Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Nominations Are In: Emmy Love for "Mad Men" and "Horror Story"

Emmy nominations (and wins) are always iffy business. I still can't believe John Larroquette won four in a row for his role on "Night Court" back in the 80s, and, yes, I'm still holding a grudge.

On the other hand, Ed Asner holds the record for most wins by a male performer with seven, and there is nothing wrong with that. I love Ed Asner. The more Emmys for him, the better.

More recently, the Academy been annoying me by continuing to toss nominations (and one inexplicable win) at Jon Cryer and the execrable "Two and a Half Men," as well as shrill, annoying "Glee" and shrill, annoying Kristen Wiig, while overlooking deserving actors like Nick Offerman, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie and Casey Wilson, and excellent shows like "Parks and Recreation," "Community" and "Happy Endings." Last year, "Parks and Rec" finally eked out a nomination for Best Comedy. Not this time.

But Jon Cryer and Kristen Wiig are still on the list, with Cryer adding insult to injury by moving from a nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category to Outstanding Lead Actor. Oh, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. I nominate you for Outstanding Attempt to Drive Julie Crazy.

But there's more than just bad news when it comes to this year's Emmy Awards. Thank goodness.When Jimmy Kimmel (standing in for Nick Offerman, who was waylaid by bad weather) and Kerry Washington ("Scandal") announced the entire list this morning, "Mad Men," the AMC period piece about the stylish, sexy, sexist world of advertising in the 60s, was at the top, with 17 nominations, tied with newbie blockbuster "American Horror Story," the FX series being called a miniseries for Emmy purposes, with 17 of its own.

When the awards are given out on September 23, "Mad Men" will be vying for its fifth straight win in the Outstanding Drama category. That would put it one ahead of four-times-in-a-row Drama winners "The West Wing" and "Hill Street Blues" and four-times-overall-with-an-interruption-from-"Northern Exposure" winner "L.A. Law." Can "Mad Men" take the Big 5 over competitors "Boardwalk Empire," "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones" and "Homeland"?

"Downton Abbey" won as Outstanding Miniseries last year, so it is definitely a contender, even though critics were less in love with its second season than its first. But opinions were mixed on "Mad Men" this year, too. And then there's "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones" and "Homeland," any of which might find itself at the podium.

Although "Mad Men" leads the pack with those 17 nominations, including nods for Outstanding Lead Actor Jon Hamm, Lead Actress Elisabeth Moss, Supporting Actor Jared Harris, Supporting Actress Christina Hendricks and Guest Actress and Actor Julia Ormond and Ben Feldman, the other contenders picked up a few of their own, too, with last year's winner Peter Dinklage from "Game of Thrones" again nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category, "Homeland" stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis up for Lead Actress and Actor, and Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and Mark Margolis all nominated for "Breaking Bad." Meanwhile, "Downton Abbey" picked up a whole lot of love for their upstairs (Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith) and downstairs (Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt) contingents.

"The Good Wife" missed out on an Outstanding Drama Series nod, but did pick up nominations for Lead Actress Juliana Margulies, Supporting Actresses Archie Panjabi and Christine Baranski, and Guests Dylan Baker, Michael J. Fox and Martha Plimpton.

On the comedy side, "Modern Family" continues its domination of pretty much everything Emmy, with a shot at its third Best Comedy Series award in a row. In case you're keeping track, "Frasier" has the record in the Comedy category, with five wins between 1994 and 1998. "Modern Family" seems like a shoe-in for #3, considering the fact that the show owns four of the six slots in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category, with wins for Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell the past two years. Maybe Ed O'Neill or Jesse Tyler Ferguson will take it this year, spreading the joy around the cast. Julie Bowen and Sofia Bergara are back on the Supporting Actress list, too. Bowen won that one last year.

Other nominees for Best Comedy Series are "The Big Bang Theory," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "30 Rock," and new shows "Girls" and "Veep." I found "Girls" unwatchable and "Veep" so-so, but clearly the Academy voters are not on the same page.

Lena Dunham, creator and star of "Girls" and perennial nominee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, now up for "Veep" will vie with quintessential manic pixie dreamgirl Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl'), Edie Falcon ("Nurse Jackie"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock'), Melissa McCarthy ("Mike and Molly"), and my favorite, Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series race.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series brings back Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory," along with Larry David playing himself in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a show I thought was canceled several tears ago, Alec Baldwin one more time in "30 Rock," the always magnetic Don Cheadle for "House of Lies," a show I didn't like at all, the irreverent Louis C.K. for "Louie," and, yes, Jon Cryer in "Two and a Half Men." Sigh.

In the miniseries area, "American Horror Story" dominated, racking up nominations for Outstanding Mini, Outstanding Actress Connie Britton, Supporting Actresses Frances Conroy and Jessica Lange and Supporting Actor Denis O'Hare.

For Connie Britton to win, she'll have to get past Julianne Moore ("Game Change"), Nicole Kidman ("Hemingway & Gelhorn"), Ashley Judd ("Missing") and Emma Thompson ("The Song of Lunch").

The Lead Actor nominees are just as stellar, including Kevin Coster ("Hatfields and McCoys"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock"), Idris Elba ("Luther"), Woody Harrelson ("Game Change"), Clive Owen ("Hemingway & Gelhorn") and Bill Paxton ("Hatfields and McCoys").

Other things that jumped out at me: Kathy Bates got one nod for "Harry's Law," a show that didn't get a whole lot of notice, and another for a guest shot on "Two and a Half Men," Michael J. Fox is nominated in both the Comedy and Drama Outstanding Guest Actor categories, two of my favorite actors, David Strathairn and Denis O'Hare, are competing for Supporting Actor in a Miniseries, Betty White is up for hosting reality show "Off Their Rockers," and "So You Think You Can Dance" owns three of the five Outstanding Choreography nominations, with former competitor Travis Wall part of the fourth for his work on "Dancing with the Stars."

For all the nominations and all the categories, click here. Stay tuned for predictions as to who will win and who will go home empty-handed as we get closer to September 23. All bets are off without John Larroquette in the race.


  1. I thought I was the only person in the universe who finds Wiig shrill, annoying, and other unfriendly epithets!
    Great rundown.

  2. You are not alone, Margaret! Now that she's left SNL, maybe I can watch again.

    I also don't think SNL or its performers belong in the comedy series categories. Variety shows and sketch comedy are different from scripted comedy series where people are creating characters. Or they're supposed to, anyway!