Immediately prior to Emmy nominations this morning, the CEO and Chairman of the Television Academy Bruce Rosenblum confidently declared, “Even with the remarkable history of television, from I Love Lucy to Friends, from Bonanza to Breaking Bad, at no time in the past 70 years has our industry achieved the vibrancy, relevancy, consistent creative excellence and diversity we are experiencing at this very moment.”
Oh, he wasn’t done. Before Anthony Anderson and Lauren Graham could be brought on stage to announce the actual nominations, Rosenblum kept going, beating home the point that, basically, TV kicks total ass right now, and everyone else can just suck it. That’s just my translation, though. What he actually said was: “This is far more than a second golden age of television. The fact is no other entertainment medium surpasses the popularity, cultural impact or global sale of television.” He also called TV “the premiere entertainment touchstone throughout the world.”
A side effect of this “second golden age” is that no single award show can properly keep up with everything. This year’s Emmy voters did a better job than usual of picking the actual shows everyone who really loves TV could not stop talking about. Critically speaking, this was the year of The Americans, Fargo, Game of Thrones, Master of None, Mr. Robot, The People Vs. O.J. and Veep, and they were all nominated in the major categories, alongside the likes of Homeland, House of Cards and Modern Family. However, this was also the year of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, UnREAL and You’re the Worst, and they were largely snubbed.
The Academy clearly benefited from their recent rule changes and category alterations eliminating those weird days when variety shows like SNL had to compete against sitcoms and a limited series like American Horror Story could decimate a bunch of relatively obscure TV movies. Still, there are plenty of annoyed people right now, raging against the Academy for snubbing their favorite show. Obviously, some shows, like my personal obsession of the moment 12 Monkeys, never had a snowball’s chance in hell. Others, though, were legit contenders, and here they stand empty-handed (or close to it).
Here’s the good, the bad and the interesting of the 2016 Emmy Nominations:
Congratulations, The Americans, Blackish, Fargo, Game of Thrones, Master of None, Mr. Robot, The People Vs. O.J. and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
For those keeping score at home:
- The Americans (Drama Series, Lead Actor/Actress, Guest Actress)
- Blackish (Comedy Series, Actor/Actress)
- Fargo (Pretty much every conceivable category other than Lead Actor…sorry Patrick Wilson)
- Game of Thrones (Pretty much every conceivable category other than Lead Actor/Actress…all of the actors simply submitted themselves in the supporting categories)
- Master of None (Comedy Series, Actor, Writing, Directing)
- Mr. Robot (Drama Series, Lead Actor, Writing, Casting, Music Composition, Sound Mixing )
- The People vs. O.J. (Pretty much everything it was eligible for, even Lead Actor for Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Comedy Series, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Casting)
As for who will win, Game of Thrones and Veep will probably sweep the Drama and Comedy categories, and People vs. O.J. will do the same with Limited Series. At least those are the obvious picks.
Sorry, BoJack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fresh off the Boat, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Jessica Jones, Leftovers, Orange is the New Black, Outlander, UnREAL and so many others.
For those keeping score at home:
- BoJack Horseman (Nothing)
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Choreography, Theme Music, Music and Lyrics, Editing…nothing else. Sorry show creator/star Rachel Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna)
- Fresh Off the Boat (Nothing…sorry Constance Wu)
- Full Frontal (Writing)
- Jessica Jones (Opening Credits Design, Theme Song….nothing for the actors and writers)
- The Leftovers (Nothing)
- Orange is the New Black (Casting…sorry Uzo Aduba)
- Outlander (Costumes, Art Direction)
- UnREAL (Writing, Supporting Actress for Constance Zimmer…sorry Shiri Appleby)
- You’re the Worst (Nothing)
Seriously, what the fuck, Academy? Only 4 nominations for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, all of them in the technical categories. Did you not read Vulture’s argument that this is the best comedy on TV right now? Or at least the part about Bloom being “the closest TV may ever get to an elemental force” and how her Rebecca is an expertly crafted Walter White–esque, likable antihero “whose psychic turmoil illuminates the supporting characters’ struggles”?
