This year’s Emmy nominations are set to be announced on July 14th and it will surely be a day of snubs, oversights and standard internet outrage, but until then….why not live in a dreamland? So if I had ultimately power over the nominees, these are the folks I would choose to recognize. Although, admittedly, even in a dreamland some really difficult decisions must be made.
I haven’t watched every single thing that’s aired this year but I’m fairly confident I’ve watched most everything I feel would have an impact on my decisions here, save for Horace and Pete which I desperately need to make time for soon. I also made my choices based on what categories the shows/actor submitted themselves in and didn’t consider them if they did not submit.
I contemplated weighing in on the limited/mini-series categories because I certainly have things to say about some of the possible nominees, but I felt that, even though I’m pretty confident that The People Vs. O.J. Simpson deserves to win everything (with some nomination love spread to Fargo and American Crime), there are still far too many eligible things in that category that I haven’t seen for me to give a truly informed opinion. So I’ll just stick with the big ones as usual. Whether you agree or disagree with my picks, I want to hear from you so make sure to comment and share!
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Jay Baruchel, Man Seeking Woman
Rob Delaney, Catastrophe
Will Forte, Last Man on Earth
Chris Geere, You’re The Worst
Rob Lowe, The Grinder
Fred Savage, The Grinder
I think all of these guys did tremendous work with Baruchel being the most often overlooked despite committing so completely to the bizarre and wonderful world of Man Seeking Woman. Geere handled more dramatic work this year incredibly well while still managing to be consistently funny (and so very British) while Forte continues to do completely unhinged work on Last Man. I would nominate both Lowe and Savage because I, frankly, think they’re both essential to what made The Grinder so funny and likeable and I’d love to see Delaney recognized for his great work on Catastrophe, a comedy that manages to be dark and cynical and incredibly heartfelt all at the same time.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Aya Cash, You’re The Worst
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin
Constance Wu, Fresh Off The Boat
It would be shocking if Louis-Dreyfus didn’t win in this category for as long as Veep stays on the air and, honestly, who am I to argue with that? Selina Meyer is the best role she’s ever had and her performance never misses a step. Ever. But I’d love to surround her with a few other worthy nominees including the great Aya Cash who did such incredible work in the excellent second season of You’re The Worst where she was asked to do a lot of heavy lifting or Constance Wu who has become the best mom on TV. Ellie Kemper plays the anti-Selina Meyer in that Kimmy’s never vulgar or offensive but she still lands relentless punchlines and Gina Rodriguez continues to be one of TV’s brightest stars as the center of CW’s Jane The Virgin. That show’s previous Monday night counterpart (it’ll move to Fridays this fall), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is one I’ve openly had a love/hate relationship with on Twitter and I was initially skeptical that Bloom deserved the Golden Globe love. Well, the show’s still imperfect but I’ve come to really appreciate Bloom’s manic performance and impressive ambition that especially shines through in many of the show’s musical numbers.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Desmin Borges, You’re The Worst
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Jaime Camil, Jane The Virgin
David Alan Grier, The Carmichael Show
Timothy Simons, Veep
Zach Woods, Silicon Valley
Always a tough category to narrow things down in but I did my best. I love Tony Hale and he’s always great as Gary but I didn’t feel like this was “his” year (although if he was nominated based on the episode where he’s mistakenly added to the “hot list,” I wouldn’t complain) and the supporting bench on that show is so deep, I’d be happy with any of them getting love. But Jonah’s campaign gave Timothy Simons his best-ever material (which is saying something) and he was monstrously funny through it all so he’s my pick here. Borges gives such a solid, layered performance as the sweet center on the very bitter Worst while Andre Braugher continues to bring Captain Holt to life with the hilarity-inducing montone bravado only he possesses. I’m a huge fan of The Carmichael Show and while I recognize its many flaws, I do think David Alan Grier deserves a nod for his consistently great work as Joe and as much as I love T.J. Miller and the rest of the supporting cast on Silicon Valley, Zach Woods has tapped into a deeper, darker part of Jared this year and it has been brilliant. And last, but certainly not least, Jaime Camil solidifies his “national treasure” status every week when he brings Rogelio to our screens. Seriously, I freakin love Rogelio.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Kether Donohue, You’re the Worst
