Emmy Nominations Get It Mostly Right

Will Ragozzino/Getty Images Mad Men

Perhaps the most revealing (and damning?) aspect of the Emmy nominations announcement ceremony — held, as always, just before dawn on the West Coast in order to allow Nikki Finke to watch them live before retreating to her coffin — was the manner in which they were broadcast to the majority of the world: via Ustream, an upstart web-video service that is (a) one of the many threats to traditional broadcast television, and (b) mostly known as the go-to place to watch NFL players distractedly answer fan questions while flying cross country. (Maybe TV was secretly trying to prove a point: The feed conked out midway through the announcements. Luckily, it was when they were talking about miniseries.)

Anyway, much respect to announcers Joshua Jackson and Melissa McCarthy (whose surprise nomination for her work in Mike & Molly wasn’t so much of a surprise when you consider that she’s now a movie celebrity and TV people are nothing if not hung up on movie celebrity — it’s a little like how Chicago is obsessed with New York but the feeling is rarely mutual) who, perhaps in deference to the hour, raced through the categories like Usain Bolt after a visit to Walter White’s Winnebago. Leading this year’s nominations are Mad Men with 19, Boardwalk Empire with 18, and Modern Family with 17. Below, our instant, coffee-deprived thoughts.

The good guys (or at least the liberal, coastal elite) won!

Fanatically beloved, ratings-challenged critical darlings Friday Night Lights (in its final year of eligibility), Parks and Recreation, and Justified all scored multiple noms, for series and acting, thus causing all of us who woke up prepared to declare the Emmys irrelevant to suddenly buy back in. Hooray for the Emmys!

Wait a second …

Both the hysterical Michelle Forbes and the hysterically stoic Mirielle Enos were nominated for their performances on the wretched The Killing?!? And the logic sinkhole that was Rubicon scored a nod? (For opening title design, but still.) Down with the Emmys!

The kings are dead, long live the kings

At least in the variety show category, where graybeards Jay Leno and David Letterman are nowhere to be seen. Their prodigal son Conan is, however, as is the surprisingly delightful Jimmy Fallon along with regular winners Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

The Academy continues to watch The Big Bang Theory so we don’t have to

Congratulations to Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons! We’ll just continue to assume you’re highly deserving.

Most anticipated beatdown

Perhaps the worst thing about The Killing — other than, say, Michelle Forbes’ performance — was the way delusional showrunner Veena Sud defended a season of lousy choices by comparing her very predictable-in-its-badness show to much, much better shows that continually confound their audiences in unpredictable, intelligent ways. In particular, she likened a head-scratching episode in which the cops drop the case for a week and go searching for one of their missing sons to Mad Men’s brilliant “The Suitcase.” Well, the sting of Sud’s pilot for The Killing being nominated for best writing (!) is lessened by the unquestionable inevitability of her losing to the also-nominated “The Suitcase” come September.

Just because the voters “Get” Louis C.K. doesn’t mean they’re hip

We’re as happy as the next schlumpy misanthrope to see all the love for Louie (best actor in a comedy, best writing in a comedy) but the Emmys’ humor hipness begins and ends there: Emmy night is still likely to be a Modern Family bloodbath (all adult members of the Family were nominated) with some sympathy votes steered towards The Office since the movie star Steve Carell is leaving. Even Matt LeBlanc’s tepid Episodes garnered multiple nominations precisely because the star is more famous than Joel McHale. So for avant-comedy fans, it’s best to cling to our red-headed hero and lick our wounds. Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, the dirtbags from It’s Always Sunny and The League: There’s always next year! (When you’ll lose to Ashton Kutcher. But there’s always the year after that!)

Here are the nominations in major categories (for a complete list go here):

Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men

Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
The Office
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock

Lead Actress in a Comedy
Laura Linney, The Big C
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Lead Actor in a Comedy
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Steve Carell, The Office
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Louis C.K., Louie
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Lead Actor in a Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Lead Actress in a Drama
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law

Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Chris Colfer, Glee
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Supporting Actor in a Drama
John Slattery, Mad Men
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age
Walton Goggins, Justified
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife

Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Jane Lynch, Glee
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Michelle Forbes, The Killing
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Margo Martindale, Justified

Mini-series or Made-for-TV Movie
Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Kennedys
Mildred Pierce
The Pillars Of The Earth
Too Big To Fail

Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or movie
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos
Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
Idris Elba, Luther
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
William Hurt, Too Big To Fail

Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or movie
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
Taraji P. Henson, Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story
Jean Marsh, Upstairs Downstairs

Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Deadliest Catch
Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List
Undercover Boss

Reality Competition
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With The Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef

Host of a Reality Program or Competition
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can
Jeff Probst, Survivor

Filed Under: Awards, Boardwalk Empire, Emmys, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, TV

Andy Greenwald is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ andygreenwald