2015 Emmy Nominations: Snubs and Surprises
Give the Emmys credit for at least trying to keep up with the current explosion of quality television.
This year, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences expanded the Best Comedy and Drama Series categories to seven slots each, and they made other minor changes (online voting!) meant to bring the awards into the 21st century. Still, there's more good TV now than even the Academy can keep up with, so the outrage and shock over the snubs and surprises in this morning's Emmy nominations is inevitable. Here are some of the most astonishing omissions and inclusions.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
The biggest shocker here is the snub of "Empire," the season's breakout hit. Was it too soapy or guilty-pleasure-ish for the Academy to take seriously? Fellow newbie/Twitter sensation "How to Get Away With Murder" was also snubbed. Golden Globe fave "The Affair" got no love, here or in other major categories. The voters' usual lack of enthusiasm for genre fare meant "The Walking Dead" was overlooked again. And the Emmys blew their last chances to recognize "Sons of Anarchy" (a show they snubbed throughout its existence) and "Justified."
The Academy decided "Orange Is the New Black" is a drama, not a comedy, so its inclusion among this year's nominees is a novelty but not a surprise. Neither are nominations for frequent winner "Mad Men," frequent nominees "Game of Thrones" and "Homeland," "Downton Abbey" (nominated every year it's been on), and "House of Cards" (ditto). Many pundits expected a vote for Netflix's new "Bloodline" (honored this year in other major categories), but it didn't get in. The lone new series to make the cut this year was "Better Call Saul," perhaps taking over the slot its predecessor, "Breaking Bad," owned for years.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
There weren't many surprises this year, with five-time winner "Modern Family," frequent nominee "Louie," and "Veep" (nominated every year it's been on) taking their usual slots. It's nice to see "Parks and Recreation" get a final salute. Other pleasant surprises: nominations for "Silicon Valley" and Netflix newbie "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Also new, but not surprising: Amazon's Golden Globe-winning and timely "Transparent."
In fact, there were so many good comedies this year that perennial Emmy favorite "The Big Bang Theory" got snubbed. So did new shows that might have earned a spot, like "Black-ish," "Fresh Off the Boat," and "Jane the Virgin." Sorry, "Jane" fans, but Emmy seems not to know that the CW exists.
BEST LIMITED SERIES
That's what they're calling mini-series now. As expected, "American Crime," "American Horror Story: Freak Show," "Olive Kitteridge," "The Honorable Woman," and "Wolf Hall" all made the list. Snubbed were "Houdini," "The Missing," "Sons of Liberty," "Texas Rising," and "24: Live Another Day," though none of those snubs was a surprise.
BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION
This was a wretched year for TV movies. So wretched that LIfetime's "Grace of Monaco" got in. (At least "Whitney" didn't.) So did "Hello Ladies: The Movie," "Nightingale," and "Bessie," though given HBO's perpetual domination of this category, those aren't surprises. Also expected: Acorn's "Agatha Christie's Poirot: Curtains, Poirot's Last Case" and National Geographic's "Killing Jesus." Again, a weak year.
BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
As with "Empire" in the Drama Series category, star Terrence Howard was robbed. Also, no love for Dominic West ("The Affair"), Clive Owen ("The Knick"), or Emmy fave James Spader ("The Blacklist.") But Liev Schreiber surprised the pundits by getting a nod for "Ray Donovan." He's good, but given the way Jon Voight steals the show, few predicted the voters would notice Schreiber.
Kyle Chandler's nomination for new series "Bloodline" was expected, and so was Bob Odenkirk's nomination for new show "Better Call Saul," though it's a surprise considering that he made his name as a comic actor. Newsroom" star Jeff Daniels seems to have snuck in based on the Academy's reflexive love for Aaron Sorkin and HBO. Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards") has been nominated for all three of his show's seasons, and Jon Hamm has now been nominated all eight years he's been eligible for "Mad Men." Maybe this year he'll finally win.
BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
There would have been blood in the streets if Taraji P. Henson ("Empire") and Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder") didn't get nominated. And you can't argue with perennial nominees Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), and Robin Wright ("House of Cards"). But that meant a lot of deserving actresses didn't make the cut, including Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"), Caitriona Balfe ("Outlander"), Lizzy Caplan ("Masters of Sex"), Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey"), Ruth Wilson ("The Affair"), Keri Russell ("The Americans"), and Taylor Schilling ("Orange Is the New Black").
One who did, shockingly, is Tatiana Maslany of "Orphan Black." Given the Emmys' usual distaste for genre fare and their past snubbing of Maslany's incredible performance in multiple roles on this show, everyone expected her to get ignored again -- and everyone is gobsmacked (but happily so) that she wasn't.
