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My Emmy Reactions: Some Joy, Some Confusion and the Happy Dance List

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jul 14th 2011 10:40AM
Every year on Emmy nomination day, as soon as the list of nominees is released, I peruse the roster and start writing. I don't read any reactions or stories until I've read the full list myself, so what follows are my first-blush reactions to seeing the list for the first time.

As I said in my Emmy prediction piece, every year there are omissions that rankle me, but this year, I have to say, the number of nice surprises was large. So as I sit here, still not having had coffee yet, I find myself unable to be too mad at the Emmys. I'm actually pretty pleased about a few things. Is it Opposite Day? The Emmys are recognizing 'Parks and Recreation' and Louie C.K. in comedy categories and 'Friday Night Lights' in the best drama category -- things I hadn't predicted but I'm very happy about -- so maybe it is.

Without further ado, here are my Pre-Coffee Emmy Musings (which I may add to later in the day, post-coffee), followed by the Happy Dance List.

• Pinch me. No really, pinch me. 'Friday Night Lights' got nominated by the Emmys for best drama series? That's amazingly terrific! And so very richly deserved.

• Pinch me. No really, pinch me. 'Parks and Recreation' got nominated by the Emmys in the best comedy category? How wonderful! I have no words beyond 'Yay!' Steaks and mustaches for everyone!

• As the Emmy press release points out, five of the twelve nominees in the best comedy and best drama categories are first-time nominees in those categories. This is the year the Emmys get some fresh blood, apparently. And if that fresh blood consists of programs like 'Game of Thrones' and 'Parks and Recreation,' I'm not going to complain too much if they stick around in those categories for a while.

• I needn't have worried about 'Game of Thrones,' which I thought might get somewhat ignored by the Emmy voters given that it has genre/fantasy elements. But the HBO brand carried the day, as did, I would think, the show's genuine quality. Thirteen nominations, including one for Peter Dinklage (which I predicted) is a pretty great showing for a freshman drama, even an HBO production. As you may know, I had issues with Dinklage's fake English accent all season, but I never disputed how talented and charismatic he was in the role of Tyrion. At this stage, I'm at least used to the accent issue and I think some of Dinklage's scenes later in the season were outstanding.

• Speaking of somewhat insane HBO worship, fellow freshman drama 'Boardwalk Empire' walked off with a total 18 nomination. What, no 'B.E.' nomination for best craft services? I am outraged! Kidding.

• I truly wish that more actors in 'Game of Thrones' had been recognized, especially Sean Bean and Emilia Clarke. But the truth is, Clarke is a newcomer -- her time may yet come. It's early days yet for the show, and I'm sure more Emmy love is coming if it stays as good as it got in the second half of its first season.

• A show that didn't lack for Emmy love was 'The Good Wife,' which got a total of six acting nominations and which was also nominated in the best drama category. No argument here; it's most definitely one of the best shows on TV and at this point, with 'FNL' ending, it's the best program on the broadcast networks.

• Finally, the Emmys listen to me! Nice to see that Johnny Galecki got a nomination for his work on 'The Big Bang Theory,' as well as Jim Parsons, who's been recognized by various awards-giving bodies for some time now.

• Speaking of the best actor in a comedy category, Matt LeBlanc was indeed the best thing about 'Episodes' but the show itself was a self-aggrandizing, shrill mess. But that's the Emmy name recognition factor working its magic.

• I can't believe Louie C.K. got a best actor in a comedy nomination for an Emmy! I'm thrilled Emmy voters recognized C.K.'s excellent work on 'Louie,' and also gave him a writing nod for the excellent season 1 episode 'Poker/Divorce,' one of the show's high points. 'Louie' is in the midst of airing its second season now on FX. You should be watching it.

• Speaking of the best actor in a comedy category, Steve Carell's nomination was much deserved. He'll undoubtedly win for his final season on 'The Office.'

• 'Friday Night Lights' got a writing nomination for its series finale, 'Always.' I'm going to start crying now.

• My tears are drying up. I just saw that Veena Sud got a writing nomination for the pilot for 'The Killing.' I will fully admit that I gave the pilot a positive review. If only I knew the sloppy, condescending horrors that awaited anyone who stuck with that show...

• Well, in any event, 'Mad Men's' Matthew Weiner got a nomination in the best drama writing category for 'The Suitcase.' That must win. It is written.

