It’s foolish to get too amped or too peeved over Emmy nominations. I cried my last tears over slights and snubs after Twin Peaks went 2-for-14 in 1989. How David Lynch lost in the directing category to a tie between Equal Justice and thirtysomething still makes me want to wrap someone in plastic. The lesson I learned: You can’t count on the people who make entertainment to validate the entertainment that you, the consumer, love the most. There have been moments in recent years when my most passionate television interests have aligned with the Emmy majority. See: When Lost won Outstanding Drama, or Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston king-pinning the Outstanding Lead Actor category. But I still have not allowed myself to think, feel or believe that Emmy’s tastes are finally converging with mine. And so nothing it can do can nettle or wound my pop culture self-esteem. Nothing. Absolutely noth –
OH WHO THE HELL AM I KIDDING! By the magnificent mustache of Ron Swanson: How did Parks and Recreation get left out of the Outstanding Comedy category? Did the papers get lost in Pawnee’s byzantine bureaucracy? Did voters confuse the fictional recall movement against Councilwoman Leslie Knope for… uh… oh, I can’t even properly joke about this, I’m so steamed!
But nothing makes me more pissed than this: How the FLIPPING HELL did Tatiana Maslany not get a nomination for playing a half dozen different, compelling, fully fleshed-out characters in BBC America’s ingeniously staged and smartly written cloning thriller Orphan Black? Surely Emmy voters must get the channel. If they know how to use Netflix – and they surely must, given the stunning, mostly-deserved nine nominations they bestowed upon House of Cards and the modest if fair haul for Arrested Development’s flawed return (three nods, including one for Jason Bateman) – then surely they know how to work a cable box or DirecTV remote?! Of course they do! See: Top of the Lake, the mesmerizing mini-series from director Jane Campion, which aired wayyyyyyyyy down the dial on the Sundance Channel and copped eight nominations.
The Orphan Black/House of Cards paradox sums up my reaction to this year’s nominations in general: I was excited to see Emmy open its mind to new possibilities, puzzled that said mind didn’t open up enough. Broadcast drama got faced by cable and pay service competition – and for the most part, rightly so. Yes, Scandal (two noms) was a sensation, and yes, The Good Wife (five noms) is… well, good. Both deserved an Outstanding Drama nod over Downtown Abbey (12 noms), which hasn’t greatly impressed me since its first season. But if I was running Emmy, I’d swap out Downton Abbey for Orphan Black (zero noms!), The Americans (2 noms), and maybe a couple more before Scandal or The Good Wife.
Maybe I have Comic-Con on the brain, but if anything bugs me about the Emmy nominations today, it’s the mixed messages about the geek stuff. I can’t quibble with the continued affection for Big Bang Theory (eight nominations), but I often wonder if they Emmy this very popular sitcom – a clever, admiring yet too cliched poke at Nerd Pop Nation – because it mirrors their view that geeks are very strange and very silly and their interests shouldn’t be taken all that seriously…. unless it’s aggressively “adult,” i.e. grave, epic, and on cable. Like American Horror Story, which earned every single one of its 17 nominations (yay, Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto!) for its brilliant second season, albeit not necessarily in the correct category (I’d put it in Drama instead of Miniseries); and Game of Thrones, which continued its understandable hold on Emmy’s imagination: 16 nominations, including a nod for hard-working Emilia Clarke.
And yet, I’m disappointed that a body that could clearly see the greatness in American Horror Story and somehow saw enough of the disappointing Starz drama Da Vinci’s Demons to give it three nods (visual effects, title music, title design) also saw absolutely nothing commendable in NBC’s Hannibal, which should have at least racked up an impressive number of craft and technical nods. It got nothing. And once again, there was no love for two great actors who this season completed a fantastic streak of work in long-running sci-fi shows that Emmy has apparently never seen: Matt Smith’s Doctor Who (zero noms), who was just as deserving of a Lead Actor nod in either drama or comedy categories as Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey or Matt LeBlanc of Episodes; and John Noble’s Walter Bishop of Fringe (zero noms), who was just as deserving of a Supporting Actor nod as (yep, I’m picking at it!) Jim Carter of Downtown Abbey.
I’m not saying my prized fanboy ponies should be winning the Emmy derby; it just kills me that they’re not even in the race. With two glaring exceptions – the staggering snub of Parks and Rec and the slightly less staggering snub of Tatiana Maslany – I dare say that the shows and talent most deserving of statues are in the running to get them. I’m rooting for Breaking Bad to win everything it got tapped for… although I think Emmy voters should get together right now and plot the necessary conspiracy that will give Mad Men’s Jon Hamm the Emmy he deserves either this year or next.
Speaking of political dirty tricks, I’m pulling for Scandal’s Kerry Washington, but Vera Farmiga in Bates Motel would be pretty killer, too. I want to see the swan-song season of 30 Rock (13 noms) or Louie (6 noms) dominate the comedy categories. And I can’t wait to see how the Emmy telecast plays what should be the best joke in the best skirmish of the night: American Horror Story vs. Behind The Candelabra (15 nominations) vs. The Bible (3 nods) vs. Top of the Lake in the Miniseries or Movie category. I’m a man of faith, and I dig the holy trinity of Steven Soderbergh, Michael Douglas, and Matt Damon – but I’m rooting for Satan in this contest.