The 2014 Primetime Emmy Nominations were announced July 10, and, after having time to digest the nominees, here are a few quick impressions.
Now, a major caveat is that I’m not nearly as well-versed in television series as I am in movies. When I write about movie awards, I’ve seen all--or at least most--of the films and actors nominated. With these TV series, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not well-acquainted with many of these shows, but I’ll offer opinions where I can, anyway.
Okay, first, the series with the most nominations was HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” I’ve never seen one minute of the show, because I don’t have HBO. (I’m poor; please help me! Send me money so I can upgrade my cable package!) But, I do know people who watch it religiously, like my esteemed colleague, Nick Cicale, and they rave about it.
“Fargo” received the second-most nominations, with 18. This tickles me thoroughly, as I watched every second of that show and loved it! There was a heinous mistake in the middle of this season with one episode that strained credulity so much it threatened to make the entire show incomprehensible, but it moved past that grievous error in judgment to gain steam throughout the rest of the season. It was a fabulous show, and I’ve discussed it personally with four other people--including Mr. Cicale--who were all very high on it, as well. Even better news, there will be a second season, which will be set in 1979 and likely begin in the fall of 2015.
Other than GOT, the other series nominated for Best Drama were: “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “True Detective,” “House of Cards,” and “Downtown Abbey.” I’ve never seen any of these shows--with the notable exception of “Mad Men,” of which I’ve seen every moment. “Mad Men,” of course, won the Emmy in each of its first four seasons, it won three consecutive Golden Globes, it’s won multiple Screen Actors Guild Awards, and it’s even won a Peabody. It also gets nominated for basically every award every year. Has it lost a step from those searing early seasons? Yes. Is it still truly great? Absolutely. Is it still the best thing I watch on TV? No doubt. (“Breaking Bad” will win this award, by the way, and from what everyone tells me, it’s a richly deserved honor.)
For the comedies, I’ve not seen “Orange is the New Black,” “Silicon Valley,” “Louie,” or “The Big Bang Theory,” but I do, however, like and watch “Modern Family,” and I find “Veep” uproarious--especially Julia Louis Dreyfuss, who has won a shelf-full of these things already for her work on “Veep,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and, of course, “Seinfeld.”
In lead drama actor, Poor Jon Hamm will almost certainly lose again--the winner will be either Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) or newly-minted Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (“True Detective”)--despite being nominated, as usual, for “Mad Men.” Is it possible one of the finest and most iconic portrayals in the history of TV will never get an Emmy? With only one season left for the show, it seems (sadly) likely.
For lead actress, I’ll root for Lizzie Caplan (“Masters of Sex”), because I’ve at least watched (approvingly) her and the show--and I can’t say the same for any of the other candidates.
I’d go Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in actress in a comedy series for the same reason as above, and I’m skipping lead actor in a comedy because I’ve never seen any of them. Same goes for supporting actor in a drama series, and, in supporting actress for a drama, I also have no real opinion--despite the presence of the lovely Christina Hendricks, who embodies the voluptuous “Joan” on “Mad Men.” (This just wasn’t a strong season for her, so I can’t endorse her over a field that may be--for all I know--very good.)
For supporting actor in a comedy, I’ll root for either of the “Modern Family” guys--Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson--or Tony Hale from “Veep.”
In comedy supporting actress, I’ll pull for Anna Chlumsky in “Veep” over Julia Bowen (“Modern Family”) and a bunch ladies I’ve never seen.
Finally, since “Fargo” was nominated in the miniseries category--yes, category hopping (if you’re being generous) or category fraud (if you’re being uncharitable) was again rampant this year, with shows and performers in categories that seem to make little sense--I’m obviously rolling for it over its (admittedly lackluster) category competition. The same goes for the “Fargo” cast (Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, and Colin Hanks), who were all nominated in the various acting categories for a miniseries or movie. Individual episodes of “Fargo” were also rightly nominated for directing and writing.
As for snubs, everyone has their own hobbyhorse, but I’m going to take up for Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on “Mad Men” with remarkable sensitivity, perceptiveness, and alacrity. She’s been nominated in the past (although not often enough for my liking), and she was sublime this past season yet again. The scene with her and Hamm’s Don Draper--when they’re alone late at night in the office working, and she confesses her doubts about her life choices, and he shows his own vulnerability, and she, in self-pity, disgustedly asks him what he, a master of the universe, could possibly have to worry about, and he responds that he’s never done anything, and that he has no one--that scene alone should be enough for them both to win every award on this planet.
Whew, okay, I’m tired. On with the show! (The show isn’t until August.)
Ryan Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @randerson_ryan