Thursday, July 16, 2015

My reaction to the 2015 Emmy nominations

Well, the knock on the Emmys has always been it’s the same shows vying every year. Not so anymore. Today’s announcement of this year’s nominations make it very clear – we’ve entered a new era, where new delivery systems are recognized, where buzz beats out ratings, and where DVD screeners determine which shows and actors get selected.

Some random thoughts:

You can now be on any network, channel, website, or streaming service and get nominated… except the CW.

JANE THE VIRGIN, on the CW, received one nomination… for Best Narrator.

Lily Tomlin was nominated but not Jane Fonda. That should make for a fun set.

Expect THE DAILY SHOW to win everything. Expect people to say nice things about David Letterman but give Jon Stewart the hardware.

The best drama of the year was not even nominated – THE GOOD WIFE. Considering they have to make 22 a year when the other nominees get to make 13 in two years it’s just not fair.

There were nominated shows that I never heard of, have no idea what platform they’re on, and I have the screeners.

Good job NBC. You had KIMMY SCHMIDT but tossed it out. Much better to keep and air ONE BIG HAPPY.

As I’ve said before, I love TRANSPARENT but it’s not a comedy. That said, there are many worthy candidates for Best Comedy and I would not be upset if any one of them toppled MODERN FAMILY. MF is a great show, has deserved its accolades, but I’m sorry, it’s been on auto-pilot for the last few years.

What does it say when MODERN FAMILY and DOWNTON ABBEY get zero writing nominations?

I was a little surprised BLACKISH didn’t get a nom for Best Comedy. MOM as well. They too are penalized by being on the big delivery services that everyone can see. If BLACKISH were on BET-3 it probably would be in there. If JANE THE VIRGIN were on BET-3 it might have received a nomination.

Why was BROAD CITY ignored?

And why didn't EMPIRE receive more Emmy love? Taraji P. Henson, however, is my one lock this year. Even though Robin Wright deserves to win.

Okay, I have two locks – Jeffrey Tambor.

BIG BANG THEORY is done as far as Emmy is concerned. Even Jim Parsons wasn’t nominated.

I say this every year, THE MIDDLE deserves to be nominated, if not win.

In a very crowded drama category, why the hell is DOWNTON ABBEY still getting nominations?

Tatiana Maslany finally got a nomination… now that her show is no longer good.

As always, the TV Academy loves movie stars. Appear in anything other than a Michael Bay film and you get a nomination.

To be nominated for Best Limited Series you must have AMERICAN in your name. Not so for Best Drama where THE AMERICANS was passed over. (It did get a writing nomination, though.)

Ricky Gervais’ nominated for DEREK, but in the Mini-Series category?  Huh?

Multiple nominations for Alan Alda. So MASH wasn’t just a fluke.

Toughest acting category: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. All are great except for Lena Dunham. But this is Amy Schumer’s year. (UPDATE:  The list I saw was incorrect.  Lena Dunham was NOT nominated.  Her fifteen minutes are officially up.)

Gee, how come they announce the actor categories on the live stream and not the writer categories? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)

Christina Hendricks just nominated for MAD MEN was fired last week from a new Cameron Crowe upcoming series.

I didn’t see any of the Outstanding Television Movies. I have no idea what’s happening in that category. I binged-watched TRANSPARENT instead.

I love that Paul Giamatti was nominated for Best Guest Actor playing “Juror #10.” That 12 Angry Man sketch on INSIDE AMY SCHUMER was the funniest five minutes of the year.

Jon Hamm was also nominated for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy for a KIMMY SCHMIDT appearance. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he won for that and never for MAD MEN?

And of course Tina Fey got nominated for Best Guest Actor. If she put herself up for Best Lighting Director she’d be nominated. Same with Jeff Daniels.

And ditto Bill Murray. He gets nominated for everything. When was the last time Bill Murray was actually great?

Jill Soloway is going to easily win the Best Writing in a Comedy Emmy. Her pilot script is sensational. The only thing it’s missing is laughs.

She’ll probably win for Best Directing too, but I have no beef with that.

And finally, Heidi Klum got nominated for an Emmy. Whew!

I’m sure I’m leaving a bunch of stuff out and there are snubs I’ve overlooked, but I wanted to post this as soon as I could.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Most are well deserved. There’s a lot of celebrating today, along with a lot of people saying, “Fuck you, Academy!”

The Primetime Emmys’ are September 20th. I’ll be reviewing them in this space. Andy Samberg will host. You’d think that would be worth a nomination but apparently not.  So the Emmy host is saying, "Fuck you, Academy!"


Igor said...

About KIMMY SCHMIDT - I like the show, but I wonder if it would have been received as well if it was 22 minutes... wait a week... 22 minutes... wait a week...

I am not saying it wouldn't have done well as on NBC as a weekly, but I am starting to wonder if there's a different grab-the-audience dynamic when a show (especially a 'quirky' show) is put up for immediate binge-watching versus 1/week.

And THE LAST MAN ON EARTH seems to have played to that - i.e., it's a weekly, but on weeks 1, 4, 5 & 6 it ran double episodes.

