begins to come out as a transwoman, her daughter burns down her picket fence lifestyle via an affair with her college girlfriend Tammy. It’s a narrative arc we’ve certainly seen before, but under the guise of Landecker (and the show’s writing and directing team), it feels entirely original and offers us one of the most complex, flawed and interesting queer women on television right now.
6. Robert Michael Morris for Best Supporting Actor (“The Comeback”)
If you haven’t watched the second season of “The Comeback,” we suggest you stop right here and do so right now. Somehow just as underrated (and underwatched) as the season that came before it nearly a decade earlier, it was an absolute highlight of the 2014-15 television season. In fact, I’d go so far as to consider its (series?) finale “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants” the best episode of any series this season. While that’s in large part due to Michael Patrick King’s abnormally fantastic directing and Lisa Kudrow’s give-her-a-fucking-Emmy performance as Valerie Cherish, the episode’s heart belongs to Robert Michael Morris’ Mickey Deane. After coming out at the end of the first season, Mickey is dealt a serious blow as we sink into the second: He has cancer. Valerie semi-sorta tries her best to step outside of herself to give Mickey the attention his diagnosis deserves, but it isn’t until the season’s final few minutes that she realizes just how much Mickey means to her, making us all tear up as we realize the same.
7. Andrew Rannells for Best Supporting Actor (“Girls”)
The true saving grace of the fourth season of “Girls” was Andrew Rannells’ Elijah. While the series itself became uneven and occasionally quite frustrating, every scene — every line of dialogue, even — involving Elijah brought it back to life. Which is in large part due to how fantastic an actor Rannells is. His timing and delivery is impeccable, and he breathes layers into a character that could have easily been a caricature. Because Elijah is an old school representation when it comes to gay characters on television, at least in a certain sense. He’s there to deliver witty lines to the oh-so-lost women around him while always impeccably dressed and without much of a storyline of his own. But Rannells and the writing team at “Girls” collectively rise above this. Elijah has more insight and wisdom than all four lead characters combined, and is by far the most likeable character on the show. Our biggest Emmy dream? That Rannells, Robert Michael Morris and Titus Burgess are what end up making the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy category so gay, and not the men of “Modern Family” and “Grace & Frankie.”
8 & 9. Dee Rees and Lisa Cholodenko for Best Director (“Bessie” and “Olive Kitteridge”)
The TV Movie and Limited Series categories look likely to be dominated by HBO’s “Bessie” and “Olive Kitteridge,” which makes this wish a likely one: That the Best Limited Series/TV Movie race for Best Directing ends up being a battle between… two openly gay female directors. Dee Rees and Lisa Cholodenko each followed up their films “Pariah” and “The Kids Are All Right” with an HBO project, and neither disappointed. Given the sorry situation facing female directors in Hollywood, the idea of two gay women (one of whom is a person of color, no less) being the Emmys’ equivalent of the González Iñárritu v. Linklater race at this year’s Oscars makes us smile very, very wide.
10. “Transparent” for Best Comedy Series
Alright, this is going to happen for sure, right? “Transparent” seems the like the kind of show the Emmys’ would tragically snub in years past but all that buzz and all those critics awards and Golden Globes mean this absolutely won’t be the case? Right? Because if they dare (and we wouldn’t but it past them), expect us to exploding in anger by this time tomorrow.