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Emmy Nominations Analysis: The TV Academy Tiptoes into the Future with Snubs and Surprises Alike

Emmy Nominations Analysis: The TV Academy Tiptoes into the Future with Snubs and Surprises Alike

HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” earned 24 Emmy nominations this morning, ahead of FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (19) and HBO’s literary adaptation “Olive Kitteridge” (13), lifting the premium cable network to an Emmy-record 126 total nominations and leading the field by a country mile. Runner-up ABC netted a comparatively anemic 42 nominations, followed by NBC and CBS with 41 each.

“This was a truly remarkable year in television,” TV Academy chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum proclaimed before introducing Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) and Cat Deeley (“So You Think You Can Dance”) to announce the 2015 Emmy nominees in 11 categories. “Television is now widely recognized as the preeminent entertainment platform.”

Whether or not you agree with Rosenblum’s assessment, it’s clear that Emmy voters have begun, very cautiously, to embrace the medium’s rapid transformation—tiptoeing into TV’s future with 11 nominations apiece for streaming sensations “House of Cards” (Netflix) and “Transparent” (Amazon) while clinging to wearisome stalwarts like “Modern Family” (ABC) and “Downton Abbey” (PBS). AMC’s “Mad Men” also received 11 nominations for its farewell season.

READ MORE: “Emmy Voters: Our 2015 Nominations Wish List”

There are, as always, a few baffling titles on the list, perhaps as a result of name recognition rather than quality. (The widely derided “Grace of Monaco,” shunted from theatrical to Lifetime after debuting at Cannes in 2014, comes to mind.) And the exclusion of critically acclaimed series such as “The Americans” and “Jane the Virgin” in above-the-line categories still stings, a potent reminder that the Emmys remain a bastion of populism rather than an indicator of the medium’s cutting edge. But where last year’s ceremony seemed to celebrate a prior “Golden Age” instead of this one, today’s slate of nominees reflects the TV Academy’s effort, halting but visible nonetheless, to catch up with critics and viewers in terms of how, where, and why we watch television. (The best example of voters learning which way the wind blows may be Tatiana Maslany’s surprising, overdue inclusion for her extraordinary work in BBC America’s “Orphan Black.”)

Indeed, today’s announcement is a high-water mark in the diversity of nominated series, actors, and characters. Compared to the Oscars, roiled by the controversy over “Selma” earlier this year, television’s gatekeepers appear almost radical, honoring 16 people of color in the lead and supporting acting categories—including fully half the field in Supporting Actor (Comedy) and Supporting Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie). Add to that the strong showing for series with prominent LGBT characters, from “Orange is the New Black” to “Transparent,” and you might call 2015 a watershed.

That said, the biggest surprise may have been the failure of the year’s breakout hit, “Empire” (FOX), to land a Best Drama nod. It’s possible that the over-the-top hip-hop melodrama struck voters as too unrefined for a category that most often rewards “prestige,” but in light of the TV Academy’s past neglect of series like “The Wire” (HBO), the snub of a ratings behemoth with broad critical support and an almost exclusively black cast is still tough to swallow.

That was the story of this year’s Emmy nominations, in a nutshell: two steps forward, one step back.

READ MORE: “Emmy Nominations Predictions 2015”

Read the full list of nominees in the major categories below, with predicted winners in bold. The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Andy Samberg, will air Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on FOX.

Comedy Series
“Louie” (FX)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“Transparent” (Amazon)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
“Veep” (HBO)

Drama Series
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Homeland” (Showtime)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
“Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)

Limited Series
“American Crime” (ABC)
“American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
“Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
“The Honorable Woman” (SundanceTV)
“Wolf Hall” (PBS)

TV Movie
“Agatha Christie’s Poirot — Curtain: “Poirot’s Last Case” (Acorn TV)
“Bessie” (HBO)
“Grace of Monaco” (Lifetime)
“Hello Ladies: The Movie” (HBO)
“Killing Jesus” (National Geographic Channel)
“Nightingale” (HBO)

Actor (Comedy)
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish” (ABC)
Louis C.K., “Louie” (FX)
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” (Showtime)
Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth” (FOX)
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes” (Showtime)
William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” (Amazon)

Actress (Comedy)
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback” (HBO)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix)

Supporting Actor (Comedy)
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (FOX)
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Adam Driver, “Girls” (HBO)
Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele” (Comedy Central)
Tony Hale, “Veep” (HBO)

Supporting Actress (Comedy)
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep” (HBO)
Gaby Hoffmann, “Transparent” (Amazon)
Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Niecy Nash, “Getting On” (HBO)

Actor (Drama)
Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline” (Netflix)
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom” (HBO)
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan” (Showtime)
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Actress (Drama)
Claire Danes, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire” (FOX)
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black” (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Supporting Actor (Drama)
Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards” (HBO)
Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline” (Netflix)

Supporting Actress (Drama)
Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” (AMC)

Actor (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Adrien Brody, “Houdini” (History)
Ricky Gervais, “Derek: The Final Chapter” (Netflix)
Timothy Hutton, “American Crime” (ABC)
Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
David Oyelowo, “Nightingale” (HBO)
Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall” (PBS)

Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman” (SundanceTV)
Felicity Huffman, “American Crime” (ABC)
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Queen Latifah, “Bessie” (HBO)
Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
Emma Thompson, “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Live from Lincoln Center” (PBS)

Supporting Actor (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Richard Cabral, “American Crime” (ABC)
Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall” (PBS)
Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
Denis O’Hare, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Finn Wittrock, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie” (HBO)

Supporting Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Regina King, “American Crime” (ABC)
Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX)
Mo’Nique, “Bessie” (HBO)
Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)

Reality-Competition Series
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
“So You Think You Can Dance” (FOX)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)

Reality Host
Tom Bergeron, “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)
Anthony Bourdain, “The Taste” (ABC)
Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance” (FOX)
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, “Project Runway” (Lifetime)
Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night” (NBC)

Variety Series (Talk)
“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
“The Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS)
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)

Variety Series (Sketch)
“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
“Key & Peele” (Comedy Central)
“Portlandia” (IFC)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

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