2016 Emmys Review (Drama Categories)

house of cards

Even though this blog is supposed to mostly be dedicated to youth media and programming, I just can’t resist talking about the Emmy nominees this year (despite the harsh feelings I had for Margo Martindale’s win for a two minute cameo last year.) So, I will be reviewing many of the categories this year, including all the important comedy, drama, TV Movie and limited series ones. I’ll even discuss some of the “less recognized” categories, like, of course, Children’s Programming, music, variety series, and more. So, stick around, TAKE MY OPINION SERIOUSLY!!…thank you.

PS…these are not “predictions.” These rankings are based on my own subjective personal preference. My actual objective predictions will most likely come closer to the actual ceremony date (although I suck at doing those…)

Time for the Drama categories! Pretty much the same idea as the Comedy post. Gonna do writing, directing, casting, performance (using the actors’ episode submissions), and overall series. So, let’s get it started! (Anyone remember that song? Ah…2003. Such a simple time.)

(Episode submission information courtesy of Gold Derby).

Casting For A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Mr. Robot
  2. Orange is the New Black
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. House of Cards
  5. Downton Abbey

Like I wrote for the Comedy post, this category should mostly be for new shows. Like, Downton Abbey. Really?? What significant new characters were introduced for the last season? So, my vote has to go to Mr. Robot. I don’t know who exactly was responsible for finding National Treasure Rami Malek. If it was the nominated casting directors, then they hands down deserve the award. One a side note: it’s a little unfortunate that this is OITNB’s only nomination. BUT…the third season wasn’t the show’s best (and noticeably more comedic than past seasons). They should get back in the game for their stellar fourth.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Empire, The Leftovers, The Man in the High Castle, Underground, UnREAL, Vinyl

Writing For A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Sam Esmail – Mr. Robot (“eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)
  2. Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro – UnREAL (“Return”)
  3. Robert King and Michelle King – The Good Wife (“End”)
  4. Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg – The Americans (“Persona Non Grata”)
  5. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss – Game of Thrones (“Battle of the Bastards”)
  6. Julian Fellowes – Downton Abbey (“Episode 8”)

So, this last season of The Good Wife wasn’t perfect. In fact, it wasn’t great. In fact, it was a pretty mediocre season of a show I absolutely loved during its first five and a half seasons. However, I personally liked the series finale more than most, particularly for that last minute, which, as we all know, is sorta symmetrical to the first minute of the pilot. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the Kings were nominated for writing the episode, particularly because seven years ago, they were nominated for writing the pilot episode. They should have been nominated for a few episodes in between these two, but it’s nice that the voters didn’t somehow forget to honor this writing team. I’d love for these two to win an Emmy, mostly for their work on the entire series. But, the pilot episode for Mr. Robot is PERFECT. After those first five minutes when Elliot confronts a child pornographer, I knew that this would be my new television obsession. The same could be said for the first episode of the Lifetime drama UnREAL, a scathing, politically incorrect look at a “Bachelor-type” dating reality show. Lifetime used to get nominated in the “TV Movie” categories. They didn’t really make a noteworthy movie this season, but they’ve finally broken through on the dramatic television front. I’m, frankly, a little proud of this network. And impressed that voters gave this show recognition. Overall, this is an interesting category, mostly populated with series premieres and finales.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

The Affair (Episode 204), Bates Motel (Forever), Better Call Saul (Switch), Homeland (All About Allison), House of Cards (Chapter 43), The Leftovers (International Assassin), UnREAL (Truth)

Directing For A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Michael Engler – Downton Abbey (“Episode 9”)
  2. Jack Bender – Game of Thrones (“The Door”)
  3. Steven Soderbergh – The Knick (“This Is All We Are”)
  4. Lesli Linka Glatter – Homeland (“The Tradition Of Hospitality”)
  5. David Hollander – Ray Donovan (“Exsuscito”)
  6. Miguel Sapochnik – Game of Thrones (“Battle of the Bastards”)