You could make a similar case for Shiri Appleboy as the female anti-hero at the heart of UnREAL, but unlike Bloom Appleby doesn’t also produce, write, sing and dance in addition to act in her own show. What Bloom means to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is almost unprecedented, but here’s the Academy pigeonholing her show as that quirky little CW thing with some cute songs.
At least the show was nominated. Its fellow CW critical darling, Jane the Virgin, is walking away from all of this with a single nomination: Outstanding Narrator.
The Late Late Show with James Corden was nominated for Best Variety Talk Series and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert wasn’t. Not only could Colbert not beat out his own network mate he couldn’t even win out over Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which most people think of as a web series (it qualified because it streams on Crackle).
Talk about awkward. Colbert is in the first year of a three-year, $14 million deal with CBS to host The Late Show. His old show, The Colbert Report, won the Outstanding Variety Series prize in 2013 and 2014, and likely would have three-peated in 2015 if it hadn’t been going up against Jon Stewart’s final year as The Daily Show host. However, now that Colbert has left his old pundit character behind he’s struggled to simply be himself, and The Late Show‘s ratings have dipped as a result. CBS recently forced him to take on an actual showrunner rather than continue doing that job himself, yet Colbert continues to be excellent at Colbert Report-like moments (talking to politicians and authors) and inconsistent with more standard talk show moments (talking to actors and other celebrities he may not personally care about, straining to create viral bits).
Corden, the British funnyman who actually took over for Craig Ferguson several months before Colbert finally replaced Letterman, has consistently delivered the far more purely entertaining show. I’ve seen it described as Colbert makes us take our medicine, offering more level-headed political commentary, while Corden gives us our desert. However, that analogy assumes people actually watch these shows back-to-back as they air, which is an outmoded way of thinking. Instead, Corden’s Carpool Karaoke YouTube views dwarf his actual Nielsen ratings
That’s not to suggest Corden was only nominated because he scored such a huge viral hit. His entire show simply feels more lively and organic than Colbert’s. When judged against those British shows he’s drawing inspiration from, like The Graham Norton Show, Corden’s Late Late Show has obvious room for improvement. However, when judged against the field of American talk shows his is the clearly fresher approach, interviewing his guests as a group rather than individually. Plus, his song and dance talents blend perfectly with his variety show leanings.
There’s already been speculation over whether CBS would ever consider swapping Corden and Colbert’s timeslots, but that’s not happening, not anytime soon at least. However, the Emmys just confirmed they are not going to rubber stamp Colbert just because of who he is and who’s seat he now occupies. It’s not as shocking as it might seem. After all, the fear from the get-go with Colbert’s transition to The Late Show was whether or not he could still be as entertaining as himself and not as a character. However, who could have predicted that Corden, a relative unknown to the general public at the time of his hiring, would so quickly pass Colbert in critical reputation?
Other interesting tidbits:
- The Good Wife was snubbed in all of the major categories in its final year of eligibility.
- FX and Netflix were numbers 2 and 3 in terms of total nominations per network (behind HBO).
- 21 non-white actors were nominated (take that, Oscars!).
- Fox, CBS, NBC and The CW did not have a single series nominated for Best Drama/Comedy/Limited Series. ABC had three – Blackish and Modern Family for Best Comedy, and American Crime for Best Limited Series. Yay! The man who put those shows on the air in the first place was fired in February. Boo!
That we are in the middle of a crazy election, and The Daily Show is no longer considered an award-worthy source of political commentary. It didn’t get a single nomination this year. Trevor Noah has squandered so much so fast. Thankfully, Samantha Bee and especially John Oliver are the go-to sources for such content now, but it’s sad to think of how far The Daily Show has fallen from relevance.
Get the full list of nominees at Emmys.com.
What about you? What shows were you most happy to see nominated? Which snubs upset you the most? Or is there just so much damn TV these days you don’t even have time to bother with the Emmys beause you’ve been meaning to marathon the first season of UnREAL on Hulu for months now? Let me know in the comments.