My Reactions To This Year’s Emmy Nominations, Part 1

Or: I’m Really Glad Game of Thrones is Over

My reaction to the Emmys has always been something of a mixed bag, as they never quite seem to satisfy me. I’ve written numerous times about how Game of Thrones is arguably the most overrated series in Emmy history, and this year’s nominations seem to prove it in spades. Even though fans of the show thought the last season was horrible, even though critics were generally unsatisfied with how the last season ended, the series still got 32 nominations this year. That’s more than CBS got. And why? To acknowledge that it was one of the last water cooler series in history? So was Lost, and I don’t recall Emmy voters going into this kind of ecstasy when that show ended.

Even more frustrating are some of the series that got ignored even though many of the more famous series that were regulars skipped this year’s nominations. I can understand, though not happily, why The Good Fight was shutout by the Emmys; the voters have decided that no matter how good this verse is, they’re never going to acknowledge it. But how could Emmy voters ignore Homecoming? For much of the 2019 awards seasons, the series and Julia Roberts in particular were huge among critics choices. So why was it and its able cast (particularly Julia Roberts) were completely shutout?

And The Handmaid’s Tale didn’t premiere its third season until last month, and its previous season already was acknowledged by the Emmys last year. Why the hell did it get eleven nominations regardless? Admittedly, none of them were in the major acting categories or writing, but what kind of messed up calendar are the Emmy voters following?

I’m actually far more satisfied with the Comedy and Limited Series choices this year (though as always, they weren’t perfect either). I’ll go into more detail in a bit, but for now let me deal with Best Dramas

BEST DRAMA

I am grateful the Emmys were willing to expand the category up to eight nominees this year. Considering how many of the big players were absents, its good to know that the Emmys can still recognize talent when they see it. Leaving aside Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, This is Us, Ozark, Killing Eve and Pose have more than earned the right to be here.

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It’s the fact that they chose to nominate Bodyguard and Succession instead of Homecoming and Good Fight that I find offensive. They each got a best Drama nod, but nothing in the acting categories, and nothing in directing or writing. Considering that Richard Madden won a Golden Globe this is bizarre. Its like nominated a film for Best Picture and then ignoring it in any other category. Succession is a strong series and deserved more recognition than it got. Bodyguard wasn’t even the second strongest Drama on Netflix this year. They couldn’t make room for Billions?

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA

I’m actually mostly happy with this field. Ventimiglia and Brown earned their nominations, and Jason Bateman was particularly strong. Bob Odenkirk may have moved into the favorite position, and Billy Porter more than deserves to be here. I really wish they would’ve chosen Paul Giamatti over Kit Harrington, but he’s the one Game of Thrones actor I don’t mind seeing nominated. So no real problem here.

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA

I wanted Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer to be here, so that’s great. Ditto Laura Linney. And I’m absolutely over the moon that they decided to finally acknowledge Mandy Moore for her incredible work on This is Us. I can see the reasoning for Emilia Clarke, even if I don’t approve.

The other two nominees I have a major difficulty with. How to Get Away with Murder has been bleeding viewers for two seasons, and dropping in quality for even longer. So why the hell did the Emmy voters choose to acknowledge Viola Davis again?

But it is Robin Wright’s nomination I find appalling. House of Cards was toxic this year. And it didn’t end well critically or popularly. So to nominate Wright seems to be an act of pure laziness. Julia Roberts and Christine Baranski got shafted for her? This is true miscarriage of justice that I really think Diane Lockhart should look into.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA

Good stuff first. Thrilled Jonathan Banks is back, equally gratified to see Giancarlo Esposito returning to the Emmy podium. And if I was thrilled that Mandy Moore was recognized, I’m over the moon that Chris Sullivan was nominated for This is Us. It’s not that he wasn’t excellent this year — he was — but he’s so quietly brilliant, I figured he’d be overshadowed by the brighter sun of Justin Hartley. Golden, man

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Now, let’s get to the rest. I realized Game of Thrones would dominate this category, but we’re verging on the ridiculous. Dinklage, fine. Coster-Waldjau, he’s been nominated before. But who the hell is Alf Allen? Did even Game of Thrones watchers know what character he played? I’m assuming he died. You’d couldn’t have nominated one of the supporting actors from Homecoming? You’re making me advocate for Bobby Canavale. Do you know weird that makes me feel?

I am so up in the air about Michael Kelly. I loved his work on House of Cards. I thought it was brilliant, even when the shows quality plummeted. But the same stink that’s on Wright is on him by association. I can’t in good conscience approve of it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA

Really Game of Thrones? You had to overwhelm this category. I was expecting maybe two or three nominations, but four. I knew The West Wing, I worshipped The West Wing, and you ladies, are no West Wing. How dare you occupy all the slots?

I’m glad that Julia Garner was nominated for Ozark and Fiona Shaw was nominated for Killing Eve. But that’s it. Nothing for Susan Kalechi Watson, who was outstanding on This is Us? Nothing for Rhea Seehorn, who’s been extraordinary on Better Call Saul? Nothing for any of the great supporting leads on The Good Fight? I’d say there’s always next year, but next year, Handmaid’s Tales and Big Little Lies will overwhelm this category, and we’re not even in July! Shame on you, Game of Thrones.

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

I’m a little pissed that Handmaid’s Tale is here, but I am torn because I love Bradley Whitford and Cherry Jones. I’m also very satisfied by the lion’s share of the other nominees. I’m glad that they finally acknowledged Michael McKean for his great work as Chuck, even if it is in a flashback. And I’m glad to see Ron Cephas Jones and Michael Angrano acknowledged for their fine work on This is Us Less satisfied about Guest Actress, but Cicely Tyson remains the one unquestionably great thing about How To Get Away With Murder, and I’m thrilled to see even though Watson was ignored, her TV mom, Phylicia Rashad, was not. I’m pulling for her.

Stay tuned for my remarks about the Comedies, where I’m actually happier.

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