Yael Grobglas, Jane The Virgin
Allison Janney, Mom
Claudia O’Doherty, Love
Kristen Schaal, Last Man on Earth
Mary Steenburgen, Last Man on Earth
I was among the many who found Carol insufferable at the very beginning of Last Man on Earth (although it quickly became Phil who straddled that line) but she’s become a key and consistently funny part of that ensemble in no small part due to Schall’s work (and Steenburgen’s constant DGAF delivery kills me every time, she’s amazing). Janney is probably the favorite here and there’s no argument from me that she continues to be great on Mom, but it doesn’t feel quite like it does with JLD and Veep like it’d be some sort of crime if you spread the wealth. I’d love to see Yael Grobglas recognized for helping to turn a villain like Petra in a funny, likeable, complicated character that you ultimately root for, not to mention the fantastic job she did pulling double duty the second half of this season. I’d round it out with nods for Claudia O’Doherty who was very funny and charming on Love (a show I mostly liked quite a bit but it just missed the cut in other categories without the edge of an Australian accent) with “The Date” being my favorite episode of the series in large part due to her and Kether Donohue who very often gets the biggest laughs as Lindsay on You’re the Worst, a messy, hilarious character I absolutely adore.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Justin Thoreux, The Leftovers
Did you know that the final season of Hannibal is eligible in the the Emmys this year? I guess it makes sense but that just seems like a long time ago. I have a hard time going all-in on that season because, while I absolutely loved the last stretch of episodes, I had some real problems with the first half. But actually giving Mads Mikkelsen a nomination would be a great way to honor this underlooked series. I think Chandler’s great when he reads the phonebook and he continues to be great on Bloodline as well and it will be a legitimate crime if The Americans doesn’t start to get some love this year, including a nomination for Matthew Rhys who is phenomenal. I’m in the middle of a Mr. Robot rewatch and am appreciating the series and Malek’s terrific work even more than I did before and I’ve made it no secret that The Leftovers was my favorite show of 2015 and Justin Theroux was the brilliant captain of that ship and a snub for him will absolutely result in me throwing something. I’ll also be livid if Freddie Highmore gets overlooked again. The bias against young actors within the Emmys is really silly but Highmore is an actual adult giving a very adult performance and he just had his best year yet–truly incredible stuff–so I really hope he gets his due.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Keri Russell, The Americans
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Like Highmore, Farmiga was better than ever in this spectacular season of Bates Motel and she, at the very least, deserves to be back in the conversation (she hasn’t been nominated since season one). I am unashamed for my fandom for How To Get Away With Murder but appreciate it for the low-brow, hot mess that it is, but there’s no question that in the midst of that dumpster fire, Viola Davis continues to do Emmy-worthy work. The episode where she loses her baby alone is enough to secure her the trophy. Carrie Coon is not a lead really but the bench on The Leftovers is so deep it makes sense she’d submit herself here and her spotlight episode, “Lens” is certainly justification enough for a nomination. It’s easy to take what Tatiana Maslany does for granted at this point but then you see an episode like “The Scandal of Altruism” where she switches seamlessly from Cosima overcome with grief after witnessing Kendall getting shot and a very effective comedic performance as Krystal (not to mention performing “Jesus Christ Superstar” as Alison on the verge of a breakdown a couple of weeks later) and you’re in awe once again. I thought this season of House of Cards was the series’ best since the first and Wright really got some meaty material to play with while Russell also did incredible work in what was probably the most tense and emotionally draining season Elizabeth’s faced yet.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Jon Bernthal, Daredevil
Nestor Carbonell, Bates Motel
Christopher Eccleston, The Leftovers
Michael McKean, Better Call Saul
David Tennant, Jessica Jones
Jonathan Tucker, Kingdom