Elf said...

Ken, you said "That 12 Angry Man sketch on INSIDE AMY SCHUMER was the funniest five minutes of the year."

Except that sketch was the entire episode, save for an on-the-street interview coda.

By Ken Levine said...

It zipped by and felt like five minutes. I now love it even more

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

NO big nominations for "The Americans"??!!! OUTRAGEOUS!!!! Ok I'll calm down now. I love that show. May be this is the year that "Mad Men" ends its 0 for 32 streak for an individual acting award. That's also OUTRAGEOUS! I'm not as up with the comedies, don't watch Big Bang Theory, OITNB, Parks & Rec or Kimmy Schmidt. My 2 current favorites are Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Bojack Horseman. I'm with you on "Orphan Black", the show is now dreadful but Tatiana Maslany is fantastic.
I'll have to binge watch "Better Call Saul"- love, love, love Breaking Bad so I'll have to catch it. Hope Jon Hamm or Elisabeth Moss wins one going away in Mad Men, --LL

MikeN said...

Bill Murray was MVP of SNL40.

MikeN said...

Christina Hendricks for Mad Men is absurd. Nominating someone because their character threatened to sue for discrimination is really lame. As an actress this was probably her weakest season.

Peter said...

When was the last time Bill Murray was actually great?

Last year in St Vincent. If you haven't seen it, put it top of your list. It's not only hilarious but also very moving. There's one scene, I won't spoil it, but it's incredibly emotional and he shows his acting chops just from body language in the way he reacts to some news. Any actor who can have you laughing your head off one minute and make you cry the next is a genius.

Old Hippy said...

Ken this is off topic but as I was trolling through the blog archives I saw an idea you had tossed out in jest. Since you are The Professional, I'll let you sell it. Here's what you wrote back then..

"I wish there was a cable channel that showed FORGOTTEN TELEVISION. Just because a series didn’t have 200 episodes doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrific. Many of these forgotten gems deserve an audience."

You would think with all the delivery systems available these days FORGOTTEN TELEVISION would really fly. But then again I may have been exposed to one too many spins of "Brown Eyed Girl" from my radio daze..Never mind, if I like it, then it's doomed to fail since I'm "not in the demo"..

scott o. said...

So do you agree that there's so much content on broadcast, cable, streaming etc., that no one can watch or keep track of it all and the nominations are a joke?

Tammy said...

Matthew Rhys snubbed again? *sigh*

Regarding the "is it or isn't it comedy" thing, they should just add a Dramedy category, otherwise it really is comparing appples and oranges.

Michael said...

Friday question: Besides being an ego boost, do acting EMMY nominations/wins really matter? Do they give actors extra leverage in salary negotiations or help get them next job? I understand show nominations can help get shows more attention, which is more important than ever with so many viewing choices, but not clear there is as much a benefit to actor nominations.

JB said...

Ken, did you decide to stick with Orphan Black? Talk about going off the rails! I won't spoil anything but wait til you see what they did with "the original Castor" person.
Even so, Maslany totally deserves the nom.

Mark said...

Another Friday question: I live in NoHo and I noticed lots of billboards for some networks (particularly the pay services and AMC) and almost none for others (particularly CBS). Do these ad campaigns work? Would a few more billboards have made a difference for Orphan Black last year? Or do they just tell us which networks feel they have something to prove?

John Constantine said...

Zero nominations for JUSTIFIED. The entire thing is a joke.

Brian said...

Good news! No nomination for Lena Dunham. Not sure why you thought there was, but maybe it's an understandable bit of exhaustion with everyone's constant helicopter parenting of her? (: Anyway, since I share your antipathy of her, I thought you might want to update. Thanks for a great blog!

Johnny Walker said...

Unrelated Friday Question, if possible:

I'm watching CHEERS again (3rd time). I am now pretty convinced that the first season is probably the best season of any sitcom ever, but I was wondering about behind the scenes as I watched it. I know that the Charles Bros really wanted Sam Simon and Ken Estin to work on the first season with them, but NBC saved TAXI from ABC's cancellation, and Simon and Estin were locked in to that show.

This opened the door for you and David, and for an amazing first year, but then TAXI was finally cancelled for good (after a lacklustre fifth season), so where did they leave you and David? Was there still a position for you and David now that Simon and Estin were available? If so, would you have been working under them? I was just wondering if politics played any part in your decision to move to AFTERMASH (even though you obviously were getting to work with a comedy hero of yours, Larry Gelbart).

The humour subtly shifts in Season 2 and not, in my opinion, for the better. The jokes get a little broader (like suddenly the whole bar reacting in unison to something), and while it's still very good, I do wonder what it would have been like if you and David had still been around.

It's obviously easy to look back with hindsight and imagine the huge success of CHEERS (and the slightly lesser success AFTERMASH) looming, but at that time I'm sure it wasn't such a clear-cut decision. CHEERS wasn't a hit until Season 3, right?

Anyways, thanks!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Still nothing for JUSTIFIED? I'd like to see MOM get more credit. Lots of good choices IMO.

