Yes, it's true, the man who was once dubbed the TV Monster* is slowing down. The list of great shows I have 'on my list' to get around to watching just gets longer and longer. I feel almost unqualified to submit an alterna-Emmy ballot this year and yet here I am, blatantly pushing my favourites as hard as ever.
* = by Pope Benedict, during our weekly poker game with Pele, Monica Seles, Jerry Seinfeld, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Yunjin Kim and Prince Philip. The Prince is missing this week's game due to his great-grandchild possibly being on the way….or because he's tired of hearing Seles brag yet again about how she bluffed him out of a big pot last month.
I actually took a look at the official Emmy ballot this year due to one actor, Charles Dance. You'd know him as Tywin Lannister on Game Of Thrones and an actor who just outright kicked ass all year long. I was all set to name him best supporting actor before it came out that Dance didn't even submit his name for consideration. Under Emmy rules, the performers themselves have to handle this themselves, which is why you get weird situations like egomaniac Rob Lowe always submitting himself as a lead actor despite the size of his role in a show. So on the one hand, it's unfortunate that a great performance like Dance's isn't even eligible to be nominated…and yet it's a very Tywin Lannister move to give zero fucks about the Emmys. Good deep character work from Dance.
Anyway, I mention all this to note that my votes came from the specific categories themselves, and I'll further mention a couple of weird notes from this category afterwards.
BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Laura Dern/Enlightened, Lena Dunham/Girls, Edie Falco/Nurse Jackie, Tina Fey/30 Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Veep, Amy Poehler/Parks & Recreation
My ballot: Carrie Brownstein/Portlandia*, Zooey Deschanel/New Girl, Fey, Dakota Johnson/Ben & Kate, Louis-Dreyfus, Poehler
So we start things off with some category confusion already since Brownstein inexplicably submitted herself as a supporting actress. While most sketch comedy performers go into the supporting category as a nod to the ensemble nature of their shows, it doesn't really fit for Portlandia since Brownstein and Fred Armisen ARE the entire ensemble. When you play 95% of the roles, I think Brownstein and Armisen would've been justified in listing themselves as leads. I'm giving Carrie some love here since a) she's obviously a lead, and b) she obviously deserves it. I'll also begin my love affair with the sadly short-lived Ben & Kate by recognizing Dakota Johnson here, and also get all WTF about New Girl's total Emmy snub by recognizing Deschanel. All in all, it's an impressive list of nominees who will get run over by the Louis-Dreyfus inevitable win, and I have no issue in her deserved victory. But really, can Amy Poehler PLEASE get an Emmy before P&R goes off the air?
BEST ACTOR, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Alec Baldwin/30 Rock, Jason Bateman/Arrested Development, Louis CK/Louie, Don Cheadle/House Of Lies, Matt LeBlanc/Episodes, Jim Parsons/Big Bang Theory
My ballot: Fred Armisen/Portlandia*, Baldwin, Bateman, Louis CK, Nat Faxon/Ben & Kate, Jake Johnson/New Girl, Joel McHale/Community
While I'm very surprised Deschanel didn't get nominated, I'm less surprised that Johnson didn't make the cut, even though I'd personally give him the award. His Nick Miller character is a deceptively tough one to play and Nick's evolution throughout the season was too subtle to notice for Emmy voters who probably just saw one episode in a screener. Of the actual nominees, I guess I'd prefer Louis CK to win, though I'd have no issue with Bateman winning or Baldwin taking home one last Emmy as a victory lap. Heck, I even wouldn't mind Cheadle or LeBlanc winning since they're cool, even though I don't care for their shows. So with this all being said, except the laziest possible result and another win for Jim Parsons.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Ty Burrell/Modern Family, Adam Driver/Girls, Jesse Tyler Ferguson/Modern Family, Bill Hader/Saturday Night Live, Tony Hale/Veep, Ed O'Neill/Modern Family
