Emmy nominations: Nine biggest surprises

Emmys

One of the perks of living on the east coast is not having to wake up at ungodly hours for awards announcements.

This morning, at 8:30/5:30 PT, the nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced by Carson Daly and Mindy Kaling. You can check out the full list of nominations here.

There were the predictable nominations for HBO’s True Detective, and Breaking Bad‘s final season (the two shows will be up against each other in the drama series categories, making those especially contentious), and FX’s miniseries game is unmatched (FargoAmerican Horror Story are up for several awards). But there were still some unnerving oversights – and some pleasant surprises – by the Television Academy. Here are nine.

1. Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Universally praised for her work on BBC America’s Orphan Black, Canadian Tatiana Maslany did not get a nomination in the lead actress, drama, category. Instead, back-to-back winner Claire Danes (Homeland), newcomer Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) will vie for the award.

2. Netflix doing very, very well

Thirty-one nominations total: Of course House of Cards and Orange is the New Black would get big nominations (the series are up for best drama and best comedy Emmys, respectively, and the leads from both shows are also up in the acting categories), but the Ricky Gervais vehicle Derek also scored an Emmy for Gervais in the lead actor, comedy, category. Filling the void left by Alec Baldwin and Jason Bateman, nominated last year for series that are no longer on the air (30 Rock and Arrested Development), Gervais joins Louis C.K. (Louie), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), William H. Macy (Shameless) and incumbent Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory). Parsons is a double nominee, also nominated for his work in HBO’s The Normal Heart.

And lots of love for Orange is the New Black actresses: Taylor Schilling is up for lead, Kate Mulgrew for supporting, and Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox will be guest actress contenders. Jodie Foster is also up for her directing on the series (maybe a ploy to have a recognizable name up for the award, though she’ll be up against Gail Mancuso, Mike Judge and Louis C.K.)

3. The Academy’s allergic to network dramas

No surprise that Breaking Bad and True Detective were nominated in the best drama category, along with Downton AbbeyGame of ThronesHouse of Cards and Mad Men, but no network dramas are up for the award. This has been emblematic of the great quality on cable and premium channels, but this year, CBS’ The Good Wife, ABC’s Scandal and NBC’s Hannibal could have and should have competed with the best of them. Julianna Margulies and Kerry Washington will be competing for the best drama actress award, but Hannibal is up for nada. The Good Wife also got nominations for the supporting work of Josh Charles and Christine Baranski. But no love for Bellamy Young on Scandal? Kate Burton and Joe Morton are up for guest starring Emmys for their great work on Scandal. No cinematography award for Hannibal is totally ludicrous, though.

4. Network comedies fared a bit better

Modern Family is up again and could win five in a row, unless Big Bang TheoryLouieOrange is the New BlackSilicon Valley or Veep have any say. But no love for Parks and Recreation, continuing to be a charming, sweet and very funny series? (Amy Poehler is up for a lead actress, comedy, award) And Golden Globe winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine forgotten here, too, with Andy Samberg not even managing a nod. Instead, Andre Braugher is the show’s sole nominee. And no Mindy Project nomination isn’t a surprise, per se, but it stings: star and creator Kaling was presenting the nominations and had to stand there pretend-smiling. Other network comedy nominations: Allison Janey for Mom,  and the Modern Family crew, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, though that’s considerably fewer nominations than in the show’s glory days (Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara MIA this year.)

5. Melissa McCarthy’s still on that CBS sitcom… 

… And was nominated in the lead actress category after a two-year absence for Mike & Molly. Up against McCarthy will be Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and favourite/best-human Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep). McCarthy is actually a double nominee, also up for guest actress for her appearance on Saturday Night Live, which I thought was one of the worst episodes of the sketch series’ 39th season.

6. More love for Saturday Night Live

It is the most nominated series ever (by virtue of being on air since the 16th century), and it adds 14 nominations this year; Tina Fey and Melissa McCarthy are up for guest acting Emmys, with Kate McKinnon up for supporting actress. Saturday Night Live is also up for best variety series which The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won since 2003, until The Colbert Report took it last year. Those two are back, competing against Jimmy Kimmel LiveReal Time with Bill Maher and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Fallon, an SNL alum, was a nominee last year for Late Night. Elsewhere in SNL alum: Fred Armisen, nominated for his supporting (eh… it’s more co-lead. Come on.) work on IFC’s Portlandia, and Kristen Wiig up for her work in The Spoils of Babylon.

7. Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer in unwinnable category

The great Comedy Central series are both nominated in the best writing for variety series category, up against The Colbert ReportPortlandia, The Daily Show and The Tonight Show. They’re in great company, of course, and if that’s all the Television Academy is willing to throw these shows, it’ll have to do.

8. Shows up against themselves 

Orange is the New Black is up against itself in the guest actress categories (so even though the show scored 12 nominations, it really can’t go home with more than nine, and it won’t get close); The Normal Heart actors also up against each other (Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer); no surprise that both Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are nominated for True Detective – in a normal race, people would assume that the votes would be split, and a surprise third nominee would take it. This year, it seems like a two-way race between Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston and McConaughey. The same thing is happening on the miniseries side, with Martin Freeman (a double nominee for Fargo and Sherlock) up against co-star Billy Bob Thornton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mark Ruffalo. How much are split votes going to mess up everyone’s chances, and possibly award an underdog over a favourite?

9. Misc. 

The Americans only managed a guest actress nomination for Margo Martindale; still so much interest in Downton Abbey. Television Academy, you are showing your age. The Simpsons gets no love in the animated series category for the first time in its run (I caught a few episodes this season, and the omission is warranted). I’m also hearing that Emmy Rossum did some of her best work ever on the last season of Shameless.

Seth Meyers hosts the Emmys on Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. on NBC/CTV.

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