I’ve been vacationing in Cleveland for the past week, so the only news on Thursday that anyone seemed to care about was fucking LeBron James and whether or not he would crush the spirits of Clevelanders with his decision for the next phase of his career.
But hey, there were Emmy nominations yesterday, and here are some of my quick thoughts:
As a native Clevelander in his hometown to experience the city take another blow, I was happy to see that many of the shows nominated for this year’s Emmy Awards were about community and family. Lost, Modern Family, Friday Night Lights, The Office, Glee, Mad Men, The United States of Tara, Parks and Recreation, and True Blood are just a few examples of shows that deal with these themes — I’ve always felt that the best television recognized the importance of human beings interacting and trying to get along, and this year shows that there are a crop of shows trying to make the world a better place, even if they have to use vampires, singing high school students or mothers with multiple personalities to prove it. Pro athletes could learn from these shows. And that’s the last reference I’ll make to James in this column, possibly ever.
This year’s list of nominees had some of the same names we see each year (Tony Shalhoub and Mariska Hargitay again?!) but there were plenty of surprises, none more exciting than Academy voters finally… FINALLY… recognizing the exceptional work of Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler for their performances in the DirectTV/NBC series Friday Night Lights. For four years these two wonderful actors have put on display the most realistic and heartfelt portrayal of a working marriage, making it look natural and effortless. Time and again I have been mystified (and pissed off) that Britton and Chandler’s peers have overlooked the great work that goes on in each episode of FNL. Credit DirectTV for really making the push for FNL this year. The satellite network sent out the entire fourth season on DVD to help get voters to finally do the right thing. If only some other cast members, in particular Zach Gilford, had been awarded nominations, too. Still, this is a huge boost for the show.
In the dramatic series category, thank God people have realized that Grey’s Anatomy is long past its prime. While I’m not sure I would have ranked True Blood as one of the best dramas of the year, it’s still an exceptionally well done show and far, far better than Grey’s.
I think everyone expects Mad Men to receive plenty of love each year, but I was a little perplexed that January Jones received a “Best Actress in a Dramatic Series” nomination. Don’t get me wrong, Jones does outstanding work on AMC’s brilliant show, but I would definitely place her in the “supporting” category. On the flip side, Rose Byrne is anything but a supporting actor on Damages. She is the co-lead with Glenn Close (who was nominated in the best actress category). Alas, Byrne’s chances for receiving a nom were probably better when she wasn’t competing against her castmate. Deciding the “lead” in ensemble shows is a mystery to me. I mean, really, wasn’t Terry O’Quinn’s complex performance of the Man in Black/John Locke just as much a lead role as Matthew Fox’s turn as Jack? Yet Fox received long-overdue recognition with a best actor nom while O’Quinn was relegated to the supporting category (where he once again competes with his fellow Lostie, Michael Emerson). Likewise, in the comedy categories, stars of strong ensemble shows like Steve Carrell, Matthew Morrison and Jim Parsons all received nominations in best actor categories. Again, all are deserving of nominations, but how is it determined that they are the leads in their ensemble shows?
Happy to see Andre Braugher nominated for Men of a Certain Age. Braugher, a man known for intense, fiery roles, showed so much range and vulnerability on his new series. Hopefully this nomination will help raise the profile of this fine, but low-rated, series from TNT.
Modern Family‘s love fest continues. Awesome. I’ve grown to love this show and it truly was one of the bright spots from last TV season. Still, how the hell do you choose between all of the funny actors on that show? Unfortunately, the three (!) men nominated in Best Supporting Actor in a comedy series may cancel each other out. I’d have no problem with that if Glee’s Chris Colfer were to win for his performance as the openly gay Curt. Ironically, it was Colfer’s dramatic moments that were the highlights for me, in particular the scenes he shared with Mike O’Malley (also nominated) who played the blue-collar widower father who doesn’t completely understand his son, but loves him with all of his heart and only wants him to be happy. Glee was at its best during the beautifully realized moments between Curt and his dad. Since there is no such category as “dramedy,” Glee was nominated as a comedy. I guess.
Speaking of Glee, Jane Lynch is a lock to win for her work on the show. Not only did she become one of the show’s breakout stars, she’s well respected and beloved both by the intellectual Christopher Guest-loving crowd and lowbrow Judd Apatow fans. Plus, she’s a veteran actor who has done sturdy work for years and years.
Also, expect Betty White to win, just because.
TBS must be shitting themselves in excitement that The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien received multiple nominations, despite no effort on the part of NBC (how could they?). If that show happens to win, making it one of the of the biggest fuck yous ever, then TBS will have boat loads of momentum going into the premiere of Conan’s new show, coming in November.
Wrapping things up, I’ll touch on the writing categories, which I hold a great deal of interest in. In the drama category, as much as I loved the Lost finale (nominated) and Friday Night Light’s “The Son” (a shining example of the show’s excellence), Mad Men’s “Shut the Door, Have A Seat” kept me riveted, cheering, crying and eager to see how the show reinvents itself in season 4. It was one hell of a script. In the comedy category, “Niagara,” the episode from The Office nominated this year, had all of the laughs of Modern Family (nominated for its pilot) and all of the heart of Glee (also nominated for its pilot). I hope it wins, but I suspect 30 Rock will instead.
Finally, I just want to give a shout out to Thurop Van Orman, Pendleton Ward and Pete Browngardt, whose creations were all nominated in the Outstanding Short-format Animated Program category. Van Orman is the man behind The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Ward is the ringleader of Adventure Time, and Browngardt is the madman behind the trippy Uncle Grandpa. I have worked with all three men at Cartoon Network and they are all unselfish, talented guys who deserve the accolades they’re receiving for their shorts. Congratulations!
So what do you think of this year’s Emmy nominations?