– Jill Soloway’s Amazon series wasn’t as much of a surprise to see nominated in multiple categories as it was a relief. Many feared the Academy’s bias against alternate distribution methods/Amazon’s lesser-known originals department could keep the series out of the big races. Thankfully, this was not the case, as “Transparent” busted into the Outstanding Comedy Series race as well as 11 more fields, like Bradley Whitford for Guest Actor. And the love didn’t end there: Gaby Hoffman pulled in a nomination for Support Actress and Soloway was nominated for directing and writing.
– Everyone expected the much-hailed HBO miniseries to do well — it is from HBO, after all, the Lord Almighty of Awards — but did anyone really think it would snag the third-most nominations of any show? Certainly being in the less competitive limited series category helped, but it still managed to top “Bessie” (in the equally non-competitive TV movie category), and big-time drama threats “Mad Men” and “House of Cards.” Bravo, Frances McDormand. You’ve got to be excited about that.
“Orange is the New Black”
– After the TV Academy’s rules change as well as their much-publicized refusal to let Netflix’s former comedy back into the genre’s Emmy field, it seemed like the odds were stacked against Jenji Kohan’s prison drama. Yet somehow, it broke in anyway, as did actors Uzo Aduba (who found out in the most adorable way) and Pablo Schreiber. Sure, three total nominations is a big step down from last year’s 13, but breaking into the Drama Series field is no hand-out.
“Parks and Recreation”
– Score one more for the nostalgia nod. “Parks and Recreation” hadn’t been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series since 2011, but the Amy Poehler-led ensemble comedy returned to the coveted category for its final season (as well as another nod for Poehler, who’s been nominated six years in a row now without a win).
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
– Perhaps the biggest “Huh?” moment of the morning was when Anthony Anderson’s name was read first as a nominee for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. It’s not that the former “Guys With Kids” star was undeserving, it’s just that so many more actors were supposedly placed in front of him. To put it another way, last year’s winner Jim Parsons — who had won three times prior — was edged out in favor of a guy who guest-starred in “Rake” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” in 2014. It’s a bit surprising, to say the least.
Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”
– Make it two-for-two for the actress playing Valerie Cherish, as Kudrow overcame steep competition (and a lack of buzz) to earn her second nomination in as many seasons for “The Comeback.”
Most of the TV Movie Competitors
– Most nominees labeled “surprises” make for something to be excited about. Not so with Lifetime’s “Grace of Monaco” nod. In a show of blind worship for film stars and/or festivals (Nicole Kidman and Cannes, respectively), the critically-panned movie will be competing with at least two critically-adored features in “Bessie” and “Nightingale.” Honestly, it’s perhaps most surprising that if “Grace of Monaco” had to get one Primetime nomination, Nicole Kidman wasn’t the one to snag it. But the Lifetime movie wasn’t the only surprise inclusion, as “Poirot” and “Hello Ladies” landed nominations for their last entries. Frankly, I’m surprised enough members in the TV Academy even saw “Hello Ladies,” let alone liked it enough to nominate it.
– Not only did Amy Schumer amp up her already-exploding star power by scoring an Outstanding Lead Actress nod for “Inside Amy Schumer,” but Keegan-Michael Key was also nominated for “Key & Peele,” and both shows landed among the nominees for Best Variety Sketch Series, along with “Drunk History.” Who knew the TV Academy had such youthful taste?
Eight Nominees for Supporting Actress in a Comedy
– Talk about inclusion. This packed category saw more nominees than any other in the upper echelons of Emmy categories, refusing to keep out fringe contenders like Niecy Nash (“Getting On”), Gaby Hoffman (“Transparent”), and Kate McKinnon (“SNL,” who admittedly was nominated last year). They join top contenders like Jane Krakowski (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”) for what will certainly be a very competitive race.
“Over the Garden Wall”
– Perhaps I’m a bit out of touch, but I was pretty shocked to see Cartoon Network’s first miniseries — a program I’ve only heard mentioned in passing — among the nominees for Outstanding Animated Program. Netflix couldn’t get “BoJack Horseman” in there — a low-down dirty crime — even if the inclusion of “Archer,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “South Park” makes it hard to complain too much about the category. Like the Oscars, animation always features a surprise or two at the Emmys.