Can we talk about Michael Engler for a sec? Look, my feelings for Downton Abbey are as complicated as the movie Syriana. It’s a show I watched weekly and adored…but it received maybe ten more Emmy nominations than it’s deserved throughout its run (including its Drama Series nominations for its last three years). But I have a sweet spot for the series finale, particularly the warm and fuzzy final moments (perfectly tied with one last Maggie Smith quip). But after doing a quick IMDB search on Michael Engler…I am MF-ing rooting for him. His filmography is as diverse as…the cast of Syriana? He’s directed episodes of 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, EMPIRE, The Big C, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, and even a couple episodes of You, Me and the Apocalypse because why not? And he’s American! I know this is a silly reason to root for him. Again, regardless of his history, I still would have put him as my number 1 choice. But I am 500% more excited of the prospect of Downton Abbey winning this category. Actually, Game of Thrones will probably win here. And “Battle of the Bastards” (the only episode to get nominated in both Writing and Directing) will probably prevail. It would be deserving. This is helluva category. But the final moments of “The Door” is so eye opening, so revealing, so devastating…it’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. That’s the episode that I believe should win. This paragraph is going too long so I’ll end it by writing that The Knick was one of the best dramas of the season. It should’ve received more than it got (where’s Clive Owen’s nomination?). Soderbergh is nominated for the series finale, where Thackery attempts to do surgery on himself “House-style.” Steven Soderbergh could win simply based off name recognition…but it would be justified nonetheless.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

The Affair (Episode 204), The Americans (The Magic Of David Copperfield V: The Statue Of Liberty Disappears), Bates Motel (Forever), Bloodline (Part 23), Grey’s Anatomy (The Sound Of Silence), Horace and Pete (Episode 110), House of Cards (Chapter 49), Mr. Robot (eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt), UnREAL (Return)

Guest Actress In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Laurie Metcalf – Horace and Pete (“Episode 3”)
  2. Ellen Burstyn – House of Cards (“Chapter 41”)
  3. Molly Parker – House of Cards (“Chapter 45”)
  4. Allison Janney – Masters of Sex (“Matters of Gravity”)
  5. Carrie Preston – The Good Wife (“Targets”)
  6. Margo Martindale – The Americans (“The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)

This is an OK category, but, honestly, there’s no performance I feel particularly passionate about. I remember when Carrie Preston won a few years ago. It remains one of the best decisions Emmy voters ever made. But that was literally the peak of Elsbeth Tascioni’s arc on the show. Since then, the character’s become a bit too…cartoonish. Ellen Burstyn’s nomination is a no-brainer. She’s Ellen Burstyn. She’s always nominated. And she has a very interesting arc on the show as Claire’s spiteful mother. Molly Parker’s nomination is interesting. She’s a recurring actress on the show. She only has a couple real scenes in her episode as her character clashes with Claire on a Russia deal. It’s a fine performance, but this nomination seems to be more for her work on the show as a whole.  I think, of her three nominations, this is the category Laurie Metcalf needs to win. She plays the ex-wife of Louis CK’s character, and the episode literally begins with a twenty minute soliloquy by her, detailing an affair she’s having with her husband’s father. This isn’t my favorite episode of Horace and Pete, but I’m glad the show was honored somewhere, considering it received no other major nominations (Steve Buscemi and Jessica Lange would have been deserving in my book). Out of all the nominees, this is the only real guest appearance. This isn’t a recurring character. And she completely dominates the episode. It’s her episode. Her only acting partner is Louis CK, and he definitely doesn’t upstage her at any point. I may not feel much “passion” for this performance like all the critics seem to, but it’s clear that, considering the competition,  this Emmy belongs to her.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Kathleen Chalfant (The Affair), Arielle Kebbel (UnREAL), Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black), Sarah Steele (The Good Wife), Lorraine Toussaint (The Fosters), Cicely Tyson (How To Get Away with Murder)

Guest Actor In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Paul Sparks – House of Cards (“Chapter 49”)
  2. Michael J. Fox – The Good Wife (“Taxed”)
  3. Reg E. Cathey – House of Cards (“Chapter 50”)
  4. Hank Azaria – Ray Donovan (“One Night in Yerevan”)
  5. Mahershala Ali – House of Cards (“Chapter 44”)
  6. Max Von Sydow – Game of Thrones (“The Door”)

