For TV fans, few days spark passionate discussion like Emmy Nomination Day. Especially during this time of “Peak TV,” there are so many good shows with so many great performances that the Emmy nominations provide the perfect vehicle to talk about why our favorite shows are deserving of awards—and why those who choose the nominees are either brilliant for agreeing with us or idiots for not seeing genius in the same place we see it.
On most Emmy nomination days, I find myself disappointed and angry about the same actors and shows being nominated year after year, leaving little room for fresh blood—and the shows and performances I love—to make the cut. This year, there is still plenty to be said about the stale taste of some nominations (We’re still nominating Modern Family and Homeland?), but there were more than a few new faces joining the party this time around. And that made today much more exciting than past Emmy Nomination Days. For once, my joy over who made the cut actually outweighs my frustration over who was snubbed.
Of course, that’s not to say there was nothing I would have done differently. There are still actors, shows, and entire networks I feel the Emmys are overlooking. But one very specific set of nominations today proved to me that even if the Emmys ignore a great show and its talented cast at first, they might eventually come around to seeing the light. So don’t lose hope, fellow TV fanatics. Next year might be the year your favorites finally break through.
Without further ado, here are my five favorite Emmy nominations announced today and five things that disappointed me about today’s Emmy news.
1. The Americans
FINALLY! It took four seasons, but the Emmys finally invited the best show on television to stand in the spotlight with not just one big nomination but a handful. Last year’s Outstanding Writing nomination was repeated; this time for “Persona Non Grata,” which featured one of the most beautiful and revelatory pieces of TV writing I’ve seen in William’s deathbed speech about the “absence of closeness.” And, of course, Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale was nominated again. But I was pleasantly surprised to see those nominations joined by Best Actor, Actress, and Drama Series nominations. It’s about time the show itself was praised, but I’m most thrilled about Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s nominations. Both have been doing such great work since the show’s pilot, and I’m so happy that they are finally being recognized on the biggest stage for it. I think Russell turned in one of the most incredible season-long performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and more than any other category this year, hers is the one I can already feel myself investing the majority of my emotions in.
I’ve loved Black-ish since its pilot episode, but its sophomore season was even stronger than its first. There were weeks when it made me laugh until I cried and weeks it made me actually cry, and the ability to strike that balance is the hallmark of a great comedy in my eyes. It was nice to see Anthony Anderson nominated again, and I’m still smiling in response to Tracee Ellis Ross’s Lead Actress nomination. She is the backbone of that show (much like Bow is the backbone of her family), so it makes sense that once voters finally recognized her brilliance, they’d do the same for the show itself.
3. The Writing Nominees
I already touched on how happy it made me to see that the right episode was chosen as the writing nominee for The Americans (I liked other episodes more this season, but there’s no denying that “Persona Non Grata” had the meatiest writing.), but that wasn’t the only writing nomination that I liked. I was in the minority in my mixed feelings about Master of None as a whole, but I think “Parents” was one of the most beautifully written episodes of television last year. I was also happy with all the writing nominees chosen for The People v. O.J. Simpson, but one stood out above the rest. I have watched “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” no less than 10 times, so you can imagine my joy upon seeing my favorite episode of television to air so far this year counted among the best-written TV episodes of the 2016 season.
4. The People v. O.J. Simpson
I have never been so happy to see one show (or limited series, technically) dominate the nominations. I never expected to love The People v. O.J. Simpson as much as I did, but I’ve seen every episode, bought the majority of them on Amazon to watch again, and still have days when I find myself getting emotional just thinking about a particular moment or performance. It was the kind of compulsively watchable television event that I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone who didn’t watch it yet. And what I loved most about it was the strength of its performances, a sentiment that seemed to be reflected in the sheer number of acting nominations the show received. While I didn’t need to see Cuba Gooding Jr. (who I still think was miscast) or John Travolta (whose performance felt a little too campy at times) among the nominees, I’m not going to complain. The worst performances on this show were still better than a lot of what’s on television. More than anything, I’m so happy that the terrific trio of Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson, and Sterling K. Brown got the recognition they deserve.
5. Girl Meets World
Outstanding Children’s Program isn’t something I normally pay much attention to, but in the last year I’ve come to appreciate Girl Meets World for the rare gift that it is. It’s not just a nostalgia-fest or a typical Disney Channel show for tween girls meant to launch its stars into some kind of crossover music career. It’s a deeply sincere and surprisingly honest show about growing up, finding yourself, and the connections you form along the way. It’s an easy show to forget about because it’s not on a network most of us frequent, but it’s become must-see TV for me—a weekly emotional journey that makes me cry like no other show on television.
1. Caitriona Balfe is snubbed.
For as much as I loved this season of Outlander, I knew it wasn’t likely to be nominated for an Emmy for Drama Series. That felt like too much of a reach for a voting block that seems to only be able to nominate one fantasy/sci-fi show per year, and that’s always going to be Game of Thrones until it ends. However, I still held out some hope that the show’s leading lady would score a nomination. Her work in this emotionally challenging second season was the stuff Emmy nominations are made of. Balfe is the lens through which we experience the entire story, and the reason the show works as well as it does is because of her. It’s a shame she also probably won’t see a nomination until the Emmys finally realize there are other “genre shows” beyond ones that take place in Westeros.
2. No love for Gina Rodriguez
This one baffles me. Rodriguez is one of the leading ladies of TV comedy, so it feels so wrong for her to be snubbed two years in a row. I know there’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of women in comedy right now, but Rodriguez’s ability to shift so easily from comedy to heartbreaking emotion makes her stand out from the pack. She might not be the most famous name among those battling for a nomination in a tough category, but if there was a fresh face whose presence could make these awards shine even little brighter, it’s hers.
3. Do the Emmys know what channel The CW is?
Not only did Gina Rodriguez get snubbed, so did Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom, who many hoped would see her Golden Globes win reflected in at least an Emmy nomination. Unfortunately, like Rodriguez last year, Bloom’s Golden Globe didn’t equal Emmy success. It seems Emmy voters are still warming up to the idea of nominating CW shows. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend did score some music and choreography nominations, and Jane the Virgin once again was recognized for its perfect narrator. However, there will hopefully come a day when The CW’s comedies find themselves on the receiving end of nominations that aren’t buried on the Emmy website PDFs.
4. The Americans deserves more.
I know I’m getting greedy, but there is one more award I wish The Americans would have been nominated for: Outstanding Supporting Actress. Both Alison Wright and Holly Taylor turned in nomination-worthy work week in and week out this season. I could still see Taylor being nominated in the next two years as Paige’s arc continues to expand and allow her to grow as an actress. However, it certainly seems like this is Wright’s last shot to be nominated for playing Martha. And if so, what a missed opportunity this was by Emmy voters. For a few weeks in the middle of the season, Martha was the show, and the season was better because of it. It’s a shame that the show itself was nominated but the woman who played such a big part in its success this season wasn’t.
5. Christine Baranski will never win an Emmy for playing Diane Lockhart.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying this season of The Good Wife was deserving of a heap of nominations. I thought its final season was a mess more often than not. But how could people nominate the writing in the show’s disappointing finale and not nominate Baranski’s performance, which was the one Emmy-worthy thing about that episode? I would have loved to have seen Baranski win an Emmy for playing such an incredible role, but she joins a list of great actors who never won the big award for playing iconic characters. Let’s all remember, Victor Garber never won an Emmy for playing Jack Bristow on Alias. That’s pretty distinguished company to be in, and I think Baranski will fit in perfectly alongside him.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Emmy nominations? Let’s discuss in the comments!