AnTV: 2017 Emmy Nominations Reactions

The 2017 Emmy nominations were announced two weeks ago. Now that the dust has settled, and reality has set in, it's time to take a closer look at some of the major categories to see who was snubbed, who surprised everyone, and who should definitely win in each category.

Best Drama Series

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Crow (Netflix)

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Westworld (HBO)

This Is Us (NBC)

The actual strangest thing about this category is not seeing Game of Thrones on the list. Last year's winner for Best Drama Series, Game of Thrones missed eligibility for the Emmys this year because its season didn't premiere until after the nominations were released, let alone voted on. As a result, the field doesn't have to contend with a previous winner of the award for the first time in a while, as each of the nominated dramas would be taking home the prize for the first time ever. In terms of snubs, Mr. Robot stands out as the biggest one; many people criticized the show's second season, almost entirely without merit in this writer's opinion, and it looks like the Emmy voters bought in to the unearned negativity by shutting it out of the race this year. In terms of those shows which did make the cut, all are seemingly deserving of the recognition save House of Cards, which hasn't been very good since its first season back in 2013. Of the other five series, I would most love to see Better Call Saul take the award; consistently one of the best shows on television, perhaps even the best show currently on television, Better Call Saul is a joy to watch as it slowly unspools week after week, with fan favorite Breaking Bad characters Jimmy McGill and Mike Ehrmantraut marching inexorably to their fates while new characters' fates, including those of Nacho and Kim, yet to be revealed to us. I also adored The Crown, Westworld, and of course Stranger Things, however I have not yet gotten around to seeing The Handmaid's Tale. In all, the category could be stronger without the inclusion of House of Cards, however it isn't too disappointing of a field even without Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot.

Best Comedy Series

Atlanta (FX)

black-ish (ABC)

Master of None (Netflix)

Modern Family (ABC)

Silicon Valley (HBO)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

Veep (HBO)

Another nearly-perfect category, the Television Academy nominated six truly worthy comedy series for this award . . . and also Modern Family. That blemish aside, It's hard to really pick amongst the other nominees here, as they all represent some of the very best that comedy has to offer on television. In terms of snubs, Modern Family could easily have been removed from the list in order to make a place for either Brooklyn Nine-Nine or The Good Place; both series are truly exemplary of the notion that network comedy can still be among the best in a time when cable and premium cable comedies seem to be dominating the landscape (especially the dual HBO titans of Silicon Valley and Veep). Of course, there is barely any need to even mention It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia as a snub when it has become a yearly refrain for the past 12 years; how what is arguably the funniest show on television has never been nominated in this category, the world will never know. While those snubs do sting, we can all at least take solace in the fact that The Big Bang Theory is mercifully absent from the category. That said, there is a lot to love about what remains. black-ish features a mainly black cast and represents the network sitcom done right; the series has been willing to tackle difficult issues in the past but almost always does so skillfully and without losing its sense of humor. What more can be said about Veep and Silicon Valley that hasn't already been said? The two shows are almost suspiciously funny, and I am still not discounting their creators making some unholy demonic alliance to bring about such success. Master of None, Aziz Ansari's brainchild that stars the comedian as a fictionalized version of himself on the hunt for love and good food in New York City, returned with a second season even better and more daring than the first this year. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt bounced back from a second season that was admittedly a bit weaker than the first with a powerhouse third season that saw co-star Tituss Burgess take even more of the spotlight (a very good thing). But then there is Atlanta. Donald Glover took the blank creative check FX gave him and really ran with it, creating a wholly unique vision of the titular city steeped in hip hop culture and the one-of-a-kind sense of humor possessed by its creator. Of all the comedies that aired on television over the last year, none of them really hit as hard as Atlanta, so it's not even close as to what should be winning this category.

Best Limited Series

Big Little Lies (HBO)

Fargo (FX)

Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)

Genius (National Geographic)

The Night Of (HBO)

This category sees yet another enormous omission due to the Emmys' eligibility period rules. David Lynch's Twin Peaks revival on Showtime, which aired only four of its eighteen episodes prior to the cutoff for this year, will have to wait until 2018 in order to get its time in the Emmy spotlight. What Twin Peaks is currently achieving is so unprecedented for television, even for premium cable, that it is fortunate for these five series they do not have to contend with it. That said, the rest of the nominees are pretty solid. Admittedly, I have not seen either Big Little Lies or Genius, however I have heard very positive buzz surrounding both limited series. Nevertheless, it seems absurd to imagine anything other than either Feud or Fargo walking away with this award (although I believe Big Little Lies will eventually win - the talk about the show has been inescapable since it aired, plus it has some undeniable star power on its side in the form of its stacked cast). Nevertheless, FX should be proud of both Feud and Fargo, as they both perfectly exemplified why the limited series format is so special and so effective. Long-form storytelling with a predetermined end point really allowed Feud, for example, to get into the minds of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, develop them as characters, and also have enough time to comment on the sorry state of the entertainment business that they both had to navigate. As for Fargo, creator Noah Hawley once again spun a tale of hapless criminals, the messes they make, and the doggedly determined law enforcement officers that have to take them down. The case, including Carrie Coon, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth WInstead, Michael Stuhlbarg, and David Thewlis, was stellar and the ending may have been the best in the series' illustrious run. Fargo would be my personal pick but I'd be thrilled to see Feud take it as well. 