Better Call Saul is a show that some people are absolutely in love with–and that’s great! For me, it’s a show I like and occasionally really like but the entire cast is top-notch and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge nominations for any of them. I’d usually go Banks here but, ultimately, I think what McKean did this year was so complex and interesting and he was terrific so I’d love to see him get the nod this time. Bernthal was an aggressive force of nature on Daredevil, terrifying and broken and I thought it was just a stellar performance while Tennant played the villain in Jessica Jones and faced the tough task of being genuinely terrifying and menacing just using his mind and dialogue and he succeeded on all counts; brilliantly written character and fantastic performance. Carbonell was given some strong material this year and absolutely delivered an Emmy-worthy performance as did Eccleston who is so great and mesmerizing on The Leftovers. Then there’s Kingdom, which absolutely deserves to be watched by more people and if Tucker isn’t nominated here, it’s just because Emmy voters haven’t discovered the show yet because his performance is just nuts. So good.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Ann Dowd, The Leftovers
Regina King, The Leftovers
Taryn Manning, Orange is the New Black
Holly Taylor, The Americans
Maura Tierney, The Affair
Constance Zimmer, UnReal
Dowd astounded during the first season of The Leftovers without saying a word but this year, she was able to say a whole lot in a chilling and angry performance as a “ghost” that wouldn’t leave Kevin’s side and every second was pure brilliance. King’s complicated performance as a mother desperately searching for her daughter and grappling with unbelief was a revelation as well, her monologue in “Lens” and reunion with Evie being two of the most powerful TV moments of the year. Orange is the New Black lost some of its shine by season three for me but still has a stellar cast doing great work so it seemed wrong not to highlight at least somebody and Manning’s performance continues to stand out to me, particularly as she deals with the fall-out of her rape (and another flashback episode provided insight as to why she ended up so damaged). As I mentioned before, young actors are too often overlooked and I think that’s unfair so I’d definitely be on board with Holly Taylor getting a nod for The Americans in a season where the show gave her a lot to do, she did a tremendous job. The Affair is a messy show that has enough shades of brilliance that I keep checking in and one particular prominent example of brilliance this year was Maura Tierney’s performance as she got the chance to fall apart and be angry and broken and she was great at it. I’d love to give all kinds of love to UnReal as well and though it missed my cut in most categories, there was no way I was going to put this thing together with recognizing how fantastic Constance Zimmer is as Quinn and how it’s about time someone give her a role this good!
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Last Man on Earth
Jane The Virgin
Master of None
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
You’re The Worst
I’ve talked a lot about these shows before so I won’t beat a dead horse on any of them, but quite simply, these shows were the funniest, most ambitious shows on television this past year. Veep delivered the biggest laughs, The Grinder delivered the most meta laughs and Last Man on Earth delivered the weirdest laughs. Jane The Virgin was really a mash-up of so many different genres but definitely made me laugh (and experience just about every other emotion) each and every week. Kimmy Schmidt never stopped being delightful even as it dug deep where Master of None was smart and introspective and You’re The Worst was shockingly good at drawing humor from the darkest, most complicated parts of life.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
As I’ve mentioned, season two of The Leftovers was perfection, The Americans is tense and brilliant and gets better every season, Kingdom is gut-wrenching family drama masquerading as a gritty MMA show and Rectify is a quiet contemplation on so many profound things that no description ever does the beauty of it justice. Bates Motel reached new heights of creepiness and quality in a season that held nothing back and delivered everything we’ve ever wanted in the most haunting fashion. Jessica Jones is a show that I’ve grown to appreciate more and more over time; I liked it to begin with but a rewatch left me even more impressed with the show’s sharp observations on PTSD and abuse. Mr. Robot has also grown from a show I really liked to one that I flat out love as I rewatch it; it’s so smart, ambitious and I love that it’s unlike anything else on television. Obviously the biggest controversy here will probably be my “snub” of Game of Thrones (and I’m sure not including Better Call Saul here will upset some people but I explained that earlier) but I just don’t feel like this season warrants a nomination. If any of the show’s great cast was nominated, that’d be fine, but I do feel like the show is kind of coasting on the glory of past seasons when it’s still considered one of the best shows on TV because it wasn’t until this past weekend that this season aired an episode that wasn’t slow and laborious.
….but if you disagree and want to yell at me (or even better, enthusiastically support all my opions), make sure to comment and share!