If I Picked The EMMYS, 2013 Edition!

emmy-statuette

Once again it’s time to reward the best of the best on TV – and once again, some of the best have not even been acknowledged with a nomination; and once again, some of the best, who would’ve been right not to expect a nomination, were acknowledged. In short, it’s the usual assortment of woulda, coulda, shoulda – mixed with the occasional WOW! They really nailed that one!

After the jump, I run down how I would pick the winner if I had the deciding vote.

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Breaking Bad (AMC), Downton Abbey (PBS), Game of Thrones (HBO), Homeland (Showtime), House Of Cards (Netflix), Mad Men (AMC).

Not one of these shows doesn’t deserve to be here. In fact, with the increasing number of markets providing more and more quality programming (and, correspondingly, more and more truly awful programming) I could name another four-to-six programs that could have been nominated (not the least of which is Orphan Black, which in a fair world, would have spawned a number of major noms – including this one!).

Overall, though, for sheer consistently high quality, Breaking Bad has been unbelievably great. Balancing its Mr. Chips-to-Scarface main arc with half a dozen equally compelling arcs, Breaking Bad has kept far too many people cheering Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White on for far too long. In this case, that’s a good thing – and that’s why I’d hand Breaking Bad the Emmy.

COMEDY SERIES

The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Girls (HBO), Louie (FX), Modern Family (ABC), 30 Rock (NBC), Veep (HBO).

Once again, it’s hard to argue with the choices for this category – though you could, conceivably make a case for The Middle over Modern Family if you absolutely had to. At least Nurse Jackie wasn’t nominated (still not actually a comedy, folks!).

As unexpected and formula-breaking as Veep might be; as edgy and uncomfortably funny as girls might be, the only show on this list that is hysterically funny, absurdly poignant and completely innovative is Louie. Does it have a hope in hell of winning? It would if I picked the Emmys.

LEAD ACTOR – DRAMA SERIES

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC); Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey (PBS); Damian Lewis, Homeland (Showtime); Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix); Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC); Jeff Daniels, Newsroom (HBO).

Out of these nominations, for five of the six you’d have to flip a series of coins to make a decision, but that sixth guy – Bryan Cranston – ah, that sixth guy! Even as Heisenberg clamps down on Walter White, bits of White’s almost completely lost humanity keep peeking out at the most surprising moments. Plus, Breaking Bad had begun running its last few devastating episodes as votes were being made. For me, Cranston is the only winner that makes sense.

LEAD ACTRESS – DRAMA SERIES

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel (A&E); Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey (PBS), Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime); Robin Wright, House Of Cards (Netflix); Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC); Connie Britton, Nashville (ABC); Kerry Washington, Scandal (ABC).

And here we come to the most egregious slight in the Emmy nominations. Not one of these actors played between three and seven entirely different characters – and never three or more in one scene(!) – so this is a category that feels like a race for runner-up to un-nominated Tatiana Maslany.

Claire Danes won last year and was every bit as good this year; Robin Wright was spectacular as a kind of Lady Macbeth of American politics; Kerry Washington played a complex soap opera character as well anyone could. Of the six actually nominated, they were clearly the leaders. For me, it comes down to Wright and Washington – and I would not be averse to a little history being made. So, then, Washington.

LEAD ACTOR – COMEDY SERIES

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development (Netflix); Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Matt LeBlanc, Episodes (Showtime); Don Cheadle, House Of Lies (Showtime); Louis C.K., Louie (FX); Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (NBC).

Louie C.K. On a series that he writes, produces, edits, stars in (and would do the music if he could), Louie has gone from a stand-up comic to an actor capable of a ridiculously wide range. He’s shown more than any of the other nominations while doing a ton more behind the scenes. For him to lose here would be almost as bad a choice as not acknowledging Ms. Maslany was to the lead actress – drama category.

LEAD ACTRESS – COMEDY SERIES

Laura Dern, Enlightened (HBO); Lena Dunham, Girls (HBO); Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Amy Poehler, Parks And Recreation (NBC); Tina Fey, 30 Rock (NBC); Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO).

Once again, folks, neither Edie Falco nor Nurse Jackie belong here. It’s not a comedy and she plays a dramatic role on it. Everyone else here is beyond outstanding.

