Emmy Nominations Reaction: Who Was Snubbed, Who Shouldn't Be A Nominee
Yes, the Emmy nominations were revealed at dawn in Los Angeles Thursday morning in a delightful little ceremony that saw Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth squeeze about two-dozen jokes in between their reading off the teleprompter.
There were surprises leading to gasps from the press, and plenty of nominations they all saw coming. Newcomer "Mad Men" led the drama category with 16 nominations while "30 Rock" captured 17 nods, including an astounding seven for guest actors. "John Adams" led all programs with 23 nominations.
There was also history in the air as "Mad Men" and "Damages" became the first basic cable shows to capture a best series nomination. Both did so in their first year, furthering the idea that over-the-air TV is no longer the best place to find quality programming.
All in all, it was a great morning for Emmy as the TV industry looks forward to an era of unparalleled quality on television and hopefully labor peace as well.
Still, with so many good shows on television, Emmy still managed to get a lot wrong. Great performances and exceptional programs were left off the list in every category. Below are the biggest snubs and the least-deserving nominees for the 60th Emmy Awards.
Best Comedy Series Nominees
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"
"Two and a Half Men"
Biggest Snub: "How I Met Your Mother" - Yes, "Mother" did suffer a substantial decline following the writers' strike that ended with Britney Spears' torpedoing the final few episodes, but before the strike it was the best sitcom on television. "Mother" is like "Seinfeld" for the recent college graduate, featuring all the clever catchphrases and memorable characters of that other New York-set series. Plus, it adds a lot of single-camera techniques that increase its humor despite its multi-camera setup. "Mother" is a perfect hybrid of the old and the new, and even when it wasn't so good it was still better than most comedies on television.
Shouldn't Be There: "Two-and-a-Half Men" - Haven't we had enough of this by now? Alan's kind of dorky, Charlie sleeps around, and Jake misinterprets. Rinse, repeat, bore us again. It's true that "Men" is the most popular comedy on television, but why should that matter? It's crude, middle-of-the-road dreck that represents the worst, not the best, in sitcoms.
Best Drama Series Nominees
Biggest Snub: "The Wire" and "Big Love" - With six nominees in this category, it's completely inexcusable to ignore these two dramas. "Big Love" established itself in its second season at the next great HBO program and arguably the flagship of quality for that station as it moves into a post-"Sopranos" world. Omitting "The Wire" is just sad. This was its last chance to earn a nomination for Best Drama and the voters failed to recognize it again. It's likely "The Wire" will be remembered as the best TV Drama of all time and certainly the finest drama never to be nominated in this category.
Shouldn't Be There: "Boston Legal" - Like "Two-and-a-Half Men" you'd think Emmy would have grown tired of this act. Bizarre plots, aloof and sarcastic characters, blah blah blah. This series is so outlandish and in love with itself that it's lost all semblance of good drama, instead functioning as a vehicle for its leads to deliver humorously offbeat lines.
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Nominees
Alec Baldwin - "30 Rock"
Steve Carell - "The Office"
Lee Pace - "Pushing Daisies"
Tony Shalhoub - "Monk"
Charlie Sheen - "Two-and-a-Half Men"
Biggest Snub: David Duchovny in "Californication" - Seems a Golden Globe just isn't enough to get anybody to take notice. Duchovny's Hank Moody is a perfect comic creation. He's extremely funny with a real dark side. Like comic heroes of yore, rather than taking the direct path to his objective he meanders around finding misadventures at every step. Duchovny's journeys saw him dealing with LA literati and destroying himself every chance he got. The actor, expertly combining his dark edge with his endless well of comic ability, played this perfectly.
Shouldn't Be There: Charlie Sheen in "Two-and-a-Half Men" - Isn't this an acting award? How does somebody get in for playing a less extreme version of themselves? Sheen does nothing more on this show than read lines and act like he's somewhat medicated. Wait, he's probably not acting there either.
Best Actress in a Comedy Nominees
Christina Applegate - "Samantha Who?"
