Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Emmy wish list ballot

I follow award shows, but I've never been one to get emotionally invested in them.  If a good show wins an award, it doesn't validate my tastes, and if a bad show wins something, I don't consider it a crime against humanity.  The Emmys are a weird beast -- the nominations are based on a very specific kind of buzz, and once the voters decide they like something, they tend to nominate that thing over and over again.  After a while of paying attention to them, you eventually start to realize that The Emmys are a pointless endeavor.  So what better way to celebrate a pointless award show than by making my own pointless nominations?

This year's awards will be honoring television that aired from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014.  That means, for example, that the season of Orange Is the New Black that's eligible is only the first season.  In formulating these wish list nominations, I took this very meaningless thing seriously by following the rules and going by the official ballot of eligibility in each category.

Now before getting into my nomination choices, let me just explain one thing that confuses most people: The Hanging Episodes Rule.  Obviously, there are many shows whose season runs right through the cutoff date.  For instance, Game of Thrones season four began in the eligibility window (April 6th) and ended outside of the window (June 15th).  The Hanging Episodes rule states that if half of the episodes in a season fall within the eligibility window, then the entire season is eligible, and any episode that hasn't aired at the time of nominations will be made available to voters.  Thus, all of Game of Thrones is fair game.

So is everybody up to speed on all things Emmy now?  Okay, let's dive into my personal picks (NOTE: the choices in each category are ordered from favorite to least favorite)...

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad

Mad Men is my favorite show on TV right now, but you'd be hard pressed to find any reasons to not pick Breaking Bad as most deserving of Best Drama at this year's Emmys.  Its final eight episodes might be the show's strongest and most consistent run, delivering gut-twisting plotting, and a satisfying conclusion to the saga of Walter White.

Mad Men

After a slightly off-kilter sixth season, Mad Men came back in a big way with the first seven episodes of the final season.  Usually, when final seasons are split in two like this, the first half feels like a bit of stalling.  Not so with these episodes, which have delivered some of the show's finest hours.

The Americans

This TV season, The Americans took a huge leap; a leap that propelled it to the medium's highest echelon.  The show's first season was good, but it still held me at a distance.   The second season, however, moved me more than almost any other drama on the dial.


Hannibal was another example of "good first season, extraordinary second season."  Season two brought everything to a head, with all the separate forces of good and evil colliding in the bloody finale.  But beneath all of its gonzo plotting lied a powerful exploration of co-dependency and the damaged human psyche.

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex managed to do what many other post-Mad Men dramas set in the 50s or 60s couldn't achieve -- hello, The Playboy Club! -- by making the show about more than just the period setting.  The show's debut season delivered interesting, well-drawn characters and explored what it meant to be intimate in an age of repression.

The 100

I was a bit torn on what to choose for my sixth pick.  I found the most recent season of Game of Thrones to be kind of disappointing compared to the previous one, and I had enough problems with Orphan Black, Justified, and Parenthood to feel uncomfortable nominating them as well.  So I'm going with The 100, which I recently caught up on, because it's awesome.

Honorable Mentions: Orphan Black, Parenthood, Justified, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire.

Additional Notes: There are two big omissions on this list: House of Cards and True Detective.  They're both fine, but the hype outweighs the actual quality in both cases, especially House of Cards.  Rectify and The Returned would've definitely made the top six, but the former completely fell out of the eligibility window and the latter wasn't submitted for nomination.  Additionally, I don't watch The Good Wife and I apologize to everyone who can't stop praising this most recent season.  I'm not caught up on Person of Interest, but I don't think it would've made the top six anyway.  Homeland?  Don't make me laugh.  It also should be noted that Fargo was submitted as a miniseries, so it doesn't factor in here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

I probably don't need to tell you why Bryan Cranston is great.  The final eight episodes featured powerful work from him, allowing him to show different sides of his performance: calculating rage, reluctant contrition, world-weary despair, etc.

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

It seems insane that Jon Hamm still hasn't won for his work as Don Draper.  But I guess it makes sense, since what he's required to do is much more internal than his competitors.  This year's material isn't likely to make a difference, but it was just as terrific as usual.

Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)

Taking on a character who was once played by Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins is a daunting task, but Mads Mikkelsen has effortlessly made Hannibal Lecter his own.  On a show full of cold performances, he still manages to stand out for how eerily icy he is.

Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

The Americans is centered around the union of its two lead performances, but most of this season's strongest material belonged to Matthew Rhys, who revealed a ferocity and suppressed rage that we didn't see last year. 

Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)

To be honest, I feel obligated to have this pick, even though I'm kind of bored with it.  True Detective wasn't a boring show, but the idea of True Detective is boring.  But McConaughey's performance was great, even if it was great in a boring way.

Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex)

Here's another performance that Emmy voters don't generally respond to.  Michael Sheen's work as William Masters was very subtle, but watching his tightly wound veneer slowly come apart over the course of the show's first season was incredible to watch.

Honorable Mentions: Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Timothy Olyphant (Justified), and Woody Harrelson (True Detective).

Additional Notes: There are some people who enjoy Kevin Spacey's hammy performance on House of Cards.  I am not one of those people.  I'm not fully caught up on Sleepy Hollow, but Tom Mison is really fun on that show.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Elisabeth Moss has been the best actress on television for the last five years, yet she hasn't won an Emmy for her role as Peggy Olson.  Will her pitch in "Waterloo" finally change voters' minds?  Probably not!

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

Sometimes I get tired of The Cult of Maslany, which praises her acting so much that it almost starts to feel like over-exaggeration.  But then I watch another episode of Orphan Black and all of my grumpiness subsides.  Tatiana Maslany is good, guys.

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)

I'm not always a fan of whatever it is that Bates Motel does, but I am and forever will be on board with everything involving Vera Farmiga's performance.  She can leap from loony camp to genuine heartbreak in a single scene, and everybody else struggles to get on her bizarre, brilliant wavelength.

Diane Kruger (The Bridge)

The vague "on the spectrum" type of character has been done poorly so often that it fills me with worry any time a new one pops up.  But Diane Kruger gives one of the most subdued and (according to experts) realistic examples I've ever seen.

Keri Russell (The Americans)

Some of The Americans' detractors complain that the show is too clinical and distant, but I don't know how they can claim that when Keri Russell alone could melt the thickest block of ice.  Watch "Behind the Red Door," and you'll immediately become aware of her greatness.

Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)

People probably know her more for her roles in comedic shows and films, but Masters of Sex proved that Lizzy Caplan can do straight drama just as well.  She was absolutely magnetic as Virginia Johnson, a woman who boldly went against the societal norms of the 50s.

Honorable Mentions: Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).

Additional Notes: Most of the favorites in this category -- Kerry Washington, Connie Britton, etc. -- are from shows that I either don't watch or stopped watching.  Claire Danes would usually be a lock for this category, but I feel like her performance has gotten to a point where it's just cycling through her greatest hits collection, so only an honorable mention for her.  Also, I would've at least had Katie Leclerc (Switched at Birth) as an honorable mention, but she didn't submit herself.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)

I could literally watch an entire episode of Tywin Lannister verbally eviscerating people, because that's how good Charles Dance is at delivering quiet menace.

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

Tyrion spent most of season four in captivity, but Peter Dinklage made the most of his material, and still managed to make his character one of the most engaging.  Plus, his monologue in "The Laws of Gods and Men" might be his finest moment.

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Jesse is another character who found himself in captivity for a stretch of Breaking Bad's final eight episodes.  The show sometimes ran into the problem of repeating Jesse's arc, but it speaks to Aaron Paul's talent that it was still compelling.

Walton Goggins (Justified)

Walton Goggins has been a cult favorite for a long time, starting with his performance as Shane Vendrell on The Shield.  Hopefully, he'll finally break into mainstream acclaim because he's made Boyd Crowder the most delightful villain/antihero on television.

Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)

Each member of Breaking Bad's supporting actor bench seems to have a spotlight season.  Giancarlo Esposito's was season four, Jonathan Banks's was the first eight episodes of season five, and the final eight belonged to Dean Norris.  He gave his best work as a frenzied Hank determined to bring Walter down for his crimes.

Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)

There are some people who hated Vincent Kartheiser's performance as Connor on Angel so much that they couldn't enjoy him as Pete Campbell in the first few seasons of Mad Men.  But his performance is so undeniable that it has eventually won everyone over.  This year introduced "California Pete" which allowed Kartheiser to play the character at his most deliciously unctuous.

Honorable Mentions: Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), John Slattery (Mad Men), Noah Emmerich (The Americans), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), and Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black).