Another year, another snub for perhaps TV’s best drama series. Despite continued critical accolades and loads or respect from within the industry, FX’s Cold War spy drama just can’t crack through to the Drama Series race. Its third season may have been hamstrung by a finale some found disappointing (though it wasn’t), but the extra slot available in the Drama Series category — as well as pent up frustration from fans/voters trying to get it the attention it deserves — should have made up for any slight downswing in popularity. A writing nod is better than nothing, but Joseph Weisberg and Joel Fields’ series deserves so much more.
Despite the incredible popularity of Lee Daniels’ new FOX drama, the broadcast series couldn’t break through a crowded pack of Drama Series contenders. Whether it was nudged by “Orange is the New Black,” the return of “Homeland,” or newcomer “Better Call Saul,” we’ll never know. Instead, fans will have to settle with rooting for Taraji P. Henson in the Best Actress race (as Terrence Howard was also snubbed, though that was somewhat expected) and take some solace if “Empire” can win either of its two costume nods. I mean, it’s certainly deserving in that category.
Despite all the love at this year’s Golden Globes, Showtime’s adulterous drama didn’t fare as well with the TV Academy. None of the four leads were able to snag a nod, nor was the show itself in the very competitive Drama series field. The Globes and Emmys don’t always line up, but Showtime had to expect more than it got with its hot new contender.
– So no one really expected this fan favorite to pull in any serious nominations, but to be totally blanked beyond Outstanding Score is somewhat surprising. Combine this with the lack of “Empire” love, and most TV fans probably have a beef with the TV Academy.
“The Big Bang Theory”
– After four straight years of snagging a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, Chuck Lorre’s critically-despised but publicly-adored comedy was shut out from the category in 2015. I won’t go so far as to say it’s the best thing to happen on Nominations Day, but it’s probably the best thing to not happen.
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
– Did the Emmys finally say what everyone else has been thinking when it comes to the lead actor of “The Big Bang Theory” — “Enough is enough”? After four wins for the same role (including one last year), Parsons was kept out of the Best Actor race, making room for a bevy of new actors fans should be getting to know. No offense to the talented — and well-paid — comedian, but it’s definitely time he share the wealth.
“Jane the Virgin”
– Neither of the big winners at last year’s Golden Globes were able to replicate their success at the Emmys. The CW has always struggled to garner attention with their programming — though, to be fair, a lot of their content isn’t exactly awards material — and that unlucky streak continued with perhaps its best reviewed series to date. Even circuit darling Gina Rodriguez couldn’t score a nod, despite her Golden Globes win.
“Grace and Frankie”
– As happy as we were to see Lily Tomlin land a nod, the exclusion of her co-stars is a bit surprising. Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston were expected to get into the Support Actor race, and some thought Jane Fonda had a better shot at the Lead Actress spot than Tomlin. The show itself also failed to garner any more nominations, making it a bit of a disappointment for Netflix.
– Starz didn’t have a great day. Scoring only five nominations, the premium cable network failed to attract enough attention for two of its hottest shows: “Outlander” and “The Missing.” Missing out (no pun intended) on the limited series nod as well as Lead Actor (James Nesbitt) and Lead Actress (France O’Connor) has to burn up Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, especially given the positive reviews and less-competitive category.
Eva Green, “Penny Dreadful”
– Horror gets tossed under the bus at the Emmys just as it does at the Oscars. “American Horror Story” only sneaks in under the guise of a miniseries (and by casting a ton of well-respected Emmy-favorite actors), while “The Walking Dead” and “Penny Dreadful” are tossed aside for more serious dramas. Eva Green deserves better, as her portrayal of Vanessa Ives takes more commitment, intensity, physical force and emotional detail than anyone nominated this year.
Clive Owen, “The Knick”
– Alas, Cinemax doesn’t have Emmy voters’ ears as well as its parent company HBO. Its most prestigious and well-reviewed original series to date was shut out of the Primetime Emmy nominations beyond recognition for director Steven Soderbergh, even though many thought Oscar nominee Clive Owen would break into the race. Instead, the TV Academy went with Jeff Daniels of “The Newsroom” — a decision Daniels, HBO and myself are solely joyous they made.
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
– Despite earning nominations for the first three seasons of HBO’s generational comedy, Dunham was bumped out of the field in favor of a few of her network co-stars (Kudrow and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Maybe the Academy is growing tired of watching these youths learn to grow up.