America Ferrera - "Ugly Betty"
Tina Fey - "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss - "The New Adventures of Old Christine"
Mary Louise Parker - "Weeds"
Biggest Snub: Anna Friel in "Pushing Daisies" - "Daisies" may be an awful show, but Friel is fantastic as the remarkably adorable Chuck. Constantly injecting the series with random facts and a sunny attitude towards death, she perfectly embodies the quirky spirit of the series. Her sunshine never sets despite her dark past and situation. She brings forth the entire character in each scene as we see her past and present and how her surroundings and attitude are affected by each other.
Shouldn't Be There: America Ferrera in "Ugly Betty" - There's really nothing to this performance. The writing is filled with more clichés than a high school essay and all Ferrera seems to do is wear bad clothes in the wrong situations. She always seems kind of awkward, but who wouldn't in this series?
Best Actor in a Drama Nominees
Gabriel Byrne - "In Treatment"
Bryan Cranston - "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall - "Dexter"
Jon Hamm - "Mad Men"
Hugh Laurie - "House"
James Spader - "Boston Legal"
Biggest Snub: Kyle Chandler in "Friday Night Lights" - For the second-year-in-a-row Emmy has refused to shine its light onto this series. Chandler's is the most glaring omission as his performance is constantly the best aspect of the series and the one thing that held consistent and its second season veered into melodramatic territory. Chandler is incredibly real on the series, fully displaying each aspect of a small-town coach's life in each scene. All this is done with a naturalistic touch that would make Constantin Stanislavski proud.
Shouldn't Be There: James Spader in "Boston Legal" - Enough of the Spade. Can anybody believe this guy actually beat James Gandolfini for the Emmy last year? He's just so disingenuous in his performances and projects nothing from the interior. If smarminess were the essence of good acting than Spader and Craig Kilborn would be dueling for Oscars every year. It's not, and they aren't.
Best Actress in a Drama Nominees
Glenn Close - "Damages"
Sally Field - "Brothers & Sisters"
Mariska Hargitay - "Law & Order: SVU"
Holly Hunter - "Saving Grace"
Kyra Sedgwick - "The Closer"
Biggest Snub: Jeanne Tripplehorn in "Big Love" - As the matriarchal Barb, head of the Henrickson household, Tripplehorn has found the role of her career. She's saddled with a lot by the show's writers: A disdain for her life's choices, a true love for her plural family, a desire for independence, a disconnect from her own family and a fierce loyalty to her husband and their former church were all aspects explored within her character in the show's second season. Tripplehorn handled those challenges with astonishing ease, showing chops not usually seen on the small screen. Tripplehorn may have had the toughest role to play of any actress on TV this season and her performance was absolutely remarkable.
Shouldn't Be There: Mariska Hargitay in "Law & Order: SVU" - No matter how hard this show tries, it's still just a police procedural and the characters merely pawns in a show that cares only about plot. Yes, at some points they it tries to masquerade as a character-based show, but it's not and there's never enough into which Hargitay can sink her teeth. Most of her acclaim is based on her character's back-story and not on any real onscreen acting. People are taken in by her playing a child of rape who, according to the writers, feels a deep connection with the victims of her crimes. That's all it ever is though, it's told. Hargitay never really shows us these afflictions, she just spits out dialogue so they can rush to the next location. If the show wanted to truly be character driven she surely could bring Emmy-worthy performances out of herself, but with the material as it stands, she's just a mouthpiece to move the plot along.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Nominees
Jon Cryer - "Two-and-a-Half Men"
Kevin Dillon - "Entourage"
Neil Patrick Harris - "How I Met Your Mother"
Jeremy Piven - "Entourage"
Rainn Wilson - "The Office"
Biggest Snub: JB Smoove in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - An outlandishly fearless comedic performance, Smoove dove into his character of Leon Black with the energy of Jim Carrey on two cases of Red Bull. He may have only appeared in about 2 minutes each episode, but those were always the funniest sections this season. Smoove single-handedly saved the sixth season of "Curb" with an outrageous comic creation that was the funniest thing of 2007. And all he gets for it is a role on "'Til Death".
