It's a champagne problem—although, for us true couch potatoes, probably more of a boxed wine problem—that there is simply too much good TV on to be properly rewarded by awards organizations like the Emmys. We all have our own personal tastes and passionate allegiance to certain programs and performers, sure—I'll love you forever, Parks and Recreation—but when a top-to-bottom stellar comedy like Veep takes home Best Comedy it's hard to complain.
In fact, Sunday night's Emmy Awards might be marked by almost uniformly excellent wins. Does that mean we're not going to complain? Ha! What do you think the Internet was invented for? Mini-sweeps adding up to a juggernaut night for HBO by Veep, Game of Thrones, and Olive Kitteredge mean there are a lot of actors and series that didn't get the recognition they were arguably due. #JusticeForPoehler
(See the full list of winners here.)
Now that we’ve dried our tears from Viola Davis’s Best Actress speech (it took a while), we can move on to our next Emmys emotions: shock and rage. Here’s our look at the night’s biggest snubs and surprises.
SNUB: Amy Poehler
What kind of world do we live in when Amy Poehler doesn’t have an Emmy Award? The star was nominated for the perfectly nostalgic final season of Parks and Recreation in both Best Actress and Comedy Series (as an executive producer), and scored two more nods for writing and hosting the Golden Globe Awards. She did not win a goddamn one. The unfortunate reality is that Veep deserved its Comedy Series award and Best Actress was the most stacked it’s been in years (see below). But if the Emmys could get it up to give a farewell Emmy to Jon Hamm couldn’t they have resisted giving Julia Louis-Dreyfus her fourth straight Emmy for Veep and handed it to Poehler instead? And if not Poehler, then…
SNUB: Lisa Kudrow
If show business awards truly were meritocracies, then Lisa Kudrow would’ve won Best Actress in a Comedy for her work on The Comeback. It is simply the greatest, most complicated performance on a comedy in a decade. Granted, choosing a winner between Louis-Dreyfus, Poehler, and Kudrow is the cruelest TV version of Sophie's Choice, and the buzz and erstwhile “hipness” of Veep is likely what carried its star to victory. But let’s not ignore how brilliant Kudrow’s work on The Comeback was. And let’s mourn that I never got to tweet, “Well, she got it!” after she won an Emmy for it.
SURPRISE: Regina King
Five years ago, Regina King wrote a piece for The Huffington Post titled “The Emmys: As White As Ever,” a powerful screed about the woeful state of diversity in television. This year, she won an Emmy Award for her work on the miniseries American Crime. How ’bout that! The series was flawed, but boasted brilliant performances from its cast, King obviously included, but Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie was thought to be a two-way race between Bessie’s Mo’nique and Sarah Paulson, who played conjoined twins in American Horror Story: Freak Show. The joy on her fellow nominees’ faces when her name was announced shows how well-liked King is in the business. The enthusiastic hoot from pal Taraji P. Henson when King got on stage to claim her trophy echoed the one in my heart.
SURPRISE: Viola Davis
When How to Get Away With Murder premiered last fall, Viola Davis was the odds-on favorite to win Best Actress in a Drama. But then Empire came along. No star or character was as much of a breakout this year as Taraji P. Henson and her Cookie Lyon, hinting that a come-from-behind Emmys victory was in store. Davis ended up taking the prize, however, and good thing, too. That acceptance speech of hers is one for the ages.
SNUB: Mad Men
There are those who maintain that the final season of Mad Men was not the creative triumph that so many TV critics breathlessly claimed it was. Emmy voters, apparently, are among those people. Most people assumed that the AMC drama, which had won Best Drama Series four times in the past, would pick up one last trophy on its way off air, especially after Jon Hamm finally got his farewell trophy after 16 victory-less nominations in various categories. But when Game of Thrones began cleaning up in the rest of the Drama races, breaking The West Wing’s record for most wins by a single series in a night, its Best Series win became inevitable.
SURPRISE: Richard Jenkins
Mark Rylance was so good in Wolf Hall and David Oyelowo so explosive in Nightingale that most pundits pegged one of them to win. But Richard Jenkins’s quiet, lovely work in Olive Kitteredge rode the wave of the HBO miniseries’s Emmys sweep, the result of which was the best opening line of any of the night’s speeches: “That was Lady Gaga!” (The singer and future American Horror Story star, in full Marilyn Monroe old Hollywood glamour and Madonna fake-fancy accent, presented Jenkins his Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie award.)
SNUB: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Can anyone fault the Emmys for giving Jon Stewart one last Emmy for his work on The Daily Show? Of course not. Though if the voters were feeling nostalgic, a case could’ve been made for David Letterman or Stephen Colbert taking home the trophy, too. But the person who was really screwed was John Oliver, whose Last Week Tonight is the most impactful and expertly done talk show to debut since… Jon Stewart took over The Daily Show. Its debut season was astonishing, and very deserving of recognition for being so.
SNUB: Tituss Burgess
We called the fact that Tony Hale was going to win a second Emmy for his work on Veep the second we saw the scene from this last season of Veep in which he and Julia Louis-Dreyfus scream at each other. But that means that Tituss Burgess, who gifted us with one of the loveliest, most interesting comedic creations in recent memory as Titus (one ‘s’) on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, would get snubbed. “Peeno Noir” is already iconic (as a spoken word ode to the black penis should be).
SNUB: Lena Headey
The episode that Lena Headey chose as her Emmy showcase for voters was “Mother's Mercy,” the same episode that won Game of Thrones Emmys for Directing and Writing and presumably helped buoy it to a Best Drama Series victory. Headey is brilliant in it and should have her own trophy for her performance. Uzo Aduba’s second victory for Orange Is the New Black—in an entirely different category, however—might be expected because of how beloved her character on the show is. And her work as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren is reliably transfixing. But we’re not the biggest fan of repeat winners, particularly when a performance like Headey’s is waiting to be recognized.