Reg E. Cathey, like last year, only has a couple scenes in his episode. In fact, he only has a couple scenes the entire season. His character pretty much quits his job at the White House, getting into a huge argument with Frank before leaving. It’s probably the most memorable single scene of the entire series (even though his scenes do lack nuance). However, I’m actually really rooting for Paul Sparks, because, as biographer Thomas Yates, his character’s arc with Claire Underwood was another highlight of the season. He actually does great work in both his episode and Cathey’s. If voters actually sit their butts and watch the episode submissions, I can’t see voters resist choosing him.. Sparks’ chemistry with Robin Wright is great. It’s not a flashy performance, but I think he does intriguing work with the character. Lastly, this is Michael J. Fox’s fifth nomination for his recurring role as slimy corporate lawyer Louis Canning on The Good Wife. By the later seasons, his “storyline” was all over the place (“He’s dying. He’s joining the law firm. Is he still part of the law firm? Did Alicia ever consider his offer?”), but Fox always did consistent work, and I never felt he was undeserving of a nod. I would love to see him win an Emmy for his work on The Good Wife, even though he’s certainly isn’t lacking recognition from his earlier shows.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Mark Proksch (Better Call Saul), Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black), Blair Underwood (The Good Wife)

Supporting Actress In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Maura Tierney – The Affair (“204”)
  2. Constance Zimmer – UnREAL (“Mother”)
  3. Lena Headey – Game of Thrones (“The Winds of Winter”)
  4. Maisie Williams – Game of Thrones (“No One”)
  5. Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones (“Book of the Stranger”)
  6. Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey (“Episode 6”)

Despite a few hard-to-swallow snubs (THIS is the year they leave out Christine Baranski??), this is still a very strong category. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Maggie Smith’s Emmy wins or even nominations, but I have to admit, she at least chose the perfect episode, where her character can actually get upset and be unpleasant (as opposed to nonchalantly spewing out comedic one liners). The Game of Thrones ladies prove, once again, that females are strong as hell! Each actress chose an episode where they are given some big triumphant victory. Lena Headey’s is the most triumphant, finally getting revenge on the ones who made her feel shameful during the last season finale. Side note: another tough snub is Sophie Turner’s, whom I probably would have nominated over any of her co-stars. Hopefully next year, the Emmys will finally learn. (Maisie Williams had been receiving Emmy buzz since her first season, this is only her first nomination). Constance Zimmer’s nomination was actually a little surprising for me, but completely 100% deserved. She submitted the episode where her “boyfriend”creator Chet is sent to the hospital after a heart attack. I’m not sure if this is her strongest episode. She has more explosive moments (even the first episode), but Zimmer is so good, she could submit anything and still be near the top of the pack. But, my undying support has to go to Maura Tierney. This second season of The Affair was so much better than the first, and it mostly had to do with the expansion of Tierney’s character. Unlike the other submissions in her category, Tierney dominates her episode in terms of screen time. The first half is all her. And she has a couple major moments in the second half. It’s the episode where, after a divorce case hearing, she smokes weed, frantically picks up her kids from camp, gets into an accident, and gets arrested. It’s a firecracker performance. In fact, she could have submitted the sixth episode (where her son is sent to the hospital) and still have the best tape. Considering this is The Affair’s only nomination, the nomination might be the award for her. But, man, if the Emmys actually followed the Golden Globes lead (which I usually don’t advocate)…it’d be beautiful.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers), Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), Kate Burton (Scandal), Jessica Capshaw (Grey’s Anatomy), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), Portia Doubleday (Mr. Robot), Ann Dowd (The Leftovers), Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Edie Falco (Horace and Pete), Calista Flockhart (Supergirl), Jessica Lange (Horace and Pete), Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black), Miranda Otto (Homeland), Alison Pill (The Family), Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy). Caterina Scorsone (Grey’s Anatomy), Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul), Samantha Sloyan (Grey’s Anatomy), Darby Stanchfield (Scandal), Holly Taylor (The Americans), Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones), Alison Wright (The Americans), Bellamy Young (Scandal)

