The nominations for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards were as shocking as ever, as some big names missed out on much anticipated nominations, while some new, and some familiar, faces pulled off some jaw dropping nods. HBO’s reigning Drama Series champion Game of Thrones leads the way with 23 nominations, closely followed by FX’s limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and Fargo, which received 22 and 18 nominations, respectively. The biggest snubs of the announcement were Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, which picked up just a single nomination for Casting, while Showtime’s Billions left completely empty handed.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the major races was the nomination for The Americans in Drama Series, as well as in Lead Actor and Lead Actress, despite never receiving a major nomination, outside of Writing, for its previous 3 critically acclaimed season. Drama Series also saw the inclusion of the debut season of USA’s Mr. Robot, which joined last year’s returning nominees Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and House of Cards. Over in Comedy Series, it was a bit more predictable. ABC’s Black-ish, and Netflix’s Master of None joined last year’s returning nominees Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Veep. I make Game of Thrones and Veep unstoppable favourites in their respective categories.
In the Lead acting categories, the main shock was the inclusions of The Americans leads Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. Rhys joined last year’s nominees Liev Schreiber, Kyle Chandler, Bob Odenkirk, and Kevin Spacey, as well as newcomer Rami Malek, in the Lead Drama Actor category. In Drama Lead Actress, Russell was joined by all other returning nominees from last year (Tatiana Maslany, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Robin Wright, and Claire Danes), to complete a line-up which surprisingly didn’t include previous Emmy favourites Juliana Margulies, and Michelle Dockery. Over on the Comedy side, there was a welcome nomination for Thomas Middleditch, who had an incredible season on HBO’s Silicon Valley. That saw the end to Don Cheadle’s reign of getting nominated for a show that no one watched, much to the delight of many. Middleditch joins previous nominees Jeffrey Tambor, Will Forte, Anthony Anderson (who did a great job presenting the nominations), and William H. Macy, as well as the much deserving Aziz Ansari for the first season of Master of None, which saw him also nominated in Writing and Directing. In Comedy Actress, Getting On built on it’s surprise nomination for Niecy Nash last year by getting a nomination here for star Laurie Metcalf, one of three she received today (she was also nominated as a guest for The Big Bang Theory, and Horace and Pete). She’s joined by returners Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Schumer, and Lily Tomlin, as well as Ellie Kemper (who was unfairly snubbed last year), and Tracee Ellis Ross, all of which were expected. The Comedy leads are easy to call, it’ll be Tambor and Louis-Dreyfus, but the Drama ones are difficult. I’ll say Spacey and Davis for now, but who knows?
The Supporting races gave us a LOT of shockers, in all 4 categories. In Drama Supporting Actor, Kit Harington earned his first Emmy nomination for Game of Thrones, while Jon Voight got back in for Ray Donovan, after missing out last year. But the main surprise for me is the inclusion of Ben Mendelsohn. I’m a big Bloodline fan, and he’s a great actor, but he’s hardly in Season 2, for obvious reasons. He deserved his nod last year, but his one this year, ahead of the likes of Alan Cumming and Christian Slater, is a real head-scratcher. Jonathan Banks, Peter Dinklage, and Michael Kelly all return. In Supporting Actress came the most shocking acting snub, the same as what happened last year with Maggie Smith missing. Except this year, Maggie Smith got back in, and it was instead Uzo Aduba who managed to miss out, despite winning consecutive Emmys for Orange is the New Black. Christine Baranski missing for The Good Wife is another surprising omission. Smith is joined by three actresses from Game of Thrones, last year’s nominees Lena Headey, and Emilia Clarke, as well as Maisie Williams, who earns her first Emmy nomination. Also nominated are Critics’ Choice winner Constance Zimmer for UnREAL, and Golden Globe Maura Tierney for The Affair. Both are massive shocks.
