2017 Primetime Emmy Categories Reviews

 

Cast members Dern, Kidman, Woodley, Kravitz and Witherspoon pose at the premiere of the HBO television series "Big Little Lies" in Los Angeles

The nominations for the 2017 Emmy Awards are out! And, even though after every award season I vow never to review the nominees again because this is all bullshit…I always end up back here a year later, reviewing the nominees. So that is what I am going to do, again. I’m going to try review as many categories as I possibly can. I pride myself in reviewing categories that most other television reviewers don’t touch; however, unlike last year, I actually have a full time 40-hour a week job, so it’s going to be tougher. But, again, I’ll try!

However, there’s something different I am doing this year. For many of the performance and program categories, each nominee submits an episode that is supposed to be representative of their best work. While I would usually watch those episodes again (even if I’ve already watched the show’s season) and rank the nominees primarily based off those episodes, this year I’m not going to do that. While I think there are benefits to the episode submission rule, I don’t truly believe voters watch all of them. I think voters only watch the episode submissions of shows that they don’t watch. So that’s pretty much the direction I am going in. I’ll mostly be giving a general ranking of the actors and programs in the categories. If I run across a show that I do not watch regularly, or I have not watched the episode, I’ll watch the submission and make a note of that in the review, and hope that I can be fair in my rankings. Otherwise, the tapes are irrelevant to me this year.

Note #1: These are NOT predictions. These are my subjective picks as to who I think should win each category. I’ll probably write another post closer to ceremony where I actually attempt to predict the winners. But, for right now, this is more of a “If I was an Emmy voter” sort of situation.

Note #2: I will be continuously updating this page, adding categories throughout the summer. Bookmark this page and check back every week. Use the “Find…” link to search for your favorite categories. Categories are ordered by “importance.” This message will be deleted once I have finished and reviewed all the categories I wanted/can. I may still be reviewing categories after the winners have been announced.

I have decided to prematurely end editing this post. I’m happy that I got to review some of the categories, particularly the documentary categories, Drama Series and Comedy Series among others. But, frankly, my interest in this year’s Emmys has waned. In many of the categories remaining, I don’t have strong favorites. It’s not a knock against the nominees this year. This has been a very exciting year for the Emmys. I’m just too busy, and, frankly, I’d like to get back to the Avonlea reviews soon (+ other posts focusing more on children’s media). So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the post as is. And, maybe next year, I’ll try to think of an even more time efficient way of doing these (or maybe I won’t even try next year).

*For a full list of the nominees, go to Emmys.com (or wikipedia 2017 Emmys).

Outstanding Drama Series: I actually watched five of the nominees when they first aired (or were first posted). I binge-watched Westworld and The Crown after both shows received a bunch of nominations. Westworld, in particularly, has about half their episodes represented in this year’s nominations, so I figured I’d trudge through the entire season, even if the initial premise didn’t really draw me in when it premiered last fall. Anyway, let’s rank this from the bottom to the top. In 7th is House of Cards. I recently tweeted that this show is comfort food. The plots are fairly easy to follow, and Frank and Claire’s relationship is infinitely fascinating. But the storytelling in the show is a bit inconsistent and lopsided. Storylines unnecessarily span multiple episodes and then, like, don’t end…but they end, you know? It’s the weakest of the 7 nominees, but I love it, and I’m definitely watching the next season. Westworld is NOT comfort food. I only caught about 15% of the show. But, objectively, the show is well-made, the world is engrossing, and, hey, that twist involving Bernard tore my wig off, so that’s enough for me to at least put it above HoC. I thoroughly enjoyed the other show I binged for this post, The Crown, about Queen Elizabeth’s early years. It’s like a less soapy, more restrained, Downton Abbey, but the posh accents, sister sibling rivalry, and equestrian competitions are still there.

Stranger Things, more than anything, gives me hope that high quality, dramatic television can star…kids! What an awesome risk Netflix took. It’s a new generation’s ET. Better Call Saul will always be really good, and, at some point, it will have to win in this category. If it won this year, that’d be great…but I don’t think the show has hit the “peak” Gilligan has definitely been anticipating since AMC greenlit this Breaking Bad spinoff. I’m not necessarily waiting for Walter White to show up, but, clearly, there’s a switch in Jimmy’s life that has not happened yet. That leaves two shows that are very different from each other. NBC’s breakout hit, This is Us, has been the surprise hit of the season. Shows like this (and Empire) prove that new non-procedural network dramas can still make an impact, “post-Good Wife.” I did not think This is Us would get nominated for Drama Series. I thought it would more likely get a writing nomination for the mind blowing, excellent pilot. Ironically, the show received no writing or directing nominations, but it was represented nearly everywhere else. I’m happy for the show’s success because it’s not the most intense or intellectually clever show out there. But the show does what it sets out to do really well. I’m with the crowd, I love the show, and I am crazy excited for the second season. However, I’m rooting for The Handmaid’s Tale, one of the best shows of the season, and probably even the best drama in general. Adapted from a Margaret Atwood novel, the show is set in a dystopian where women, by law, are subserviant to men as a result of dropping fertility rates. It’s scary but (and, yes, others have said this) unfortunately plausible. Hulu is officially on the map with this show, and deservedly so.

Outstanding Comedy Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt remains my favorite comedy on television so, yah!, it remains my top choice for an Emmy. However, with no writing or directing nominations, I don’t think it has a chance, so I’m just glad it keeps getting nominated. One day it will win. It took Veep four seasons before it started winning, right? Anyway, I just love how zany, crazy the show is. It takes risks. It doesn’t play it safe. When it wants to go at 10, it goes to 100, and y’all have to appreciate that. More likely to win is Master of None, which had a gloriously deep second season, which featured standout episodes like “Religion,” “Buona Notte” (season finale), and “Thanksgiving,” which, I truly believe, is the best individual television episode of the season. Newcomer Atlanta would almost be as deserving. More times than I’d like, the show was a bit too…well…sub-dued. I preferred when the show was actually really funny and outrageous, like “B.A.N.” But Donald Glover’s vision is fresh, and I think the show is Veep‘s closest challenger for the win.

Even though I didn’t watch all 22 episodes of Black-ish this year (actually, I probably only watched half a dozen), I’d still rather see it win than Veep and Silicon Valley. Sometimes, Silicon Valley seems to be only written for people are actually really connected or familiar with the tech world. That is to say, many times I couldn’t fully follow everything that was going on. I don’t know, this season just seemed more far removed from my consiousness than earlier ones. Meanwhile, I always love Veep, and this season gave me a lot of LOL moments, but not nearly as much as past seasons. This was the weakest season for the show (even weaker than season 1). But, hopefully, next season, which looks like it will follow both Selina and Jonah’s presidential campaign, will be more focused and stronger. I don’t think having all the characters do different things works for this show. It’s truly a strong ensemble that works best when they’re together. I don’t think the show deserves a third Emmy for this season, however. I also don’t think Modern Family should have received an eighth Comedy Series nomination. Look, the show still gets high ratings but, not unlike Big Bang Theory or any other show on CBS, it’s just kind of irrelevant, critically and culturally. There are better comedies on ABC itself. Why can’t the Emmys show love for The Goldbergs? I’d even accept a Speechless nomination. At this point, Modern Family‘s nomination seems like a lazy waste of a slot. I know that sounds mean. It’s still a good show. It’s going to get at least 10 seasons. And I’m glad a show like this (y’know, one that feaures a loving, yet complicated gay couple) seemed to have found success with middle America.

Outstanding Limited Series: Limited Series and miniseries are on the rise, and this year’s Limited Series category definitely supports that claim. The best thing to come out of “peak TV” is executives and producers and executive producers realizing that satisfying stories can be told in one season. Anyway, this is a strong list of nominees. Fargo will always be a fascinating, thrilling ride. But I don’t know if I’ll ever like a season as much as I enjoyed the first. The first season was a revelation (and I’m proud to say I was one of the few who immediately preferred to True Detective), but these next two seasons have just been good. The first season of Genius centered on the life and achievements of Albert Einstein. This series seems like a really great, definitive screen adaptation of Einstein’s life (OK, maybe, Einstein: Light to the Power of 2 is more definitive.) I particularly enjoyed Johnny Flynn’s performance as the younger Albert Einstein. A part of me wishes American Crime could have received one more nomination for its last season, but I think the above mentioned programs are better.

However, from my perspective, this is really between The Night Of, Big Little Lies, and Feud: Bette and Joan. If any of these three series won, I would be 100% satisfied. Big Little Lies simply took me on a journey. Honestly, the day-to-day lives and small, petty rivalries of upper class parents of 10 year olds was more fascinating than the “whodunnit” murder case that loomed over all the episodes. That’s not a knock against the “whodunnit;” it just shows how rich the show’s world is. Feud is everything I love about Ryan Murphy’s joints. It’s campy. It’s trashy. It’s classy. It’s big, bold, and sans nuance. It’s perfect. But it’s also a great exploration into the lives (and pains) of women in Hollywood. If I had to make a choice, it would be The Night Of, which still remains the most thrilling, nail-biting edge-of-my-seat program of the season, in my opinion. OK, I lied a little before. If Feud or BGL wins, I’ll be satisfied. If The Night Of wins, it’ll be the greatest thing since NBC renewed Will and Grace for a 10th season. More than an examination into our justice system, it’s also a series about a young man, and how prison can really harden someone, and alter his or her humanity, especially the wrongfully accused. I am so glad (unlike with Show Me a Hero), the Emmys did not forget and ignore this late summer gem.

Outstanding Television Movie: I think the only possible outcome for this category that would annoy me is if Sherlock: The Lying Detective wins, because it’s not a movie. It’s just an episode of a TV series that only produces three episodes a year. At this point, the Emmys needs to change its rule and allow it (or force it) to compete as a Drama Series. Or a Comedy Series! I don’t care! I just don’t think it belongs here…even if it is 90 minutes of solidly good television and John Watson coming to terms with his dead wife made me tear up a bit. Otherwise, this is strongest set of nominees this category has had in years. For once, HBO has two great movies (usually, I think there’s one that’s great and one that, well, isn’t). The Wizard of Lies is a really comprehensive look at George Madoff’s lies and deceptions and the harm he caused his family and, more significantly, the hundreds of people and organizations who trusted him. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a story about the daughter of Henrietta Lacks, Deborah, writer Rebecca Skloot, and their uncovering of Lacks, and the cancer cells her doctors extracted from her in the 50’s, without her permission, for further (decades of) research into the disease. The movie features great performances by Oprah and Rose Byrne, both who should have been nominated.

