Best of TV?

07.10.14

The Enraging Emmy Nominations: 20 Snubs and Surprises

It's time for TV fans to quietly seethe over this year's egregious Emmy snubs. (No 'Good Wife'? Seriously?) OK, they weren't all bad. (Hello, Kate McKinnon!)

What in the bloody hell were these Emmy nominations?

Because the Television Academy believes there's no better way to start a Thursday than in full rage, it had Mindy Kaling and Carson Daly announce the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy nominations in the wee hours of this morning. And they were some straight of bullcrap. A tornado of nonsense. A garbage pile of rancid slop.

And worse than all of that, they were lazy.

Lazy is the best way to describe a slate of nominees that seems simply rubber-stamped from the batch of contenders from the past two years, an alarming number of which were shows and performers that were critically ravaged after depressingly weak seasons. More infuriating, those groan-worthy nominees took the place of what are universally considered the best series and performances on television, which were maddeningly snubbed.

(On what planet is Downton Abbey a series contender after that snooze of a season but The Americans and, more importantly, The Good Wife, which had the best drama season of any network show in about a decade, not? It's this planet. And this planet sucks today.)

Festivus came early this year folks, because it's time for the airing of the grievances.

To prove we're not total Grinches, we will also give credit where it's due and cheer the best surprises. (Those Comedy nominees don't suck quite as bad as the Drama ones. Actually, they may even be good.)

Photos: See the 2014 Emmy Nominees!

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AMC

SNUBS

1. The Good Wife

The best series on television this year? The Good Wife. Without a doubt, it was The Good Wife, which was just as smart and sexy as any cable show, but with better character development, more fantastic acting performances, more unexpected plot twists. Plus, with 22 episodes, it had a far more impressive marathon run than any of its cable competitors. That The Good Wife isn't on that Best Drama list but Downton Abbey, a perennial nominee that was an unequivocal bore at best and offensive at worst last year, makes TV fans' blood boil.

2. The Americans

While we're seething over the Best Drama Series category, let's rant about The Americans' complete shutout for any Emmy nominations in the big categories. Despite having a crackling second season that critics ranked among the best of the year, the FX thriller didn't score a single nod in the big ones. No Best Drama Series. No nod for Keri Russell (who could easily have taken Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery's place). No nod for Matthew Rhys (who definitely deserved Newsroom's Jeff Daniels's place). All it got was a Guest Actress nomination for Margo Martindale. (And a well deserved one at that.)

3. Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Ask any TV critic who gave the best dramatic performance of the year, and they'll put on a goofy grin and say something obnoxious like, "Well, I would say Tatiana Maslany, but she didn't just give one great performance, she gave about a dozen great ones." Because she plays different clones on the sci-fi series. Get it? Regardless, she's phenomenal, and it's egregious not to give her the Best Actress trophy, let alone not to even nominate her.

4. Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project

They nominate Melissa McCarthy again for the fluff-with-a-laugh-track that is Mike and Molly while the divine Mindy Kaling is standing right there announcing the nominations? That's some cajones, Academy.

5. Emmy Rossum, Shameless

OK, so if you weren't going to give McCarthy's slot to Kaling, you could at least have given it to Emmy Rossum, who finally stood a chance at the nomination she's deserved for all these seasons of Shameless because the series wised up and switched from the Drama races to the Comedy races this year. William H. Macy deservingly scored a nod for Best Actor. Why not Rossum, who deserves it, too?

6. Sketch Shows (chiefly, Inside Amy Schumer)

There are already 17.5 million Emmy categories, so we're certainly not advocating for the addition of any new ones, but it is a bit unfair-seeming that sketch series like Inside Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, and Portlandia compete in the Variety Series race alongside The Tonight Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and similar talk shows that are far more appealing to Emmy voters and likely to get nominated. It's a pleasure to see that Inside Amy Schumer scored a Variety Series Writing nod. But a series one would have been even better.

7. Bellamy Young, Jeff Perry, and Lisa Kudrow, Scandal

Scandal actually had an OK turnout in the acting fields, with Kerry Washington winning her expected Lead Actress nod and Kate Burton and Joe Morton making it into the guest acting categories. But it's a shame that Bellamy Young, who won the Critics Choice Award for her portrayal of the White House's sympathetic Lady MacBeth Mellie Grant, and Jeff Perry, who chews every piece of Scandal scenery until it's nothing more than gristle each week, didn't show up in the supporting races—which were clogged by more Downton Abbey contenders. And we like Lisa Kudrow in anything, but we loved her as the Elizabeth Warren-like Congresswoman Josephine Marcus on Scandal… and would have loved an Emmy nod for her, too.