My ballot: Will Arnett/Arrested Development, Burrell, Michael Cera/Arrested Development, Max Greenfield/New Girl, Hader, Hale, Echo Kellum/Ben & Kate, Nick Offerman/Parks & Recreation
Tough category as always, and I had to leave out worthy nominees like Glenn Howerton (Dennis will kill someone before It's Always Sunny ends, right?), Clark Duke (a bright spot in the Office's lousy final season) and the other Veep guys. I've got three levels of interest in the actual nominees. If Hale or Hader won, I'd be ecstatic since both guys are long overdue for recognition. If O'Neill or Ferguson won, I'd be happy since if Modern Family is going to continually dominate the Emmys, the awards love might as well be spread around to the entire cast. If Burrell or Driver won, I wouldn't be pleased since Burrell (while very funny) has an Emmy already and Driver…well, I just flat-out don't get why he was nominated. I am not picking up what that guy is laying down. If I had a vote, I'd ultimately be pulling for Hale, as he has an edge since he's got both Veep and his brief Arrested Development reprise going for him. Tough to snub Hader given that he's leaving SNL and this is his last chance, though…yeah screw it, I'll vote for Hader. Tony Hale can win it next year and put the Emmy alongside his Motherboy trophy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Mayim Bialik/Big Bang Theory, Julie Bowen/Modern Family, Anna Chlumsky/Veep, Jane Krakowski/30 Rock, Jane Lynch/Glee, Sofia Vergara/Modern Family, Merritt Wever/Nurse Jackie
My ballot: Elisha Cuthbert/Happy Endings, Jenna Fischer/The Office, Gillian Jacobs/Community, Krakowski, Kaitlin Olson/It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Lucy Punch/Ben & Kate, Cecily Strong/Saturday Night Live
Krakowski gets my vote because it's kind of ridiculous that she's never won for playing Jenna Maroney and this is her last chance. The same logic applies to Fischer to some extent, though since her best moments this season (and really, throughout the series) were dramatic, I feel weird about giving her a comedy award. In terms of sheer who-was-best-in-2012/2013-itself, however, I'd give the nod to Punch or Strong, which is a pretty aggressive combination of names. Strong had a great rookie year on SNL and Punch was the broadest but arguably funniest of the awesome Ben & Kate ensemble.
GUEST ACTOR, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Louis CK/Saturday Night Live, Bobby Cannavale/Nurse Jackie, Will Forte/30 Rock, Nathan Lane/Modern Family, Bob Newhart/Big Bang Theory, Justin Timberlake/Saturday Night Live
My ballot: Steve Buscemi/30 Rock, David Lynch/Louie, Kyle MacLachlan/Portlandia,
Martin Short/Saturday Night Live, Ben Stiller/Arrested Development, Timberlake
In my perfect world ballot, we'd have some late Twin Peaks recognition and either MacLachlan or Lynch would get the nod. But let's just halt everything and look at the actual nominees list for a second, since you'd think I'd be voting for Timberlake, right? Wrong. If you can believe this, TV legend Bob Newhart has never won an Emmy. This seems impossible. Giving him an Emmy for a Big Bang Theory guest spot seems like small potatoes given the scope of his career but man, GIVE NEWHART THE EMMY. This should be the no-brainer result of the night.
GUEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
Actual nominees: Dot-Marie Jones/Glee, Melissa Leo/Louie, Melissa McCarthy/Saturay Night Live, Molly Shannon/Enlightened, Elaine Stritch/30 Rock, Kristen Wiig/Saturday Night Live
My ballot: McCarthy, Parker Posey/Louie
Yeah, that's right, it's a two-person ballot. McCarthy is a great SNL host and I hope she wins the actual Emmy, but let's be honest folks, the single biggest snub of this Emmy year was Parker Posey not getting recognized for her role on "Louie." I am aghast at that snub. The fact that Leo got in and Posey didn't was some grade-A trolling from the Academy --- Leo was fine, but come on.
BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Hugh Bonneville/Downton Abbey, Bryan Cranston/Breaking Bad, Jeff Daniels/The Newsroom, Jon Hamm/Mad Men, Damian Lewis/Homeland, Kevin Spacey/House Of Cards
My ballot: Cranston, Hamm, Michael C. Hall/Dexter, Lewis
I'm particularly behind on my TV dramas, including the likes of House Of Cards, Downton Abbey and even Justified so I can't even legitimately complain about Timothy Olyphant being snubbed. Now that the Cranston dynasty was finally cracked by Lewis last year a repeat wouldn't be surprising, given that Lewis was great again last season on Homeland (though I have issues with that show's 24-esque plot turn). Again I have to wonder just what Jon Hamm has to do to win an Emmy and he'd get my vote this year for finally cementing the 'Don Draper is a terrible person, why are you rooting for him?' heel turn. Spacey may be the favourite for the actual award given his movie star pedigree and the fact that he was apparently very good in HoC, though I suspect it'll be Lewis or Cranston again. As for Jeff Daniels, LOL the Newsroom. I like Aaron Sorkin as much as anyone but man, is that show ever poor.
BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Connie Britton/Nashville, Claire Danes/Homeland, Michelle Dockery/Downton Abbey, Vera Farmiga/Bates Motel, Elisabeth Moss/Mad Men, Kerry Washington/Scandal, Robin Wright/House Of Cards
My ballot: Danes, Moss, Keri Russell/The Americans
I'm only a couple of episodes into 'The Americans' but I can already tell that Russell deserved to be here, so there you go. Again I have to claim ignorance on many of these nominees so I'll just assume that Danes will win again. Personally, I'd vote for Elisabeth Moss since c'mon, she HAS to win sooner or later, right? What is up with Emmy voters showering Mad Men as a show and in the writing categories but never recognizing the actors? It's madness, I tell you.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Christine Baranski/The Good Wife, Morena Baccarin/Homeland, Emilia Clarke/Game Of Thrones, Anna Gunn/Breaking Bad, Christina Hendricks/Mad Men, Maggie Smith/Downton Abbey
My ballot: Jennifer Carpenter/Dexter, Natalie Dormer/Game Of Thrones, Lena Headey/Game Of Thrones, Morgan Saylor/Homeland
Tough category here, and while I wouldn't have voted for Hendricks, Gunn or Clarke since they didn't get a ton to do in their respective seasons, they're all deserving nominees. I prefer Dormer and Headey from the many, many MANY Game of Thrones options, Saylor is a hell of a young actress and Carpenter deserves something given the wild emotional ride Deb Morgan has taken over eight seasons. Dormer gets the nod on my ballot and the Emmys will probably laze out and award Maggie Smith again.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Jonathan Banks/Breaking Bad, Bobby Cannavale/Boardwalk Empire, Jim Carter/Downton Abbey, Peter Dinklage/Game Of Thrones, Aaron Paul/Breaking Bad, Mandy Patinkin/Homeland
My ballot: Banks, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau/Game Of Thrones, Dinklage, Vincent Kartheiser/Mad Men, Patinkin, Paul, Kevin Rahm/Mad Men
Argh, such a good category. I have to cut Charles Dance and James Wolk (more on him in a second) since they didn't submit themselves for nominations. I also had to resist the urge to make separate Mad Men/Game Of Thrones/Breaking Bad-only categories. My ballot looks pretty similar to the actual ballot except I couldn't leave out NCW for bringing Jamie Lannister's semi-face turn to life, as well as Kevin Rahm turning cardboard Draper foil Teddy "Shaw" Chaough into a real character who's actually much more sympathetic than Draper himself. I'm sure there's some alternate reality where Nick Offerman and Kartheiser each have a couple of Emmys for their iconic supporting roles as Ron Swanson and Pete Campbell, but in reality, neither man has been so much as nominated. That's absurd. I would've voted Kartheiser for the win this year. In real life what the hell, as long as one of the Banks/Dinklage/Patinkin trio wins, I'm happy. (Aaron Paul is great but he has two already.) Also, for all you Boardwalk Empire watchers out there…I've never seen the show, but shouldn't the guy that played Richard Harrow be here? Wasn't he one of the breakout characters of the year?
GUEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Linda Cardellini/Mad Men, Joan Cusack/Shameless, Jane Fonda/The Newsroom, Margo Martindale/The Americans, Carrie Preston/The Good Wife, Diana Rigg/Game Of Thrones
My ballot: Alison Brie/Mad Men, Cardellini, Laura Fraser/Breaking Bad, Rigg, Yvonne Strahovski/Dexter
So here's my annual complaint about this category: it's hard to judge "guest" performances when some are just one episode and others last entire seasons. Cardellini, Fraser and Strahovski easily could've/should've earned supporting nominations since they were huge parts of their respective seasons, whereas Brie and Rigg just appeared in a couple of eps to land a few emotionally-devastating blows and then departed. Going by the pure 'guest' standard, I'd vote for Rigg --- Oleanna Tyrell's scenes with Varys and Tywin were among the highlights of the entire Game Of Thrones season. Since this award usually goes to the biggest name, I'd suspect Rigg or Fonda takes the actual trophy.
GUEST ACTOR, DRAMA
Actual nominees: Dan Bucatinsky/Scandal, Michael J. Fox/The Good Wife, Rupert Friend/Homeland, Harry Hamlin/Mad Men, Nathan Lane/The Good Wife, Robert Morse/Mad Men
My ballot: Hamlin, Jesse Plemons/Breaking Bad, Ray Stevenson/Dexter
Again, Friend and Hamlin were full-on supporting performances and Morse (while his part is small) is in the actual Mad Men cast. Sigh. I'd vote for Stevenson to win but really, let's talk about a man named Bob Benson. The Benson mystery dominated this year's Mad Men season and Benson was clearly one of the year's most iconic characters. James Wolk, however, submitted his name nearly as a guest actor (which I guess he classifies as) or in the supporting category. You're missing the boat, Wolk! You should've cashed in on the Benson buzz while it was still at a fever pitch.
So now, the series. Rather than list just my favourite shows, I'm going to list ALL of my shows. Here's how I ranked the 33 (still !! but not TV monster-worthy) series I watched this season. I've seen a couple of eps of other shows (i.e. Girls, the Americans) here and there but not enough to fully judge, so I'm omitting them from the standings.
33. The Office
32. The Mindy Project
31. UK Apprentice
30. How I Met Your Mother
29. Amazing Race 21
28. Amazing Race 22
27. Family Guy
24. American Dad
23. Survivor Caramoan
22. Modern Family
21. Saturday Night Live
20. Survivor Philippines
18. The Simpsons
17. Children's Hospital
16. Family Tree
15. Happy Endings
12. Ben & Kate
11. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
10. Arrested Development
7. New Girl
6. Breaking Bad
5. Mad Men
3. 30 Rock
2. Game Of Thrones
1. Parks & Recreation
Honourable mention to 'Burning Love,' the very funny web series that spoofed the Bachelor/Bachelorette reality shows. Had I included it, I would've been top 10.
So of the Best Comedy/Best Drama nominees, my votes go to 30 Rock (one final capper to a great final season) and Game Of Thrones, which is just taking over all our lives. Left without a nomination was Parks & Recreation, on such a groove in its fifth season that it really is the best pound-for-pound show on television today. I felt S4 was weakened a bit by the 'Leslie runs for city council' narrative arc that tended to dominate things, but S5 just had a bunch of smaller arc that kept things fresh and always, always funny. As noted earlier, Poehler's inability to win an Emmy is ridiculous and it's weird overall that this great show hasn't been showered with more Emmy praise. I'll just presume the Emmy voters all live in Eagleton.