Agree about THE BIG BANG THEORY; it's not a particularly good show any more, although Mayim Bialik certainly deserves her nomination. I loved THE GOOD WIFE for its first five years, but its quality has been declining and last year was frustrating. I'm not surprised it missed out. I also think the fuss about the faked final scene between Alicia and Kalinda could have hurt the show. And not just Kalinda - Alicia was barely on-screen with any of the regular cast last year. It was as though they were making two different shows sandwiched together into the same hour.


Bruce B. said...

Use sex, gore, or foul language and you're an Emmy nominee. Says a lot about the state of television. It even says more when so many shows up for the television awards are not even ON television.

VP81955 said...

Mark, there was a billboard for "Mom" on Sunset BOulevard (IIRC, near the Comedy Store).

Ed from SFV said...

I don't know if you have taken the time to watch Better Call Saul, Ken. You really should. It's a fantastic example of the writers starting out with terrific characters and then allowing those characters to take them to places not considered/known as they began. I have rarely seen such fearless and smart storytelling.

Bob Odenkirk gave us a genius portrayal to savor, as well.

I know. I know. Hype has blurred almost all meaning from words like I just wrote. Please just accept my sincerity and allow me a modicum of respect as a hardened viewer. You'll need to watch at least the first three eps (five would be much better) to appreciate what Gilligan and company achieved. That they intentionally took their sweet time developing the series as it went along, of itself, is incredibly noteworthy.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Nice job on a short deadline. Thorough, informative and entertaining.

Jake said...

How does 2 Broke Girls get 3 nominations but Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs and The Middle get none?

Friday question: what do you think of the Adam Goldberg vs. Adam F. Goldberg Twitter feud?

Rowan said...

Wendy Grossman brought up an interesting thought that I'd like to put up as a Friday Question: Do behind the scenes bad behavior (like, say, the allegations that Juliana Margulies refused to be in the same set at the same time as co-star Archie Panjabi for even one scene in Archie's last episode) sometimes result in an Emmy Ward snub from their peers as a way to show their disapproval?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Returning to Ken's original post, I'm not clear why he thinks Jane Fonda, who has won many awards herself, is going to make things unpleasant because Lily Tomlin (who IMO had the more demandingly nuanced part) was nominated.


Justin Russo said...

'Kimmy Schmidt' got some wonderful and deserved love (save for Ellie Kemper). Jane Krakowski is incredibly underrated as a force. She has the Tony but Jenna Maroney is likely THE most absurd mainstream character. I am very glad she is continuing to be wonderful on 'Kimmy.'

Ken, I am unsure if you were opposed to Tina Fey getting nominated, but that entire courtroom sequence was gold. Tina has a knack for making surreal humor palatable. She also, as Amy Schumer recognized, helped open the conversation wider about female comics. Just look at the '30 Rock' episode 'Stride of Pride' from Season 7.

Amy Schumer however DESERVES these nominations and accolades as well. She has hit the zeitgeist while pushing boundaries that shouldn't even be up. Lena Dunham did understand that a bit but I fear she took her character's desire "to be the voice of her generation" too seriously and in turn became utterly grating. One becomes the voice for a movement or group by acting on it, not declaring it. I wholly agree that the "12 Angry Men" parody somehow made me "liz" my pants by understanding the current view of women in media and still somehow stay true to such a revelatory source material (which also broke barriers).

Paul Giamotti = excellent in almost all things

As far as Best Actress goes, I do think Amy should bring home the bacon but her SHOW is the true winner. That should really win. Actress should go to Lisa Kudrow. I read an article recently suggesting the best comedic actress at the moment and it was between Julia L. D. and Kudrow. Kudrow somehow has pathos and humor and understands how to create a character. The gold should be in her hands just like Valerie Cherish.

End rant.

Rick said...

When was the last time Bill Murray was great? When he did this to an unsuspecting fan:

James Van Hise said...

I stopped watching the Emmys a few years ago after they did an entire show which was a tribute to "reality shows" in front of an audience filled with actors and writers whose careers have been negatively impacted by these so called reality shows. That seemed like a big slap in the face to me. The show even ran long because at the end they did a big segment in which the "best" reality show host was chosen from a lineup via a contest, and then they later tried to blame the show running long on Howie Mandel who had routine at the very start of the show!

Jeff Maxwell said...

Yet another Friday question...

Ken, a friend (really true) asked me to ask you the following:

When presenting an original half-hour comedy pilot to a producer, not a network, is it helpful or necessary to also include a show bible along with character descriptions? Or should the script stand on its own without needing the extra material for explanation?

Thank you.

Jon B. said...

Ken, Bill Murray was excellent in ST. VINCENT.

I, like you, found ORPHAN BLACK a tough go this year, but I enjoyed the last few episodes a lot and, as a result, I have some hope the series will be watchable again next year.

BETTER CALL SAUL was amazing, Ken. How could so many of us have doubted that Vince Gilligan and his team would fail to deliver the highest quality?

D. McEwan said...

Here's the Emmy Nomination that left me scratching my head, and the heads of passers-by: How the hell is Michael-Keegan Key a SUPPORTING actor on >Key & Peele?