And The Emmy Nominees Are…



This morning, in Los Angeles, every single television actor, producer, critic, and other various hanger on held their bated breath as Mindy Kaling and Carson Daily rose at the crack of dawn to announce the Emmy Awards. With Game Of Thrones leading the pack with 19 nominations (and HBO itself getting 99 nominations), it is a very interesting crop.

Here are the nominations, with my quick observations. One big note before we begin: This is based on the previous season for shows airing between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014. So keep that in mind when asking “Why isn’t so-and-so nominated for this-or-that?!”.

And so, without further ado, here are my reactions to the big categories…


Best Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

No Homeland?! Color me surprised. A pretty solid list here. I’m frankly surprised that True Detective is being considered as a series where shows like Fargo and American Horror Story are considered mini-series. That said, I am kind of dismayed that Masters of Sex, Hannibal, Orphan Black, Sons of Anarchy, and The Americans in particular didn’t get the nod. And the fact that The Good Wife isn’t up here in the face of one of its best seasons is shocking.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

This is a pretty solid list (and no surprise there to Harrelson and McConaughey getting the nom) but I would swap out Daniels for either Matthew Rhys for The Americans, Mads Mikkelsen for Hannibal, or Michael Sheen for Masters Of Sex; all of whom gave great performances this season.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

I only have one complaint. As good as all of these actresses are in these roles, I am stunned that Tatiana Maslany isn’t up for basically her one-woman show Orphan Black. Frankly her performance blows all of these lovely ladies out of the water.

Supporting Actor, Drama
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

I’m sad that John Slatterly didn’t get the nomination since his work on Mad Men was inspired this season, but I’m gobsmacked that neither Dean Norris or Bob Odenkirk didn’t get any love for their work as Hank and Saul respectively in Breaking Bad.

Supporting Actress, Drama
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

A pretty solid list here.

Guest Actor, Drama
Paul Giamatti, Downton Abbey
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Joe Morton, Scandal

Guest Actress, Drama
Margo Martindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Kate Mara, House of Cards
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Jane Fonda, Newsroom
Kate Burton, Scandal

Solid lists here. It’s always hard to determine who’s a supporting turn and who is a guest actor turn. For example, why are Robert Morse and Margo Martindale here and not in their respective Best Supporting Actor categories (if this means he wins the award for his work this year, I’ll take it, but still!). That said I’m very happy Allison Janney got nominated for her work on Masters of Sex. This is what a guest turn is supposed to be; a small role given an electrifying performance.


Best Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley

A solid list, but I’m shocked that (a) Girls isn’t on here, because everyone loves that show, and (b) Shameless isn’t on here. This is the first year that it’s competing as a comedy and it’s the right category for it. And as much trouble as it’s had over the years, The Mindy Kaling Project has started to right itself and was solid this season. Given the talent involved as well, I’m shocked that Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn’t make the cut. All of that said, I kind of wish that the primetime animated shows were considered for Best Comedy, because Bob’s Burgers had an inspired season this year and could go neck and neck with these shows.

Lead Actor in a Comedy
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Ricky Gervais, Derek

As much as I love Jim Parsons (and am rooting for him in another category) he has sat upon this category for too long. As for William H. Macy, good on him for getting some love for his work in Shameless.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black

Not to harp on Shameless, but the one big downside of it switching over to comedy is that it shut out Emmy Rossum’s fantastic work as Fiona. That said, if you take out McCarthy (meh) and Schilling (I know it’s Piper’s story, but it’s an ensemble piece), and add in either Mindy Kaling, Carrie Brownstein for Portlandia, or Amy Schumer for Inside Amy Schumer, you’d have a deliciously tough category.

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Fred Armisen, Portlandia

How is Fred Armisen a supporting actor? That said, I’m delighted that the great Andre Braugher got a deserved nomination for his terrific work in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. If I were to change some names I would add a few of the cast members of The Big Bang Theory (for preventing turning the show into Sketches of Jim Parsons) as well as the men from Community (Danny Pudi in particular for his amazing work as Abed this season) and Timothy Simons for Veep.

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

A lot of new faces here! And cheers to Kate McKinnon for getting a rare acting nomination for her work on Saturday Night Live.

Guest Actor, Comedy
Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Steve Buscemi, Portlandia
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Gary Cole, Veep

A great line up. While I should root for Buscemi, Bob Newhart was an inspired addition to The Big Bang Theory.

Guest Actress, Comedy
Natasha Lyonne, Orange Is the New Black
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Joan Cusack, Shameless

Whelp, I guess we should get used to this category being dominated by the ladies of Litchfield! (Besides, as inspired of a casting choice as Joan Cusack is as Sheila, she should be up in Best Supporting). And while I, like every right thinking person, would cheer from the rooftops if Laverne Cox were to win, I think the edge has to go her costar (and Critics Choice Award winner) Uzo Aduba for her amazing work as Crazy Eyes (which bumped her up from a recurring actor to main actor this season). (On a side note: I predict that next year Lorraine Touissant will dominate this category next year).


Outstanding Miniseries
American Horror Story: Coven
The White Queen
Bonnie and Clyde

Okay, someone please explain to me how Treme can be considered a Miniseries while True Detective is considered a Drama? I get why American Horror Story and Fargo are here as both are set up as anthologies.

Outstanding Television Movie
The Normal Heart
The Trip to Bountiful
Killing Kennedy
Sherlock: His Last Vow
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight

Again, why is Sherlock here as a movie and not as a Miniseries? Oh Emmy Awards, sometimes you make my head hurt. While I am indeed spitting nails over the nominations of The Normal Heart (long story short: one of the most angry plays ever written given a sanitized and palid film version), I am kind of giddy about the love that The Trip To Bountiful is getting.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow
Idris Elba, Luther
Martin Freeman, Fargo

Oh god, this category is stacked to the teeth with good choices all around.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Kristen Wiig, Spoils of Babylon
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero

Another stacked category with talent. But if you take away Lange and Paulson (because let’s face it, Coven was a mess) and Kristen Wiig (Spoils of Babylon was fun but no one saw it) it leaves three good performances; two of which were among my favorites from last season. Bonham Carter gave an inspired performance as Elizabeth Taylor while the iconic Cicely Tyson reprised her Tony-winning turn in The Trip To Bountiful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: His Last Vow
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart

Oof. If I have to give it to anyone from Normal Heart, I’d give it to Parsons (who was on his good behavior as he was reprising his role from the 2011 Broadway Revival) or Mantello (who actually headlined that same revival).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven
Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart

While I can bitch about Coven, Basset, Bates, and Conroy in particular made great campy hay of Ryan Murphy’s hash. That said, I have a soft spot for Allison Tolman’s great work on Fargo this season.

Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

It’s hard to pick in this category because we have to ask what would classify as a variety show. If we go by the concept of variety then Portlandia and Inside Amy Schumer should be here as well.


The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air on Monday, August 25 on NBC, hosted by Seth Meyers. So you have the next few weeks to make your predictions.

Originally Published on 10 July 2014 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my television column for l’étoile.


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