Seeing the Dolly Parton Christmas special that aired on NBC get a nomination was a pure delight, because I thought voters would simply vote for another stodgy British period piece in its place. It’s an inspired nomination; and I feel Dolly Parton and co. really fought for it, so go them! I think the first special deserved a nomination even more, but seeing it win this year would almost be like giving both specials the Emmy. However, if I had to pick a winner, I’d go with Black Mirror: San Junipero. Was this my favorite Black Mirror episode? No. Personally, Shut Up and Dance and Nosedive were the two strongest episodes of the season. Honestly, I thought Black Mirror would be eligible as a miniseries, but I guess I can understand why it wasn’t. Each “episode” is its own story with its own cast. “San Junipero” was really popular with fans, so I can see why the producers chose it to represent the series. This episode, about a time traveling couple who have to make an important decision regarding their future, is as poignant and sweet as it is thought provoking. Even if it’s not my favorite Black Mirror special, it shows how great Black Mirror is that a “middle of the pack” episode could still beat all the nominees. I hope it wins. I think it might have a chance.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie:  This is probably the buzziest performer category of the year. And, look, I love all these actresses. But, before I get to my ranking, I just want to pull a Kanye and say that Bryce Dallas Howard for Black Mirror gave the best leading actress performance of the year! And that I probably would have nominated Lauren Graham and even Oprah Winfrey over any of the other nominees. Nonetheless, I’m of course very pleased with the nominees, mostly because of the co-star match ups. So, Witherspoon vs. Kidman? Nicole Kidman’s performance is certainly more dramatic and intense as the wife of an abusive animal. But, Reese Witherspoon is a fierce “comedic” relief  for the show. It’s an understated performance, but Witherspoon could actually bring it to life. Lange vs. Sarandon? Susan Sarandon certainly bares a resemblance to Bette Davis (those Bette Davis eyes). And I originally thought Sarandon should have straight up won a Grammy for her rendition of the infamous “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” song. But Joan Crawford was truly a tragic figure, and Queen Jessica Lange just straight up kills it as the actress, particularly for the Oscars episode and the finale. I think many of us, during the season, switched back and forth between Lange and Sarandon; but, at the end of the day, it has to be Lange (cough cough if Bryce Dallas Howard or Lauren Graham couldn’t get nominated cough). If Felicity Huffman gets a “goodbye Emmy” for three great seasons of American Crime, that’s be a’ight. And Carrie Coon…I’ll mostly pretend this nomination was for the one she should have received for the first season of The Leftovers.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Although this category isn’t nearly as exciting as Lead Actress, I still have conflicting feelings as to who I think will and should win. For me, it has to be between the two The Night Of boys. John Turturro, as the complicated, yet morally good defense attorney, almost evokes Atticus in the scene where he gives his final speech to the court. Right now, I think he’s the front runner (Goldderby would say otherwise, but whatever). However, my heart wants Riz Ahmed to win, as the seemingly innocent, yet hardened college student fighting for his life, in the courts and in prison. It’s not a perfect performance (because the role itself is not perfectly written or even characterized). But Ahmed has enough memorable moments and scenes, moreso than the other nominees, that he stands out in my eyes. As talented and legendary as they, I don’t want to see dinosaurs Robert De Niro and Geoffrey Rush win (although this would, surprisingly, be de Niro’s first Emmy). And Cumberbatch shouldn’t have even been nominated here. The other actor who I think could stand next to the TNO boys is Ewan McGregor, who plays twins in the third season of Fargo. It’s a flashy, impressive performance, probably technically stronger than the other performances in the category, but it didn’t touch me like Ahmed’s and Turturro’s.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: I’m going to be completely honest: I genuinely do not have a favorite in this category. This is neither shade, nor a compliment. This is just kind of a solid category, filled with good performances that are at 5. Seriously, I do not have a ranking. Fine, I’ll just bolden Alexander Skarsgard, because you rarely see evil characters win Emmys. Wait. Walter White. Nevermind. OK, I’ll go with Alfred Molina as director Robert Aldrich for Feud. Molina does a nice job going between the feuding legendary actresses and fellow nominee Stanley Tucci as the ruthless Jack Warner. Also, Molina’s just an overall underrated actor. You think someone like him would have shelves full of awards, but he rarely ever wins. He didn’t even win the Tony for Red, when literally everyone else involved with that production won something. Anyway…let’s move on.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Yeah, this catergory not only contains performances that I’m actually passionate about, but it’s also easier to rank. Get with the program, Supporting Actors! Regina King has won the last 2 years for American Crime, mostly due to so-so competition (and, of course, two unique strong performances). But this year’s performance is her weakest, and the competition this year is by far her strongest. So, I’ll kinda riot if she wins a third Emmy. Michaelle Pfeiffer plays the sympathetic, yet almost strong-willed, wife of financial fraudster Bernie Madoff. Judy Davis is delicious as the brassy and gossipy Hedda Hopper. But, lez be real, 90% of the performance was the hats. I preferred Jackie Hoffman as Joan Crawford’s loyal assistant Mamacita. However, I think one of the Big Little Lies women should win. Shailene Woodley is warm, yet fiery. Earnest, yet troubled. Her scenes with Young Sheldon are wonderful. However, crazy cry-face Laura Dern, whose character isn’t so different from the one she played on Enlightened, was my favorite thing about the series. Dern is so expressive and wild, and her role as a misguided overly protective mother is tailor-made for her.

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special: This is a strong selection of television documentaries. My favorite of the bunch would have to be Ava DuVernay’s 13th, which was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year. The documentary has a clear thesis which is, “Even though the 13th Amendment made slavery illegal, our police and prison culture still enslaves and targets many people of color today.” I actually already knew a lot of the points this documentary was making before watching it, but it’s still an engrossing and all encompassing look at this country’s racism problem, from Reconstruction, to right this second. The Amanda Knox documentary is chilling and beautifully shot, and proves that no country has a perfect legal system. The Vice special, A House Divided is a really informative look at how/why this country became so polarizing that someone like Donald Trump could be elected president. However, I think, in trying to be “fair,” the special did not go far enough in admitting how much racism (against our country’s first black President) affected our polarization. In any case, I abhor pretty much all the Republican members of Congress, and this documentary certainly didn’t change my mind. LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later has some interesting insights and stories (particularly one of the daughter of the Korean shop owners whose business was burned down by the rioters), but The ESPN OJ Simpson documentary and 13th cover a lot of the same ground more poignantly. And the final nominee is Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary, which is cute and fun…but I’ve sort of resented it ever since it beat Beyonce’s LEMONADE at the Grammys for Best Music Film. #sorrynotsorry

Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking: I have read the rulebook for the Emmys many times, and I still don’t quite understand the difference between this category and the other Documentary Special category. I want to say this category features Oscar nominees, but then Ava Duvernay’s Oscar nominated 13th is nominated in the other category. As far as I know, the producers have to attach a written word statement with their submissions. Also, it’s a juried award, so…there may not be a winner this year? I doh-no! Shrug emoji! In any case, what we have are five more exceptional and thought-provoking documentaries. In any case, the clear winner is the epic, Oscar winning OJ: Made in America masterpiece miniseries. It’s like 3 documentaries in one. It talks about OJ Simpson, the person, the clown car that was trial, the racial tension during the early 90’s, how Soon Ja Du got away with murder. It’s crazy. It’s messy. It features all sides. It should pretty much win all its categories. Not that the other movies aren’t good in their own right. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds is funny, touching, and heartbreaking to say the least, particularly the scene where a vibrant, yet clearly senile Debbie Reynolds accepts her SAG Lifetime Achievement award with Carrie by her side. LA 92, another documentary about the LA race riots is almost poetry. It features no current interviews or narration. It just plays the harrowing footage of the riots and newsreels during that time. The Oscar winning White Helmets is a 40 minute short film about brave volunteer aid workers in the heart of the Syrian Civil War. The PBS special about the Oklahoma City bombing is a very informative look about the dangers of the NRA, COUGH sorry, white supremacy. It’s very good, but it’s not as artistic and creatively made as the other four nominees in the category.

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series: I think all the nominees are great, and there isn’t a choice that I’m particularly passionate about. I think if I had a real choice, I’d vote for The Keepers, because, unlike the other nominees, it’s more of a miniseries that tells one story with a beginning, a middle, and conclusion. The documentary is a gripping story about a nun schoolteacher whose murder in 1969 remains an inconclusive mystery. The documentary, similar to the Oscar winning movie Spotlight, is an exploration into the abuse and sexual exploitation young people are subjected to by Catholic priests and other religious leaders, and the Archdiocese attempt at covering up these offenses. It’s chilling, and it’s incredibly depressing. I wasn’t as moved as I was with Netflix’s 2015 documentary series Making a Murderer, but both documentaries do a very good job of exposing the dark crevices of our American justice system. The other nominees are more anthology series, akin to 20/20 and Dateline*, except with a higher budget per episode, and more artsy. If I had to choose between 30 for 30, Chef’s Table, Planet Earth II, and American Masters, I’d choose 30 for 30, because the documentaries are genuinely interesting and unique from each other (and I say that as someone who only watches sports on TV when it’s the Olympics).

*I learned something today! 20/20 and Dateline don’t submit for the Primetime Emmys. They submit their broadcasts for the “News and Documentary Emmys.” So between all the categories the Primetime Emmys offers, and the other award specifically for news broadcasts and cable news special reports, the Emmys gives plenty of honors for nonfiction television……I wish it did the same for youth media.

Outstanding Informational Series or Special: I dunno ’bout you, but these nominees seem to either be talk shows or…more documentary series. Anyway, I don’t watch any of these shows regularly, but, for each nominee, I sort of picked and chose an episode that seemed most interesting based off its title and two sentence summary. I don’t even know why I bothered with this category. All the programs are OK. The one show that was the most intriguing, and that almost made me want to watch a second episode was Leah Remini’s Scientology takedown. But, like, honestly, I feel like I already know so much about this “religion.” I’m skeptical that I’ll learn any more watching the other 9 episodes from the first season, but I may consider it for the future. Anthony Bourdain winning again wouldn’t bother me, because his travels are entertaining and informative. And the two episodes of Vice I watched (Fastfood in Kuwait/Nollywood and Trans Youth) were mostly well done (although, as a Nigerian, I wish Nollywood wasn’t relegated to 15 minutes. So much more could have been said about the industry).

Outstanding Music and Lyrics: I always hesitate when I suggest a new category should be added (because, frankly, the Emmys already have enough categories), but I sort of wish there were two separate “Music and Lyrics” categories, one for dramatic songs, and the other for comedic. Because, how can I possibly compare Common’s Black Lives Matter rap anthem for Ava DuVernay’s 13th to the five other funny songs nominated. I feel especially bad because, even though the lyrics are deep and the melody is tight…it is not my favorite nominated song. It’s like a solid third. Not bad…but I still feel bad. Anyway, the other nominees below that are good in their own right. Jimmy Kimmel’s “The Ballad of Claus Jorstad (Devil Stool)” is funny, but considering its low view count on Youtube, it didn’t make much of an impact when it first premiered. “Jing a Ling a Ling” from the Mickey Mouse Christmas special is cute, but conventional. I’m SO happy Rachel Bloom could get another nomination this year for Best Song. Lead Actress would have been preferable, but I’ll take this! She, along with her co-songwriters were nominated for “We Tapped That Ass” (which, to date, is Santino Fontana’s last performance on Crazy Ex Girlfriend). It’s a funny song, but there were better songs from this season, Like, at least ten better songs. I was personally hoping “Love Triangle” would get nominated. I don’t know if Rachel Bloom and co only submitted this song for consideration, or the voters decided that “We Tapped That Ass” was the most worthy. Someone did something wrong. If “Love Triangles” had received a nomination, then that would have been my top choice. If  “We Tapped That Ass” gets the win, I’ll pretend it is for “Love Triangles.” Humph!

My number two choice is SNL’s “Last Christmas,” which was Kenan and Chance the Rapper’s tribute to Barack Obama. It’s funny. It’s dope. It’s sentimental. It is important. Man, watching the video from time to time still tears me up. I miss you, Obama…….Anyway, my top choice, by a mile, is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s “Hell No,” which was pretty much a parody of Beyonce’s “Hold Up.” Frankly, the beat and the lyrics are better than “Hold Up.” That drinking Sprite instead of water line always gets me. Tituss Burgess is a genius on the show, and the Lemonading episode might end up being his magnum opus. But, let’s give credit where credit is due. Jeff Richmond is the best music composer and producer on television, and anytime he gets a nomination for his music, my chest becomes too small for my heart. I hope he wins. He needs to win. I will riot if he does not (or at least bust someone’s car window).

Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series: I made this same point last year: I really like this category, but I don’t like how it’s practically taken over by “webisodes” of traditional length television series. I think they should either have their own category, or compete in the “Interactive” television category. I think this category should only be reserved for original, independent series. So, my top pick is Brown Girls, which is a seven episode webseries about the love lives of a gay Indian young woman and her African American best friend. The show is going to be adapted into an HBO series, so I’m guessing the large block of HBO voters probably pushed for this nomination to give the title some buzz before its television premiere. But it’s certainly deserving a nomination, and, given the competition, a win. Hack into Broad City is always fun, and it’s nice that Jacobson and Glazer are “Emmy nominees” since their actual show gets no support. Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training is funny and quicky and a nice companion to Better Call Saul. Fear the Walking Dead: Passage and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Slingshot seem like regular episodes of their series, but just cut up in 5 minute chunks, but they’re well-made nonetheless. But, like Children’s Program, I don’t think voters care much about this category and it shows in the nominees.