For me it comes down to who plays the best character and gets the laughs while not appearing (key word!) to be doing that much. Thus, it comes down to Lena Dunham and Tina Fey – and Fey wins here.

TV MOVIE/MINISERIES

American Horror Story (FX), Behind The Candelabra (HBO), The Bible (History), Phil Spector (HBO), Political Animals (USA), Top Of The Lake (Sundance).

Behind the Candelabra has been anointed as the Chosen One in this category, but even though it is, yes, an excellent piece of work, I enjoyed both Political Animals (more soap than political drama) and Top of the Lake more. When it comes down to it, the moody tone poem that was Top of the Lake won me over.

REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM

The Amazing Race (CBS), Dancing With The Stars (ABC), Project Runway (Lifetime), So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), Top Chef (Bravo), The Voice (NBC).

The Amazing Race is simply the best there is in this category. Nothing else even comes close.

VARIETY SERIES

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central), The Daily Show (Comedy Central), Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC), Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC), Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO), Saturday Night Live (NBC).

Saturday Night Live had a bit of a renaissance this last season, but The Daily Show flourished even when Jon Stewart was off directing a movie, so it will probably win. I’d give the Emmy to SNL, which is the closest we’ve got to an actual variety show on this list.

WRITING – DRAMA SERIES

George Mastras, Breaking Bad “Dead Freight” (AMC); Thomas Schnauz, Breaking Bad “Say My Name” (AMC); Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey “Episode 4” (PBS); David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game Of Thrones “The Rains Of Castamere” (HBO); Henry Bromell, Homeland “Q&A” (Showtime).

One of the flaws with the voting system for the Emmys is that a whole season gets judged on the basis of one or two episodes. Despite its up and down second season, Homeland’s Q&A was as brilliant as anything from its first season. Still, both Breaking Episodes match it – as does Game of Thrones’ The Rains of Castamere.

Of the episodes up for the writing award, I have to go with Castamere, which pretty much knocked me down and stomped all over me.

WRITING – COMEDY SERIES

David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes “Episode 209” (Showtime); Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, Louie “Daddy’s Girl (Part 1)” (FX); Greg Daniels, The Office “Finale” (NBC); Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, 30 Rock “Hogcock!” (NBC); Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock “Last Lunch” (NBC).

Daddy’s Girl, Part 1. Nothing else here even came close.

WRITING – MINISERIES/MOVIE/DRAMATIC SPECIAL

Richard LaGravenese, Behind the Candelabra (HBO), Abi Morgan, The Hour (BBC America), Tom Stoppard, Parade’s End (HBO), David Mamet, Phil Spector (HBO), Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel).

Campion and Lee for top of the Lake.

DIRECTING – DRAMA

Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire “Margate Sands” (HBO); Michelle MacLaren, Breaking Bad “Gliding Over All” (AMC); Jeremy Webb, Downton Abbey “Episode 4” (PBS); Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland “Q&A” (Showtime); David Fincher, House Of Cards “Chapter 1” (Netflix).

Michelle MacLaren. Breaking Bad has been impossibly good since its final season began (how many great shows have been at their best in their final season?).

DIRECTOR – COMEDY

Nominees: Lena Dunham, Girls “On All Fours” (HBO); Paris Barclay, Glee “Diva” (Fox); Louis C.K., Louie “New Year’s Eve” (FX); Gail Mancuso, Modern Family “Arrested” (ABC); Beth McCarthy-Miller, 30 Rock “Hogcock!” (NBC).

Louie C.K. (See previous comments of the show and its creator.)

DIRECTING– MINISERIES/MOVIE/DRAMATIC SPECIAL

Nominees: Steve Soderbergh, Behind The Candelabra (HBO); Julian Jarrold, The Girl (HBO); David Mamet, Phil Spector (HBO); Allison Anders, Ring Of Fire (Lifetime); Jane Campion and Garth Davis, Top Of The Lake, Part 5 (Sundance Channel).

Steven Soderbergh has a lock on this, though I’d give it to Jane Campion and Garth Davis.

And that’s it for this year.

While the Emmys are running, I’ll be watching Breaking Bad.