July 10, 2014

EMMY NOMINATIONS: Instant Analysis

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The EMMY AWARDS may never have the sheer glamor of the Oscars, but as the amount of excellent TV keeps rising as new viewing platforms and content providers constantly emerge, it’s now a lot harder to get a nomination for an Emmy than an Oscar.  Lots of deserving candidates were named today, while others were inevitably ignored–and some network strategems worked better than others.  The full list of nominees is here, but the following is a quick look at some of the marquee categories:


Breaking Bad (AMC)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Mad Men (AMC)

True Detective (HBO)

Amazingly, The Good Wife, despite nearly unanimous raves for its 5th season revival, and despite the general wish by many that the broadcast networks have a bigger part to play on what’s become a night to celebrate cable (and streaming), couldn’t crack the list, aced out by HBO’s maneuver of positioning True Detective as a Drama rather than a Miniseries, and by the (presumably) older-skewing pro-broadcast vote going for PBS’s increasingly creaky Downton Abbey. Masters of Sex, The Americans, Homeland and The Blacklist were among the shows with hopes of nomination that weren’t able to squeeze in.  Worth noting:  Mad Men, for the second year running, wasn’t able to get a single nomination in the Drama Writing category, and it was the only one of the Drama nominees not to get a Directing nomination.  (Game of Thrones took the risk of only submitting one of its scripts for a Writing nod–the season finale–and won its nomination in that category.)


The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Louie (FX)

Modern Family (ABC)

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Silicon Valley (HBO)

Veep (HBO)

The gambit of calling Orange a “comedy” paid off for Netflix (although Showtime’s attempt to do the same for Shameless didn’t).  Girls was ousted from the list by its own network’s Silicon Valley, while Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks & Recreation head the shows that had high but unrequited hopes of hearing their names called this morning.  The big question in this category is whether Modern Family will go on winning indefinitely, or if one of the edgier cable shows–probably Veep–can push it off the podium.  (It may or may not mean anything that Family was the only Comedy choice not to get any of its scripts nominated in the Writing category.)


Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Woody Harrelson, True Detective

Matthew McConaughey, True Detective

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Daniels would be the surprise inclusion here–if he hadn’t actually won the award last year.  FX has to be disappointed that neither Matthew Rhys nor Demian Bichir made the cut, and NBC pushed hard for James Spader to land a nod as the sole reason for The Blacklist‘s success.  This category seems to boil down to a Cranston vs. McConaughey slugfest, although as Daniels’ win last year shows, anything can happen.


Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex

Claire Danes, Homeland

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey

Juliana Margulies, The Good Wife

Kerry Washington, Scandal

Robin Wright, House of Cards

The delightful surprise is the nomination for Lizzy Caplan (and well-timed, too, with Masters of Sex airing its season debut on Sunday).  Let’s face it:  Tatiana Maslany is never getting nominated for a sci-fi show on a network most TV Academy members probably can’t find on their channel listings.  FX was again left in the dust, with no nominations for Keri Russell, Diane Kruger or Katey Sagal. 


Louis CK, Louie

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Ricky Gervais, Derek

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

William H. Macy, Shameless

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Perhaps the biggest shock in any major category is the nomination of Gervais for Derek, one of the less-acclaimed Netflix series.  That was a nomination that could have gone to Andy Samberg or to Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch, among others.  William H. Macy benefited from Showtime’s re-assignment of Shameless to the Comedy category.  Parsons is a big favorite to repeat here, but don’t underestimate the Academy’s fondness for LeBlanc in the in-jokey Episodes.  Showtime, incidentally, scored an impressive 3 of the 6 nominations in this category.


Lena Dunham, Girls

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly

Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation

Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Unfortunately, Showtime’s Shameless move didn’t help Emmy Rossum, who richly deserved a nomination this year (albeit for a largely dramatic performance).  Louis-Dreyfus will probably repeat her win, although Orange is a wild card here.


American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

Bonnie & Clyde (Lifetime/History/A&E)

Fargo (FX)

Luther (BBCAmerica)

Treme (HBO)

The White Queen (Starz)

Every show in this category breathed a sign of relief when HBO put True Detective into the Drama slot.  That move probably gave Treme a well-deserved nomination for its parting season (one it never had for its other seasons, which had been in the Drama category).  The category likely comes down to FX vs FX, with Fargo seemingly having an edge over American Horror Story.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."