It’s mid-July, which means it’s time for us to find out who and what will be battling it out (or, at least, pretending to battle it out until the inevitable people who frequently win do) for a nice and shiny 2017 Emmy Award. The nominations were announced last Thursday, and included lots of long-standing nominees, some exciting newcomers, a great surprise or two and several glaring omissions that filled me with rage. But hey, what else is new?
The Outstanding Comedy Series category looked a lot like it did last year, with “black-ish,” “Master of None,” “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and yes, for some truly unknown reason, “Modern Family” all getting nominations. The one new addition, FX’s excellent “Atlanta,” was not exactly surprising, but it did knock out the only-a-comedy-because-it’s-a-half-hour “Transparent.” I’m hoping that “Atlanta” might beat “Veep” (if “Master of None’s” brilliant second season doesn’t do it) and take home the big prize, but we’ll have to wait and see. As for “Modern Family’s” insane ability to continue to get nominations despite the fact that it’s just so formulaic now continues to frustrate. Why not use that slot for something more interesting or different, like FXX’s woefully under-appreciated “You’re the Worst” or The CW’s consistently great “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend“? There’s great work happening in comedy on TV; it’s just not happening on “Modern Family.”
As for the acting categories, Donald Glover (for “Atlanta”) and Zach Galifianakis (for “Baskets“) joined Anthony Anderson (for “black-ish”), Aziz Ansari (for “Master of None”), William H. Macy (for “Shameless“) and Jeffrey Tambor (for “Transparent”) in Lead Actor, and in Lead Actress Allison Janney (for “Mom“) moved up from Supporting, Jane Fonda joined her “Grace and Frankie” co-star Lily Tomlin as a nominee, and Tracee Ellis Ross (for “black-ish”), Ellie Kemper (for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (for “Veep”) all got nominated again. Rounding out the Lead Actress category was one of the biggest and best surprises of the nominations, Pamela Adlon for her excellent FX series “Better Things.” Her chances of beating Julia Louis-Dreyfus are likely slim, but it was still exciting to see her nominated. Hopefully that’ll draw people to her lovely show. Supporting Actor was more of the same, with Louie Anderson (for “Baskets”), Ty Burrell (for “Modern Family”), Tituss Burgess (for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Tony Hale (for “Veep”) and Matt Walsh (also for “Veep”). The only change was the completely unacceptable replacement of Andre Braugher (for his consistently great work on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine“) with Alec-freaking-Baldwin as the president on “Saturday Night Live.” Completely ignoring the fact that his impression is not even that good (Anthony Atamanuik is doing a much better job on Comedy Central’s “The President Show“), it’s insane for Baldwin to be nominated like a cast member when he technically ISN’T ONE. Luckily the Supporting Actress category featured three great “SNL” cast members, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones, alongside Kathryn Hahn (for “Transparent”), Judith Light (also for “Transparent”) and Anna Chlumsky (for “Veep”).
On the Writing and Directing sides, all I’ll say is “Atlanta’s” brilliant “B.A.N.” episode got nominated for both, and if you haven’t watched any of “Atlanta” yet, you should at least watch that episode. I mean, you should really watch the whole thing because it’s great, but you should really watch that episode. It’s my favorite.
The drama side was a little more open to new things, since “Game of Thrones” was ineligible this year. And so they nominated “This Is Us.” I mean, they also nominated “Westworld,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “House of Cards” and “Better Call Saul,” but “This Is Us“? Over “Mr. Robot“? Yes, “Mr. Robot’s” second season wasn’t perfect, but “Mr. Robot” at its worst is still better than “This Is Us.” “This Is Us” is a good show starring Sterling K. Brown‘s Randall and Ron Cephas Jones‘s William trapped in a bad show starring basically everyone else on “This Is Us.”