Best Choreography: Lemme be real with you…I used to be OBSESSED with So You Think You Can Dance. The first season I watched was the third season and it was my jam for, maybe, five seasons after that (I think Melanie Moore winning was the last full episode I watched). And then I just…stopped…watching. And I haven’t been able to watch since then. I don’t want to get into why I don’t like the show anymore. But, I will say, that those artsy fartsy, metaphorical Mia Michaels-cloned contemporary dances don’t do anything for me anymore. So all the routines from both SYTYCD nominees (Mandy Moore and Travis Wall) that I watched specifically for this post are just sort of “meh.” I also didn’t really much care for Derek Hough’s “Kairos” routine for Dancing with the Stars. Great dancer. Great showman. But his other routines for the show have been better. So, it’s really between Lala Land‘s Mandy Moore and Fred Tallaksen. Yes, Mandy Moore is nominated twice. I generally like Moore’s choreography because it’s relatively simple, accessible, and it’s easy to dance to (at least, it looks that way). Her “On Top of the World” routine, which opened season 23 of Dancing with the Stars is lively and a lot of fun (although the aerial cinematography for the outdoor portion helps.) Ultimately, my choice is for Tallaksen, who was nominated twice before for Malcolm in the Middle. This year he’s nominated for three short routines he choreographed for The Real O’Neals. The routines mostly showcase the dancing skills of the show’s star Noah Galvin. One is a gay Superbowl dream sequence. Another is a West Side Story-inspired wrestling round. And the last is another dream sequence to the original song “Boyfriend.” The choreography serves the overall plot of the episode well, and, in cases like these, the choreography is sufficient enough for a win. Frankly, I encourage voters in the future to look beyond DWTS and SYTYCD because there’s great, creative, fun choreography everywhere, and it’s not all that interesting when those two shows dominate the category. (In fairness, neither of those shows won last year, but still!)

Outstanding Commercial: Seriously, take 10 minutes out of your day to watch all the commercials nominees. It’s fun! I think this is a nice category in theory, I just feel like so many of the nominated commercials are “pro-social;” and, this year, 4/5 of the nominees fit that bill. Usually, there’s, at least, more variety. I don’t think I needed the mediocre women’s march commercial to be included (Oh, look! They’re all standing in front of a white screen, answering a “Why do you do this?” question with “Because…” so original). Or another “Year in Review” Google commercial (seriously, are voters gonna nominate this every year??) Those could have been replaced with commercials that are actually selling stuff (gasp!) However, the other three commercials are fine. The John Malkovich Squarespace commercial is cute and funny. And I also really like the Ad Council’s “We Are America” spot featuring John Cena. I think those two commercials were perfectly cast, with the right famous lead actors for the jobs. My personal favorite would have to be the John Cena spot, just because I think it’s a great, well-written, thoughtful message in a simple package, and John Cena (considering his base) was brave to participate in the commercial. However, Ad Council’s other nominated commercial, “Love Cam,” and all its tearjerking glory, would be a worthy understudy for the podium.

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The Best of Children’s Television Not Represented at this Year’s Emmys

anne with an e

Yep. The article is the title. You’re welcome.

OK, seriously, I’ll go further. Last Thursday, the nominations for the 2017 Primetime Emmys were released. Obviously, like any other year, there were varied reactions. While many people celebrated the diversity among the acting nominees, others were, of course, upset that their favorites (The LeftoversInsecure) weren’t nominated. And then there’s me, who went straight to the Children’s Program category and, for the second year in a row, felt utter disdain for the nomination list.

The nominations for Children’s Program somehow manage to lower the bar further than last year’s list. Let’s go through them, shall we? Girl Meets World (although this third and final season wasn’t as strong as the first two) deserved its nomination. As did School of Rock. I expected those two shows to get nominated again this year. However, I was hoping the other three spots would really represent what kids are watching and genuinely quality programming. That is not the case. The voters opted for an NBC airing of the Thanksgiving Parade. A parade. OK, a “90th Celebration” of a parade, but a parade nonetheless. Sesame Street received a nod for its Christmas Special. Somehow, HBO found some weird loophole that allowed Sesame Street to compete; but, unless something changed recently, a show cannot compete at both the Daytime and Primetime Emmys. And Sesame Street definitely competed at the Daytime awards this year. I know I know, “Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas” was probably billed as a “special,” but it’s not much different from a regular episode. There are just maybe more celebrity guests than usual. But, still, this nomination is a disservice to actual primetime programming and the streaming shows that have exclusively chosen to compete at the Primetime Emmys.

Here’s a fun fact I learned from the “How an Emmy is Won” info-graphic posted on the official Emmys website: All 22,000+ members of the Academy can vote for the nominees of all the “Program” categories, that includes “Children’s Program.” Now, I’m assuming, many voters choose to opt out of voting in the Children’s Program category because they either don’t care, or don’t feel they know enough about the programs to vote for them. I’m sure there are some voters who are genuinely invested in Children’s programming and vote earnestly in the category. But, based off these nominees, I’m gonna guess that the majority of voters looked through the ballot, thought “Oh Star Wars! My grandniece loves that movie!” And voted for Star Wars Rebels. I know the show is very popular, but this is a baffling choice, mostly because, generally, animated shows compete in the Animation category, even the children ones. Why did the producers decide to compete the show in this category? Because they knew that voters cared so little about this category that that they could get away with (frankly) category fraud.

So these are our Children’s Program nominees. And, maybe this sounds selfish, but I am entitled to my opinion, and I think this overall list is massively disappointing. This category has always been wonky. But, I feel like the 2016-2017 season did children’s television better than last year…so why are the nominees worse? Why do voters refuse to acknowledge genuinely great, emotional and inventive television, and instead nominate a freaking parade? Let me go through the snubs. 1.) Amazon. Amazon has given us a lot of great children’s programming these last couple of years. The American Girl specials, at less than one hour each, are clear throwbacks to the days of Afterschool specials. And one of them (particularly DGA winner Melody 1963: Love Has to Win) should have been nominated. Along with Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, which I hope will be better appreciated in the future, because it’s truly one of the best children’s series in the history of the medium, but was sadly ignored by both the Daytime and Primetime Emmys at one point. Amazon submitted a couple other really great series for consideration. The fact that Amazon is absent from this category is a shame.

Netflix’s absence from the Children’s Program category is also bad, to put it bluntly. Back in the mid 1980’s, Kevin Sullivan’s landmark Anne of Green Gables won in this category. More than three decades later, Moira Walley-Becket’s wonderful interpretation of the story, despite unanimously positive reviews, is skunked. Goodness. If lazy voters are going to name check, they at least could have name checked “Anne of Green Gables.” And it’s just a shame that Degrassi is pretty much off the Emmy radar without ever winning in this category. They should have won seven years ago when they submitted the Peabody award winning episode “My Body is a Cage,” but they were beaten by an HBO special where famous people recorded themselves reading poetry during their off times so I don’t know why I ever have faith in this category!

And then there’s Andi Mack‘s snub. Look, I admit, my top choices are from streaming platforms, and maybe they’re a bit niche-y. But Andi Mack is a genuine hit. Good ratings, strong Twitter presence, a lot of buzz, especially concerning the big twist that’s revealed during the pilot episode. Why was it left off? I guess it doesn’t benefit from being part of a multi-billion dollar franchise.

Overall, youth media was underrepresented at this year’s Emmys. As problematic as the show was, teen drama 13 Reasons Why struck a chord with many young fans, yet received 0 nominations. If this show aired on ABC and it was the 1987, the show would have dominated. But, in the era “peak TV,” there is no room for teen dramatic television. Other shows received a few nominations here and there. Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love received a surprise nomination for Best Television Movie. I didn’t like this installment of the film series as much as the first one, but I’ll take it! KC Undercover received a nod for Cinematography. Kiddie versions of Masterchef and So You Think You Can Dance also received nominations. The only genuine victories for youth media came from NBC’s airing of Hairspray (the first NBC live musical to receive a nomination for Special Class Program since Sound of Music) and Stranger Things (which, among many others, received nods for Drama Series and for its young star Millie Bobby Brown). This is Us also received a lot of nominations. It’s a great show that’s appropriate enough for the family, but, in my opinion, it’s not a “family drama” in the same vein of 7th Heaven or The Fosters, because the young characters don’t have as much agency and as big of a presence. They’re just cute little tykes that primarily serve to further the story lines of the adult characters.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, even though the show is clearly aimed towards children, was not submitted for consideration in the Children’s category. It was submitted as a Comedy Series.* Maybe the producers thought Neil Patrick Harris was a big enough star to get away with it. I’ve thought since the ballots were released that this was a huge mistake. It’s a Children’s series! But producers, and the voting body as a whole, do not take the category seriously. It’s seen as a “lesser category,” because children’s television isn’t taken seriously, because young people aren’t allowed to experience quality television, which is why “peak TV” does not include or consider children’s programming, and which is why a parade and an extra long episode of a daytime preschool series and an animated show are included in the Children’s Program category.

*(A Series of Unfortunate Events only received one nomination for music composition, which is crazy because it’s one of the most visually stunning shows of the season. If the movie from 13 years ago can get 4 Oscar nominations, then I don’t understand why the more the faithful series can only manage one Emmy nomination. What an oversight!)

This long is rant just confirms what I’ve always believed should be the case: there should be a separate Emmys for Children’s Programming. A “Children’s Emmy.” We have Emmys for Sports programming, for news programming (local and national), even for International shows (aka, the International Emmys). I think another type of Emmys should be created exclusively for Children’s programming, where the best directing, writing, producing, performances, and other technical crafts associated with children’s television are awarded. The Primetime Emmys only devote one category for Children’s television. The Daytime Emmys are better, they actually have separate categories for direction and writing, even a category for Best Performance in a Children’s Series. They even had those categories for “Children’s Specials” (TV Movies), before daytime children’s specials became extinct by the mid 2000’s and those categories were retired. This sort of arrangement made sense for a while, because during the 80’s and 90’s, most television for children played during the daytime, mornings for preschoolers, and after school for young adults. Nowadays, there are as many (if not more) children’s television shows playing in primetime as there are in the daytime. And with so much children’s programming premiering on streaming platforms, the line between daytime and primetime is getting blurrier. And, now, since Sesame Street is allowed to compete at both awards, is it really worth attempting to split children shows by daytime and primetime?

All the “children’s” categories from both the Daytime and Primetime Emmys should be removed and a new Emmy group for Children’s television should honor all the children’s shows airing jointly. Of course, there would be multiple categories: Outstanding Preschool Show, Outstanding Children’s Series, Outstanding Teen/Youth Series, Outstanding Animated Series, Outstanding Non-Fiction Program, Outstanding Special. Categories that honor direction, writing, performance, and creative arts would also be recognized. Voters would actually be professionals who work in children’s television, or at least have enough passion for it to take the voting seriously.

Youth media is special. It’s different from adult television. It deserves to be considered and recognized, not pushed aside and forgotten in the “Creative Arts Awards.” Having a separate Emmys for Children’s television would allow producers of programs like A Series of Unfortunate Events, one of the DCOMs, or any the programs on Freeform to submit for these awards, because the shows would actually be given a fair shot. Generally, a show nominated in “Children’s Program” aren’t nominated elsewhere, in any of the other categories. A Children’s Emmy would actually allow the technical achievements of children’s series to be considered and recognized. Because, frankly, Anne with an E, had some of the best cinematography and editing of the season…but as a “kiddie show,” it will barely be given a look by voters who have a hard enough time keeping up with the adult series.

Until this actually happens, or until there’s some overhaul as to how how nominees are chosen, I can’t help but believe that the Directors Guild and Writers Guild awards more accurately represent the best in children’s television than the Primetime Emmys. In all other cases, the Primetime Emmys would be the hallmark, the glass ceiling, of quality television. But, when it comes to youth programming, I don’t think the Primetime Emmys have much authority anymore. They blew it this year. Maybe next year will be better, but I won’t hold my breath.

2017 Guild Awards Honor Children’s Television

gortimer gibbons

It’s awards season! In terms of literature, the Youth Media Awards just announced the best YA books of the year. And the various guild awards, particularly the Writers Guild Awards, the Producers Guild Awards, and the Directors Guild Awards, have respective television categories dedicated to children’s television. The only major Guild award to not have a special category for children’s media is, of course, the relatively bare bones Screen Actors Guild Awards. Let’s take a quick at the nominees for each award group.

