Reactionary Tale: Emmy Nominations 2014

Procrastination got the better of me, and I never got around to posting my picks for this year’s ceremony, though I would have been dead on in several categories from my notes. But there’s still plenty to be excited and miffed about. So here we go.

Biggest Snubs (in order from most to least egregious):
1. Any major nominations for The Americans
Margo Martindale deservedly repeated in the Guest Actress in a Drama Series, but otherwise, zip. FX’s spy drama is the best show on TV in my mind, featuring the best acting (from Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, Noah Emmerich and Annet Mahendru), writing and directing. Voters and audiences are missing out.

2. Any technical nominations for Hannibal
Just like last year, I am completely baffled. Not to the point where I’m surprised it didn’t get anything major, but seriously. The art direction, editing and cinematography are far and way the best on television.

3. Dean Norris, RJ Mitte or Bob Odenkirk — Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad; Betsy Brandt — Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad
Imagine this show without Hank, Flynn or Saul. You can’t, can you? Apparently Emmy voters can, because the show finished its six-year run without any nominations for these fine supporting actors. Marie wasn’t always as crucial, but was just as good as the rest of the ensemble in both parts of Season Five.

4. Alex Rubens — Writing for a Comedy Series for Community
“Cooperative Polygraphy” is one of the best episodes the show has ever done, not just a highlight of Season Five. The writing is nearly perfect, and almost as good as “Remedial Chaos Theory.” That’s not an exaggeration. When this show fires on all cylinders, even without some of its principal cast, it’s the best comedy on TV.

5. Keegan Michael-Key or Jordan Peele — Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Key & Peele
So apparently this is an Emmy rule, not sketch shows cheating, but these guys have been killing it for three straight seasons. Good for Fred Armisen making it for Portlandia, but he doesn’t hold a candle to these guys.

6. Rian Johnson — Directing for a Drama Series for Breaking Bad
Yes, “Felina” deserved to be nominated. But I don’t know how you don’t think “Ozymandias” is equally deserving, especially since you could make a strong case that it’s the series’ best episode. Oh, well. Rian Johnson’s about to sleep on a big bed of Star Wars money.

7. The Simpsons — Animated Program (One Hour or Less) for “Brick Like Me”
The last time The Simpsons wasn’t nominated in this category was 1994. That’s 20 years ago. It would be easy to say that the show has experienced a decline in quality, but Fox has submitted just about every future-set episode of the show, and many of those were terrible, and they still got nominated. “Brick Like Me” (aka the LEGO episode) is more than just a gimmick with beautiful animation. It’s actually a heartfelt latter-day gem. Are you telling me an episode of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is better than this? Or Toy Story of Terror? Or Community‘s “G.I. Jeff”?

8. Olivia Munn — Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Newsroom
As the most improved actress on a show that’s actually great but gets no respect, Olivia Munn is often the best reason to watch the show. She likely submitted “News Night with Will McAvoy,” where she goes through all the rage phases after a very public humiliation. Her catharsis was one of the most “eff-yeah” moments on TV in 2013.

9. Anything other than Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Brooklyn Nine-Nine
I love Andre Braugher, and he absolutely deserved to be nominated (and should win, too) as the stoic but secretly hilarious captain. But this surpassed Parks and Recreation and Community to become my favorite comedy on TV. A series nomination, some acting nods, maybe a writing and directing nod would have been nice.

10. Jeff Perry — Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Scandal 
Typically, I’d be the last guy advocating for Scandal, but as I am in a relationship with a woman, sometimes I have to watch this show. Some episodes are less execrable than others, particularly what was likely Jeff Perry’s submission episode (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), when he has to mourn the loss of his husband (last year’s Guest Actor in a Drama Series winner Dan Bucatinsky), a journalist who stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and got killed because of it.

Most Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order):
1. Reg E. Cathey — Guest Actor in a Drama Series for House of Cards
In all the back-door political deals and murders and threesomes, it’s easy to forget the most tragic part of Season Two was Freddy, who lost his shot at the big time thanks to his deadbeat son.

2. All the love for Fargo
Thanks to HBO submitting True Detective as a Drama Series and the Emmys re-splitting the Made-for-TV Movie and Miniseries categories, FX’s Fargo gets to reap all the benefits. I’d like to say it’s shoo-in for a sweep, but nothing’s a guarantee at the Emmys. Allison Tolman (up for Supporting Actress) deserves to win most of all, but sadly she’s up against three Oscar winners (Kathy Bates, Ellen Burstyn and Julia Roberts), an Oscar nominee (Angela Bassett) and a 5-time Emmy nominee (Frances Conroy).

3. The end of Modern Family‘s stranglehold
For the first time, the kids got to submit themselves. And who wound up nominated? Only the ones who have been there every year since the beginning: Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. It didn’t even get a writing nomination (which it probably deserved). It’s likely going to lose Comedy Series for the first time this year, and I’m OK with that.

4. Orange is the New Black dominates
I expected a couple showings in weaker categories (Comedy Series, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series) but its 12 nominations is flat-out impressive. Three spots in the Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category, a first-time nomination for Kate Mulgrew (Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), and writing and directing nods, could all mean a  win in September, especially with the buzzy Season Two still in many folks’ Netflix queues.

5. 700 Sundays gets the recognition it deserves
No special made me laugh or feel the feels like Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, a one-man show that incorporates all kinds of other elements to share the story of his childhood and his not-always-great relationship with his father.

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