Luckily, Brown and Cephas Jones both got nominated in their respective categories. Brown was joined in Lead Actor inexplicably by his “This Is Us” co-star Milo Ventimiglia, as well as Bob Odenkirk (for “Better Call Saul”), Kevin Spacey (for “House of Cards”), Liev Schreiber (for “Ray Donovan“), Matthew Rhys (for “The Americans“) and Anthony Hopkins (for “Westworld”). Lead Actress included Robin Wright (for “House of Cards”), Viola Davis (for “How to Get Away With Murder“), Keri Russell (for “The Americans”), Claire Foy (for “The Crown”), Elisabeth Moss (for “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Evan Rachel Wood (for “Westworld”). Lucky for all of them, reigning champ Tatiana Maslany won’t be eligible again until next year due to “Orphan Black‘s” later premiere date. As for Supporting Actor, Cephas Jones was joined by Jonathan Banks (for “Better Call Saul”), Mandy Pantinkin (for “Homeland,” which I didn’t even realize was still on), Michael Kelly (for “House of Cards”), David Harbour (for “Stranger Things”), John Lithgow (for “The Crown”) and Jeffrey Wright (for “Westworld”). On the Supporting Actress side the world went against what I thought was its better judgement and nominated one of those gosh darn “Stranger Things” kids with Millie Bobby Brown getting a nomination alongside Uzo Aduba (for “Orange is the New Black“), Ann Dowd (for “The Handmaid’s Tale”), Samira Wiley (for “The Handmaid’s Tale”), Chrissy Metz (for “This Is Us,” which, don’t even get me started again) and Thandie Newton (for “Westworld”).
Looking at the Directing and Writing categories is when I realize that I must not watch a lot of drama series, or at least not prestige drama series. Frankly, I’m still mad about “Mr. Robot.”
Limited Series/TV Movie
Sure, other things (like “Fargo,” “Genius” and “The Night Of“) got nominated for Limited Series, but if we’re being honest it’s really a fight between “Big Little Lies” and “Feud: Bette and Joan.” As someone who has seen both, I can say that they are both excellent depictions of the complicated ways women interact with one another and the ways that men can be really, really awful… and that I’m not entirely sure who I want to win. As for TV Movie, the only thing I’m really excited about is that “Black Mirror‘s” wonderful “San Junipero” episode got nominated. How it snuck into the TV Movie category with “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,” “Sherlock: The Lying Detective,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “The Wizard of Lies” is beyond me, but I really hope it wins.
I truly have no opinion on Lead Actor nominees Ewan McGregor (for “Fargo”), Geoffrey Rush (for “Genius”), Benedict Cumberbatch (for “Sherlock: The Lying Detective”), John Tuturro (for “The Night Of”), Riz Ahmed (for “The Night Of”) and Robert De Niro (for “The Wizard of Lies”) as I haven’t seen any of the things they are nominated for. I’m much more interested in the Lead Actress category, as it pits Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (from “Big Little Lies”) and Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon (from “Feud: Bette and Joan”) against each other. Sure, Felicity Huffman (for “American Crime“) and Carrie Coon (for “Fargo”) got nominated too, but it’s really a battle between the big four. The Supporting categories are a little more open, with Alexander Skarsgard (for “Big Little Lies”), David Thewlis (for “Fargo”), Stanley Tucci (for “Feud: Bette and Joan”), Alfred Molina (also for “Feud: Bette and Joan”), Michael Kenneth Williams (for “The Night Of”) and Bill Camp (for “The Night Of”) on the guys side and Regina King (for “American Crime”), Shailene Woodley (for “Big Little Lies”), Laura Dern (also for “Big Little Lies”), Jackie Hoffman (for “Feud: Bette and Joan”), Judy Davis (for “Feud: Bette and Joan”) and Michelle Pfeiffer (for “The Wizard of Lies”) on the ladies side. Although, it really is stacked in “Big Little Lies” and “Feud: Bette and Joan’s” favor. As it should be!
As for Writing and Directing, I’m rooting for “Black Mirror: San Junipero” for writing and “Big Little Lies” for directing. But “Big Little Lies” will probably win both, if “Feud: Bette and Joan” doesn’t win for its Oscars episode.
I don’t care about Reality so we’re just gonna skip that, okay? Cool.
Much deserved nominations for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in the Variety Talk category, alongside a sure, okay for “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and some ugh, really? for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” As for Variety Sketch, “Billy on the Street” finally gets some Emmys love alongside “Documentary Now!“, “Drunk History,” “Portlandia,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Tracey Ullman’s Show.”
On the Writing side, it’s pretty hard to lose with any of the nominees. They’re all great, so let’s just give them all a piece of the trophy, Cady Heron style.
So there’s a basic rundown of things from my obviously very important perspective. Here’s the full list. The Emmys themselves aren’t until September (the 17th, to be exact), so there’s plenty of time to ruminate and make your predictions. Get to work!
What do you think of this year’s Emmy nominees? Have any disappointing omissions of your own? Were you also excited to discover that Chance the Rapper is now an Emmy nominee for the “Jingle Barack” sketch he did with Kenan Thompson when he was a musical guest on “SNL”? Amazing, right? Before you go back and watch it, remember…