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!
As much as I wanted it, I’m still a little shocked that The Americans (and Matthew and Keri) were actually nominated. They were the most likely of my primarily long-shot dream nominees, but I still wasn’t convinced it was actually going to happen. I was very grateful that I managed some restraint and didn’t jump in the air and yell at my desk, because that may have been a little embarrassing.
I was also thrilled with the number of nominations People v. OJ received though I agree that I could have done without Cuba Gooding Jr. and John Travolta’s noms. I think Paulson and Vance are almost certainly going to win their categories, but my fingers will remain crossed for Brown until September.
I was hoping for a repeat nomination for Niecy Nash for Getting On but I love that Laurie Metcalf joined her this year. It was such a special, weird little show and the cast was so incredible.
Overall, I’m happy (or only mildly resigned at the perpetual nominations for Modern Family, Homeland, and Downton Abbey) with the nominees this year, but it wouldn’t be an award show if I wasn’t at least a little disappointed some of my other favorites were overlooked.
First and foremost, I hate that Alison Wright will never have been nominated for her extraordinary work on The Americans and that Christine Baranski will never will an Emmy for Diane Lockhart. It seems unfair to kick them out when I don’t watch the shows but I would happily have exchanged a GoT nom for one of these ladies and maybe Maura Tierney for the other.
My continued frustration that Eva Green’s praises aren’t constantly being shouted by someone other than me and a tiny handful of critics is muted somewhat by the fact that the show should be eligible for one more year so I’ll probably save my yelling for next year. The same holds true for the remarkable cast of Rectify.
And of course, there are the CW snubs. I would have been happy with any combination of acting and show nominations for Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but I’m glad they both got recognized for something, even if it wasn’t a main category.
Since I don’t watch a lot of the shows the Emmys tend to nominate, I don’t usually have many opinions on them, but in general I agree with you! I’m tired of seeing Game of Thrones, Modern Family, Homeland, etc, nominated over and over again almost seemingly by default as if there aren’t any other good TV shows out there, but I AM glad that the Emmys seem to have started to branch out even a little bit this year.
I’m so happy for The Americans to finally get nominations, and I’m happy that in general there seem to be more people of color nominated than in years past. I also am with you on Caitriona Balfe, even though I haven’t made it to S2 yet, because she’s been doing such a fantastic job in S1 that I can’t imagine her being anything other than amazing in S2. Here’s to crossing our fingers they notice her in next year’s nominees. And of course Gina Rodriguez seriously needs to be nominated, I was a little surprised she wasn’t because Jane the Virgin seems to be favored in critic circles as well as generally popular, and everyone seems to absolutely love her.
Of the shows that I do watch that were nominated for Emmys, I am very happy about Sherlock getting a few nominations, and Sense8 getting one for their main theme song. It was also nice to see Beyonce’s Lemonade get a few noms, and Outlander receive a couple for their crew’s hard work in creating the amazing visuals because wow, is it one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen.
Nothing really to add to these great comments. I just wanted to drop in and wave to everyone.
Glad to see you have a chance to post again, Katie. I know things have been busy for you.
Oh Emmy nomination time. After us going through two cycles of frustration over ‘The Americans’ being snubbed, it feels SO GOOD to finally see them get some love. And like you, I do feel greedy, but Alison Wright’s Martha was just such a phenomenal character played to absolute perfection that its really hard not to see her nominated as well. All I can hope for is that the critics and SAG potentially right that wrong.
Its been a long time since I felt invested in the Emmy’s, and as someone who loves TV as much as I do its been pretty sad. But this year I will at least be tuning in and rooting for Keri, Matthew, and the whole Americans gang.
Now I am off to go work on my handmade Emmy for Alison Wright 🙂
Hello dear friend – it’s been a while.
The nominations came and went in a week I couldn’t afford to pay attention to them. Then once I did, I needed to sit back on my thoughts and emotions about them. I nodded along with your take on the Americans and unfortunately the absence of Gina Rodriguez as well as the gross absence of Christine Baranski. I loved your inclusion of Girl Meets World because it provides a platform on Friday nights for my 10 year old and I to truly connect on in a way that honors so many things I loved about my TV viewing in childhood – including a level of optimistic innocence that is so grossly missing in the desire to advance children to adulthood at neck breaking pace.
There are a few deep dives I must do because they bother me.
1) VEEP isn’t the only show that is funny on television. Good grief could the laziness in writing and directing get any worse when it comes to nominating shows? I could throw episodes from Black-ish on through to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend who’s writing was not only on point, but pause and rewind funny. HBO and cable/streaming do not hold the secret sauce to good writing. In fact I would argue that broadcast in recent years has finally started to pivot towards more comedies that offer real situations that mine out genuine humor from the created situations of a fantastical VEEP.
2) MOM – Mom is probably the most underrated show on television right now. And all love is deserved to Allison Janney. However, it is not the get out of jail free card to not acknowledging the brilliance of its ensemble as well as the wonderful work that Anna Faris has turned in the last two seasons after a shaky freshman season. This show has settled into a piece that explores the real underbelly of addiction and the ripple of effect of addiction without judgement while basking in the glory that necessitates humor when we look into the darkness life sometimes brings. Balancing the two with the ability to pivot quickly from somber to silly is pure art and no cast is doing it better than those on Mom. Not to even mention Linda Lavin’s delicious guest stint this season that rivals that of Rhea Perlman on the The Mindy Project and Christine Baranski’s on The Big Bang Theory.
3) Three Words: Donna Lynne Champlin. In a sea of unlikable and marginally offensive over the top characters, including Rachel Bloom’s expertly played Rebecca Bunch, Donna Lynne Champlin quickly became the voice in our head and the voice of the audience in the fantastical world that Crazy Ex Girlfriend takes place. Her work and crafting of Paula Proctor is nothing short of genius. Her sincerity is so palpable there is nothing of her antics you won’t forgive which is why her 11 o’clock number “After Everything I’ve Done For You” (that would have stopped any live Broadway show) was reason enough alone to nominate her. Her reconciliation in the finale a rude reminder of that laziness in the writing category. Let alone the yeoman efforts it must take to direct this damn show on any given episode.
There, my nerd heart feels better now.
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