BEST ACTOR, COMEDY
"Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons has been nominated six times and won four, but this year, the Academy finally snubbed Sheldon. That's the biggest shocker in the category. Also somewhat surprising: nods for Anthony Anderson and Will Forte from new shows "Black-ish" and "The Last Man on Earth." Some experts expected a sentimental vote for "The Comedians" star Billy Crystal, but it didn't happen.
"Silicon Valley" star Thomas Middleditch got a nod for the first time, but that was expected. So were nominations for perennial favorites Don Cheadle ("House of Lies"), Matt LeBlanc ("Episodes"), and William H. Macy ("Shameless"), though maybe it's a surprise that Showtime now dominates this category. Least surprising was a nomination for "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor, who'll probably repeat his Golden Globes win.
BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
The happiest surprise is the inclusion of Amy Schumer; sure, she's been absolutely on fire this year on "Inside Amy Schumer," but Emmy voters rarely recognize sketch comedy. Also a happy surprise: the inclusion of Lisa Kudrow in the uncompromisingly dark comedy "The Comeback." For Netflix's new "Grace and Frankie," Lily Tomlin won her first-ever nomination as a comedy lead, though her co-lead Jane Fonda got snubbed.
The rest of the slots went to frequent nominees. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who's won for all three previous seasons of "Veep" has another shot this year. Probably bad news for Edie Falco, nominated for the seventh and last time for "Nurse Jackie," and for Amy Poehler of fellow defunct comedy "Parks and Recreation." Bad news also for the many worthy comic actresses who were snubbed: Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez ("Jane the Virgin"), Tracee Ellis Ross ("Black-ish"), Constance Wu ("Fresh Off the Boat"), Ellie Kemper ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), past Emmy darling Lena Dunham ("Girls"), and Melissa McCarthy ("Mike & Molly").
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
There were some surprising names on the list: Michael Kelly ("House of Cards"), Jim Carter ("Downton Abbey") and Alan Cumming ("The Good Wife"). They took slots that might otherwise have gone to Mandy Patinkin ("Homeland"), Jon Voight ("Ray Donovan"), Jussie Smollett ("Empire"), and John Slattery ("Mad Men.")
Less surprising: nominations for Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones") and Jonathan Banks ("Better Call Saul"). The nod for Ben Mendelsohn ("Bloodline") is a surprise only if you haven't watched the new Netflix series.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
This was the most predictable category. Christine Baranski got her sixth straight nod for "The Good Wife," as did Christina Hendricks for "Mad Men." Last year's winner Uzo Aduba ("Orange Is the New Black") is up for a repeat. Repeat nominees Joanne Froggatt ("Downton Abbey") and Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke ("Game of Thrones") are back again. Alas, that meant no room for Aduba's co-star Kate Mulgrew or Froggatt's co-star Maggie Smith.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
In a happy surprise, given the Academy's avoidance of sketch comedy, Keegan-Michael Key made the list; still, how come he was nominated while "Key & Peele" co-star Jordan Peele was snubbed? Another happy surprise: newcomer Tituss Burgess, nominated for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Raise a glass of pinot noir!
The rest of the category went to more predictable names, including Andre Braugher ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Adam Driver ("Girls"), and Tony Hale ("Veep"). Last year's winner, Ty Burrell, earned his sixth straight nomination. That means his "Modern Family" co-stars, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, were ignored. So were snubbees Fred Armisen ("Portlandia"), Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston ("Grace and Frankie"), Hugh Laurie ("Veep"), Laurence Fishburne ("Black-ish"), Tony Shalhoub ("Nurse Jackie"), Jaime Camil ("Jane the Virgin"), and T.J. Miller ("Silicon Valley"). And the Academy missed its last chance to acknowledge Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman of "Parks and Recreation." Somewhere, Ron Swanson is shedding one manly tear.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Two big surprises in this category: First, that there were so many worthy candidates that vote-splitting led to eight nominees. Second, that one of them was Niecy Nash of HBO's otherwise ignored "Getting On." The voters also managed to find room for Allison Janney (who won last year for "Mom"), Julie Bowen (who's won twice for "Modern Family"), Anna Chlumsky (who had a breakout year on "Veep"), Kate McKinnon (still the standout performer among the current "Saturday Night Live" cast), Jane Krakowski ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), Mayim Bialik (the lone major nomination for "The Big Bang Theory"), and Gaby Hoffman (that's how much the Emmys love "Transparent").
Hard to quibble with any of these, though some expected Hoffman's castmates Judith Light or Amy Landecker to be recognized. "Modern Family"'s Sofia Vergara is absent. You could argue for "Kimmy Schmidt"'s Carol Kane over Krakowski. And the Emmys missed their last chance to honor Merritt Wever for "Nurse Jackie" (though she did win two years ago), Jane Lynch for "Glee," and Betty White for "Hot in Cleveland." But otherwise, it's hard to muster up the usual outrage here, as in other Emmy categories this year.