Additional Notes: The supporting categories are always stacked.  I could've easily included the likes of Max Burkholder (Parenthood), Jere Burns (Justified), Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire), and Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) in here as well.  Oddly, Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal) didn't submit himself, or else he would've certainly been an honorable mention.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Annet Mahendru (The Americans)

Nina became even more fascinating in the second season of The Americans, and Annet Mahendru was so good at playing her character's true allegiances close to her chest.  The lie detector scene in "Arpanet" is just a masterclass in subtlety.

Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

Anna Gunn's role in Breaking Bad is a relatively thankless one.  She plays a character that some fans don't enjoy, and she's surrounded by male actors who get much more praise.  But the last eight episodes of made it clear that she's an incredible actress, as she doubled down on Skyler's steadfast efforts to steer the Walter White train in a direction that led to the least amount of carnage.

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)

As you can tell from this wish list, there's a reason why the Lannisters are by far the most compelling characters on Game of Thrones: they're backed by great performances.  Headey does an excellent job of highlighting Cersei's cold ruthlessness as well as her softer maternal side.

Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

There have been many complaints about the characters and acting in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but from the beginning, most people could agree on Elizabeth Henstridge.  Simmons is basically another installment in the Whedon line of cute geeks -- a line that includes Willow (Buffy), Fred (Angel), and Kaylee (Firefly) -- but she fills that role well.  She also nails the weightier material she's given, as seen in "F.Z.Z.T." and "Beginning of the End."

Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire)

Ever since the death of Jimmy at the end of season two, Gillian has been involved in a one-woman slow speed car crash.  Season four finally brought her tragedy to a conclusion, and brought out some of Mol's best acting in the process.

Susan Misner (The Americans)

Susan Misner was barely even used in the second season of The Americans, but I fought hard to find a way to include her on this list because she completely knocks the material she's given out of the park.  From her little mini-arc on Nashville, to her flashback appearances in the early days of Person of Interest, and now The Americans; everything she does is completely on my wavelength.

Honorable Mentions: Molly Parker (House of Cards), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal), Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), and Allison Wright (The Americans).

Additional Notes:  Like I said, these supporting categories are stacked.  I could've included Mae Whitman (Parenthood), Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), the list goes on.  I was going to have Amy Acker (Person of Interest) as one of my honorable mentions, but she didn't submit herself.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Breaking Bad - "Ozymandias"

Rian Johnson's direction gets so much credit -- and rightfully so, it might be the best directed episode of the series -- but "Ozymandias" is also an incredibly written episode, culminating five seasons of buildup to a few explosive scenes.

Mad Men - "Field Trip"

I'm a little partial to this episode because it led to me writing one of the best things I've ever done, but it truly is a magnificent piece of writing in its own right.  "Field Trip" pares things down to alternating scenes following Betty's rural adventure with Bobby and Don's harrowing trip back to SC&P, and finds a beautiful symmetry between the two.

Hannibal - "Mizomuno"

There is no episode that made me as viscerally excited as "Mizumono" did this year, hands down.  It's a testament to the quality of shocks in this hour that the big showdown between Jack and Hannibal was shown in the premiere and there still managed to be surprises afterward.

Mad Men - "The Strategy"

This is most people's choice for best Mad Men episode of this half season, and it's hard to blame them.  It's an elegantly structured episode; all leading up to the "My Way" scene between Don and Peggy, and the final scene between the two of them and Pete at Burger Chef; both moments that will be remembered as some of the most powerful things the series has ever done.

The Americans - "New Car"

Part of the reason why I love The Americans so much is that it's concerned with centering its episodes around subtext and theme in a way that almost rivals Mad Men.  "New Car" is the show's most obvious example of that in the way that it effectively narrows every character's motivations and worldview down to one token.

Honorable Mentions: "The Pontiac" (Parenthood), "Phallic Victories" (Masters of Sex), and "The Grove" (The Walking Dead).

Additional Notes: Listen, I love "The Grove" and I don't care who knows it.  I mostly tried to keep it down to one episode per show, but "Takiawase" (Hannibal), "Echo" (The Americans), "A Day's Work" (Mad Men), and "Buried" (Breaking Bad) deserve credit.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Orange Is the New Black

This show is not a comedy.  It is not structured like a comedy, it doesn't feel like a comedy, and it has way more drama than laughs.  But Netflix submitted it as a comedy, so that makes it the best "comedy" on the ballot.


