With the announcement of the nominees for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards just a couple of days ago, it’s time now to take stock of this year’s snubs and well-deserving nominee recipients.
For the first time this year, both the drama and comedy categories were expanded to include a seventh nominated show and the rules were clarified to note the difference between a Comedy and Drama Series (namely their length). However, despite this, there were a number of outstanding series that didn’t get a look in by the Academy of Television Arts and Science. Likewise, despite overflowing pools of talent in the actor and actress categories, both lead and supporting, there are still some stunning fantastic performances that are noticeably missing from the nominations list.
So, without further ado, here are some of our picks of the year’s biggest Emmy snubs.
- Gina Rodriguez and Jane the Virgin
At The Reel Word, our love of Jane the Virgin has already been well documented here. If however, you haven’t already read our article, let’s catch you up. Jane the Virgin is one of the year’s most original, heart-warming and fresh comedies. Sure, it airs on the CW (which may or may not have been a factor in its oversight here), but the themes, writing and production values of the series could have it just at home on any of the other broadcast networks. There is a lot to love about this show as a whole; and whilst I don’t know if it would take out the category, at the very least, it deserves nominations and recognition for just how funny and inspired a show it is. Likewise, despite landing the Golden Globe, Gina Rodriguez’s luminous, endearing and refreshingly unique take on life in your 20’s as a pregnant virgin in ethnically blended America is noticeably absent from the Outstanding Comedy Actress list. I’m not sure what exactly it is that the Academy is looking for in a comedy series; if it’s brilliant, relatable and sometimes zany humour, I am genuinely confused as to why there is no Jane the Virgin love.
- Ellie Kemper and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Speaking of funny, effervescent, likeable and downright charming female leads; where is Ellie Kemper’s nod for her portrayal of the naïve, determined and unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Sure, it picked up a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series and in the supporting category for Tituss Burgess and Jane Krakowski respectively, but a huge part of the show’s success is undeniably a result of Kemper’s balanced, nuanced and hilarious performance – despite the zaniness that goes on around her. Ellie Kemper is one of television’s funniest and most charming personalities and it is genuinely baffling that everyone around her (including Jon Hamm, whose nomination is as surprising and welcome as his guest performance in the series was) is getting an award and she is not. Likewise, the lack of a writing nomination seems to be an oversight for one of the most original concepts to grace our television screens this season.
- Terrence Howard and Empire
Another one of this season’s most original premises and concepts to hit television screens is Fox’s Empire. A modern take on a Dallas-style family drama, this hip-hop drama, which follows the life of the Lyons family as they run their record company and broader media empire, makes a powerful statement about race in modern America. Yes, it picked up a more than well-deserved nod for lead actress Taraji P. Henson’s brutally honest, grounded and complex portrayal of Cookie Lyon and two costume nominations, but there was no mention of Empire anywhere else on the nomination list. Co-created by Lee Daniels, the pilot episode of the season was also co-written and directed by him along with writing credits for other episodes throughout the season. If that is not enough to convince you of the quality drama that Empire produces, take a look at its cast. Every bit the powerhouse performer as his on-screen wife, Terrence Howard is formidable as the embattled ruler and founder of the Lyons Empire, Lucious Lyon. Howard’s snub in the Outstanding Actor Category is almost as insulting as the lack of recognition for the soundtrack and sound editing. Love it or hate it, Empire is the epitome of the changing diversity of network television and its lack of recognition is a huge oversight.
- Masters of Sex
Undoubtedly one of Showtime’s more sleeper hits, Masters of Sex is as revolutionary as the period of scientific research it discusses. As a period piece, it is a fascinating look at the ever-growing fascination with sex that dominated the 1950’s and 60’s of America. As a television drama, its exploration of complex characters, intertwined relationships and narrative detours make it one of the most fascinating and compelling dramas on television. In the Academy’s defence, it did recognize its fantastic attention to detail, nominating the show for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program, as well as recognizing the stellar efforts of its guest stars Beau Bridges and Allison Janney. But, there was no nomination for either of the show’s two stars and easily biggest assets Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen. Likewise, in the nominations that are arguably more significant, such as Drama Series, Writing and/or Direction, Masters of Sex is noticeably absent.
- Julianna Margulies and The Good Wife
Both Julianna Margulies and The Good Wife have been Emmy favourites for the duration of the six-year run – and rightly so. Over its history, The Good Wife has time and again proven its chops as a powerful legal drama, continually reinventing and maturing itself and its storylines. Never has the show’s ability to change, evolve and continually develop itself been more evident than it has been in the last two years. Most shows flounder when one of its leads and founding characters leave; but both the show and Margulies took Josh Charles’ sudden (at least for most viewers) and unfortunate departure in their stride to deliver some of the show’s strongest and layered performances and plot arcs yet. This year, neither the show nor its star picked up a nomination. For an organization whose love affair with both is well documented, this is a bold move; especially when you consider the quality of both the show and Margulies over the course of the sixth season. As a side note, Matt Czuchry’s performance as the tortured Cary Agos continues to remain overlooked six seasons in; even as he delivers what is arguably his career best work in the last two seasons.