Supporting Actor In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Kit Harington – Game of Thrones (“Battle of the Bastards”)
  2. Michael Kelly – House of Cards (“Chapter 44”)
  3. Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul (“Bali Ha’i”)
  4. Ben Mendelsohn – Bloodline (“Part 23”)
  5. Jon Voight – Ray Donovan (“The Kalamazoo”)
  6. Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones (“No One”)

Wow, I can’t believe I’m saying this but…I think Kit Harington should win an Emmy this year. I don’t think there was another television character this season that gained more buzz, more excitement and reaction than Jon Snow. And Harington does a great job with what he’s given this season, particularly in his episode submission, despite the fact that most of the episode is an epic battle scene. His performance doesn’t get lost in the excitement. The next four nominations are sort of blended together in my rankings. All of them have their moments throughout the season. Michael Kelly is reliably good as the reliable chief of staff (or whatever his character’s job is, I DON’T KNOW!), but he admittedly didn’t have the same great arc he had last year. The same can be said for Banks and Mendelsohn, both whom were given less do for their respective second seasons. Harington is the only real electric breakout of the nominees. The other choices are a bit safe IMO. But Harington might be too young and pretty for voters to take seriously. So, yes, Peter Dinklage might actually win again. He’s a great comedic foil for the show, and the two scenes in his tape are cute, but I won’t jump out of my seat if he wins a third Emmy (don’t get me started on last year!)

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Craig Bierko (UnREAL), Norbert Leo Butz (Bloodline), Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel), Colin Donnell (The Affair), Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers), Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), Pooch Hall (Ray Donovan), André Holland (The Knick), Joshua Jackson (The Affair), Liam James (The Family), Joel Kinnaman (House of Cards), Jeff Perry (Scandal), Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom), Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy)

Lead Actress In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Keri Russell – The Americans (“The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
  2. Robin Wright – House of Cards (“Chapter 49”)
  3. Taraji P. Henson – Empire (“Rise by Sin”)
  4. Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black (“The Antisocialism of Sex”)
  5. Claire Danes – Homeland (“Super Powers”)
  6. Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder (“There’s My Baby”)

This is a really tough category. Don’t think too hard about me ranking Viola Davis last. She is QUEEN. Even though I stopped watching the show a long time ago, her performance is still on fire just by watching this episode. If she wins a second Emmy (and I think that’s what I’ll end up predicting), it’ll be deserved and fine. But…if I have to compare it with her Oscar nominated buddy, I still prefer Henson’s complete abandon. Empire‘s another show I don’t watch anymore, but I certainly enjoyed this episode and Henson’s performance. It’s a perfect submission because she just goes through a wide range of emotion. She acts as a peacekeeper in once scene, and then completely snatches weaves in another. She’s happy in one, and then mourning over her son getting shot in the next. It’s a “well-balanced” tape for someone who hasn’t seen every episode. However, I am honestly so ready for either Russell or Wright to win. After three previous snubs, Russell’s nomination is a complete, yet delightful, shock. And when she got nominated, I knew she would submit this episode, because it really shows her character at her wit’s end, notably in the scene where she yells at her daughter. Golden Globe winner Wright probably has a better chance at winning. And, frankly, both she and Spacey are a little overdue. I’ve completely turned around on Wright. I wasn’t crazy about her performance during the first season (she was literally supporting then), but she’s been on fire these last couple of seasons, as her character attempts to run as her husband’s Vice President. Wright submitted the episode where Claire’s already terminal mother dies in order for her garner public sympathy, thus making making her path to the Veep position smoother. There are a lot of great moments in this episode, but, really, the end, where Claire is proudly standing backstage of the convention with Frank as the crowd “yeas” Claire into office. She looks like a proud snake getting ready to take her seat at the throne. Wright’s performance has always been subtler than her fellow nominees. But it’s clear why voters keep coming back to her. If darkhorse Russell can’t win, then I think it’s Wright’s time.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Joan Allen (The Family), Shiri Appleby (UnREAL), Melissa Benoist (Supergirl), Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey), Carrie Coon (The Leftovers), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy), Kerry Washington (Scandal)