• I'm of course happy that Andre Braugher got nominated for his work on 'Men of a Certain Age.' I'd have loved more acting and writing nominations for the fine TNT show, but I'll take what I can get. Fingers crossed that a renewal announcement about the show is coming soon. Pleasepleaseplease.

• I told you Betty White was going to get a nomination this year. I told you! It's her seventeenth Emmy nomination. You go, Betty.

• A couple of much-deserved guest actor nominations: Jeremy Davies for 'Justified' and Michael J. Fox for 'The Good Wife.'

• Speaking of enjoyable guest acting nominations, Randee Heller got a nomination for her work as Miss Blankenship on 'Mad Men.' Good for her!

• Idris Elba was nominated for his work in 'The Big C,' and for his lead role in the much superior BBC series 'Luther.' I hope he wins for the latter category (which BBC America wisely entered in the miniseries categories).

• Five of my "who will be nominated" predictions in the Best Drama Actor categories were correct. I'm sorry Ray Romano didn't get a nod for his fine work in 'Men of a Certain Age,' but I'm not sorry to see Kyle Chandler's name in the best dramatic actor Emmy roster that was announced today. Full hearts!

• I did truly think that Mireille Enos was good in 'The Killing.' But I cannot get behind any of the nominations that the show received, including her nod for best dramatic actress. You probably already know how I felt about the show's disappointing season and insulting finale, so we won't go there again, but please. No.

• I know it was expected, but it's nonetheless thrilling to see Elisabeth Moss' nominated for her work in 'Mad Men' in the best lead actress in a drama series category. It's her first year in that category, and she deserves every bit of praise she gets for her performance as Peggy in season 4 of the AMC show.

• I know, I can't shut up about this, but four nominations for 'Friday Night Lights' overall, including best actor and actress. Wow. By the way, come back here Friday for my thoughts on the show's NBC series finale.

• I'm trying to resign myself to the fact that 'Glee' will always get way too many nominations, now until the end of time.

• Six nominations for 'The Pillars of the Earth'? Here's what that says: Aside from HBO's lavish miniseries and movies, this category is a desert, so any miniseries that gets made is likely to get some kind of nomination, whether it deserves it or not. 'Pillars' was awful. It deserves nothing. No, really, it was truly terrible. Argh.

• I was glad to see Melissa McCarthy get some recognition for 'Mike and Molly,' but she is much better than the show she's in. It's not awful, but it's quite broad and shallow most of the time. With snappier, smarter writing, 'Mike and Molly' could be better and more worthy of McCarthy's great comic skills.

• I should have seen this coming, but I didn't spend much time thinking about the miniseries category: 'Downton Abbey' truly cleaned up, with a total of 11 nominations. Again, this is partly a factor of the present-day situation when it comes to miniseries and movies -- there just aren't many that get made, and the ones that do get made are either HBO class-fests or crappy projects on Lifetime or minor cable channels. 'Downton,' however, was terrific, and it's not only wonderful to see a excellent work recognized, it'll be good to see a network other than HBO pick up some statues in this category.

• Why did 'The Borgias' get so many nominations? I just don't know. I didn't hate the show -- in fact I enjoyed Jeremy Irons' classy scenery chewing -- but I'm guessing Emmy voters were swayed by film director Neil Jordan's name all over the project. For instance, it's disappointing that Jordan got a directing nomination for 'The Borgias,' rather than, say, Alan Taylor for 'Game of Thrones.' Tim Van Patten did get a directing nomination for the 'GoT' pilot, which was good, but Taylor's episodes, which came later in the show's run, were better, in my opinion. But perhaps calculating that Emmy voters wouldn't truly get how good the ninth and tenth episodes of the season were, perhaps HBO didn't submit Taylor's work. I don't know. (It's interesting to note that executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss submitted 'Baelor,' the ninth episode of the season and a truly pivotal one, in the writing category -- and that episode did get nominated for best writing for a drama. Hmmm....)

• The above item touches on one of my perennial Emmy complaints -- the effect of the best shows is cumulative, but the Emmy process often penalizes shows, performances and scripts that grows more powerful over time. In many cases, you have to have seen an entire season to know how good a performance was or how great a show became. Emmy voters typically watch one episode per category, maybe two, and they usually see episodes that were chosen because they're good one-offs, not necessarily the most powerful episode of that show's most recent season.

• 'Game of Thrones' got a nomination for hairstyling. Sorry, but I don't think the show deserved it. Some of those wigs were hot messes.