Compared to the other guild awards, the PGAs are relatively new at recognizing children’s television. I’m not exactly sure when the separate category for children’s television was inaugurated, but I’m pretty sure the category hasn’t been around for as long as the ones for the WGAs and the DGAs. Last year, I was pretty hard on the group’s nominations. This year, with the inclusion of Girl Meets World and School of Rock, the list is a little more promising although, as we will see, not nearly as exciting as the other two award groups. Rounding out the nominees are last year’s winner Sesame Street, Spongebob Squarepants (a show that’s been around since I was eight, but it is apparently only in its 10th season), and some show called Octonauts, which I’m guessing is about octopus astronauts. Am I right? Am I really correct here? It would be nice to see Girl Meets World get a goodbye hug here, but if the voters are as lazy choosing a winner as they are choosing the nominees, then Sesame Street will most likely win again (can they just have a separate category for preschool shows? How can a show for preschoolers be compared to a show written for the 10-16 age group?)

The WGAs are always a little weird. They have two separate categories: one for regular series and the other for one-off TV specials; however, the latter category has rarely been used the last decade or so. Sometimes, they are no winners or nominees in that category. Last year, the only nominee was Disney’s The Descendants. Presumably, that movie won. This year, however, in the longform category, there are three nominees. This category has not had competitive “nominees” since 2011, and at least three of them since 2009. Oh happy day! The actual nominees themselves are, overall, mediocre, in my opinion, however. Youtube Red’s Dance Camp (the summary of the movie is the title pretty much) would be my pick for the win. However, I think, clearly the Sesame Street Christmas special with the all star celebrity cast has the best chance at winning. Daytime Emmy winner RL Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls rounds out the nominees.

The WGAs also have a children’s television category for episodes of regular series. Last year, the WGAs (rightfully) filled the category with episodes of Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. This year, the show has a chance at repeating with “Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street;” an episode where Mel tries to come to terms with her mother’s death from last season. It is the best overall show in the category, and this episode is most deserving of the win. But, this is a very solid category. Amazon’s other series, Just Add Magic, is nominated for “Just Add Mom,” along with Sesame Street for “Mucko Polo, Grouch Explorer” and Girl Meets World’s “Girl Meets Commonism,” an episode that actually (gasps!) argues against communism. This is Girl Meets World’s third year being nominated here, and it’ll probably be its last (unless voters remember the cancelled show by December of this year). Again, like the PGAs, I could see voters wanting to honor an unrewarded show that’s ending; but, as I’ve learned, industry award voters aren’t usually very sentimental. Again: Mucko Polo, Grouch Explorer is nominated.

The DGAs, like the PGAs, only have one category devoted to Children’s television. Individual series episodes have to compete against TV Movies and Documentaries. When it comes to its nominations, the DGAs usually lean towards the movies. A “DCOM” is always guaranteed a slot. This time around, the channel’s 100th DCOM, Adventures in Babysitting, received a nod for its director John Schultz. He’s probably the favorite to win. Hallmark Channel’s A Nutcracker Christmas received a surprise nod here. I believe this is the first time a Hallmark movie has a received a nomination in this category (at least one that first aired on the channel). A Nutcracker Christmas is about a former ballerina (Amy Ackler) who reluctantly allows the daughter of her deceased sister join a prestigious dance troupe for their annual performance of The Nutcracker. It’s actually a really good family movie and I’m impressed that it got recognized here.

But I hope any one of the other nominees wins. I already wrote about American Girl’s Melody 1963: Love Has to Win. It’s one of the best specials of the year. The script is a bit half baked, but the period drama is certainly shot perfectly. Once again, Gortimer Gibbon’s received a nod here, this time for the season 3 premiere where Gortimer magically becomes skilled in every activity he tries. Every episode of that show has top notch direction that rivals any adult show out there. But…it is a little disappointing that Luke Matheny couldn’t also get a nomination for the touching series finale. But, the DGAs, unlike the WGAs, are pretty strict when it comes to the number of nominees; usually, there are no more than five. And it’s absolutely wonderful that the fifth spot went to the pilot episode of The Kicks, Amazon’s newest high quality children’s series about a struggling soccer team. Overall, I want Gortimer Gibbon’s to win a DGA, but the Amazon programs, as a whole, clearly rule this category. C’mon, voters! Think outside the box for once!

I also want to quickly mention that the Humanitas Prize announced its finalists for their “Live Action” children’s category. Once again, Melody 1963 received a nomination, along with Degrassi’s #TurntUp (an episode that deals with mental health) and Girl Meets World’s “The Forgiveness Project,” which would have been a better representation for its WGA nod. Truly, one of the more emotionally satisfying episodes of the series. Any of these programs could win.

Although, I have to say, it’s very disappointing that the Saturday morning CBS drama The Inspectors was snubbed across the board. Do voters even realize this show exists? That’s the only explanation I can think of for these snubs. At least a writing nod would have been appropriate. Well, hopefully, the Daytime Emmys will come through again!

The winners will be announced at various times. I will update this page when they are.

2016 Emmys Review (TV Movie, Limited Series, and Variety Series)

american crime

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…)

Finally, let’s end this journey with categories that very few people actually care about! Actually, that’s not really true. People vs. OJ Simpson was a huge hit – pretty much a cultural phenomenon. Unlike last year when Olive Kitteridge (deservedly) swept the miniseries categories, when People vs. OJ Simpson most likely achieves the same feat this year, viewers won’t be saying “What is this show?” And I know Confirmation made a big splash (at least on Twitter). So, maybe a few eyeballs will actually read this post. Anyway, let’s get on with this. I am 99.99% sure this will be my last Emmys review post since I’ve already dedicated too much of my life on this and summer vacation is almost over and I start work soon…

Episode Submissions Courtesy of Gold Derby

PS…this year (and last year) Goldderby posted “episode submissions” for the supporting acting nominees. However, I’ve decided not to acknowledge them in my reviews because 1.) I really think, if they do this, they should make the lead performers submit as well. And 2.) I’m pretty sure voters care less about the episode submissions in the limited series categories than they do the others so why bother? But, hey, maybe next year.

Casting For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special:

Ranking

  1. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  2. Roots
  3. Grease: Live
  4. Fargo
  5. The Night Manager

I’m really happy Grease: Live got a nomination here. This is the first time a “live musical event” has received a nomination in this category. It definitely has to do with the fact that, objectively speaking, there wasn’t really a miscast. Most viewers seemed to like everyone in the cast equally. And the young cast really does a great job, particularly relative newcomer Elle McLemore as Patty. However, the casting on The People v. O.J. Simpson is thoroughly impressive. The show really did their research, and did a great job finding actors who looked exactly like their characters. I mean, Kenneth Choi looked exactly like Lance Ito. Show a picture of the two side by side, and I’d have to make a guess. Roots and Grease‘s casting is inspired since, for the most part, most of the cast members are newcomers and relative unknowns, and discovering those actors are always difficult. But, the casting directors for ACS really found perfect doppelgangers for most of the roles.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

American Crime, Descendants,  Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors, Flesh And Bone, Show Me A Hero, The Wiz Live!

Writing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special:

Ranking

  1. D.V. DeVincentis – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”)
  2. Noah Hawley – Fargo (“Palindrome”)
  3. David Farr – The Night Manager 
  4. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“From The Ashes Of Tragedy”)
  5. Bob DeLaurentis – Fargo (“Loplop”)
  6. Joe Robert Cole – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“The Race Card”)

I don’t think there’s ever been a year where individual episodes of a limited series dominated so much. I think one of the great things about ACS is that each episode does sort of stand on its own. So, it’s nice that the individual writers and directors for the series are being called out (even if, let’s say, other television movies are snubbed in the process). In that case, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is one of the most infuriating, yet invigorating, hours of television this season. Before this limited series premiered, most people considered how racism played a role in the OJ Simpson case (Rodney King). However, few actually looked at the case through a feminist lens. This is the episode that finally vindicated Marcia Clark. It’s the episode that does a great job of revealing how tough it is to be a professional woman in the workplace, and juggle that with a difficult family life. It’s unfair that Clark has to prove that OJ Simpson is guilty, while looking pretty and seeming approachable. There are different rules for men and women, and this episode displayed that so well. Otherwise, the finale of Fargo is also pretty great, particularly the scenes involving Kirsten Dunst and Ted Danson. But “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” wins, from it’s episode title to the very last shot.

Worthy Snubbed Programs/Episodes (One per program)

American Crime (Episode 7), Confirmation, A Deadly Adoption, Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors, Roots (Night Two), 7 Days in Hell, Show Me A Hero (Part Six)

Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special:

Ranking

  1. Anthony Hemingway – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“Manna From Heaven”)
  2. Noah Hawley – Fargo (“Before the Law”)
  3. Susanne Bier – The Night Manager
  4. Ryan Murphy – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“From The Ashes Of Tragedy”)
  5. John Singleton – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (“The Race Card”)
  6. Jay Roach – All The Way

If Ryan Murphy had submitted “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” for consideration instead, he would have been my top choice. He chose to submit the premiere instead, which obviously is a great way to start the show, but it’s not necessarily the best episode the series. The show gets better. And “Manna From Heaven” proves that. This is essentially the episode where the (disgustingly racist) Fuhrman tapes are revealed. This is the type of plot twist a fiction writer wouldn’t have been able to get away with! Such a crazy, yet maddening, hour of television that confused and angered so many viewers, including myself. It’s the second best episode of the series and certainly a highlight of the season. But, again, Fargo creator Noah Hawley could win either of these categories and it’d be great. His direction is generally great. As is Susanne Bier’s sultry and seductive direction for the spy thriller The Night Manager.

Worthy Snubbed Programs/Episodes (One per program)

American Crime (Episode Seven), Confirmation, A Deadly Adoption, Descendants, Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors, Roots (Night One), 7 Days in Hell, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Show Me A Hero

Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie:

Ranking

  1. Jesse Plemons – Fargo
  2. Sterling K. Brown – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  3. David Schwimmer –  The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  4. Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager
  5. Bokeem Woodbine – Fargo
  6. John Travolta – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

To be honest, I don’t quite understand why Jesse Plemons was pushed to the supporting category. If his onscreen wife, Dunst, is considered a lead, shouldn’t he be as well? They have the same impact/screen time. I mean, I know Patrick Wilson is sort of the protagonist, but I’m pretty sure a program can have two male leads (which we will see further down). So…I think Plemons being here is a bit of category fraud. Otherwise, I’m very happy Plemons finally has an Emmy nom for his work. Did anyone ever think Landry would walk away from Friday Night Lights as the most successful alum? Let’s be real here. But, yes, Plemons is really great as, well, the husband of an accidental, yet ruthless, murderer. It’s the perfect sort of role for Plemons. I mean, he even gained a bunch of weight (or at least maintained the weight from an earlier project). That is commitment! I’m also so happy Brown and Schwimmer got in, because I sort of thought both would be overshadowed by the usual Emmy favorites (like Nathan Lane, who’s good, but certainly wasn’t the highlight of the series). I liked Travolta’s performance more than most others, but there are a few other actors I probably would have nominated over him. But, still, Travolta hasn’t been this good in a while (and I liked his eyebrows!)