Shouldn't Be There: Kevin Dillon in "Entourage" - This is a pretty strong list, so this is a bit of a nitpick. Dillon ends up as the dubious nominee not because of his acting but because of the lack of his ability to really perform due to the constraints the writing staff put on him. Johnny Drama morphed into a cartoon character this year, and Dillon should carry a bit of the blame. He was no longer a confident ex-D-Lister and now some raving mook out of a bad "SNL" sketch. We need the old Drama.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth - "Pushing Daisies"
Amy Poehler - "Saturday Night Live"
Jean Smart - "Samantha Who?"
Holland Taylor - "Two-and-a-Half Men"
Vanessa Williams - "Ugly Betty"
Biggest Snub: Kristen Wiig on "Saturday Night Live" - Emmy was right to nominate one of the "SNL" gals in their first year of eligibility in the comedy categories, but they chose the wrong one. Wiig is the funniest woman on television and probably in the entire world right now. Nobody on the show plays a wider variety of characters than Wiig or plays any of theirs better. In one show you can watch her go from subtle wit, to deadpan, to outrageous manicism, to a dead-on impression and all the way back again. Each new character is a complete creation without a hint of any of its contemporaries. Watching Wiig on "SNL" right now is like watching Tiger Woods in 2000 or Babe Ruth in 1927: An iconic performer at the top of her game.
Shouldn't Be There: Vanessa Williams in "Ugly Betty" - So she wears bad makeup, hams it up and raises her eyebrows in a menacing fashion. Wow. Brilliant. Oh wait, she also wears gaudy fashionista clothing. Just give her the Emmy right now. Nobody else has a chance. It's hard to take the Emmys seriously when they nominate somebody who isn't even acting and just displaying a set of mannerisms. Really, outside of Chenoweth nobody deserves a nomination in this category. For shame.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Ted Danson - "Damages"
Michael Emerson - "Lost"
Zeljko Ivanek - "Damages"
William Shatner - "Boston Legal"
John Slattery - "Mad Men"
Biggest Snub: Clark Johnson in "The Wire" - The best performance of the year, and he didn't even make the top ten. Johnson mesmerized every second he was on screen this year on "The Wire". As dogged editor Gus Haynes, he said more with a look across his desk than most actors can say in an entire season's worth of dialogue. A brilliant performance in which he carried the full weight of his character's years as a newspaperman with him across each frame. The characters from the Baltimore Sun were David Simon's weakest creations on paper, but Clark Johnson made Gus Haynes one his best.
Shouldn't Be There: Zeljko Ivanek in "Damages" - The whole "Damages" motif was way too overblown to produce any type of great acting (with the exception of Ted Danson's performance) and Ivanek was no exception. His sleazy southern lawyer character was so cookie cutter he may as well have been wearing a chocolate chip suit. Acting is about making a character your own, not rehashing 900 tired stereotypes against the backdrop of ridiculous melodrama.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Nominees
Rachel Griffiths - "Brothers and Sisters"
Candice Bergen - "Boston Legal"
Sandra Oh - "Grey's Anatomy"
Dianne Wiest - "In Treatment
Chandra Wilson - "Grey's Anatomy"
Biggest Snub: Amanda Seyfried in "Big Love" - An incredibly underrated performance by a very underrated actress (though the latter may change when the two-ton behemoth "Mamma Mia" hits theaters), Seyfried's child of polygamy allowed viewers a sort of control group with whom to identify in the weirdness of the Henrickson clan. Seyfried was given a heavy workload in the series' second season as she began to doubt her family's lifestyle and growing into a woman. The actress handled her new challenges with the skills of a seasoned pro, and with some tutelage from Meryl Streep during her hiatus, she should be even better in "Big Love"'s third season. She certainly deserved an Emmy nomination this time around and will only be getting better as she matures alongside her character. Exciting stuff for somebody who's still probably referred to as, "the dumb chick from 'Mean Girls'".
Shouldn't Be There: The "Grey's Anatomy" Ladies - The frothy mess that is "Grey's Anatomy" doesn't give anybody a chance to act, and the splintering of the ensemble only serves to dampen any type of character development that may be available. Both these women do nothing more than play their original character traits in each episode. Their performances are very reactive rather than representational of a real character. It's not these actress' faults: It's the writing that lets them down. This category is about performances and not people; however, and these actresses didn't do what it takes to deserve nods.
Remember to check back the week before the show for predictions in every category, and make sure to tune into the show on September 21.
Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer
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