The nominations for the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced early Thursday morning, and Emmy voters threw the TV world some serious curveballs by straying from safe bets (aka the usual). This year’s nominations, in fact, are historic.
In the Outstanding Drama Series category, AMC’s Mad Men and FX’s Damages became the first basic-cable series to ever be nominated.
It was an altogether huge morning for Mad Men, the undisputed critical darling of television--especially now that HBO's The Wire has ended--but a show that viewers have yet to truly warm up to. Its third-best 16 nominations (behind only HBO’s John Adams with a staggering 23 and NBC’s 30 Rock with 17) should go a long way towards alleviating the latter issue when the series’ second season premieres later this month.
Mad Men was the only show to draw a smattering of applause and excitement each time its name was mentioned by Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth, who announced the nominations--and are nominees themselves. (Chenoweth caused a minor stir when she digressed during the announcements and claimed that she “had a date with” Survivor host Jeff Probst and “he’s totally cute.” She later confirmed her surprising revelation, saying, “I hope he’s not mad at me.”)
Then there’s Amy Poehler, who became the first-ever Saturday Night Live cast member to be nominated in an acting category (she's up for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy). It could be a bittersweet honor for the actress, however, with recent rumors suggesting that she has done her last Hillary Clinton impression for SNL and will make the leap to primetime for NBC’s spinoff of The Office.
Poehler took the spot away from some big-name actresses, but it was only the tip of the iceberg that is snubbery. Let’s take a look at the main categories...
For a list of the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Nominations, click here![PAGEBREAK]OUTSTANDING COMEDY
Nominees: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, The Office, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men
Reaction: No jaw-dropping shockers here, but producers for ABC’s Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives--and perhaps CBS’ New Adventures of Old Christine--are probably none too pleased. Still, voters got the category right: NBC’s Thursday-night two-headed monster of 30 Rock and The Office was arguably the surest thing of any major category going into Thursday morning; HBO’s Entourage and Curb were deserving--especially Curb, for its superb sixth season; CBS’ Two and a Half Men, meanwhile, is the category’s lone ratings behemoth/crowd pleaser. [PAGEBREAK]OUTSTANDING DRAMA
Nominees: Boston Legal, Damages, Dexter, House, Lost, Mad Men
Reaction: This will go down as the historical category, thanks to first-ever basic-cable noms for Mad Men and Damages. Showtime’s beloved Dexter was long overdue for its first nomination and socked it to rival network HBO by earning one in its stead. And therein lies the unfortunate snub of this category: Many people were rooting for HBO’s final season of The Wire to get nominated, but to no avail--and the absence of the network’s Big Love is a minor but disappointing exclusion. The only truly surprising snub here, though? ABC’s Grey's Anatomy. Boston Legal, House and Lost--which returned to supremacy last season--are more or less Emmy staples. [PAGEBREAK]OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Nominees: Christina Applegate, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, America Ferrera, Tina Fey, Mary-Louise Parker
Reaction: Whoa--not a single Desperate Housewife? Nice goin’, Academy! Things were already looking grim for the ladies of Wisteria Lane when the “shortlist” was leaked earlier this month and Teri Hatcher was noticeably absent. It’s the same awards-season predicament for voters when it comes to Housewives: How do you choose one and not the other four? Elsewhere in this category, Applegate and Parker are very mild but very pleasant surprise inclusions, Ferrera is the exact opposite, and Louis-Dreyfus and Fey are no-brainers. [PAGEBREAK]OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Nominees: Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Lee Pace, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Sheen
Reaction: Baldwin should probably move over that Golden Globe sitting on his mantle--he’s easily the best comedic actor on the best sitcom on TV, and has to be considered the odds-on favorite to win his first Emmy. Pace was a rather surprising nominee for ABC’s quirky but well-received Pushing Daisies (his co-star, the aforementioned Chenoweth, who was nominated for supporting actress, “expected” Pace’s nom and plans on “sharing a toast with him later”). Sheen and Carell are regulars at this point, with some--yours truly included--still bemoaning Sheen’s shoo-in status as an Emmy favorite. As for Shalhoub, the debate continues as to whether or not his performance on Monk is more comedic than dramatic, but there’s no question that he remains deserving, even after six seasons. He’s now been nominated for each season, which is an incredible feat. The standout omission is Kelsey Grammer for his now-cancelled Back to You. [PAGEBREAK]OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Nominees: Glenn Close, Sally Field, Mariska Hargitay, Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick
Reaction: There’s a major theme here--women over 40--and a minor one: basic cable! Both themes have been brewing on TV for the past few years, and they’ve essentially exploded onto the Emmy scene this year. In addition, all five play similarly no-nonsense women. This so-called new breed means no true wildcards in the category--no Jeanne Tripplehorn for Big Love, no Connie Britton for Friday Night Lights and no Lena Headey for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. [PAGEBREAK]OUSTANDING LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Nominees: Gabriel Byrne, Bryan Cranston, Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie, James Spader
Reaction: Almost every pick here is a bold one by the usually conservative academy--with the exceptions of Spader (ugh!) and Laurie (oh, fine--he deserves to be here…again). First, there’s Byrne, who wasn’t even on most Emmy prognosticators’ radars. Perhaps voters just wanted to reward him for his five-nights-a-week gig on HBO’s In Treatment, but his performance on the emotionally draining show (just to watch!) is merited. Then it’s hooray for AMC! Both of the rising network’s leading men, Cranston and Hamm, were nominated, with Cranston being the much more surprising inclusion but no less deserving. His dramedic fireworks on Breaking Bad are classically what voters can’t resist. Hall is less of a bold nomination and more a sign of progressivism for the academy, since it shockingly left the Dexter star off of last year’s list. Surprise nominees Cranston and Byrne took the place of Rescue Me’s Denis Leary and Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler, among others.