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Ted Danson (Fargo), Danny Deferrari (Madoff), Jeffrey Donovan (Fargo), Jordan Fisher (Grease: Live), Martin Freeman (Sherlock: The Abominable Bride), Matthew Goode (Roots), David Alan Grier (The Wiz Live!), Kit Harington (7 Days in Hell), Connor Jessup (American Crime), Elijah Kelley (The Wiz Live!), Norm Lewis (Kern & Hammerstein’s Show Boat), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Roots), Alfred Molina (Show Me a Hero), Ne-Yo (The Wiz Live!), Elvis Nolasco (American Crime), Wendell Pierce (Confirmation), Joey Pollari (American Crime), Ricky Schroder (Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors), Forest Whitaker (Roots)

Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie:

Ranking

  1. Olivia Colman – The Night Manager
  2. Regina King – American Crime
  3. Jean Smart – Fargo
  4. Melissa Leo – All The Way
  5. Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Hotel
  6. Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Hotel

First, I’d like to commend the voters for resisting the urge to give AHS the usual multitude of nominations since this season was literally terrible. Like, I quit on three or four different occasions, just to get back in because I like wasting the precious hours I have on Earth. So, go voters! But…did they have to waste two of the Supporting Actress spots on actresses from the show? I mean, Paulson was already a Lead Actress lock, while Bates…well, she doesn’t need to be nominated every year. Add in Melissa Leo’s nothing-wife performance and this is a pretty weak category. Regina King could win again as the conflicted mother of a closeted son caught in a basketball rape scandal. Jean Smart’s also memorable as the steely matriarch of an infamous family gang. However, my top choice would have to go to Olivia Colman. A smart, full fleshed out performance as the moral intelligence officer whose trying to take down an illegal arms dealer. It’s a solid performance from a usually solid actress. I’m not sure she’ll win though…

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Uzo Aduba (The Wiz Live!), Tina Benko (Flesh And Bone), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Belle), Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager), Vanessa Hudgens (Grease: Live), Jennifer Hudson (Confirmation), Catherine Keener (Show Me a Hero), Cristin Milioti (Fargo), Stephanie Mills (The Wiz Live!), Jennifer Nettles (Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors), Keke Palmer (Grease: Live), Anna Paquin (Roots), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Show Me a Hero), Anika Noni Rose (Roots)

Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie:

Ranking

  1. Courtney B. Vance – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  2. Cuba Gooding, Jr. – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  3. Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager
  4. Idris Elba – Luther
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
  6. Bryan Cranston – All The Way

I think the biggest disappointment from the morning nominations announcement was Show Me a Hero not receiving a single nomination. Not for limited series, directing or writing. Not for costumes, makeup, or casting. But the most egregious snub was that of Oscar Isaac, who played Nick Wasicsko, who, in 1987 became the youngest big city mayor in the United States. The miniseries revolved around the controversy surrounding the building of integrated public house in Yonkers. After losing his bid for reelection and with corruption charges nipping at his shoulders, Wasicsko commits suicide at the age of 34. If you haven’t already watched, I would totally recommend this miniseries. It’s up there with the American Crimes and Fargo, maybe even better. But I can say with certainty that Oscar Isaac gave the best leading actor performance of the television season. Unfortunately, the limited series premiered last summer and got low ratings, thus its award chances were slim, once again proving that somemany times, the Emmys just aren’t fair. And it’s hard to take this category real seriously without the best performance among the nominees. I would usually never spend this space writing about a snub, but, in this case, I can’t even… This is my ranking. Make of it what you will.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Richard Dreyfuss (Madoff), Colin Farrell (True Detective), Will Ferrell (A Deadly Adoption), Timothy Hutton (American Crime), Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), Malachi Kirby (Roots), Regé-Jean Page (Roots), Andy Samberg (7 Days In Hell), Aaron Tveit (Grease: Live)

Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie:

Ranking

  1. Sarah Paulson – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  2. Lili Taylor – American Crime
  3. Audra McDonald – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
  4. Kirsten Dunst – Fargo
  5. Kerry Washington – Confirmation
  6. Felicity Huffman – American Crime

This category is a BEAST! I’m not sure there’s anyone I’d even consider swapping out. I remember being pleasantly surprised that McDonald got in because I found her Tony winning performance as Billie Holliday so transformative. By the end of the program, I could not recognize McDonald. She’s literally lost in the character. I nearly wept when Lili Taylor got in. I came into nomination morning knowing that, despite the improvement, this second season of American Crime wouldn’t get as many nominations as the first season. I knew a lot of deserving actors (like the “teenagers”) would be snubbed. So Lili Taylor getting in against all odds and predictions is a victory in its own right (although, if any voters are reading this, don’t feel discouraged from choosing her). Maybe five minutes ago I thought Lili Taylor would be me top choice. BUT…ultimately, I think Sarah Paulson will and should win. Like I wrote earlier, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is landmark feminist television, and Paulson’s performance in it as Marcia Clark is tall and shiny in its own right. Watch the scene when Marcia Clark walks into the courtroom with her new haircut. The way her face goes from confidence to “oh geez here we go again” to pure pain is just…Acting 799. Paulson’s a master. And she’s been “snubbed” so many times in the past. It’s her time to win. But, at least, if she loses, it’ll be to another actress who’s almost as deserving. Seriously, Kirsten Dunst just sinks her teeth in her role. Felicity Huffman is almost as “terrible” as Dunst, but you still feel a little sympathy for both characters since they’re constantly stuck between difficult positions. And Kerry Washington gave a better performance in Confirmation than she ever did in Scandal. Yes, that is saying a lot. But while she’s explosive and emotional on ScandalConfirmation proves she’s capable of handling subtlety. But Kerry Washington is such a great and supportive soul. I know, whichever actress wins, she’ll applaud excitedly for her, just like she did for Julianna Margulies a couple years back.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Blythe Danner (Madoff), Julianne Hough (Grease: Live), Alyvia Alyn Lind (Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors), Amber Riley (My One Christmas Wish), Kristen Wiig (A Deadly Adoption), Shanice Williams (The Wiz Live!)

Outstanding Television Movie:

Ranking

  1. Confirmation (HBO)
  2. All The Way (HBO)
  3. A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)
  4. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (PBS)
  5. Luther (BBC America)

As you can probably tell by now, I’m not the biggest fan of All The Way. I just feel like, between Selma and Path to War and countless other dramatizations, I’m not sure All the Way covers much new ground. But, of course, the movie is well made and it’ll probably win because HBO and Presidents. However, I’d much rather see the soapy and delicious Confirmation take it, which centered on the Anita Hill hearings and the miscarriage of justice that gave us a Supreme Court justice that justified slavery in order to  take away gay couples’ right to marry (my one political statement of these Emmy posts don’t stop reading!) Confirmation is pure Twitter-bait, but I was more entertained by it than any of the other movies on this list. I will say though that there is something refreshingly old fashioned about Sofia Coppola’s star filled Christmas special for Netflix, especially with its quick one hour run time.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

A Deadly Adoption, Descendants, Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors, The Dresser, 7 Days In Hell, Teen Beach 2

Outstanding Limited Series:

Ranking

  1. American Crime (ABC)
  2. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  3. Roots (HISTORY)
  4. Fargo (FX)
  5. The Night Manager (AMC)

Look, ACS will win, and it will deserve to win. Everyone wants it to win. And I’m pretty much part of that group. BUT…American Crime is such an underrated series. And this second season (which is a completely new story from the first) is so amazing. Watching it was an experience (especially if you watched it with the Twitter community). The second season revolved around a member of a school’s basketball team being accused of raping another high school student. The story takes us through the school’s attempted cover up, the victim’s issues with his mother, and the parents of the involved basketball players coming to terms (and failing at that) with their sons’ sexuality. And everything in between. Both American Crime and ACS pretty much aired at the same time. It was certainly an exciting few months of television. And both programs (along with Fargo, although that goes without saying) are contributing to this new renaissance of  limited television. Roots and The Night Manager are more traditional “miniseries” (there will be no “second seasons” of either shows). I can objectively appreciate how well made The Night Manager is, while admitting the story didn’t pull me in as much as the others. Reliving the story of Roots was a stronger experience for me. I support the series, but I do agree that there are other stories of the African American experience that need to be told. But, otherwise, this is a strong (diverse) list of nominations (even if “you know” is missing…)

Worthy Snubbed Program

Show Me A Hero (yes, this is the “you know”)

Outstanding Short Form Variety Series:

Ranking

  1. Epic Rap Battles Of History (Youtube)
  2. Honest Trailers (Youtube)
  3. Gay Of Thrones (Funny or Die)
  4. Making A Scene With James Franco (AOL)
  5. Park Bench With Steve Buscemi (AOL)

I don’t particularly love any of the nominees here, but I’d much rather see Youtubers or people who have, y’know, made a career out of short form comedy programming win this Emmy, than already successful actors and their side projects. The two AOL programs are, IMO, unremarkable, and probably voted on because name recognition. So, any of the other three should win. Gay of Thrones and Honest Trailers are occasionally funny and clever, but it’s essentially people talking over other peoples’ footage. Not saying what these people do doesn’t take skill, but Epic Rap Battles should win because the content is 100% original (and, also, because the videos are occasionally funny and clever). Hopefully more real “Youtubers” (and good ones, not like Miranda Sings or Shane Dawson or Kids React) get nominated here in the future. College Humor (which didn’t submit for some reason) would fit right in.

Worthy Snubbed Series

Above Average Presents

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series:

Ranking

  1. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
  2. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  3. Inside Amy Schumer
  4. Key & Peele
  5. Portlandia
  6. Saturday Night Live

This is an easy one for me. I love all these shows. I’m glad that sketch series have dominated the category this year…but my top choices are the two “talk shows that aren’t really talk shows.” John Oliver is the first satirical/political late night comedy show that I watch regularly and love. The show continues to do a great job of highlighting the dire issues that seem to be overshadowed by Clinton’s Emails and Trump’s Trumpiness. This season isn’t as sharp as last year (and sometimes the jokes are a bit lazy), but you have to at least appreciate the writing staff for doing their research. BUT…Full Frontal With Samantha Bee is the sharpest, funniest, most compelling late night show of the year. It should have been nominated for more, but at least it got nominated here, and I expect the show to dominate next season. Admittedly, it’s easy for me to love this show because 99% of the time, I agree with Samantha Bee’s views. If you don’t, it can be a hard show to watch. The show (like Oliver’s) has a clear ideological position, and you can either take it or leave it. I take it wholeheartedly. Watch Samantha Bee’s blistering, painful, but still funny, remarks on the Orlando shooting. I love Samantha Bee’s anger and I love her outrage. And the writing on the show is so clever. It really doesn’t get the credit (or ratings) it deserves. Frankly, Samantha Bee is doing a better job at doing John Oliver’s schtick than Oliver himself. It’s a complete longshot here, but I’m glad it got nominated nonetheless.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Documentary Now!, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Nathan For You

Directing For A Variety Series:

Ranking

  1. Ryan McFaul – Inside Amy Schumer (“Madonna/Whore”)
  2. Tim Mancinelli – The Late Late Show With James Corden (“Post-Super Bowl Episode”)
  3. Don Roy King – Saturday Night Live (“Tina Fey & Amy Poehler”)
  4. Paul Pennolino – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (“Donald Trump”)
  5. Dave Diomedi – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (“Episode 325”)

The Jimmy Fallon episode represented is the one from last September when Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon performed another edition of Hip Hop history, and then, later, Ellen Degeneres won a Lip Sync battle against Fallon. It’s a funny episode, but not enough spectacle for me to see the directorial achievement. Don Roy King is a master at what he does, but I don’t think the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler episode was great enough for him to deserve a seventh straight Emmy. The Post-Super Bowl episode of James Corden is a lot of fun, particularly the scene where Corden, Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron and Adam DeVine recreate different sports movies in rapid fire. I don’t think Inside Amy Schumer gets enough credit for its direction, but it is a really well directed show, and this episode in particular (featuring a kiddie parody version of The Knick and Amy and her friend going on a sucky Sex and the City tour) is aesthetically pleasing and craftily directed.

