2013 Emmys: Surprises and Snubs

BBC's America's 'Orphan Black' was shut out of this year's Emmys.

BBC’s America’s clone thriller ‘Orphan Black’ was shut out of this year’s Emmys.

Though there were a lot of locks for the main categories at the Emmys this year, the TV Academy still managed to surprise us here at Cinema Sentinel with some very deserving underdogs scoring nominations and equally shocking snubs. Though we would certainly never want to be in the position of choosing a few nominees out of this past year’s terrific crop, it’s always fun to dissect and disagree with the TV Academy’s picks. Let’s take it one at a time with the six main categories:

Outstanding Comedy Series

This year’s category is almost identical to last year’s, with FX’s Louie sneaking onto the ballot in place of HBO’s Curb Your EnthusiasmLouie was certainly worthy of a nomination – no show still on TV does biting dark comedy as skillfully – but there were some equally deserving but unfairly snubbed candidates. NBC’s Parks and Recreation had a terrific season, far superior to, say, the latest season of Girls (debatably not even a comedy at this point). Parks and Recreation has even surpassed its stylistic muse, The Office, at this point by so completely involving the audience in the lives of its characters despite the documentary format, and it is about time that the Emmys recognize that after years of unfairly ignoring the show. And the total lack of love for FOX’s New Girl, which hit a real groove in its second season, is depressing, if not surprising given all of the deserving candidates this year. The characters on New Girl grew (though some more than others) from caricatures to legitimate protagonists, with strengths, weaknesses and quirks all their own. The scripts were also far better than in New Girl‘s first season, giving each actor time to shine individual while evolving all of the roommates’ relationships in exciting ways. With 30 Rock in the ground, maybe some fresher comedies will get a chance next year.

Biggest Surprise: Louie (FX)

Biggest Snub: Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Outstanding Drama Series

This field was the tightest of any this year, with so many brilliant dramas on the air, and so it’s difficult to argue with the nominees – in particular, AMC’s Mad Men, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and AMC’s Breaking Bad are all at the peak of their storytelling powers. Netflix’s House of Cards deserves a nomination not only for its terrific acting and plot, but also for its very existence. House of Cards is groundbreaking in that it is the first original online web television program to ever receive Emmy attention. If there’s any debating, it would be about SHOWTIME’s Homeland. The complex spy thriller had an undeniably weak second season, despite an extremely strong start. It’s safe to say that the TV Academy is honoring the first half of Homeland‘s second season, not the completely absurd Abu Nazir kidnapping twist of its last few episodes. However, there are other shows more deserving that, with careful restraint, avoided going off the rails in the way that Homeland did. FX’s The Americans had an exhilarating, almost flawless first season. Also on FX, Sons of Anarchy and Justified arguably had their best seasons yet.  On HBO, Boardwalk Empire was conspicuously absent for the first time. And while the same channel’s drama The Newsroom turned a lot of heads, it’s likely that tough love from critics scared off the TV Academy. Meanwhile, SHOWTIME’s Dexter pulled itself out of a nosedive in grand fashion with one of its best seasons in years, to no avail, and AMC’s The Walking Dead also didn’t make the cut, despite its burgeoning popularity and rise in quality. Neither did NBC’s freshman drama Hannibal, which had a surprising amount of awards buzz behind it going into the nominations. In this writer’s mind, the biggest snub in this category would have to be BBC America’s Orphan Black, which succeeded in making sci-fi cool again, as well as smart, sexy and compulsively watchable. Despite the many fantastical aspects of the show’s plot (which are almost certainly what turned voters off), the drama was as gritty, well-acted and fascinating as anything on American television this year.

Biggest Surprise: House of Cards (Netflix)

Biggest Snub: Orphan Black (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

The heavy hitters are all there, though Jeff Daniels somehow snuck in despite The Newsroom‘s bad press and lack of nominations. This was such a rewarding season of television all around that there were many deserving actors who just didn’t make the cut. Timothy Olyphant was great in this season of Justified. Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter) both got the shaft this year after being nominated last year, allowing Daniels and Kevin Spacey of House of Cards to take their places. Neither Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) nor Matthew Rhys (The Americans) stood a chance, though in weaker years they both would have been up for consideration. Hugh Dancy was truly outstanding on NBC’s freshman drama Hannibal as troubled criminal profiler Will Graham. And Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead turned in the most impressive performance on a show built on great performances, showing off his wide acting range this past season as his character sunk to new moral depths. All of them would have been nominated in a perfect world. Sadly, the TV Academy loves to show devotion to its favorite shows, so newcomers often get spurned in favor of mainstays like Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men).

