1. 1. The Good Wife 2. Julianna Margulies 3. Archie Panjabi 4. Alan Cumming
Look, this omission is absurd, and that is all there is to it. The show itself was fantastic this season, bouncing back from a less consistent (but still very good) season three. In the Outstanding Drama category, The Good Wife deserves to be there. I’m going to complain as little as possible in this post about what didn’t deserve to be nominated, but looking here at what was — Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, House of Cards, and Homeland — it’s my opinion that The Good Wife is better than three of those. By a mile. Though I enjoy Downton Abbey in general (not the finale!), it sank further into melodrama in its third season; Homeland, which won Outstanding Drama last year, fell off a cliff in its second season; and House of Cards is trashy fun, not actually good. That Julianna Margulies wasn’t nominated is… I don’t know what to say? I would like to go talk to some Emmys voters. I would listen to them. And then I would yell! Archie Panjabi and Alan Cumming have both been nominated before (Panjabi won once), and they should have been nominated again. Christine Baranski was nominated. And so were Nathan Lane, Carrie Preston, and Michael J. Fox, showing that The Good Wife has the best guest stars there are. On what show were they guest starring? What series regulars did they work with? And if the relatively low-rated The Good Wife isn’t getting awards, do we need to worry about CBS canceling it? Talk me down, friends.
2. 5. Monica Potter for Parenthood
Did Monica Potter’s Kristina of Parenthood have to die of breast cancer in order to be nominated in the Supporting Actress category? There were few story arcs more powerful on television in the past year. I’ve thought in the past that Parenthood is ignored by the Emmys because its greatness is too evenly spread throughout the cast: that it actually suffers from its strengths. Which is why the show’s fans were so excited that Potter was given a standout plot. And a brutal weeper at that. Good lord, what a mess I was every week watching Kristina! (And Peter Krause as Adam, her husband.) Sigh. Monica Potter, you have won this award in our hearts.
3. 6. The Americans 7. Keri Russell
With a gun to my head, I would admit that I’m not shocked that The Americans was overlooked. The TV Academy — after rewarding FX early in its quality-TV incarnation (Michael Chiklis won Outstanding Actor in a Drama for the first season of The Shield) — seemingly has something against the channel. This bias has caused shows such as Sons of Anarchy, Justified, and the consistently great Shield in later seasons to be snubbed entirely or included somewhat randomly. I did hope, though, that this streak would break with The Americans, which, in addition to being so, so good, is also, let’s face it, Emmy bait. But nope. Even more than the show itself, Keri Russell really deserved an Outstanding Actress nomination. As the cold, dogmatic KGB agent Elizabeth, she transformed as an actress and changed as a character. It was wonderful to watch. Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich also should have been nominated, but I’m less surprised they weren’t included. The Russell neglect, however, is horrifying. One thought: What if the Emmys brought back the Best New Program category? It would solve so many problems.
4. 8. John Slattery for Mad Men
John Slattery was nominated for playing Roger Sterling for the first four seasons of Mad Men. Apparently, as of last year, he became less terrific in this part. Wait. No, he didn’t. Ugh.
5. 9. Michelle Fairley for Game of Thrones
I don’t want to spoil anything about Season 3 of Game of Thrones for those who haven’t seen it. But given that the Academy showed that it is capable of nominating a Game of Thrones actor who isn’t Peter Dinklage — Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of Dany — I would argue that Michelle Fairley really should be in the Supporting Actress in a Drama group. Because — well, again, no spoilers. I will simply say that she was the best thing in one of the best episodes of television of all time. Why not honor her?
6. 10. Boardwalk Empire 11. Steve Buscemi
I don’t want to repeat myself. But I will do so briefly in order to say I think the Outstanding Drama category is all screwed up this year. The nominations that Boardwalk Empire and its star Steve Buscemi generally get were snatched by, to me, lesser shows/performances.
7. 12. Timothy Olyphant for Justified
That Justified, one of the best shows on television, has never received an Outstanding Drama nomination is one of the nonsense things about life that its fans have just come to accept. Reluctantly. Is it the FX prejudice again? I can’t harp on it. I have to move on. I’ll deal with it later. Email me if you want to discuss. Timothy Olyphant did get nominated once for Outstanding Lead Actor, in 2011, so the fact that he was apparently great in 2011 (which of course he was) as Raylan Givens but not every year is something that troubles me. The character is a true original, and this past season more than ever, as Raylan’s pithy and amoral life began to wear on him as a person, Olyphant turned in outstanding work.
8. 13. Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black
Clone Club: We dreamed a dream. And now life has killed the dream we dreamed. No, Tatiana Maslany never stood a chance here. The movement behind her getting a nomination for what is truly one of the best performances ever on television was more theoretical than practical. It presumed that the Emmys, and awards in general, bestow honor to the deserving. And that playing 4 million characters at once might get some attention. But Orphan Black is a genre show, which is a category almost always shut out. And if the Academy is going to look for an outsider, it counts the well-funded Netflix that outsider: not wee BBC America. We had a dream that life would be so different from this hell we’re living! The fight will continue next year.
9. 14. Parks and Recreation
This beautiful comedy went into the season as if it could be its last and threw it all out there. I would have loved for Modern Family to have been locked out here — that show is increasingly toxic. But it was not to be.
10. 15. Arrested Development
Critics and fans were divided about the return of the beloved comedy. But given that it had been nominated for Outstanding Comedy for each of its three Fox seasons, and won once, it certainly could have gotten into the category again. And Netflix campaigned aggressively. It’s kind of head-scratching that it didn’t make it.
11. 16. Eric Stonestreet for Modern Family
As I mentioned, I have soured on Modern Family. I find its sexual politics to be from another era when women didn’t work, it’s shrill, and the humor has an evil little edge to it a lot of the time. But to take any of the problems of an aging show out on Eric Stonestreet! Cam is actually funny and interesting. He’s one of the angriest characters on TV in a way I find to be fascinating. More Cam, less Gloria!
12. 17. Jeff Probst
Jeff Probst won Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition Program four years in a row. As he should have (unless Cat Deeley had, which I also wouldn’t argue with). Then last year? Not even nominated. This year? Not nominated again! Even though the Survivor host performs a journalist’s function for the audience with probing questions, wit, and disdain when appropriate. Pretty ridiculous.
13. 18. New Girl 19. Zooey Deschanel 20. Jake Johnson 21. Max Greenfield
This show is not my show. But even as someone who rarely watches New Girl, I can recognize its cultural currency and how devoted its fans are. Nothing changed from its first season, which saw nominations for both Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield. Wait, something did change: Jake Johnson is an object of obsession and a likely movie star. New Girl blanking in the major Emmy categories makes no sense at all.
14. 22. Melissa McCarthy for Mike & Molly
The Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category is a tough one. As I noted, Zooey Deschanel was booted this year too. And I’m personally thrilled that Laura Dern was nominated for Enlightened. But I’m including Melissa McCarthy for Mike & Molly because she won in 2011, and that was farcical — she was winning for having been in Bridesmaids that summer! Not for Mike & Molly! It really is emblematic of the surreal choices that can take place with these award shows.
15. 23. Rectify 24. Mads Mikkelsen for Hannibal
These are emotional choices, not rational ones. Neither Sundance Channel’s Rectify nor anything or anyone from NBC’s Hannibal was ever going to score with the Emmys. And yet in a different world, both shows — in particular, both lead actors (Aden Young of Rectify is breathtaking) — would be celebrated today. We can figure out another time, fellow fans.