Worthy Snubbed Programs (One per program)

Documentary Now! (Sandy Passage), Nathan For You (Smokers Allowed)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series:

Ranking

  1. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – “Donald Trump” (HBO)
  2. The Late Late Show With James Corden – “Post-Super Bowl Episode” (CBS)
  3. Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – “Episode 325” (NBC)
  4. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee – “Just Tell Them You’re the President” (Crackle)
  5. Real Time With Bill Maher – “1401” (HBO)
  6. Jimmy Kimmel Live – “After the Oscars 2016” (ABC)

If my new Canadian wife Samantha Bee couldn’t get a nomination here, then the next best “talk” show on television, John Oliver, should win. And the episode the show chose to submit for consideration perfectly represents how genius the show can get: an acidic takedown of Donald Trump. Even though the episode aired in February, considering how fast politics move in this country, it’s almost shocking how relevant this episode still is. It’s truly one of John Oliver’s finest moments, culminating with a #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain hashtag that gained a lot of traction for a premium cable show that attracts a little over a million viewers on a good week. The show, right now, is sort of the front runner here. However, I have to say, even though I think Trevor Noah seems to be doing a nice job, and even though I thoroughly enjoy watching Stephen Colbert from time to time, it’s admittedly refreshing seeing a category without the Daily Show or a Stephen Colbert show. Comedy Central has had a stranglehold on this category for so long. Regardless of what happens, it’ll be nice to see another show/person win for once.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

@midnight with Chris Hardwick,  Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series:

Ranking

  1. Documentary Now! – “Sandy Passage” (IFC)
  2. Key & Peele – “Y’all Ready for This” (Comedy Central)
  3. Saturday Night Live – “Larry David” (NBC)
  4. Portlandia – “Going Gray” (IFC)
  5. Inside Amy Schumer – “Welcome to the Gun Show” (Comedy Ce
  6. Drunk History – “Spies” (Comedy Central)

I went back and forth between Documentary Now! and Key & Peele. I would love to see Key & Peele win this category, especially considering the show has never won an Emmy before. This is the show’s last chance (at least for all we know). Personally, I find the show a little inconsistent, even this episode, which also served as Key’s acting submission (the Angry Hillary Clinton sketch > Police Brutality Sketch > Car segments). But when the show hits, it hits. And I hope the show’s leading actors and creators can win SOMETHING this year. However…Documentary Now! was such a treat last summer. I’m flabbergasted that voters remembered the show enough to give it this nomination. And I’m glad TPTB chose “Sandy Passage” as a representative for the show. The show pretty much does a different parody of a popular documentary each episode. “Sandy Passages” is the show’s first episode, and it’s simply a hilarious homage to Grey Gardens. Even if you’ve only seen the HBO docudrama starring Drew Barrymore, I’d still watch the episode. It’s one of the best half hours of sketch comedy, and the shocking ending is so crazy perfect. I must have cracked up for a full ten minutes afterwards. I laugh just thinking about the episode. And the five other episodes afterwards (particularly the two part finale which pretty much makes fun of music documentaries) are just as genius. So my sentimental choice goes to Key & Peele. But in terms of who really rocked sketch comedy this season. It has to go to Nathan For You Documentary Now!

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Nathan For You, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

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

2016 Emmys Review (Comedy Categories)

kimmy schmidt

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…)

Now we move on to the Comedy Categories, which include writing, directing, performance, and casting (b/c why not?). HBO’s Veep and Silicon Valley dominated the Emmys (which is a good thing). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Last Man on Earth didn’t receive enough noms (which isn’t great). And shows like Masters of None and Black-ish surprisingly broke through (which, again, is good). Overall, despite some damning snubs, there’s not much to complain about. Let’s go through the categories.

(Episode submission information courtesy of Gold Derby).

Casting For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Transparent
  2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  3. Veep
  4. Silicon Valley
  5. Modern Family

Casting categories are always a weird disappointment. I still think this category should mostly belong to new shows. Yes, I know casting directors can also be responsible for guest and recurring performers…but what crazy casting decision does Modern Family or even Veep make at this point? Why isn’t Master of None here? Ansari cast his own parents to play his character’s parents. Isn’t that a little inspired. For what we have, I’d give the edge to Transparent, mostly for giving us Emily Robinson (who, yes, appeared in the first season, but she played a different character, Rose, in the second and whoever decided that was appropriate deserves a gold medal) and Hari Nef, the transgender actress who played Gittel, Rose’s trans sister. And, of course, all those topless women of different colors and shapes in “Man on the Land.” Inspired casting choices all around. (PS…I will make a similar rant when we get to the drama categories so…beware.)

Worthy Snubbed Programs

BoJack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Documentary Now!, F is for Family, Getting On, Man Seeking Woman, Superstore, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp

Writing For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang – Master Of None (“Parents”)
  2. Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck – Veep (“Mother”)
  3. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan – Catastrophe (“Episode 1”)
  4. Alec Berg – Silicon Valley (“The Uptick”)
  5. David Mandel – Veep (“Morning After”)
  6. Dan O’Keefe – Silicon Valley (“Founder Friendly”)

My first real category and I already have heart palpitations. Choosing between “Mother” and “Parents” is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. My brain picks “Mother,” (which revolves around the death of Selina’s mother and her losing Nevada in a recount) because the episode is so funny and clever and really focused. It’s a perfect half hour of television and probably the best episode of the season. However…my heart says “Parents.” As the son of immigrant parents who moved to America for a better life, who had to deal with racism and culture clashes during their early years here, I relate so much to this episode. Aziz’s dad is my dad (especially when he has issues with technology). It’s not the “funniest” episode, and it’s not as tightly scripted as “Mother;” but the episode still means so much to me, and it tells a story that’s rarely told in comedic television. Ansari and Yang put their hearts into this episode. That makes it worthy enough. As a side note, though, I’m really glad that Catastrophe co-stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, at least, could get a nomination. This is for the very first episode of the series. Check it out on Amazon! It’s great, and the two actors have nice chemistry. One of the few (pleasant) surprises in the comedy categories.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

Black-ish (Hope), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Josh Just Happens To Live Here!), Girls (The Panic In Central Park), Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street (Mel Vs. The Future), Review (Buried Alive; 6 Star Review; Public Speaking), South Park (You’re Not Yelping), Transparent (Man On The Land), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Kimmy Finds Her Mom!)

Directing For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Aziz Ansari – Master Of None (“Parents”)
  2. Jill Soloway – Transparent (“Man On The Land”)
  3. Dale Stern – Veep (“Mother”)
  4. David Mandel – Veep (“Kissing Your Sister”)
  5. Alec Berg – Silicon Valley (“Daily Active Users”)
  6. Chris Addison – Veep (“Morning After”)
  7. Mike Judge – Silicon Valley (“Founder Friendly”)

I love Veep and Silicon Valley, but I don’t really think “Morning After” and “Founding Friendly” (their season premieres respectively) really needed these writing and directing nominations. More diversity in the noms would have been nice. That being said, “Daily Active Users” is the perfect “sh@t hitting the fan” episode, while “Kissing Your Sister” is a hilariously edited half hour that plays with the audience’s expectations. Again, “Mother” is a series highlight, and I don’t think there was a moment this season better directed than the funeral scene when Selina, finding out she had just lost the Nevada popular vote, has to give a speech in honor of her mother. Watch that scene. Look at her workers. Notice how all of them react to Selina different from one another. This is what you get when you have the perfect cast and director working together. Jill Soloway’s direction for Transparent is beautiful. She won last year, and she could win again this year for an episode that takes place entirely in an all-women’s music festival. However, again, I have to give props to Master of None‘s “Parents” episode. Ansari literally had to direct his own parents. That must have been as rewarding as it was challenging. I’m glad this episode got some recognition from the Academy. Hopefully, it wins in at least one of these categories.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

Black-ish (The Word), Catastrophe (Episode 3),  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Josh Just Happens To Live Here!), Girls (Wedding Day), Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street (Gortimer, Ranger And Mel Vs. The Endless Night), Review (Falsely Accused; Sleep With Your Teacher; Little Person), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Kimmy Gives Up!), Undateable (A Will They Walks Into a Bar / A Won’t They Walks Into A Bar)

Guest Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Melora Hardin – Transparent (“Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)
  2. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler – Saturday Night Live (“Tina Fey & Amy Poehler”)
  3. Amy Schumer – Saturday Night Live (“Amy Schumer”)
  4. Laurie Metcalf – The Big Bang Theory (“The Convergence Convergence”)
  5. Christine Baranski – The Big Bang Theory (“The Convergence Convergence”)
  6. Melissa McCarthy – Saturday Night Live (“Melissa McCarthy”)

The only nomination here that really excites me is Melora Hardin’s, an actress who’s done great work on Transparent (and, frankly, should have been nominated for The Office as well). In the episode she submitted, she only has a couple minutes of screen time. She probably could have submitted “Kina Hora” where she has more screen time, but her one scene in “Flicky” is so devastating, so emotional and painful. It’s not a “funny” performance, it’s a little humorous and quirky (Hardin literally throws a cake in a pool), but certainly the darkest of the nominations. Frankly, she’s only nominee that doesn’t seem lazily name checked. However, believe or not, Amy Poehler has never won an Emmy. Not even a Daytime Emmy. It’s absurd. She should have won at least two for her work on Parks and Recreation. I don’t understand why Fey and Poehler are allowed to be nominated together while, let’s say, Metcalf and Baranski aren’t. I don’t really need Tina Fey to win another Emmy for her still fabulous Sarah Palin impression, but, in this case, if her winning means Amy Poehler wins, then I’ll support it.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Becky Ann Baker (Girls), Aidy Bryant (Documentary Now!), Anna Camp (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Sheri Foster Blake (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Ariana Grande (Saturday Night Live), Lisa Kudrow (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Elizabeth Mitchell (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Amy Sedaris (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), June Squibb (Getting On), Michaela Watkins (Transparent)

Guest Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Peter Scolari – Girls (“Good Man”)
  2. Bradley Whitford – Transparent (“Oscillate”)
  3. Martin Mull – Veep (“The Eagle”)
  4. Larry David – Saturday Night Live (“Larry David”)
  5. Tracy Morgan – Saturday Night Live (“Tracy Morgan”)
  6. Bob Newhart – The Big Bang Theory (“The Opening Night Excitation”)

Larry David had a very great year this season with his Bernie Sanders impression. A political impression hasn’t captivated viewers since Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. Between his episode and Tracy Morgan’s, I fully expect him to win. However, I have a pretty clear top three. Martin Mull is funny as the confused Bob Bradley (however his funniest moments this season are his single lines in “Mother” and the season finale, but he of course submitted the right episode). Bradley Whitford makes the most out of his limited screen time as Magnus Hirschfeld as he promises to take care of a young transwoman. I am not against small performances winning. Nothing performances, yes. Small? As long they make a significant impact, those types of performances could be very worthy. However, Whitford won last year for an even better performance as Maura’s friend, Mark/Marcy. Scolari probably won’t win since he…let’s just say he was nominated about a week after everyone else. But I’m glad he got in. Both he and his screen wife Becky Ann Baker should have been nominated last year for even stronger performances. Sometimes, Emmy voters are late to the party. But, even despite that, Scolari still gives the best performance of these nominees. As Hannah’s newly out father, Scolari gives us enough pathos and humor to make this a truly well-rounded performance. (Also, he was the weather man in The Ultimate Christmas Present. He is overdue dramatic recognition!)

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Christopher Abbott (Girls), Shoukath Ansari (Master of None), Fred Armisen (Man Seeking Woman), Gil Birmingham (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Mike Carlsen (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Guillermo Diaz (Girls), Drake (Saturday Night Live), Ryan Gosling (Saturday Night Live), Chris Hemsworth (Saturday Night Live), Ki Hong Lee (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Ravi Patel (Master of None)

Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live (“Ariana Grande”)
  2. Anna Chlumsky – Veep (“C**gate”)
  3. Gaby Hoffmann – Transparent (“Bulnerable”)
  4. Niecy Nash – Getting On (“Don’t Let It Get in You or on You”)
  5. Allison Janney – Mom (“Terrorists and Gingerbread”)
  6. Judith Light – Transparent (“Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)

Y’know, for the longest time, I didn’t really want Kate McKinnon to win, because Kristen Wiig (criminally) never won, and it didn’t seem right for McKinnon to surpass Wiig. But…McKinnon is simply too great on the show. Would I have chosen this episode for her? She has a couple star moments, like her impression of Hillary Clinton slowly (or rapidly, really) forming into Bernie Sanders, or the sketch where she appeared as half blob fish/half woman. Otherwise, watching this episode again reminded me how much Ariana Grande deserved a nomination herself. Unlike Wiig, McKinnon rarely has an episode where she dominates (in terms of screen time). Probably the reason people aren’t sick of her yet. But, despite limited screen time, McKinnon stands out in anything she does, and I’m rooting for her to win this year. And she has a chance, between her Clinton impersonation, that sketch she did with Ryan Gosling that went viral, and Ghostbusters, she might be the one to break the SNL curse. If she can’t though, perennial loser Anna Chlumsky would also be deserving of a chance behind that microphone. She submitted the episode where Selina makes Amy investigate who among her staff called her the “C-word” after it’s leaked in the press. It’s the perfect episode for Chlumsky in a show that’s literally crowded with supporting talent.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Lauren Adams (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Andrea Barber (Fuller House), Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live), Ashley Boettcher (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Alex Borstein (Getting On), Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live), Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Sara Chase (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live), Carol Kane (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jenifer Lewis (Black-ish), Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman), Emily Robinson (Transparent), Kristen Schaal (The Last Man on Earth), Eden Sher (The Middle), Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), Sarah Sutherland (Veep), Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House), Noël Wells (Master of None), Allison Williams (Girls)

Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (“Kimmy Gives Up”)
  2. Matt Walsh – Veep (“Kissing Your Sister”)
  3. Tony Hale – Veep (“Inauguration”)
  4. Louie Anderson – Baskets (“Easter in Bakersfield”)
  5. Keegan-Michael Key – Key and Peele (“Y’all Ready for This”)
  6. Ty Burrell – Modern Family (“The Party”)
  7. Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (“The Oolong Slayer”)

Tituss Burgess submitted the episode where his character sings a bunch of “obscure” showtunes from forgotten Broadway shows. I think this is a great submission for him because, yeah, he has little screen time, but he’s so hilarious when he sings. He should win. He needs to win. His character is one of the most unique on television. The rest of this category could have literally been filled by actors from Veep, but I am especially happy that Matt Walsh finally broke through. I feel like I connect with his character Mike more than any other character on the show. He’s such a such a sad sack, but loveable all the same. And the funniest scene in his episode is when it’s revealed that the rest of Selina’s staff have secret meetings behind his back where they bash him. I know! That doesn’t say much about Walsh’s performance, but he does great work in the episode nonetheless. I had never watched Baskets before writing this post. I watched the first episode and Anderson’s submission, and I am impressed so far. He plays the main character’s (played by Zach Galifianakis) mother. It’s such a nuanced portrayal. Anderson pretty much uses his regular voice and, as far as I know, isn’t a caricature or the butt of everyone’s jokes. He’s pretty much tied with Hale; he’d be deserving winner as well. Final note: I love Keegan-Michael Key…but I didn’t get the memo where we decided he was significantly stronger than Jordan Peele. I also didn’t get the memo saying that he was a “supporting actor” on his own dang show. So, for pretty much those unfair reasons, he’s knocked down a couple pegs in my ranking. Sorry!

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Eric Andre (Man Seeking Woman), Fred Armisen (Documentary Now!), Beck Bennett (Saturday Night Live), Jay Duplass (Transparent), Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish), Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Troy Gentile (The Goldbergs), Sean Giambrone (The Goldbergs), Steve Howey (Shameless), Drew Justice (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), Kyle Mooney (Saturday Night Live), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live), Sam Richardson (Veep), Mel Rodriguez (Getting On or The Last Man on Earth), Reid Scott (Veep), Timothy Simons (Veep), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Derek Waters (Drunk History), Zach Woods (Silicon Valley)

Lead Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (“Kimmy Goes to a Hotel”)
  2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep (“Mother”)
  3. Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish (“Sink or Swim”)
  4. Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie (“The Test”)
  5. Amy Schumer – Inside Amy Schumer (“Welcome to the Gun Show”)
  6. Laurie Metcalf – Getting On (“Am I Still Me?”)

Y’know, making up these rankings are tricky. Sometimes I’m conflicted between judging the actual episode submissions vs. judging a season’s worth of performance vs. other external factors (overdue factor, etc.) Admittedly, my rankings are inconsistent. Sometimes they’re based solely on the submission and sometimes they aren’t. In this case, let’s say, they half-are/half-aren’t. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the strongest, funniest, most affecting submission of all the nominees. If I didn’t watch any of these shows and was unaware of the fact that Louis-Dreyfus had already won four consecutive Emmys (on top of the two for her earlier sitcoms), she’d be my first choice. “Mother” is a season highlight, and Louis-Dreyfus dominates the episode, all the way up to the end where she gives a bitterstillbitter eulogy for her mother. But…am I excited over the fact that she’s on her way to winning a fifth Emmy? Not really, despite the fact that her acceptance speech will be funny. So, I’m putting Kemper at the top of my imaginary ballot (that’s how the Emmys are voted, right?) This is essentially the episode where Kimmy has her last date with Dong before he is deported to Vietnam. It’s a funny episode, with an actual bittersweet conclusion (depending on how much one cares about Dong and Kimmy’s relationship. I personally dug their story line). I’m so happy Kemper got nominated this year after being snubbed last year. I’m also happy that Tracee Ellis Ross finally received Emmy recognition. As someone who believes that Girlfriends was criminally snubbed during its time (mostly because voters could care less about black sitcoms airing on UPN), Ross finally receiving an awards nomination from a group outside the NAACP made me especially happy nomination morning.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia), Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Anna Faris (Mom), Jane Fonda (Grace And Frankie), Sutton Foster (Younger), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Julie Klausner (Difficult People), Emma Roberts Queens), Emmy Rossum (Shameless), Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat)

Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Will Forte – The Last Man on Earth (“30 Years of Science Down the Tubes”)
  2. Anthony Anderson – Black-ish (“Hope”)
  3. Thomas Middleditch – Silicon Valley (“The Empty Chair”)
  4. Aziz Ansari – Master of None (“Parents”)
  5. Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent (“Man on the Land”)
  6. William H. Macy – Shameless (“I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing”)

Not to sound cruel, but without Jim Parsons, Don Cheadle, or anyone from the cast of Two and a Half Men, this is probably the strongest the category has been in a while (of course, we’re missing personal favorites like Alec Baldwin, Louis CK, and Matt LeBlanc, but still). I’d probably still replace Macy with someone else, just because he’s literally the least interesting part of his own episode submission. But otherwise…the top 5 here is really strong. I have to say, it’s disappointing that, after doing so well with nominations last year, The Last Man on Earth only received one nomination this year. Let’s hope Forte can win an Emmy before the show is altogether dropped from Emmy favor. Forte has some really dramatic scenes with Jason Sudeikis, who plays Phil’s brother. Like Forte, Anthony Anderson also chose an episode that balances drama and comedy well. The episode mostly discusses “Black Lives Matter” and police brutality. A few months ago when I watched this episode, the second after Anderson gives that speech about Obama and how scared he was for his life, I knew this would be his submission. Neither Middleditch nor Ansari submitted their strongest performances (I’m particularly disappointed that Middleditch didn’t submit “Daily Active Users,” where he has that scene where he’s trying to explain what exactly Pied Piper does to a focus group, and that scene towards  the end in the bathtub). But, overall…Jim Parsons isn’t here so we’re all good.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Jay Baruchel (Man Seeking Woman), Andrew Daly (Review), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe), Chris Delia (Undateable), Billy Eichner (Difficult People), Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You), Zach Galifianakis (Baskets), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Bill Hader (Documentary Now!), Eric Jacobson (The Muppets), Brent Morin (Undateable), Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), Any Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Sloane Morgan Siegel (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Steve Whitmire (The Muppets)

Outstanding Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
  2. Master of None (Netflix)
  3. Veep (HBO)
  4. Black-ish (ABC)
  5. Transparent (Amazon)
  6. Silicon Valley (HBO)
  7. Modern Family (ABC)

Hey, voters. Remember last year? Remember when Modern Family didn’t win and everyone was so happy? Let’s remember those good feelings this time around. I’ll take Veep winning again. Actually, Veep was, like always, hilarious this year. From “Mother” to this messed up election cycle (not as messed up to the one we’re living in now but, you know), Veep is a show that’s more than its crude, yet clever, one-liners. The storytelling, the exciting twists and turns makes it absolutely deserving of a second Comedy Series win. BUT…I’m still waiting for UKS to break through. With its lack of writing or directing or even technical nominations (which is crazy because it’s one of the best looking shows on television right now), Tina Fey’s 30 Rock follow up has no chance at winning this year (especially since a small, yet loud, trollish group of SJWs think the show is “racist.” Yeah. The show with the gay black lead and Asian love interest is racist). But I will root for the show until it wins. While other comedy shows find humor in cynicism, UKS truly makes me happy. The show always seems to come up when I’m at my lowest. It’s a show that truly perks me up. And Kimmy Schmidt is one of the most earnest and e ndearing characters on television. If season three is as good as its first two, I hope the Emmys finally get with the program gives it a “30 Rock circa season 3” number of nominations. But, really, Netflix is killing it with the comedy game, and Master of None, a show that really broke boundaries, winning would be really inspired. This is a strong category. If any of the shows from #1-#6 won, I’d be satisfied.

Worthy Snubbed Comedy Series

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fresh Off The Boat, Girls, The Last Man On Earth, Life In Pieces, Man Seeking Woman, Review, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp

2016 Emmys Review (Misc. Categories…Part 2)

childrens hospital

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…)

These are more of the “less recognized” categories. This post is mostly focused on some of the new short form categories, children’s and animated programming, and nonfiction specials. Pretty wide tent if you ask me. NO ONE ELSE ON THE INTERNET IS DOING THIS SO YOU’RE WELCOME.

Children’s Program:

Ranking

  1. Girl Meets World (Disney Channel)
  2. School Of Rock (Nickelodeon)
  3. Dog With a Blog (Disney Channel)
  4. Nick News With Linda Ellerbee: Hello, I Must Be Going! 25 Years Of Nick News With Linda Ellerbee (Nickelodeon)
  5. It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown! (ABC)

Nick News will go down in history as one of the greatest children’s television programs of all time. And I expect the show will win one more well-earned Emmy. However, as well-made as the finale was, it’s, like, 99% past footage from episodes that have already won the show a boatload of Emmys. Frankly, I’m rooting for one of the scripted sitcoms that hasn’t won yet. Girl Meets World isn’t a perfect show. Sometimes its preachiness is clumsily executed and awkward. But, I at least appreciate the producers for being bold and not afraid of discussing real issues with a nice dose of drama and sentimentality. School of Rock is a fun reboot of a millennium classic, and Dog with a Blog is frequently clever and funny despite its premise; but if my Gortimer Gibbon’s couldn’t get a nomination (seriously HOW???) then Girl Meets World winning is the next best thing.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Best Friends Whenever, Degrassi: Next Class, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street, The HALO Effect: Jaylen’s Challenge, Just Add Magic, Liv And Maddie,  Massively Mixed-Up Middle School Mystery, My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It

Animated Program:

Ranking

  1. Bob’s Burgers – “The Horse Rider-er” (FOX)
  2. Phineas and Ferb – “Last Day of Summer” (Disney XD)
  3. South Park – “You’re Not Yelping” (Comedy Central)
  4. Archer – “The Figgis Agency” (FX)
  5. The Simpsons – “Halloween of Horror” (FOX)

I haven’t regularly watched The Simpsons in maybe five or six years. I don’t love this episode of The Simpsons like most critics and fans seem to, but I did get a kick out of  the “NC-17 Halloween” number. I had pretty mixed feelings about this season of South Park (appreciate the serial nature, but that “police brutality” episode was a head scratcher). This episode, however, which lampoons Yelp reviewers, is the season highlight. Once again, a musical number is the episode’s highlight. In the end, I’d like to see either Bob’s Burgers or Phineas and Ferb win. Phineas and Ferb’s series finale (which is akin to Groundhog’s Day) is two parts cleaver, one part heart…and another part hilarious. Phineas and Ferb has been around since I was in high school. It finally seems like a chapter of Disney Channel is closing. However, Bob’s Burgers is just so funny, and this episode in particular (Tina goes to horse camp) is just delightful. The show always seems to submit “Tina episodes.” Not a bad strategy, considering how she’s one of the best cartoon characters on television right now. Overall, I wish voters would go outside the box a bit more with their choices, but it’s not bad list of nominations.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

BoJack Horseman, F is for Family

Documentary or Nonfiction Special:

Ranking

  1. Listen To Me Marlon (Showtime)
  2. What Happened, Miss Simone? (Netflix)
  3. Everything Is Copy (HBO)
  4. Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (HBO)
  5. Becoming Mike Nichols (HBO)

This year, all the nominees are really biographies of famous people who have passed away. So, as someone who hadn’t watched any of these specials before the nominations were announced, it was an interesting two days of reliving these stories of people I mostly looked up to. The only person I wasn’t familiar with was Robert Mapplethorpe, but I still found the documentary really well made and certainly more experimental than the disappointing Becoming Mike Nichols. Everything is Copy and Miss Simone feature honest, yet touching, portraits of Nora Ephron and Nina Simone respectively. However, Listen to Me Marlon is the one that really stands out. The documentary features no interviews. All the narration is comprised of rare personal audio recordings and interviews from Marlon Brando, with film and stock footage overlaying this audio. It’s an interesting angle from which to tell this story, and for that, it’s my top choice. As an unnecessary side note, there is another category that’s similar to this one titled “Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking,” which focuses more on documentaries that aim to have a more social impact. However, I will not be covering that category because I am lazy.