Biggest Surprise: Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom (HBO)

Biggest Snub: Andrew Lincoln – The Walking Dead (AMC)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

This category yielded some of the most surprising nominations in this year’s Emmys. Some of them were satisfying, like Vera Farmiga for her excellent work as twisted mother Norma Bates on A&E’s breakout Bates Motel. And some of them were a little frustrating, like Connie Britton on ABC’s Nashville, an uneven guilty pleasure show that went through some considerable growing pains. The category nominated seven actresses, as opposed to the standard six, which suggests the TV Academy struggled to narrow down the contenders, so there were likely many other actresses who were very close to receiving the nod that Britton ultimately (read: inexplicably) earned. Tatiana Maslany played not one but seven characters to perfection on BBC America’s Orphan Black, masterfully differentiating each performance with distinctive looks, styles, accents, and mannerisms. No one else on TV can claim to play both the protagonist and antagonist of their show, along with most of the supporting characters. Maslany’s omission, after her win at the Critic’s Choice Awards, was likely the biggest snub of any category at the Emmys this year. Other deserving candidates included Jennifer Carpenter for her increasingly terrific work on SHOWTIME’s Dexter, Lena Headey and Michelle Fairley of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and Keri Russell, the compelling center of FX’s The Americans. Julianne Margulies was also snubbed this year, though CBS’s The Good Wife had another strong season.

Biggest Surprise: Connie Britton – Nashville (ABC)

Biggest Snub: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy

Usual suspects Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) again received nods, but the category also found room to recognize underdogs like Matt LeBlanc for his wonderful, self-aware role on SHOWTIME’s Episodes and Jason Bateman for being the best part of Netflix’s revived Arrested Development. Louis C.K. picked up another well-deserved nomination for his work on Louie, and Don Cheadle was also recognized for SHOWTIME’s House of Lies. The weak spot in that line-up is definitely Cheadle, who suffers from the reputation of his show, generally criticized for listless writing. However, the TV Academy clearly likes Cheadle on TV, as they also nominated him last year, to the surprise of many. As far as snubs are concerned, Jake Johnson should have picked up a nomination for his consistently hilarious acting on FOX’s New Girl. Johnson really came into his own as a romantic and comedic lead for the show this past season, delivering many of the show’s best lines and moments. Despite a greatly improved role, he suffered from the total lack of love for New Girl from the TV Academy this year. John Krasinski was the heart of The Office in its final season, but evidently the show wore out its welcome around the time Steve Carrell packed his bags. Finally, Jon Cryer was also snubbed for Two and a Half Men after the TV Academy gave him the award last year, suggesting the goodwill towards him after the show’s Charlie Sheen crisis has all but evaporated.

Biggest Surprise: Jason Bateman – Arrested Development (Netflix)

Biggest Snub: Jake Johnson – New Girl (FOX)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

This category included comedy juggernauts like Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), while still acknowledging the more subtle work of underdogs like Laura Dern (Enlightened) and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), in what was probably the fairest distribution of nominations this year. That said, many terrific actresses got shut out, which is particularly frustrating considering the Lead Actress in a Drama category had seven slots this year, while Lead Actress in a Comedy only had six. That seventh slot would have likely gone to Zooey Deschanel for her increasingly expressive and exciting work on New Girl. Deschanel really developed her character this past season, transforming Jess Day from the quirky weirdo of the first season into a fully formed, easily likable protagonist by taking bold risks and consistently humanizing her, particularly in her romantic storyline with roommate Nick Miller (Jake Johnson). Melissa McCarthy was also snubbed for her work on CBS’s Mike and Molly, likely just missing the cut. It’s possible that her lucrative film career overexposed her to voters, who instead opted for lesser-known actresses.

Biggest Surprise: Laura Dern – Enlightened (HBO)

Biggest Snub: Zooey Deschanel – New Girl (FOX)

Nominations for 2013 Emmy Awards

FX's 'American Horror Story' led the pack with 17 nominations.

FX’s horror anthology series ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ led the pack with 17 nominations.

The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in television, will air September 22 on CBS. The nominees are below:

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

The Big Bang Theory • CBS
Girls • HBO
Louie • FX Networks
Modern Family • ABC
30 Rock • NBC
Veep • HBO

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

Breaking Bad • AMC
Downton Abbey • PBS
Game Of Thrones • HBO
Homeland • Showtime
House Of Cards • Netflix
Mad Men • AMC

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Breaking Bad • AMC

Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham
Downton Abbey • PBS

Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody
Homeland • Showtime

Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood
House Of Cards • Netflix

Jon Hamm as Don Draper
Mad Men • AMC

Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy
The Newsroom • HBO

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates
Bates Motel • A&E

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley
Downton Abbey • PBS

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
Homeland • Showtime

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood
House Of Cards • Netflix

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson
Mad Men • AMC

Connie Britton as Rayna James
Nashville • ABC

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Scandal • ABC

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth
Arrested Development • Netflix

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory • CBS

Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc
Episodes • Showtime

Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan
House Of Lies • Showtime

Louis C.K. as Louie
Louie • FX Networks

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
30 Rock • NBC

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Laura Dern as Amy
Enlightened • HBO

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath
Girls • HBO

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton
Nurse Jackie • Showtime

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
Parks And Recreation • NBC

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
30 Rock • NBC

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer
Veep • HBO

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES

American Horror Story: Asylum • FX Networks
Behind The Candelabra • HBO
The Bible • HISTORY
Phil Spector • HBO
Political Animals • USA
Top Of The Lake • Sundance Channel

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Behind The Candelabra • HBO
Michael Douglas as Liberace

