The nominees for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this past Thursday, so let’s take a look. Mad Men and American Horror Story dominated this year with seventeen nominations each. Mad Men, in the outstanding drama category, will be battling Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and newcomer Homeland for the top prize. If Mad Men wins, it will break a record claiming the most outstanding drama wins (5). Ryan Murphy’s thriller, however, was placed in the outstanding TV miniseries or movie category and will face off against HBO’s political movie Game Change, the History channel’s ratings monster Hatfields & McCoys, the PBS Sherlock episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” and also Hemingway and Gellhorn and Luther.
Let’s take a look at the drama categories first. Outstanding actors include Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), and Damian Lewis (Homeland). Outstanding supporting actors include Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), and Jared Harris (Mad Men). Outstanding actresses include Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law), Glenn Close (Damages), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). Outstanding supporting actresses include Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). For American Horror Story fans, Connie Britton, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, and Denis O’Hare were all recognized for their acting chops in the miniseries categories. Sherlock fans, the phenomenal Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were nominated, too.
The theme here is that the Academy loves Mad Men (hot off its five year in a row winning streak), Downton Abbey (hot off its best miniseries win last year), and Homeland (hot off its critically adored first season). So what shows were overlooked? The Academy is known for passing over genre shows like The Walking Dead and Fringe, so their lack of a presence is a shame but not surprising. Other snubs include the Academy not recognizing the final season of House and nominating Hugh Laurie for his turn as the iconic doc and Mad Men‘s John Slattery for his much talked about performance in the trippy episode “Far Away Places.” I want to make a case for NBC’s shortlived series Awake. I understand how the low-rated drama was not nominated, but if Kathy Bates can be nominated for outstanding actress for the recently cancelled Harry’s Law, I am dumbfounded as to how Jason Issacs’ performance was not accounted for. Heck, even Missing‘s Ashley Judd was nominated for lead actress in a miniseries; NBC should’ve sold Awake as a miniseries and perhaps Issacs would’ve been recognized. Also, no love for Revenge? It’s plain to see that the cable is king this year as the big four networks were shut out in the outstanding drama category, a place where they once dominated.
Moving on to the comedy categories, your outstanding comedy series nominees are The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family, 30 Rock, and HBO’s freshmen Girls and Veep. Outstanding actors include Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Louis C.K. (Louie), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory). Outstanding supporting actors include Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, and Eric Stonestreet, Max Greenfield (New Girl), and Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live). Outstanding actresses include Zoey Deschanel (New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). Outstanding supporting actresses include Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), the late Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie), and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live).
Modern Family dominates as usual and will likely win the top prize, but what’s most interesting here is the injection of fresh blood with HBO’s buzzy comedy series Girls and Veep. It’s surprising, however, that NBC’s Park and Recreation, FOX’s New Girl, and FX’s Louie were not nominated for outstanding series since their respective lead actors were recognized for their efforts. Though Community was overlooked in the outstanding series and actor (Joel McHale) categories where it belongs, it finally landed an Emmy nod for outstanding writing; Chris McKenna’s pen was recognized for “Remedial Chaos Theory.” Glee is the other show that was not completely shut out but did not break into the major categories. This was the first year in many that The Office was shut out across the board; the Academy misses Steve Carrell like the rest of us. One last snub that must be mentioned is Nick Offerman. It’s tough enough that Parks and Rec, coming off arguably its best season yet, wasn’t nominated for outstanding series; the fact that Offerman’s perfected portrayal of Ron Swanson still hasn’t been recognized simply doesn’t make sense. To make matters even stranger, Parks and Rec was nominated twice in the outstanding writing category (for Poehler’s “The Debate” and Michael Schur’s finale “Win, Lose, or Draw”) and still didn’t land the outstanding series nod. What the heck?
And now, a special shout out to Louis C.K. The comedian broke a record having scored seven nominations for himself. Though his distinct FX series did not land an Emmy nod, C.K. picked up nods for outstanding lead actor, director (“Duckling”), writer (“Pregnant”), and four nods for his standup special Live at the Beacon Theatre (for outstanding special class program, directing, writing, and editing).
Click here to see all the nominees. The 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs live Sunday, September 23 on ABC at 7PM.