Award nominations are always a crap shoot. As someone who’s been involved in several smaller-scale award slates, I can testify to how complicated and idiosyncratic the process can be. But all of my knowledge—and the world-weary acceptance of a long-time TV and movie fan— doesn’t help when the Emmy and Oscar ballots come out and some stellar performances get overlooked for tired always-haves.
The 2015 Primetime Emmy nominations were announced today and the list saw some joyous inclusions — like Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany, who plays several distinct clones with a mind-blowing talent and Taraji P. Henson, overlooked and underused on CBS’ Person of Interest and a force to be reckoned with on FOX’s Empire as Cookie Lyon.
I am beyond thrilled for Tatiana, Taraji and How to Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis. But the status quo hasn’t really changed. Where are the nominations for Orphan Black and Empire as shows? The latter brought in unprecedented numbers and had viewers riveted. Was Mad Men sincerely better this year? The Academy continues to rely on the Homeland/Modern Family/whatever-we-did-last-year model of nominations. We again see premium cable and Netflix cleaning up, without any recognition some of the year’s most breath-taking performances on network and basic.
Emilia Clarke was nominated for her role as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones and I thought, instantly, “Are we sure they didn’t mean Eliza Taylor from The 100?” Clarke is charismatic as hell, but Taylor drove her dystopian show to some even darker places in its second season on the CW and is the petite badass blonde from a genre show that I’d want to see on an Emmy slate this year. Speaking of the dark, STARZ’s Outlander lives there as well, with Tobias Menzies delivering one of the most chilling villainous performances of the year as Black Jack Randall. For him to not garner a nomination in Supporting Actor is just as much of a grievous oversight as leaving off Walton Goggins, whose Boyd Crowder from Justified is one of the most compelling characters in recent television history. Goggins and Joelle Carter (Ava) were flawless on the show’s last season, and to see them and lead Timothy Olyphant (Raylan) snubbed is just jaw-dropping. Why would you overlook these masterful actors for shows that just roll in from prior years’ goodwill?
Claire Danes, Kevin Spacey, Downton Abbey…do you even have to watch to put them on an awards list? And how boring is that? How much more interesting is it to tune in to STARZ, of all places, and find a gem like Menzies or Catriona Balfe, who carried Outlander on her no-nonsense shoulders? How much more fun is it to stumble upon SyFy’s Defiance and find complex, well-written genre that empowers women more than George R.R. Martin ever could? Jaime Murray, as Stahma Tarr (above right), acts circles around some of the women who will get nominated for an Emmy or a Golden Globe just because they showed up for another season. I would certainly rather see her partner-in-crime Tony Curran (Datak) in Lead or Supporting Actor than some of the usual suspects. And the comedy categories are another great example of that. Where are Jane the Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez and Blackish‘s Tracee Ellis Ross? Were the only funny female leads this year really all white women? Come on now. And surely Jaime Camil, whose brilliant Emmy campaign for Rogelio De La Vega deserves its own accolades, merited a nod instead of Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell?
Sure, I understand that wanting more nominations for networks like The CW is pretty futile. I was a BtVS and Vampire Diaries fan, after all. How many years did Sarah Michelle Gellar and Nina Dobrev get robbed? But what about FX? They’re hardly on the critics’ shit list, and to shut out both Justified and the exquisite but often hard to watch The Americans boggles the mind. I’m still on a hiatus from The Americans after The Suitcase Incident of Season Three, but there is no doubt in my mind that Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are two of the most talented actors on TV right now. How did NATAS miss them entirely while remembering just enough to nominate Margo Martindale?!
I don’t get it!
Who do you think gets constantly overlooked in favor of the same-old-same-old?