It’s an annual thing: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences releases its list of prime-time Emmy nominations, and the rest of world clutches its pearls and bemoans the injustice of Undeserving Show X getting a nod over Deserving Show Y. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, then the trophies are doled out, and we do it all again next year.
Here then, is the 2012 edition of Prime-Time Emmy Nomination Angst.
Once again, I am sorely disappointed in the laziness of the Academy. There are so many repeat nominations that it once again looks like Emmy voters sent in last year’s ballots with a couple of extra names penciled in. The entire cast of MODERN FAMILY again? Seriously? Nothing from The CW again? Seriously? No major nominations for genre shows other than GAME OF THRONES again? Seriously? (See? Mindless repetition is not always fun, is it?)
To its credit, the Academy did manage to sneak in a few new names and shows — many of them very deserving. And, in a first, all the anointed shows in the Outstanding Drama Series category came from cable (both basic and premium). But even there I can find something to nick-pick: Why BOARDWALK EMPIRE? Not everything on HBO is made of win, Academy…
Let’s take a look at some specific things I liked — or not:
Outstanding Drama Series: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men
If the broadcast networks are upset about cable dominating the Best Drama competition, maybe they should consider putting some better stuff on the air! It isn’t all about cussing and nudity. Right now, the Emmys would have to add a category called Best Procedural to let any of the nets’ boring, interchangeable cookie-cutter shows get any glory. C’mon, isn’t BONES the same show as THE MENTALIST and CASTLE and UNFORGETTABLE? (Yes: Badges team up with wacky consultants.) The big networks’ best drama, THE GOOD WIFE was overlooked (Damn you, BOARDWALK!), while Fox’s compelling FRINGE was locked out because it’s an icky genre show.
Outstanding Comedy Series: The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veer
The state of broadcast network comedy is not pretty. Or funny. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM and 30 ROCK had “meh” seasons, and should have been passed over. VEEP definitely had its moments, but overall I got the impression that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was just trying too hard. As I labored through HBO’s GIRLS each week, I figured I didn’t like it because I’m a guy and everything about the show was simply going over my head. It would appear I was correct, because members of the academy liked it enough to nominate it as Best Comedy. So somebody thought it was funny.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Can’t really argue with this list at all. Like everyone else, I’m happy to see Damian Lewis‘ name. I miss LIFE.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law), Glenn Close (Damages), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Marguilies (The Good Wife), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
HARRY’S LAW is a drama? DAMAGES is still on? If there is a MAD MEN tidal wave, I hope it doesn’t wash out Claire Danes’ wonderful performance as a woman slowly going completely insane.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Jared Harris (Mad Men)
I loved Jared Harris’ arc for Lane Pryce and wouldn’t be too upset if he won, but Tyrion Lannister is my second favorite character on TV (trailing only DOCTOR WHO’s Doctor), and most of that love is down to Peter Dinklage’s amazing personification of the Imp.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Archie Panjabi is wonderful, but this one is in the bag for Christina Hendricks. The MAD MEN episode “The Other Woman” seemed to be written to serve as her Emmy reel, and she knocked it out of the park with a powerfully subtle performance.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Louis C.K. (Louie), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Louis C.K. should just win everything for which he’s nominated. End of discussion. (Sorry, Don Cheadle.)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)
Kathryn Joosten just died. The statue is hers. She was a nice lady.
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race), Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) , Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers), Tom Bergeron (Dancing With the Stars), Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance)
This is still a thing? I don’t understand the appeal of corny Tom Bergeron (that’s a lie; I know exactly why other people like him) or Ryan Seacrest (OK, no clue), but I wouldn’t mind seeing Phil Keoghan cross the finish line first. Or seeing what Cat Deeley wears to the podium. Or hearing her acceptance speech in that sexy accent.
Outstanding Miniseries or Movie: American Horror Story, Game Change, Hatfields & McCoys, Hemingway & Gellhorn, Luther, Sherlock
I’m thrilled to see British imports LUTHER and SHERLOCK here, but more horrified that GAME CHANGE is on this list. I think I’m rooting for AMERICAN HORROR STORY in all 17 of its categories.
The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.