I pored over this year’s Emmy Nominations list when it was released last week with my usual zeal for both awards shows and lists.
What I saw were many signs of life in the creative arm of the entertainment industry: renewed battles between veterans and newcomers, multiple nominations among actors, writers, and directors, and recognizable names in all sorts of categories, from cinematography to choreography, to name a few.
Regarding the latter, let’s start with Writing for a Variety Series: Fred Armisen and former Sleater-Kinney rocker Carrie Brownstein for the win, anyone? There’s also an oddly celebrified Voice-over Performance Category; Seth MacFarlane and Seth Green go without saying here, but Sam Elliott and Lily Tomlin? The playing field has widened.
I love the new and still-evolving award categories, too, like Best Interactive Program. While I think those at the helm of said programs need to put a little more work into the titles — Game Of Thrones Season Three Enhanced Digital Experience is kind of a mouthful — the fact that they even exist is a nod and-a-half to the power of social media. Holla.
Then there are the categories that probably aren’t new, but are no less intriguing to me in today’s fast-paced media climate. They stand out as growing pains. I can’t help but wonder: does there really need to be a category for Documentary or Nonfiction Series, Documentary or Nonfiction Special, and an Informational Series or Special? I gather that ‘Informational Series’ is geared more toward educational or awareness material, but it still makes me think of George Carlin’s Flammable-Inflammable Rant.
Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role confuses me too. Is it the effects we’re talking about here? Or special effects surrounding one character, like Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows? The nominees in this category don’t help me, either. Two are for pilots and four are for shows on premium channels that I don’t get. I honestly didn’t even know Starz still existed but way to go, Da Vinci’s Demons.
Circling back to the stars and the shows they’re on, though, because hey — they’re fun — there are a slew of people to root for. I, of course, focus on the shows that I follow and by no means is that an exhaustive treatment of what’s on t.v. today. That said, I do have a few favorites:
Best Drama Series
While I watch both Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and both had amazing seasons, I have to give this year to Walter White and Company. The writers started with a high school chemistry teacher and will ultimately end with a character of whom any reasonably minded human is terrified. Recognize.
Actress in a Drama
I want Elisabeth Moss to take the Emmy home; Peggy Olson is the glue that holds the Mad house together. That said, I don’t think she will. I watched Robin Wright in House of Cards and Vera Farmiga in Bates Motel, and if I had to choose between the three I’d take Farmiga for the knock-out, but I also think Wright has the critics’ support.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy
The supporting categories are more interesting to me than the Lead noms most years, and especially this year. These are the character players. The funny women after my own heart. The sauce.
Vying for the nostalgia vote are former child stars Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and Anna Chlumsky (Veep), joined by now-seasoned comedy veterans Jane Lynch (Glee), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), and Julie Bowen (Modern Family). Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) is my top candidate. Her portrayal of the warm-hearted, socially awkward, professionally adept Nurse Zoe is one of the best performances on television in its nuances alone.
Guest Actor in a Drama
I Tweeted earlier in the year that I though Harry Hamlin’s turn as the latest partner at Sterling Coop was his best, and apparently, the critics agree.
Guest Actress in a Drama
Many of us didn’t know whether to cheer or shed a tear when we saw Linda Cardellini, our beloved Freaks and Geeks‘ Lindsay, getting all Betty Rubble Cray Cray on Mad Men. With an award at hand, now we can just cheer. Ironically, of course.
My ultimate favorite in this category has to go to two-time nominee Joan Cusack as agoraphobic Sheila on Shameless, though. No one can play a house-bound housewife with a sex-toy fetish like Joan Cusack. And I mean that as a compliment.
- Anthony Bourdain is nominated for three — three — Emmys. I’m beginning to think I should add ‘win an Emmy’ to my bucket list. Apparently it’s more attainable than I previously thought*.
- Christina Hendricks, you have some tough competition. But I want this be your year. And so does Johnny Walker.
- Liz & Dick managed to squeak an Emmy nom under its belt before fading into obscurity: for hairstyling.
- There’s all sorts of buzz around the Netflix-based nominees this year, but FunnyorDie.com? For the Emmy? That’s progress.
- Rory Kennedy is nominated for Direction of a documentary about her mother, Ethel.
- Betty White.
The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to:
The Simpsons on its Emmy nom for Treehouse of Horror: XXIII.
It’s true that the fame-names drew me into further discovery of those lesser-known categories. But the categories themselves kept me looking, and hopefully there are future writers, composers, editors and producers out there doing the same… the opportunities are only growing.
* I kid. He’s actually a multiple Emmy winner. I just wanted to dish it out.