This year, Louis C.K. seemed to completely abandon the already small amount of comedy that was in the show before.  Some people were bothered by this choice, but I didn't mind it at all.  Season four of Louie was a fascinating piece of television from an auteur working through complicated ideas onscreen.

Broad City

This TV season has been fantastic for new comedies, and the best example of that is Comedy Central's Broad City.  I love how shaggy this show is, and it uses that ramshackle energy to deliver tons of laughs.


I'm so happy that the wider world can finally be made aware of Andy Daly's genius.  Review took a simple concept -- focusing on the host of a show who reviews aspects of life -- and added some magnificent twists and turns.  It's simultaneously one of the funniest and darkest shows of the year.


Veep has been getting better and better, to the point where season three was just an absolute powerhouse of comedy.  The presidential campaign storyline provided a strong backbone for the show's brand of ruthless scheming and delightful schadenfreude.


I vacillated between loving and hating Girls this year, sometimes in the span of a single episode.  Yet despite the frustrating bumps along the road, no show makes me challenge what I look for in television more than this one does.

Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Enlisted, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Kroll Show, and Silicon Valley.

Additional Notes: Emmy voters tend to be far more conservative when it comes to comedy, so they continue to nominate shows like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory.  I stopped watching the former after years of sitting through it slowly decaying, and I've seen enough of the latter to know it's not for me.  Some longtime favorites -- Community and Parks and Recreation, most notably -- dropped completely off of this list, sadly.  Then there a few that were pleasant, but not quite good enough to make it: Playing House, Looking, and Trophy Wife.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Louis C.K. (Louie)

For a while, it was hard to tell how much Louis C.K. was just playing himself in Louie, but by now it's clear that there are differences between him and the character.  His performance, which does an effective job delineating the two, is consistently terrific.

Andy Daly (Review)

Andy Daly is always at his best when he gets to contrast his chipper demeanor with the darker aspects of the characters he plays.  He gets to do that in spades as Forrest Macneil, who fully commits to reviewing whatever his fans want him to, and slowly crumbles because of it.

Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies)

Hello Ladies is sure to be a future Show That Time Forgot, but Stephen Merchant's performance as the slimy, gangly Stuart is one for the ages.

Jake Johnson (New Girl)

I've never been fully onboard the New Girl train, but season three was an especially rough ride.  Nevertheless, Jake Johnson's performance remains as rock solid as ever.  Just look at that grumpy turtle face.

Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley)

Thomas Middleditch comes from the Michael Cera school of twitchy, nervous acting, but he's so good at it that it doesn't seem hoary.

Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

I've never been a huge fan of Andy Samberg's big, floppy comedic style, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the perfect outlet for it.  He takes a character like Jake, who could just be an annoying manchild, and finds hidden layers and texture to him.

Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Groff (Looking), Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation).

Additional Notes: Yeah, I've got nothing.  This is a light category.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black)

Whether the Piper haters want to admit it or not, Taylor Schilling is giving one of television's best performances.  She delivers some ferocious, complex acting and is totally aware of how annoying we're supposed to find Piper.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

This is the best purely comedic performance on television, and certainly JLD's best performance of her career (which is saying alot, because she did play Elaine Benes, after all).  She'll probably win the Emmy again this year, and I have no problem with that.

Ilana Glazer (Broad City)

Broad City features some strong writing, but it would be nothing without the full throttle performances of its two leads.  There have been few things that have pleased me more this year than Ilana Glazer's wonderfully weird work on the show.

AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries)

There's very little that's comedic about AnnaSophia Robb's performance as young Carrie Bradshaw, but The Carrie Diaries was submitted as a comedy, and  it'd be a crime to not fit her in somewhere.  Listen guys, AnnaSophia Robb is a star.  She's so good that I devoted a recurring segment in my weekly reviews to pointing out how good she is.  She's so good that she takes Carrie Bradshaw, a character that was insufferable in Sex and the City, and makes her absolutely winsome and lovable.  She's so good that she almost single-handedly carried the show through some of its rougher moments in the second season.  She's just the best.  (Note: Weirdly, I couldn't find a good picture of her as Carrie, so you get this glamour shot instead.)

Abbi Jacobson (Broad City)

Glazer might be most people's favorite, but don't count out Abbi Jacobson, who also was incredibly funny in Broad City's debut season.  Together, they make TV's best comedy duo, but their separate plots in some episodes proved that they don't necessarily need each other to be funny.

Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

I try not to let the quality of a show sway how I feel about a performance, but I must admit that the safeness of this season of Parks and Recreation made Amy Poehler drop down a few rungs on the comedy ladder.  However, it's not enough to completely leave her off of this, because she still had some incredible moments in season six.

Honorable Mentions: Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Lena Dunham (Girls), and Malin Ackerman (Trophy Wife).

Additional Notes: I don't watch Shameless, so I can't nominate Emmy Rossum, but I'm sure she's great.  The same goes for Nurse Jackie, but I've seen The Sopranos, so I'm even more sure that Edie Falco is great on it.  I also want to give a shout out to some great performances on lower profile shows: Lennon Parham (Playing House), Jessica St. Clair (Playing House), and Ashley Rickards (Awkward.).

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver (Girls)

Adam Driver is likely to blow up now that he's in the next Star Wars movie, but fans of Girls have recognized his greatness for the last three years.  This season, Adam's storyline about acting in a play gave him some great material to work with.  After three seasons, he's still found new ways to present his oddball energy.

Christopher Evan Welch (Silicon Valley)

Christopher Evan Welch passed away during the filming of Silicon Valley's first season, so he didn't appear in the last two episodes.  But he made a huge mark in his short amount of time on the show, turning Peter Gregory into one of the funniest, most idiosyncratic characters on television.  Season two will suffer without him.

Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

There's a risk of the show Ron Swanson-ing him soon, but for now Brooklyn Nine-Nine has gotten lots of mileage out of Andre Braugher's stern deadpan.  You haven't lived until you've heard him say "kwazy cupcakes."

Matt Walsh (Veep)

His castmate, Tony Hale, won this award at last year's Emmys, but I'd go with Matt Walsh's bumbling turn as Mike as the best male performance on the show.  Really, you can't go wrong with this show's deep bench.

Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Speaking of deep benches, here's another Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor.  Like with Andre Braugher, the show utilizes one main tool in Crews' toolbox -- the sensitive nature that betrays his towering physique -- but they utilize it well.

Hannibal Burress (Broad City)

Hannibal Burress is one of the funniest people on the planet, and Broad City smartly just lets him do his thing.  There's not enough of him, if you ask me.

Honorable Mentions: Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Zach Woods (Silicon Valley),  Michael Harney (Orange is the New Black), Lamorne Morris (New Girl), and Timothy Simons (Veep).

Additional Notes: Okay, now this is a loaded category.  I literally could've made my honorable mentions full of Veep guys: Reid Scott, Tony Hale, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole.  All of the It's Always Sunny guys could've made it.  I can't believe Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele got left out (Key & Peele).  Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) didn't even make it!

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
In the last category, I talked about how great the men on Veep are, but the show's two best performances belong to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Chlumsky running close behind.  Thank the comedy gods that Armando Ianucci plucked Chlumsky up after her long hiatus from acting and figured out how to use her better than anyone else ever has.  Her character, Amy, is one gigantic bundle of exposed nerves, and it's a joy to watch Chlumsky display that constant tension.

Gillian Jacobs (Community)

There are two types of Community fans: people who acknowledge that Gillian Jacobs is the funniest person in the cast and people I don't want to be friends with.

Melissa Fumero (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Amy is a character who could've easily been pigeonholed as the wet blanket of the show, but Melissa Fumero was able to dig in and find what was funny about the character.

Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory)

The final season of Suburgatory sucked pretty hard, but even a dip in quality couldn't stop the wonders of Carly Chaikin's performance as Dalia Royce.  She might make her straight-faced deadpan delivery look easy, but nobody can play that role the way she does.

Zosia Mamet (Girls)

I wasn't a huge fan of Zosia Mamet's performance in the first season of Girls, but I've slowly learned to enjoy it, to the point where I absolutely love everything she does.  She deserves a nomination on degree of difficulty alone, because her speed talking is a thing of beauty.

Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black)

Technically, only the first season of Orange Is the New Black is up for eligibility, and Wiley's best work comes in season two.  But even still, Poussey was one of my favorite characters back then too, and her material is definitely more comedic in that season anyway.

Honorable Mentions: Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Kaitlin Olson (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black).