8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Andy Samberg

After winning both the Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy awards at the Golden Globes, neither Brooklyn Nine-Nine nor its lead Andy Samberg managed Emmy nominations. It's a shame, because it was one of the best new comedies of the year.

9. RuPaul's Drag Race

One day Emmy voters will loosen their ties and realize that this is the most entertaining reality competition on television and give it the nod it deserves. If we can nominate Project Runway for the millionth time, we can nominate RuPaul's Drag Race, which takes elements of the long-running fashion competition and makes them more fun.

10. Rectify and Trophy Wife

These were never going to happen. But a guy can dream? (Though, really, why should a guy have to dream that an awards organization that honors the best of television nominate two shows as phenomenal as Rectify and Trophy Wife?)

They nominate Melissa McCarthy again for the fluff-with-a-laugh-track that is Mike and Molly while the divine Mindy Kaling is standing right there announcing the nominations?

SURPRISES

1. Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

No SNL performer had been nominated for Supporting Actress in a Comedy since Kristen Wiig left the show, but who better to take the torch than the performer so often referred to as "the next Kristen Wiig," Kate McKinnon. Whether she's playing Justin Bieber or a confusingly hilarious take on Angela Merkel, she's the funniest cast member SNL has had in years.

2. Kristen Wiig, Spoils of Babylon

Speaking of the next Kristen Wiig, the original stunned everyone with a nod in the Best Actress in a Miniseries or a TV Movie category for her work on IFC's ruckus comedy miniseries Spoils of Babylon. Her campy performance made it into the race over Whoopi Goldberg (A Day Late and a Dollar Short), Toni Collette (Hostages), and Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), all of who were considered more likely—and more traditional—contenders.

3. Orange Is the New Black

Our gut said that Netflix's wild prison dramedy was either going to be showered with Emmy love or completely shut it. We're happily surprised that it was the former. It managed the big nod, Best Comedy, and a nomination for lead Taylor Schilling. In addition, the fabulous Kate Mulgrew made it into the supporting race and the show dominated the guest actress category. Natasha Lyonne, Laverne Cox, and Uzo Aduba all scored nods in that one.

4. The reign of Modern Family is ending

It used to be that every adult cast member of Modern Family would be nominated in the supporting categories (that means four men and two women), essentially barricading other deserving actors from other shows from getting in the race. This year, however, only Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson made it into the supporting actor category—no Eric Stonestreet or Ed O'Neil—and Julie Bowen is the only supporting actress contender—sorry, Sofia Vergara. That made way for delightful inclusions like Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), and McKinnon to break into the races.

5. Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex

Unless you were True Detective, an HBO series starring Matthew McConaughey that was practically a neon sign flashing "Hey, Emmys, You're Gonna Love Us," the Drama races weren't kind to new blood this year. It's a nice surprise, then, that Lizzy Caplan snuck into the Best Actress race for her performance on Showtime's Masters of Sex. (Kudos to the voters for nominating Allison Janney and Beau Bridges for the blistering guest turns, too.)

6. So much Normal Heart

HBO's movie adaptation of Larry Kramer's incendiary play about the crusade to have AIDS taken seriously was, at its own normal heart, a showcase for Acting with a capital 'A.' So while pundits wondered which of its standout supporting actors—Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello—would be chosen for Emmy nods, it's refreshing to see that voters just threw up their arms and gave nominations to all four. (Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts made it into Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, too.)

7. Ricky Gervais, Derek

I don't think this was on anyone's radar. But, really, we're for any nomination this fun and unexpected.

8. Lena Headey, Game of Thrones

It's been notoriously difficult for Game of Thrones' actors to break into the Emmy races, as even HBO has griped about publicly, with only Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke ever managing to score acting nods. Knowing that history, it's great to see that Lena Headey joins Clarke in the supporting category this year, because she was superb this past season.

9. Silicon Valley

It's this year's little show that could. Despite not getting any other major nominations (a nod in writing is it), Mike Judge's quietly hilarious HBO comedy eked a mention in the Best Comedy Series race, besting the likes of Girls, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Not bad.

10. Fred Armisen, Portlandia

Of all the supporting actor contenders who were in the running to take some of the Modern Family men's slots—Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Christopher Evan Welch (Silicon Valley)—we're not sure we would have gone with Fred Armisen. But, you know what? He's pretty damned good on that show, so we'll take it.