Behind The Candelabra • HBO
Matt Damon as Scott Thorson

The Girl • HBO
Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock

Parade’s End • HBO
Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens

Phil Spector • HBO
Al Pacino as Phil Spector

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN MINISERIES OR MOVIE

American Horror Story: Asylum • FX Networks
Jessica Lange as Sister Jude Martin

The Big C: Hereafter • Showtime
Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison

Phil Spector • HBO
Helen Mirren as Linda Kenney-Baden

Political Animals • USA
Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish Hammond

Top Of The Lake • Sundance Channel
Elisabeth Moss as Robin

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rosetti
Boardwalk Empire • HBO

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut
Breaking Bad • AMC

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad • AMC

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson
Downton Abbey • PBS

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Game Of Thrones • HBO

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson
Homeland • Showtime

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Anna Gunn as Skyler White
Breaking Bad • AMC

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
Downton Abbey • PBS

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Game Of Thrones • HBO

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
The Good Wife • CBS

Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody
Homeland • Showtime

Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
Mad Men • AMC

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Adam Driver as Adam Sackler
Girls • HBO

Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett
Modern Family • ABC

Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett
Modern Family • ABC

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy
Modern Family • ABC

Bill Hader as Various characters
Saturday Night Live • NBC

Tony Hale as Gary Walsh
Veep • HBO

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler
The Big Bang Theory • CBS

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester
Glee • FOX

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett
Modern Family • ABC

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
Modern Family • ABC

Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow
Nurse Jackie • Showtime

Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney
30 Rock • NBC

Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer
Veep • HBO

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

James Cromwell as Dr. Arthur Arden
American Horror Story: Asylum • FX Networks

Zachary Quinto as Dr. Oliver Thredson
American Horror Story: Asylum • FX Networks

Scott Bakula as Bob Black
Behind The Candelabra • HBO

John Benjamin Hickey as Sean
The Big C: Hereafter • Showtime

Peter Mullan as Matt
Top Of The Lake • Sundance Channel

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters
American Horror Story: Asylum • FX Networks

Imelda Staunton as Alma Hitchcock
The Girl • HBO

Ellen Burstyn as Margaret Barrish Worthington
Political Animals • USA

Charlotte Rampling as Sally Gilmartin
Restless • Sundance Channel

Alfre Woodard as Ouiser
Steel Magnolias • Lifetime

OUTSTANDING REALITY SHOW HOST

Ryan Seacrest
American Idol • FOX

Betty White
Betty White’s Off Their Rockers • NBC

Tom Bergeron
Dancing With The Stars • ABC

Heidi Klum
Tim Gunn
Project Runway • Lifetime

Cat Deeley
So You Think You Can Dance • FOX

Anthony Bourdain
The Taste • ABC

OUTSTANDING REALITY COMPETITION

The Amazing Race • CBS
Dancing With The Stars • ABC
Project Runway • Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance • FOX
Top Chef • Bravo
The Voice • NBC

OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM

Antiques Roadshow • PBS
Deadliest Catch • Discovery Channel
Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives • Food Network
MythBusters • Discovery Channel
Shark Tank • ABC
Undercover Boss • CBS

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES

The Colbert Report • Comedy Central
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live • ABC
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon • NBC
Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO
Saturday Night Live • NBC

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Nathan Lane as Clarke Hayden
The Good Wife • CBS

Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning
The Good Wife • CBS

Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn
Homeland • Showtime

Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper
Mad Men • AMC

Harry Hamlin as Jim Cutler
Mad Men • AMC

Dan Bucatinsky as James Novack
Scandal • ABC

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN DRAMA SERIES

Margo Martindale as Claudia
The Americans • FX Networks

Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell
Game Of Thrones • HBO

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni
The Good Wife • CBS

Linda Cardellini as Sylvia Rosen
Mad Men • AMC

Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing
The Newsroom • HBO

Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson
Shameless • Showtime

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Bob Newhart as Arthur Jeffries/Professor Proton
The Big Bang Theory • CBS

Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman
Modern Family • ABC

Bobby Cannavale as Dr. Mike Cruz
Nurse Jackie • Showtime

Louis C.K., Host
Saturday Night Live • NBC

Justin Timberlake, Host
Saturday Night Live • NBC

Will Forte as Paul
30 Rock • NBC

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Molly Shannon as Eileen Foliente
Enlightened • HBO

Dot-Marie Jones as Shannon Beiste
Glee • FOX

Melissa Leo as Laurie
Louie • FX Networks

Melissa McCarthy, Host
Saturday Night Live • NBC

Kristen Wiig, Host
Saturday Night Live • NBC

Elaine Stritch as Colleen Donaghy
30 Rock • NBC

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM

Bob’s Burgers • O.T.: The Outside Toilet • FOX
Kung Fu Panda: Legends Of Awesomeness: Enter The Dragon • Nickelodeon
Regular Show: The Christmas Special • Cartoon Network
The Simpsons • Treehouse Of Horror XXIII • FOX
South Park • Raising The Bar • Comedy Central

 

Image Courtesy – FX.