- Timothy Olyphant and Justified
This one is an unusual one. Although Justified picked up eight Emmy nominations during its six seasons run, not a single one has been for the show itself. Rather, it has been for its supporting and guest performances, art direction and once for the show’s star, Timothy Olyphant, for Outstanding Lead Actor. Of these awards, it has only won two – the first for Margo Martindale in 2011 as an Outstanding Supporting Actress and the second for Jeremy Davies the following year for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. To most, all of this seems a little – pardon the pun – unjustified. The show is both a fan and critic favourite – recently picking up five nominations at the 5th Critics’ Choice Television Awards, the most of any other programs nominated. Justified is a fantastic and thrilling drama, featuring lush backdrops and breathtaking cinematography. Its storylines are as compelling and complex as its characters and Olyphant is a true star in his portrayal of U.S Marshal Raylan Givens. The fact this show has received little to no significant recognition in the past is injury enough, but to be equally dismissive of Olyphant’s powerhouse performance and the show again in its last Emmy season just adds salt to the wound.
- Broad City
Just as Jane the Virgin above, here at The Reel Word we are huge fans of Broad City. In fact, you can check out our review of the first season here. In its second season, just as its two leading stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the show continued to grow into its own. Building on its subtle yet empowering discussion of young women, Broad City used the charm and bubbly chemistry of its two leads to continue to deliver an authentic, weirdly sweet and hilarious comedy about two girls living life in NYC. Its following is cult, but it is widely loved by critics and offers a unique and fresh female perspective. Whilst it draws a lot of comparisons to HBO’s Girls, Broad City is its own unique comedic offering and equally as deserving of a mention in the Outstanding Comedy Series categories as the current nominees.
- Kiernan Shipka
Whilst I am aware that this may be a somewhat controversial inclusion, especially considering that Mad Men picked up 11 total nominations, I think it is remiss not to at least talk about the fantastic work of Kiernan Shipka in Mad Men. Over the course of Mad Men’s 7 seasons, we have seen Shipka literally grow, develop and blossom into a beautiful, talented and incredibly accomplished actor right in front of our eyes. Her transformation of Sally Draper from a petulant, spoilt and at times impossibly difficult young girl into a confident, assured and knowledgeable young woman has been nothing short of remarkable. The increasing depth of writing and character work that show creator and runner Matthew Weiner has generated for Sally is a testament to the prowess of Shipka and her ability to play off actors with more acting experience than she has birth years. In its final season, both Weiner’s ideas and Kiernan Shipka’s layered performance come to fruition as Sally steps into the role of womanhood that is expected of her. It has been magical to watch Shipka over the course of Mad Men’s run and it is a genuine shame that she will not see award recognition for work that is undeniably award winning.
- The Affair
Showtime’s other equally affecting and relatively unknown drama The Affair is another entry that is noticeably entirely absent from the Emmy’s list. For those of you who are not familiar with it, The Affair is the story of the extramarital relationship between New York school teacher Noah Solloway and Long Island waitress Alison Bailey. Both plagued with difficult home situations, the show tells the story of their affair and ensuing complications separately from each of their own perspective and distinct memory biases. If that sounds remotely interesting, appealing or unique to you, then you wouldn’t be alone. The Affair is a critic favourite thanks to its smart storytelling, creative format and fantastic performances, particularly from the relatively unknown Ruth Wilson and Dominic West as Alison and Noah respectively. However, despite picking up the Golden Globe for Best Television Series-Drama and Best Actress in a Drama Series for Ruth Wilson, the show’s uncompromisingly talented lead, The Affair failed to garner any Emmy nominations whatsoever. Whether it is because of its relatively under-the-radar status, or its somewhat smaller audience, the omission of The Affair altogether from the Emmy nominations is a downright shame.
Love it or hate it, Girls is an important show. Loved by audiences and critics alike, it is a powerful show about women and their sexuality. Its themes of promiscuity, complex relationships, religion, marriage and other preoccupations of women in their 20s and 30’s are themes that helped start what is the ever-increasing and important female voice on television. Show creator Lena Dunham is not particularly a favourite of mine, but I can admire the work she has and continues to do in Girls. As a voice of her generation, Dunham is representative of a collective voice that is finally just starting to be heard, accepted and understood. The lack of acknowledgement for both Dunham and her show at this year’s Emmy’s in the Comedy Series, Writing and Directing Categories is representative of a much bigger problem with the Emmy’s voting system: the absence of a younger demographic. Whilst Girls has received 2 nominations – one in the supporting actor category and one in the guest actress category – these 2 nominations are not entirely or adequately reflective of the show’s abilities and strengths.
In saying all of that, it would be unfair to only write about the snubs. The 2014-15 year of television has been a wonderful year for diversity, innovation and increase in television production. For the most part, apart from the above list, this year’s Emmy nominations reflect that. Personally, I am over the moon that Orphan Black’s outstanding lead actress Tatiana Maslany is finally receiving a nomination for her truly one-of-a-kind performance as clones Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel and Krystal. Likewise, HBO’s Silicon Valley has picked up 7 nominations, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series; although both star Thomas Middleditch and his sidekick T.K. Miller as Erlich Bachman are without nominations. Finally, continuing the trend of embracing difference in not only content but also distribution, Amazon’s Transparent has also picked up a staggering 11 nominations for its ground-breaking first season, including one for its star Jeffrey Tambor (who seems to have the category locked up) and for Outstanding Comedy series.
For a full list of nominees, check out our list here and sound off in the comments for any other snubs or well-deserved nominees you think we may have missed. The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be hosted by Adam Samberg on Sunday, September 20, 2015.