Additional Notes: This is the one supporting category that isn't jam packed with things I would nominate.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Desperately Tries To Win An Award"

The gang desperately tried to win an award in this episode, so why don't we just give it to them?  Also, this truly is one of the funniest episodes of the past TV season.  Emmy voters aren't going to take a liking to the way it makes fun of them, but I loved it.

Louie - "So Did the Fat Lady"

Ah, the episode that launched a thousand thinkpieces.  Most people just immediately think about the monologue at the end of the episode, which is brilliant, but the entire episode is really well-written.

Girls - "Flo"

This and "Beach House" were the show's A+ episodes this year, but I slightly prefer this one, especially from a writing standpoint.  The conclusion of "Beach House" felt a little overwritten, but the entirety of "Flo" has a lovely naturalistic feel to it.  Season three was often haphazard, but this episode slowed things down by focusing solely on Hannah.

Review - "Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes"

The third episode of Review is when the show really started to reveal the lengths it was willing to go with the concept.  It's so wonderfully constructed, employing the simple comedic rule of elevation to amazing effect.  Just reading the title makes me laugh.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Bet"

"The Party" might be a funnier episode, but I ultimately went with "The Bet" as my Brooklyn Nine-Nine nominee because it's the better written one.  This one showed that the writers had a good handle on its romantic entanglements, transforming Jake and Amy from something I dreaded to a coupling that felt sweet and logical.

Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Party," Girls - "Beach House," and Veep - "Special Relationship."

Additional Notes: I was going to make some joke about the Emmys just going ahead and nominating five Modern Family episodes, but the writing categories are usually where they make their best choices.

Outstanding Animated Program

Rick and Morty

This is a weird category where, unlike the other Program ones, it's only based on one episode. For the most part, I'm completely ignoring that because while "Rick Potion #9" is great, it's not the best episode of this inventive, crazy brilliant show.

Community: G.I. Jeff

On the other hand, the one episode rule leads to interesting things like this.  Community, an otherwise live-action show, aired an animated G.I. Joe parody this season.  It was my favorite episode of the season, so I'm happy to choose it as a nomination.  Basically, this category is owned by Dan Harmon.

The Legend of Korra

I liked season two of The Legend of Korra more than most people.  It wasn't as good as season one, but it still delivered some amazing animation and a wonderfully realized world.  Plus, it gave us the two-part Avatar Wan episode, which was incredible.


After a fourth season that left me worried that the show was stagnating a little bit, Adam Reed completely blew the doors off of the premise of Archer and made it a season long Miami Vice riff.  The show's funniest days might be behind it, but season five showed that it's still capable of coming up with fresh and exciting ideas.

Bob's Burgers

I'll be honest here: I don't really get the people who think this show is one of the two or three best comedies on television.  It's still a solid show though, and season four gave us gems like "Seaplane!" and "Slumber Party."

Honorable Mentions: Gravity Falls, Toy Story OF TERROR!

Additional Notes: I really enjoy Steven Universe, but it's in the Short-form Animated Program category since the episodes are only 15 minutes.  Also, I thought the fourth season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic revitalized the show in a big way, and it would've definitely been on my list, but they strangely didn't submit it.

Outstanding Main Title Design

Black Sails

I have no idea whether this category only judges the visual aspect of the main titles, or a combination of the visuals and the music.  I could probably do some research, but I'm just going to operate under the assumption that it's both.  Anyway, Black Sails has, without a doubt, the best opening title sequence of any new show this TV season.  The visuals are the most impeccably crafted since Game of Thrones' opening and the Bear McCreary music always gets me pumped up to watch an episode.

Hello Ladies

This pick is the one that has the best song out of any of the eligible shows.  Not only is "Alone Too Long" by Hall & Oates a terrific tune, but it also perfectly sets the mood for the show too.  The visuals aren't too shabby either; I love the constant zooming out of the pictures, like a Russian nesting doll of sadness.

American Horror Story: Coven

The image sequence for Asylum is still the best that American Horror Story has done so far, but Coven's is enjoyably creepy and evocative.  That song is great too.  Shame about the quality of the actual show though.

The Fosters

Sometimes all a great title sequence has to do is represent what the show is like in less than a minute.  If that's the case, then no opening does that better than the one for The Fosters.  It's just a simple series of images and a heartwarming song, but it perfectly captures the feelings you get from watching an episode of this great family drama.

Masters of Sex

This is probably my most controversial pick on the list.  People seem to hate how cheeky this title sequence is, and even I'll admit that it doesn't really fit the tone of the show, but I still dig it anyway.  I like Homeland's opening credits too.  I'm an iconoclast!