Lead Actor In A Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan (“Exsuscito”)
  2. Rami Malek – Mr. Robot (“eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)
  3. Matthew Rhys – The Americans (“The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”)
  4. Kevin Spacey – House of Cards (“Chapter 52”)
  5. Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul (“Klick”)
  6. Kyle Chandler – Bloodline (“Part 23”)

This is a REALLY strong category. And, it’s nice ranking this one because, unlike last year, there isn’t a “criminally overdue” Jon Hamm in the mix (or a “always deserving but do you really want to see him win a fourth Emmy??” Bryan Cranston). I came into this viewing party thinking that Rami Malek would be my top choice. Malek has one of the best, most intriguing faces on television. This is the perfect role for him, and I literally cannot imagine another actor nailing the part of loner hacker Elliot better than he does. Malek submitted the pilot episode. While I initially thought one of the later episodes (like maybe episode 8 or 9) would have served him better (b/c personally, I think automatically submitting a pilot episode is a little too safe and lame), after rewatching the episode, I think the pilot is perfect because, yes, we are introduced to this unique character, but also, Malek is quite literally in every frame, and he actually shows a wide range of “emotions” throughout. Malek winning would be a great, unexpected choice…but let’s be real…Liev Schreiber has the best single tape of the nominees. The best single scene. Look, I don’t really watch Ray Donovan, and I’m not yet interested in going back and actually watching the show. But Liev Schreiber is an overall great actor, and this episode completely showcases why Schreiber is deserving of a nod. The voters made the right call. Watch the episode. You’ll see what I mean. He has a confession scene that made me feel things for a character whose occupation I’m not even 100% sure of.The pain and ache and humiliation in Schreiber’s voice is perfect. Malek winning would be revolutionary. Rhys has been deserving of a nomination since the first season and a win would be a nice bit of vindication. And Spacey and Odenkirk continue to do great work on their respective shows. This is such a strong category, that I’d be happy with any of these actors winning. But, again, let’s not lie to ourselves, Schreiber is the highlight here.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Steve Buscemi (Horace and Pete), Louis C.K. (Horace and Pete), Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Terrence Howard (Empire), Clive Owen (The Knick), Justin Theroux (The Leftovers)

Outstanding Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Mr. Robot (USA)
  2. The Americans (FX)
  3. House Of Cards (Netflix)
  4. Better Call Saul (AMC)
  5. Game Of Thrones (HBO)
  6. Homeland (Showtime)
  7. Downton Abbey (PBS)

I almost teared up seeing The Americans finally receive real Emmy love. I remember being utterly shocked and devastated when the first season only received two measly nominations. The show’s Emmy count has slowly grown since then. Sometimes, when a show is snubbed three years in a row, it’s Emmy chances are pretty much nonexistent. Other times, the Emmys are simply late to the party (same thing happened to Everybody Loves Raymond…or even Friday Night Lights). I’m so happy for The Americans and a win would be wonderful…but I don’t think there was another drama show that excited me more, intrigued me more, than Mr. Robot. So, at this point, I pretty much think the show should win everything. All the categories. Everything. Even the categories it didn’t receive nominations fpr. The show is brilliant, and so unique. And I don’t know much about computers or hacking (although I wish I could hack into accounts. There are a few rare movies from the Asian HBOGo site I’d like to watch don’t ask). You don’t have to understand all that technical mumbo jumbo in order to appreciate the show. Because the emotions and characters are so real, particularly Rami Malek’s face Elliot. Otherwise, like Comedy, this is a solid category. Front runner Game of Thrones is allowed one more Drama Series win before it gets really annoying, OK?

Worthy Snubbed Programs

The Affair,  Grey’s Anatomy, Horace And Pete, The Knick, The Leftovers, Orange Is the New Black, Supergirl, UnREAL

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