The nominees for the 2011 Emmy Awards were announced today, and as both a self-proclaimed pop culture tastemaker and person who watches television, it is my obligation to now offer some fairly off-the-cuff commentary on said nominees.
I feel like for Friday Night Lights, just finally getting a nomination here for their fifth and final season is a victory, but I’m greedy and want more; it’s probably my favorite television show I’ve watched since Arrested Development went off the air, and I don’t think you’ll find a more heartfelt, compelling body of work near anywhere else. On the flipside, while FNL is a triumph of heart and performances, Game of Thrones is about the best example of craft I’ve seen in years, with every technical aspect being honed and perfected for a world that looks, feels and plays gorgeous (and the acting ain’t too shabby either). I’d be happy to see either of those shows take home the win—more for FNL—but I think Mad Men has a better shot coming off a solid season where they reinvented just about every dynamic and had that incredible Don-Peggy episode in the middle. I don’t watch any of the other shows nominated, but I feel like Boardwalk Empire has perhaps the best odds of getting the statue. I’ll also say Grey’s Anatomy brought itself back from life support this year and should have gotten some love here.
30 Rock had its worst season to date—Matt Damon aside—with tired plots and a seeming lack of effort to keep pushing forward; the background bits were consistently funnier than the A-plots. I reached my breaking point with The Office—a show I never loved but tolerated because my wife liked it—and jumped off as the characters just kept getting more and more unlikable. I don’t even want to get started on Glee. I’m catching up with both Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory on DVD, and presuming the stuff from this past season is up to what I’m watching now, they both deserve to be up there. Contrary to its Thursday night NBC brethren, Parks and Recreation just kept getting better, with no weak links in the cast, the tremendous additions of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe, plus heartfelt character arcs that make you care—it deserves to win. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed that How I Met Your Mother—which bounced back from an off year with a terrific blend of comedy and drama—and Community—the most boundary-pushing comedy on TV (that I watch)—both got snubbed. Heart says Parks and Rec, head says it may be Modern Family.
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
I can’t really root against Connie Britton here, who has been brilliant since the first moment she appeared on Friday Night Lights and carried it all the way to the end with her family vs career plot this year; she is so charming and pulls off conflicted just as easily. Elisabeth Moss had that aforementioned great episode of Mad Men, but wasn’t consistently utilized. I don’t watch any of the other shows the nominated actresses work on, but based on hearsay and buzz, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mireille Enos or Julianna Marguiles win, the latter being the safer bet.
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
You can take everything I said about 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation as well as How I Met Your Mother and Community and apply it here. From what little I’ve seen, Melissa McCarthy is great on Mike & Molly, but I don’t think she’ll win her first time out; I’m expecting—and hoping for—an Amy Poehler victory.
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Last time on this broken record, but I’d of course be ecstatic to see Kyle Chandler honored for his Friday Night Lights work here; the dude hardwires himself to the role of Coach Taylor so well that when I see him in other stuff or doing interviews I’m legit taken aback that it’s not his actual personality. I don’t think anybody else could pull off five seasons of being perpetually pissed off yet still manage to give an inspirational speech once an episode and portray a loving family man and father figure to his team so brilliantly. Jon Hamm had a pretty good season on Mad Men, exploring the even darker side of a single Don Draper and I enjoyed him opening up the character to show what it’s like when he’s not charming 24/7; I’m not sure he deserves it, but I have a feeling this could be his. Again, I don’t watch any of the other shows, but I’m sure Kiel is pulling for Timothy Olyphant and Steve Buscemi could jump in pretty easily; the removal of Bryan Cranstron certainly changes the game.
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
I wish I watched Louie, because I feel like I’d be rooting for Louis C.K. here. Alec Baldwin phoned it in more than anybody on 30 Rock and I’ve never liked Steve Carell on The Office. I’ve never seen Episodes and am pretty surprised to see Matt LeBlanc’s name on an Emmy ballot in 2011. Like I mentioned, I’m not up to date on The Big Bang Theory, so I’m not sure who out of Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons had a better year, but whoever did, I guess that’s my pick. I expect Charlie Sheen to rush the stage and steal the statue anyhow.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
I want to say this is Peter Dinklage’s to lose—and I want him to win—but I feel like I’m quite handicapped by not watching The Good Wife. John Slattery is brilliant, but he was not at his best on Mad Men this year. Neither Walton Goggins nor Andre Braugher strike me as a spoiler.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
As a recent convert to the show, it’s really cool to see Modern Family grab four of the six spots here, but it also makes me nervous they’ll split the vote and Chris Colfer will win. I respect the performances Colfer turns in on Glee and his real life commitment to his craft and character, but my disdain for the show and in particular the two-faced stance I feel they take on subjects like bullying means I have no desire to see him get this. With all the Two and a Half Men madness, I don’t think it’s Jon Cryer’s year. This is a tough one to call.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
I don’t watch any of these shows except Mad Men and I don’t think Christina Hendricks did enough to win (or deserve to win). I’ll blind pick Kelly Macdonald from Boardwalk Empire because I think that’s going to win several awards.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Sofia Vergara is hysterical on what I’ve seen of Modern Family—and unfortunately for the also talented Julie Bowen, on the same show as her—so assuming she’s kept it up, she’s my pick. Cool to see Jane Krakowski make it as she was the best part of the waning 30 Rock. Jane Lynch is the best part of Glee most weeks, but that’s not saying much. This has got to be some sort of lifetime achievement nomination for Kristen Wiig, who has completely run out of steam on Saturday Night Live and should be focusing on her burgeoning film career full time.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA
When Beau Bridges’ turn on Brothers & Sisters is the performance I best recall here, that’s a sign to skip this category and move on.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR ON A COMEDY
Forcing me to choose between Matt Damon on 30 Rock and Justin Timberlake on SNL is just cruel. Since Damon had the more sustained role and brought the only real spark to that show this year, he deserves it more.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
I would love to see Loretta Devine win for Grey’s Anatomy; she’s an extremely talented and chronically overlooked actress who did great work this year.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
A Glee trifecta, Tina Fey getting nominated for a subpar SNL hosting gig and the waste of Elizabeth Banks on 30 Rock being recognized (in the wrong way) combines to form a giant “STAY AWAY” sign for me here.
OUTSTANDING REALITY SHOW COMPETITION