True Detective

HBO shows rarely ever have bad opening title sequences.  True Detective is no different.  This is just a fine piece of work.

Honorable Mention: Kroll Show, Broad City, Orange is the New Black, and Silicon Valley.

Additional Notes: That's right, I love the title sequence for Orange Is the New Black.  I told you I was an iconoclast!  Just something to note for this category: you can only be nominated for it once, obviously.  Hence, most of the eligible programs are first season shows.  The one exception is if the main titles change between seasons (ex: The Newsroom).

Well that's it, folks!  Feel free to share your picks in the comments.  Or don't.  This took a very long time to do.  The official Emmy nominations occur on July 10th, so mark your calendars for disappointment that [insert thing you love here] got snubbed.


  1. Really good picks! As a huge TV lover & watcher, this is what my Emmy ballot would look like for 2014 (Like you, i'll order them from favorite to least favorite but I think there all very worthy):

    Outstanding Comedy Series:
    1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    2. Veep
    3. Silicon Valley
    4. Louie
    5. Orange Is The New Black
    6. Broad City

    Outstanding Drama Series:
    1. True Detective
    2. Breaking Bad
    3. Hannibal
    4. Masters of Sex
    5. Game of Thrones
    6. The Walking Dead

    Outstanding Lead Actor Comedy Series:
    1. Louis C.K. – Louie
    2. Andy Samberg – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    3. Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
    4. Marc Maron - Maron
    5. Jonathan Groff - Looking
    6. Adam Scott – Parks and Recreation

    Outstanding Lead Actress Comedy Series:
    1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
    2. Ilana Glazer – Broad City
    3. Abbi Jacobson – Broad City
    4. Taylor Schilling – Orange Is The New Black
    5. Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
    6. Anna Faris – Mom

    Outstanding Supporting Actor Comedy Series:
    1. Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    2. Adam Driver – Girls
    3. Joe Lo Trugllio – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    4. Matt Walsh - Veep
    5. Christopher Evan Welch – Silicon Valley
    6. Tony Hale – Veep

    Outstanding Supporting Actress Comedy Series:
    1. Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory
    2. Eden Sher – The Middle
    3. Allison Janney - Mom
    4. Melissa Fumero – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    5. Anna Chlumsky – Veep
    6. Kate Mulgrew – Orange Is The New Black

    Outstanding Lead Actor Drama Series:
    1. Mads Mikkelsen - Hannibal
    2. Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
    3. Woody Harrelson – True Detective
    4. Matthew McConaughey - True Detective
    5. Michael Sheen – Masters of Sex
    6. Andrew Lincoln – The Walking Dead

    Outstanding Lead Actress Drama Series:
    1. Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
    2. Vera Farmiga – Bates Motel
    3. Lizzy Caplan – Masters of Sex
    4. Julianna Marguilles – The Good Wife
    5. Keri Russell – The Americans
    6. Robin Wright – House of Cards

    Outstanding Supporting Actor Drama Series:
    1. Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
    2. Jeffrey Wright – Boardwalk Empire
    3. Charles Dance – Game of Thrones
    4. Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
    5. Dean Norris – Breaking Bad
    6. Josh Charles – The Good Wife

    Outstanding Supporting Actress Drama Series:
    1. Lena Heady – Game of Thrones
    2. Caitlin Fitzgerald – Masters of Sex
    3. Melissa McBride – The Walking Dead
    4. Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad
    5. Michelle Monaghan – True Detective
    6. Christine Baranski – The Good Wife

    Outstanding Writing Comedy Series:
    1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “The Party”
    2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Tactical Village”
    3. Louie – “So Did The Fat Lady”
    4. Maron – “Mom Situation”
    5. Orange is the New Black – “Can’t Fix Crazy”
    6. Silicon Valley – “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”

    Outstanding Writing Drama Series:
    1. Breaking Bad – “Ozymandias”
    2. True Detective – The Secret Fate Of All Of life”
    3. Breaking Bad – “To’hajiilee”
    4. Hannibal – “Mizumono”
    5. Masters of Sex – “Catherine”
    6. The Good Wife – “The Last Call”

    1. Nice picks as well. I especially like the choice of Anna Faris and Allison Janney. I stopped watching Mom after a couple of episodes, but both of their performances are excellent.

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