In Comedy Supporting Actor, we got 7, rather than 6 nominees, which led to the most jaw-dropping nomination of the year by some way: Matt Walsh for Veep. No one, and I mean no one, saw this coming. If there was another Veep supporting actor nominated, aside from Tony Hale, many would have guessed it to be either Hugh Laurie or Timothy Simons, but no one would have guessed Walsh. I’m pleased for him, as he is always great on Veep. Joining Walsh and Hale are returning nominees Tituss Burgess, the last surviving Modern Family cast member to get in, Ty Burrell, Andre Braugher, and Keegan-Michael Key, as well as Louie Anderson for the little seen FX comedy Baskets. It’s a popular performance, and is the show’s only nomination. The shock omission is Adam Driver, who always seems to get in for Girls, but somehow missed this year. In Supporting Actress, we got 5 returning nominees: Niecy Nash, Allison Janney, Gaby Hoffmann, Anna Chlumsky, and Kate McKinnon, joining the brilliant Judith Light, who earns her first nomination for Transparent. Light has a great potential episode submission, so could be a dark horse to win. The ones that missed out were Mayim Bialik, Julie Bowen, and, probably most surprising of all, Jane Krakowski. Her getting in for a weaker performance in season 1 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and missing out for a stronger season for her in season 2 kind of reminds me of when she got in for a very weak season of 30 Rock in season 5, but missed out for the much stronger season 6. That’s luck I guess. My predicted supporting winners as it stands are Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Tituss Burgess, and Allison Janney.
The Limited Series races were dominated by two shows: The People v. O.J. Simpson, and Fargo, earning 41 nominations between them, including Outstanding Limited Series. They were nominated alongside Roots, American Crime, and The Night Manager, which surprisingly beat out HBO’s Show Me a Hero to a nomination, with the latter ending up being snubbed across the board. In the TV Movie category, HBO led the way with nominations for both All the Way and Confirmation, while there was a strong British link, as Sherlock: The Abominable Bride and Luther both got in. Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas edged out the far superior The Dresser, which was very unfortunate not to pick up any nominations. I’d say The People v. O.J. Simpson and All the Way are pretty much locks to win.
It was a familiar story in the acting races, as in the Lead Actor category, all 6 nominees came from shows or movies nominated in the top category. Bryan Cranston and Courtney B. Vance will battle out for victory, while Brits Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, and Tom Hiddleston should be pleased with the nominations. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s divisive performance as O.J. Simpson saw him get the final slot, which comes as a bit of a surprise as he beat out the likes of Oscar Isaac and Patrick Wilson to get it. Over in Lead Actress, the 6 was as expected: Sarah Paulson, Audra McDonald, Lilli Taylor, Felicity Huffman, Kirsten Dunst, and Kerry Washington. Paulson will win comfortably. Supporting Actor, which was billed as a free-for-all, ended up being somewhat of a damp squib, as it was dominated by The People v. O.J. Simpson, and Fargo; Sterling K. Brown, John Travolta, and David Schwimmer got in for O.J., while Jesse Plemons, and Bokeem Woodbine got in for Fargo. The Night Manager’s Hugh Laurie completes the line-up. Supporting Actress was a bit more spread out, as 5 different shows were represented with The Night Manager’s Olivia Colman being the most surprising inclusion. Jean Smart will easily win ahead of her, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson (this time for American Horror Story: Hotel), Regina King, and Melissa Leo.
In the Guest categories, the surprise inclusions were Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory), Molly Parker (who was 1 of 5 House of Cards guest stars to get in), Melora Hardin (Transparent- which was surprising as it was ahead of Anjelica Huston, who was also great), and Martin Mull (one of 2 Veep guest stars).
On a personal level, I’m actually rather pleased with these nominations. Thomas Middleditch’s nomination is so cool, and so deserved after his outstanding performance in a comparatively sub-par season of Silicon Valley. It’s all the better that it’s ahead of Don Cheadle and Jim Parsons, who just seemed to coast their way to name check nominations each year. I love that Kyle Chandler got back in, and that Bloodline wasn’t forgotten, even getting more nominations than it’s Netflix counterpart Orange is the New Black. I find it amazing that Aziz Ansari earned 4 nominations for Master of None- he pulled off something that few thought he was capable of, and managed to create one of the best shows on TV right now. I’m really pleased for him. And finally I’m ecstatic that Transparent managed to earn 10 nominations, including 5 acting nominations, and a massively well deserved directing nomination, which would be a worthy winner come September. It’s just a shame that Jay Duplass, the real star of last season couldn’t get in. Every cloud I suppose.
The Primetime Emmy Awards are on Sunday September 18 2016. Keep coming back to the blog for lots more Emmy coverage over the next month or so.