Worthy Snubbed Specials

30 for 30: Fantastic Lies, Jackie Robinson, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, Walt Disney

Short Form Animated Program:

Ranking

  1. Adventure Time – “Hall of Egress” (Cartoon Network)
  2. The Powerpuff Girls – “Once Upon A Townsville” (Cartoon Network)
  3. Robot Chicken – “Robot Chicken Christmas Special: The X-Mas United” (Adult Swim)
  4. Steven Universe – “The Answer” (Cartoon Network)
  5. SpongeBob SquarePants – “Company Picnic” (Nickelodeon)

This is a category I’ve never paid much attention to. I don’t really watch cartoons made for children anymore. I probably haven’t regularly watched one on television in a decade. So, before reviewing these episodes, I wasn’t familiar with Adventure Time or Steven Universe. I found Adventure Time‘s episode submission so intriguing, yet funny. I felt like the premise could have filled a two hour movie. I wanted more. It was so fascinating. I think the next time I’m channel surfing, I’ll stop at Cartoon Network if I see Adventure Time playing. Despite the bad reviews I’ve been reading, I quite enjoyed this episode of “New” Powerpuff Girls. I was obsessed with the show when I was little. It doesn’t seem to have the same grit as the original series, but, again, I liked this musical “Disney parody” the episode seemed to be going for. But, yeah…I don’t really watch these eleven minute cartoons anymore so…maybe I’m not an expert here.

Worthy Snubbed Program

Disney Mickey Mouse

Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Her Story (Youtube)
  2. Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim)
  3. UnREAL The Auditions (Lifetime)
  4. Hack Into Broad City (ComedyCentral.com)
  5. Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462 (AMC)

Really, this category, for me to you dawg, is between Childrens Hospital and Her Story. Childrens Hospital is a crazy, irreverent, hilarious series that ended earlier this year. The show certainly ended with a bang, and its final season had a lot of fun guest appearances and cameos. It’d be great if the show, which has boldly stood by its “short” format, won this relatively new category. I only put Her Story above it because Childrens Hospital has already won a couple Emmys, and it’d be so awesome to go one step further in recognizing a true independent project. Her Story is a six-part series about the dating lives of a couple transwomen. It’s a simple show, but it covers a lot of ground, and that simplicity is really refreshing. It’s a show that anyone could understand, and maybe even appreciate. The nomination was a huge surprise for its creators, so in a way they’ve already won. But what a statement a win would make! The other three shows are good, and it’s very nice that Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City can officially call themselves Emmy nominees; but I have to support real short form series, as opposed to companion programs of regular TV shows. Frankly, I’m not sure if both these types of shows should be competing against each other in the same category (I feel like the companion series belong in the “Interactive” category).

Worthy Snubbed Series

Acting Dead, Everyone’s Crazy But Us, Keith Broke His Leg, Lonely And Horny, Thingstarter, Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell

Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series:

Ranking

  1. A Year In Space (TIME)
  2. National Endowment For The Arts: United States Of Arts (arts.gov)
  3. Jay Leno’s Garage (NBC.com)
  4. Inside The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  5. Roots: A New Vision (HISTORY)

Similar to my feelings in the previous “Short Form” category, I just can’t really root for “companion” series. As interesting as Inside The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is, it’s essentially one long commercial for the series. There’s more insight on the production of the limited series, rather than OJ, racial politics, and the case itself. Jay Leno’s Garage is good for people into cars (or Jay Leno). I’m not into either; but at least the show is its own thing and sort of commits to the “short form” format. Ultimately, I’d only be satisfied with my top two winning. United States of Arts is an interesting project sponsored by the NEA, where each state highlights their unique arts culture and accomplishments. There is a video overview for each state, and some supplemental information that’s more focused. It’s an interesting project, and I’m impressed that the Emmys found a way of honoring it. But my top vote goes to TIME’s A Year in Space – a documentary about Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko’s year long expedition into space. It’s a fascinating study, particularly the earlier episodes where Kelly’s preparing for the trip, and saying goodbye to his family. But it’s also incredibly shot. The cinematography is so gorgeous; this could have been a theatrical Oscar contender. But, at the same time, there’s something so simple and earnest about the documentary, most having to do with the fact these astronauts are simple people who don’t feel the need to boast about their accomplishments. It’s one of the best documentaries of the season. The OJ Simpson program is going to win a lot of Emmys in the limited series categories. Let’s give this one to real, honest nonfiction achievement.

 

Actor In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Rob Huebel – Childrens Hospital
  2. Rob Corddry – Childrens Hospital
  3. Lou Diamond Phillips – The Crossroads Of History (“Columbus”)
  4. Oscar Nuñez – The Crossroads Of History (“Columbus”)
  5. Jack McBrayer – Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (“Shoulder Work”)

So this is the first year the Emmys have honored performance in a short form series. For once, they’re actually taking the Daytime Emmys’ lead (I wish they’d consider adding more Children’s Programming categories but that’s another post for another time). It’s a strange category because series regulars are competing against guest stars. Not that a guest star couldn’t be worthy of an Emmy, but, right now, I am rooting for either Huebel or Corddry to take the top prize for really their 7+ years. Huebel as Owen had some really funny moments this season, from dating his own mother to uncovering a tongue depressor conspiracy. Corddry, who is the creator of the show, and, with his permanent face makeup, is the most recognizable element, also does great stuff in “DOY” as his character accepts his Doctor of the Year award, an award he always wins because he’s the one who oversees it. If a guest star has to win, Lou Diamond Phillips stands out as the dry and sarcastic Chieftain whom Columbus meets during his first trip to America.

Worthy Snubbed Actors

Lloyd Ahlquist (Epic Rap Battles Of History), Diedrich Bader (Everyone’s Crazy But Us), Brian Beacock (Acting Dead), Amir Blumenfeld (Lonely and Horny), Jake Hurwitz (Lonely and Horny), Brendan Meyer (Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462), Keith Powell (Keith Broke His Leg), Peter Shukoff (Epic Rap Battles Of History), Henry Zebrowski (Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell)

Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series:

Ranking

  1. Erinn Hayes – Childrens Hospital
  2. Tracie Thoms – Send Me
  3. Michelle Ang – Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462
  4. Janey Varney – Everyone’s Crazy But Us
  5. Patrika Darbo – Acting Dead

This a stronger category than “Actor.” You could make the case for any of these actresses. Seeing Patrika Darbo of Step by Step and soap fame with a Primetime Emmy nomination makes me giddy. Reminiscent of Sydney Pollack in Tootsie, she plays the kooky agent of a struggling actor. Everyone’s Crazy But Us is a funny comedy web series that does a better job at showing marriage squabbling than This is 40 (and Varney and her screen partner Diedrich Bader work well together). I have zero interest in watching Walking Dead or the other show, but Michelle Ang’s performance has some fierce urgency to it. Send Me, about a married couple who has the power to send people back to slave times, has an intriguing premise, but so-so execution. However Thoms purely dramatic performance stands out from the others. But, ultimately, I want the actors from Childrens Hospital to win these acting categories. They never had the chance during the 7 previous years the show was airing. This would be a great opportunity. Besides that, Erinn Hayes is comedic gem, particularly in the episode where she reunites with an old acapella group. I just wish Lake Bell could have received a nomination as well…

Character Voice-Over Performance:

Ranking

  1. Trey Parker – South Park (“Stunning and Brave”)
  2. Seth MacFarlane – Family Guy (“Pilling Them Softly”)
  3. Matt Stone – South Park (“Tweek x Craig”)
  4. Keegan-Michael Key – Supermansion (“Puss in Books”)
  5. Chris Pine – Supermansion (“The Inconceivable Escape of Dr. Devizo”)

Goodness! What a sausage fest! It’s never good when all the nominees are men. But, I am very happy that creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker somehow finally received recognition for their voices (even if some of them are altered via computer technology). Trey Parker, in particular, for his performance as “PC Principal” is deserving of an Emmy. I don’t think there was a funnier scene this year than PC Principal beating up Cartman in the bathroom for not being “PC” enough. That scene alone puts Parker in my top rank. Seth MacFarlane, however, is a master at what he does, and he seems to continue getting nominations even though the show itself is mostly ignored. His voices as Peter, Quagmire, Stewie and Brian, after 15 years, are probably second nature to him. But, hey, he still nails it, and he chose the perfect episode that showcases all four characters.

Narrator:

Ranking

  1. Anthony Mendez – Jane The Virgin (“Chapter Thirty-Four”)
  2. Laurence Fishburne – Roots
  3. David Attenborough – Life Story (“First Steps”)
  4. Keith David – Jackie Robinson 
  5. Adrien Brody – Breakthrough (“Decoding the Brain”)

I feel like this shouldn’t be a category anymore, considering voters seem to be playing “famous name bingo” with four out of five of the nominees duller than dirt. Anthony Mendez is wonderful, and if he doesn’t win, it’ll be a travesty. But, arguably, he is sort of playing a character…at least enough of a character that he could compete in the other voice-over category and be competitive. The other four nominees? I feel if hosts can get nominated alongside producers in the Special Class category, then maybe narrators should just be nominated alongside producers in the main Nonfiction/Documentary category. Do you understand what I’m saying? I mean, these nominees are just talking…in their normal voices. I don’t even know how to judge this category, except for putting Mendez at number one. So, yes, Mendez is the only deserving nominee here.

Directing For A Nonfiction Program:

Ranking

  1. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos – Making A Murderer (“Fighting For Their Lives”)
  2. Matthew Heineman – Cartel Land
  3. Davis Guggenheim – He Named Me Malala
  4. Liz Garbus – What Happened, Miss Simone?
  5. David Gelb – Chef’s Table (“Gaggan Anand”)

He Named Me Malala received, for the most part, mixed reviews when it was first released. While I sort of understand that (the documentary does jump all over the place), I still think it’s a beautiful and inspiring portrait of a girl who risked her life for the greater good. The animated sequences (which I hope win special Emmys later on) in particular add a nice touch. Cartel Land gives us up-close intensity of the drug war that soils the Mexico/US border. However, Making a Murderer is one of my favorite documentary programs of the year. The series should pretty much win every category it’s nominated for. Demos and Ricciardi were technically nominated for the finale, but they actually directed all ten hours of the series. For all that, they deserve this Emmy. The series is just an intimate and upsetting look at how unreliable our justice system is. The ending makes us feel angry, but also fired up. They should win.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

Everything Is Copy, 30 for 30: Fantastic Lies, Jackie Robinson, Lip Sync Battle (“Channing Tatum Vs. Jenna Dewan Tatum”),  My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It, Walt Disney

Writing For A Nonfiction Program:

Ranking

  1. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos – Making A Murderer (“Fighting For Their Lives”)
  2. Anthony Bourdain – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (“Borneo”)
  3. David McMahon and Sarah Burns – Jackie Robinson
  4. Mark Zwonitzer, Sarah Colt, and Tom Jennings – American Experience (“Walt Disney”)
  5. Jacob Bernstein – Everything Is Copy

This is a really strong category, and, in my opinion, any of these nominees would be worthy winners. But, once again, I have to give most of props to Making a Murderer. Unlike Jackie Robinson or the Walt Disney program, Murderer doesn’t feature much scripted narration, but it’s just so impressive how Ricciardi and Demos storyboarded this upsetting narrative. The way they tell this story is incredibly effective. The series deserves all the Emmys (including for Nonfiction Series, which I will not be covering for this year). Anthony Bourdain is second because his writing is so personal and clever, and occasionally funny. It stands out from the other nominees. And, of course, special shout out to Jacob Bernstein, the son of his documentary’s subject Nora Ephron. Everything Is Copy has a lot of heart, and just because it’s fifth here, doesn’t mean I think the writing is bad in any way. Again, strong category.

Worthy Snubbed Program

My Depression: The Up And Down And Up Of It