Nominations for the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were unveiled early this morning by Kerry Washington and Jimmy Kimmel. Television’s top awards group has so many categories that there are plenty of surprises to be found, such as an American Idol snub in the Best Reality-Competition Program race and Hugh Laurie missing out on his final shot at an Emmy for House. From the most objective point of view possible, here are the best and worst things about this year’s nominees from one passionate TV devotee.
1. Best Writing for a Comedy Series
This race is exciting for a number of reasons, but mainly for its diversity, and the fact that just one of its nominated shows – Girls – is up for Best Comedy Series. Two nominations for the previously unrecognized Parks and Recreation is terrific, and fans of NBC’s Community can rejoice in its first major nomination (only its second ever). Also, it’s great to see three nominated actors – Louis C.K., Lena Dunham, and Amy Poehler – represented here as well for penning their own shows.
2. HBO’s New Comedies
HBO threw a curveball back in December when it cancelled three of its comedy series, Hung, How to Make It in America, and Bored to Death, all of which never attracted any Emmy attention. Its one surviving new show, Enlightened, made a splash at the Golden Globes but got zero Emmy love today. The cable network’s newest series in 2012, however, did make it into the race, both earning Best Comedy Series mentions. Honoring the stream-of-consciousness dialogue on Girls and the offbeat political humor on Veep is a very positive and productive step for the Best Comedy Series category.
3. Downton Abbey
The PBS period hit was considered a miniseries last year, and it received eleven nominations in the appropriate races, winning six trophies. As a drama series this year, it wasn’t clear how the second season would fare, but it raked in a whopping sixteen nominations, including a bid for Best Drama Series and six acting nods. That’s quite a haul, just one less than Mad Men and a huge score for addicts of the primetime soap opera.
4. Jared Harris
It took Emmy voters a while to see that there was more to Mad Men than just the excellent Jon Hamm and John Slattery. As more players have been recognized over the years, including Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, there have still been notable snubs, like Vincent Kartheiser as the seedy Pete. Harris has turned in a heartbreaking performance as the firm’s British addition since season three, and this year he finally bumped Slattery out of the race and earned a well-deserved nomination for a high-caliber turn.
5. Fading Shows Earn Little
Those paying close attention will notice that the Best Comedy Series race, which boasts two new nominees, is missing two shows that have been going downhill for a while now, Glee and The Office. The former show earned two technical nods and a guest acting bid, while the latter got zilch. Many thought that Dexter derailed this year, and as a result, only star Michael C. Hall got recognized this time. It’s good to see some new blood, and Emmy voters aren’t always quick to discard shows that aren’t anywhere near as good as they used to be (see Friends and Will and Grace, which were nominated through their penultimate seasons).
1. Parks & Recreation
Last year, the best comedy currently airing on NBC made it into the Best Comedy Series category, but earned just two other nominations. This year, it was a sure thing to earn a repeat bid, and expected to net other nominations such as for the perennially snubbed Nick Offerman. Somehow, the show got left out of the top race, which is most inexplicable due to its two writing nominations, for episodes that serve as crucial points of its season-long election plot. It just doesn’t make any sense.
This show had a strong showing last year with four acting bids, most of which were unexpected, and a win for supporting actress Margo Martindale. There was hope, therefore, that the fantastic season three players, like villains Neal McDonough and Mykelti Williamson, would be honored. Instead, regulars Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins were snubbed, and only recurring guest Jeremy Davies earned a nomination, which stings even more since it means that voters are watching the show and not noticing more than one of its best elements.
3. Matthew Bomer
It’s a real shame when shows that are fading, like Glee, are entirely ignored, even for those standout aspects which are far better than the whole. It’s particularly unfortunate for Matthew Bomer, who charms constantly on USA’s White Collar and earns no recognition for his efforts since Emmy voters don’t much care for the products of that network. His incredible guest spot as Blaine’s older brother, which allowed him to sing and dance as well, should have earned him an easy nomination for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever be nominated if this couldn’t net him that recognition.
4. Kelsey Grammer
Golden Globe and Emmy voters don’t always think alike, but actors and shows that win Golden Globes are usually at least nominated for Emmys. That’s doubly true when the actor in question is Kelsey Grammer, who has amassed over a dozen nominations for four different shows over the past twenty-five years. His series, Boss, was entirely shut out, and though they didn’t have a shot, supporting players Martin Donovan and Kathleen Robertson deserved nominations too for this dark and excellent Starz show.
5. Bending the Miniseries Rules
This reporter hasn’t seen most of the miniseries and TV movies nominated this year, but it is clear that rules are being tweaked in a way that just isn’t quite fair. While Downton Abbey gets classified as a drama series, the already-renewed American Horror Story gets labeled a miniseries because it has a contained story arc, and walks away with seventeen nominations when it would have managed just a couple in the drama races. Additionally, cancelled shows like Missing are considered miniseries because they aired so few episodes before being cancelled. Either way, Ashley Judd didn’t merit an Emmy nomination.
Check out all of the nominees on the official Emmys website.