November 22, 2014

And So It Begins… With the Emmys, Sept. 23

 

By JP Spence

As football season begins, so does award season.

With the start of the NFL season kick-off (pun intended), and fantasy football season furiously underway, it’s hard not to apply the same type of fanaticism to the Emmys.

While Oscar may carry more prestige, I always have a special connection with Emmy because I watch TV every day. I follow the season much as I would an NFL season, with unabashed enthusiasm. Now, all of my research (yes, that’s what it’s called when you do it professionally) will go into this breakdown of the 64th Primetime Emmys that airs Sunday, Sept. 23.

There couldn’t be a better time for Jimmy Kimmel to be the host. Kimmel, whose late-night show finally gets to join the adult table at 11:35 p.m., will have a three-hour showcase (on ABC no less) to highlight his brand of smart, biting and Everyman sense of humor.

And now the categories…

Outstanding Comedy Series

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”

“Girls”

“30 Rock”

“Veep”

“Modern Family”

“The Big Bang Theory”

Reality TV may have killed the sitcom’s reign at prime time, but we are experiencing a golden age for comedy. Each of the nominees is a game breaker with a legitimate shot at winning on paper. “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” a show in the pantheon of great comedy, has only gotten better with age. Lena Dunham, a protégé of Judd Apatow, is a breath of fresh air with “Girls” and has more nominations and wins in the future but this is nomination was more of a hello than anything else. “30 Rock” has replaced “The Office” as this year’s “Mendoza Line” nomination. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing, either. This show is exiting at the right moment. “Modern Family” is an ideal choice to win this year. At first the sitcom appeared as an “Office”/”Parks And Recreation” knock-off. What it has gone on to do is crystallize the single-cam sitcom genre. “Veep” is clearly the dark horse candidate and proof that satire outside of Stephen Colbert can still exist. However, the nerds rule and “The Big Bang Theory” is due for its first Emmy win.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Zoe Deschanel, “New Girl”

Lena Dunham, “Girls”

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Amy Poehler, “Parks And Recreation”

Tina Fey, “30 Rock”

Julia-Louis Dreyfuss, “Veep”

Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly”

Easy money would be on Deschanel to get her first Emmy win as television’s newest “It Girl.” All the other nominees are buoyed by strong actors or strong scripts, while Deschanel ends up having to carry the show on her own. As mentioned above, Dunham is a wunderkind of the highest order, but she’ll just have to wait her turn. Simple as that. It’s unfortunate for Poehler, who stars in arguably the best comedy in television and will come up short yet again. Fey, McCarthy and Falco are stalwart nominees but none had a breakout season. The clear winner has to be Dreyfuss who has turned in her best work, ever. Period.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Louis C.K., “Louie”

Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men”

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”

If we are indeed in a golden age of comedy platitudes, then this category is a 1927 Yankees murderer’s row of talent. How do you pick between two comedic voices of a generation (David, C.K.), two former winners and two Oscar winners? C.K. has to be the favorite to win. He is peaking at the right moment and a win would be an exclamation point to his brilliant second season. Jon Cryer and Don Cheadle are also worthy nominations with Cryer keeping “Two and a Half Men” afloat, despite Ashton Kutcher’s best efforts, and for Cheadle showing his comedic chops.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”

Merritt Weaver, “Nurse Jackie”

Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live”

Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”

Kathryn Joosten, “Desperate Housewives”

This is really a two-horse race between Bowen and Wiig. Bowen is perfect at playing the straight man to everyone’s shenanigans on Modern Family, while a win for Wiig would be a coronation for her years on SNL. If you’re looking purely at who had the stronger year, then it’s Bowen; overall it would be Wiig. It’s nice to see Bialik receive a nom considering she just had a walk-on part and now is in the cast, while reducing Vergara to an “I Love Lucy” punch line all season long is hardly worth the nomination.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family”

Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”

Max Greenfield, “New Girl”

Greenfield has to be pretty psyched to get a nod. Rumor has it that this whole category was going to “Modern Family,” but they ran out of males for the category. The only chance Hader has at winning this category is if the “Modern Family” crew split the vote. Here’s why he should win though: originality. From Stefon to Sheppard Smith, Hader is SNL’s best utility player. With the exception of Stephen Colbert, no one is as sublimely subversive. AND HE WRITES!!!

Outstanding Drama Series

“Boardwalk Empire”

“Breaking Bad”

“Downton Abbey”

“Mad Men”

“Homeland”

“Game of Thrones”

Have you ever wondered if Salieri ever at one point just decided to knock off Mozart and take all the glory? We’re about to see something similar with “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.” For years, and rightly so, we’ve seen “Mad Men” carry the mantle for AMC and have showered it with acclaim for its commentary of the past and dissection of how we got to where we are at in society. “Breaking Bad,” however, shows how comfortable we are as a society with accepting depravity. Years later, critics will look at Don Draper as the super ego to Walter White’s raging id. And yet “Dexter” is nowhere to be found.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”

Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”

Kathy Bates, “Harry’s Law”

Glenn Close, “Damages”

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

This category is closer to how Amadeus actually played out, save that Moss is Salieri and Danes is Mozart. It was great to have Peggy Olsen finally get out from underneath Don Draper’s shadow, but Carrie Mathison is one of the strongest female characters in years.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Steve Buschemi, “Boardwalk Empire”

Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

Hugh Bonneville, “Downton Abbey”

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”

Damian Lewis, “Homeland”

Bryan Cranston has the role of a lifetime. In five seasons the audience has been able to see a complete transformation and utter downward spiral of a human being. Give the man his due. Credit should also go to Hall for his performance transforming (slowly) a serial killer into a human being. Then again, Buscemi could just win it all.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife”

Annie Gunn, “Breaking Bad”

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

Joanna Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”

Christine Hendricks, “Mad Men”

Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”

Hendricks was the MVP of “Mad Men”last season. Not only did her character highlight the rise of women in the workplace, but Hendricks is breaking the mold of what is considered “beautiful” or “normal” on television. And if last season’s cliffhanger is any indication, Hendricks is just getting started

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”

Giancarlo Esposito, “Breaking Bad”

Brendan Coyle, “Downton Abbey”

Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”

Jared Harris, “Mad Men”

Paul will probably get this with the shock value his character brings to “Breaking Bad,” but there is hardly a more subtle and nuanced character performance than Harris’ portrayal of Lane Pryce. His character highlighted the changing moods toward financial, race and sexual relation