• 'Rubicon'! I never expected to see that show anywhere on the Emmy list, but it got a nod for main-title design. A small but nice surprise. But I'm a little sad that Michael Cristofer didn't get a nod for his guest performance as spy weirdo Truxton Spangler. And of course, the show's cast, directors and writers were generally excellent, but this is one of those times I didn't expect the Emmys to give the show any love.


• Of course I hope 'Game of Thrones' wins the best title-design category. It's a treat.

• Shows I also didn't expect to see in the Emmy roster, though it would have been nice had they gotten some recognition: 'Terriers,' 'Treme,' 'Archer,' 'Spartacus' (which got a nod for its stunt work), 'Doctor Who,' 'Fringe,' 'Cougar Town.' There's a longer list of snubs and surprises here.

Finally, what follows is a list of the Emmy nominations and tidbits that thrilled me most. Let's call this the Happy Dance Category:

• Louie C.K. nominated for 'Louie.' Nice.
• 'Friday Night Lights' getting four nominations, including best drama.
• Walton Goggins nominated for his great work as Boyd on 'Justified.'
• 'Parks and Recreation' getting a best comedy nod. Terrific.
• Margo Martindale getting a nod for her amazing guest work on 'Justified.' All hail Mags.

For a list of info about and excerpts from nominated shows, look here.

MORE EMMYS 2011 COVERAGE:
Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises
Video Clips from Best Comedy & Best Drama Nominees

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23 Comments

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master K

i want kyle chandler to win just so i can hear "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" one last time

September 15 2011 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris H

Am I missing something here? Did anybody watch Treme this year? Granted last year was a bit fractured, but what a great year they had this year.

Khandi Alexander clearly had one of the best years of series acting I saw this year. Nothing against Mirelle Enos, but really!

July 15 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

"Why did 'The Borgias' get so many nominations? I just don't know. I didn't hate the show -- in fact I enjoyed Jeremy Irons' classy scenery chewing -- but I'm guessing Emmy voters were swayed by film director Neil Jordan's name all over the project. "

Possibly -- I don't love or hate The Borgias enough to think about it much. But honestly, if having a feature director was that much of an advantage Martin Scorsese and Frank Darabont should have pulled a lot more noms to Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead.

July 14 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Piper McDonald

Emily D. should have at the very least gotten a nod this year. She has always been fantastic, but this season, she took it to another level. Shame she missed out.

July 14 2011 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
devinmcmusters

Community. Best thing on TV. So screw these fake awards.

July 14 2011 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katja

Pretty crazy that Luther didn't get nominated for best miniseries though. Would have been between that and Downton Abbey. Go Brits!

July 14 2011 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Katja's comment
Katja

And then I left out another UK show, Sherlock. Thanks atlantaricky.

July 14 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
atlantaricky

The Kennedys was actually the second miniseries I wish I'd gouged my eyes out before watching; Pillars of the Earth being the first, and both of them got nominations instead of the fantastic SHERLOCK.

July 14 2011 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to atlantaricky's comment
Craig Ranapia

Sorry, but SHERLOCK was hardly snubbed. Four nominations, which honestly was four more than I expected.

Outstanding Writing For a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special -- Steven Moffat, "A Study in Pink"

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For a Miniseries or a Movie -- "A Study in Pink"

Outstanding Music Composition For a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score) -- "A Study in Pink"

Outstanding Visual Effects For a Miniseries, Movie or a Special -- "A Study in Pink"

July 15 2011 at 2:38 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Geoff B

Great post! One thing: Elisabeth Moss was nominated as lead actress once before, she just switched to supporting in season three due to reduced screen time.

Also: Miniseries is usually a dreadful category but this year they had better options (Carlos, Luther, Sherlock) and *still* nominated Pillars of the Earth and The Kennedys. Argh!

July 14 2011 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Geoff B's comment
Craig Ranapia

Frankly it was 'Mildred Pierce' that really had my eyes rolling. I agree with Mo's call on that -- an enormous amount of talent on both sides of the camera got wasted on an ill-conceived (and painfully over-long) literary adaptation that was too respectful of the source material.

July 15 2011 at 7:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
big1nfla

wasn't this Dennis O'Hare's year for eligibility as Russell Edgingtion on True Blood?

July 14 2011 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
leave me alone

*Nothing* for Breaking Bad? Disappointing, considering how good Season 3 was.

July 14 2011 at 11:28 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to leave me alone's comment
MockingbirdGirl

Um, yeah. Which is why season 3 was nominated LAST year, when it was actually eligible.

July 14 2011 at 12:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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