Best Variety Talk Series

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

Leaving out Bill Maher from the discussion due to his most recent spat of problematic behavior, the biggest surprise here is that, Jimmy Fallon has been left out in the cold. The NBC host has been under heavy criticism dating back to his infamous tousling of Donald Trump's hair during their softball interview during the election last year; that incident, combined with Fallon's seeming lack of desire to get too political on his show has lead to an almost complete reversal of ratings fortune between himself and the surging Colbert, whose series is finally getting the ratings it has deserved since Colbert took over. In terms of snubs who actually deserved a nomination, I would've removed Bill Maher and added in Late Night with Seth Meyes; Meyers has truly brought his signature voice to Late Night, turning his desk pieces into viral smashes and demonstrating an uncanny strength as an interviewer. Out of the remaining nominees, though, Samantha Bee winning would be a truly great moment in Emmy history. I love John Oliver and his show, but he won last year (in a much-deserved victory). Bee is doing just as strong work on TBS and deserves a win this year.

Best Animated Series

Archer (FX)

Bob's Burgers (Fox)

Elena and the Secret of Avalor (Disney Channel)

The Simpsons (Fox)

South Park (Comedy Central)

Full disclosure: I have never seen Elena and the Secret of Avalor (shocking, I know). I also haven't watched The Simpsons in probably ten years or more. As for the remaining three nominees, of which I watch every episode, I think South Park had the weakest season. Trey Parker and Matt Stone had a season-long narrative arc planned out, an arc which was torpedoed when Donald Trump won the presidential election, and that narrative chaos really hurt the show in the back half of the season. Archer and Bob's Burgers both, on the other hand, had very strong showings this year. While I am aware that the Emmys nominate single episodes, I still believe that the shows should be evaluated on the strength of their seasons as well, and in a close race I have to give this one to Bob's Burgers. Archer's Dreamland experiment this season was fantastic, but the season wasn't as consistently hilarious as it has been in the past, and as Bob's Burgers was this year. In terms of snubs, not seeing Adventure Time in this category is sad, as that series is brilliant.

The Acting Categories

The Emmys boast no less than 16 acting categories, between lead, supporting and guest actors/actresses in comedies, dramas, and miniseries/TV movies. Rather than going through all of those nominees individually, I thought I would highlight some of the actors whose work I loved most this year and some of those undeservedly left off the various lists.

In Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Evan Rachel Wood was incredible as Dolores on Westworld, a shining star in a cast full of them. Claire Foy's take on Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown was similarly stunning, a portrait of a woman with power thrust upon her rising to the occasion and leading post-WWII England through the back half of the 1900s. I have also heard nothing but effusive praise for Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale. For Best Actor in a Drama Series, Anthony Hopkins brought his typical skill to the role of Dr. Robert Ford in Westworld, pulling all the strings from the park's control complex and orchestrating the events of the show from behind the curtain. Bob Odenkirk, however, finally deserves a win in this category for his career-best work on Better Call Saul; his Jimmy McGill is a portrait of a man trying to do right but constantly pulled down into the depths of wrong by self-doubt and the universe seemingly conspiring against him. Truly marvelous work.

In Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Ellie Kemper once against harnesses a bottomless well of manic energy as Kimmy Schmidt and comes away with an Emmy nod. Of course, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss makes the field once more; Selina Meyer will go down in history alongside Elaine Benes as one of the greatest comic characters in television history when all is said and done. The realy wildcard there is Tracee Ellis Ross on black-ish, however; Ross won at the Golden Globes earlier this year and could finally wrest the Emmy away from JLD's clutches. I was disappointed to not see Kristen Bell amongst the nominees for her work on The Good Place, which was great. In Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, the trifecta of Aziz Ansari, Zach Galifianakis, and Donald Glover joins perennial winner Jeffrey Tambor, black-ish dad Anthony Anderson, and Shameless star William H. Macy in a true heavy-hitter category. I'm pulling for Donald Glover, personally, but it'll probably go to Jeffrey Tambor yet again. Not seeing Andy Samberg in here for Brooklyn Nine-Nine was disappointing, although the Emmys do finally seem to be done showering nominations and wins on Jim Parsons for his awful work on the similarly awful Big Bang Theory.

In Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie, Susan Saradon and Jessice Lange may cancel each other's performances out for Feud, despite both being brilliant and heartbreaking at the same time. Carrie Coon managed to sneak into the category for her portrayal of Gloria Burgle in Fargo's third season, another strong contender. The category will probably go to Nicole Kidman for Big Little Lies, however, with that show's relentless hype likely giving it the sweep in its nominated categories. Riz Ahmed and John Turturro may similarly cancel each other out for The Night Of in Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV movie, and Ewan McGregor received mixed praise for his portrayal of the Stussy brothers on Fargo, which could allow Robert De Niro to take the win for playing Bernie Madoff in The Wizard of Lies. The Emmy voters do seem to love Sherlock, as well, so Benedict Cumberbatch should not be counted out.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series sees Uzo Aduba in the mix for Orange is the New Black, going against OITNB alum Samira Wiley, who is nominated for The Handmaid's Tale. For me, personally, I'm hoping that Thandie Newton wins for her work on Westworld; in addition to Evan Rachel Wood, Newton was one of the strongest characters on that series. I, of course, shouldn't discount Millie Bobby Brown for her work as Eleven on Stranger Things either. Speaking of Stranger Things, please give David Harbour an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Please. I wouldn't mind John Lithgow (The Crown), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), or Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), but come on

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series sees three SNL stars getting recognized with Vanessa Bayer (who departed the show), Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon all making the cut. Joining them are the hilarious Anna Chlumsky, for Veep, and Judith Light and Kathryn Hahn for Transparent. I think McKinnon deserves this win for the second straight year, however; she is the true star of SNL these days and has an absurdly enormous pool of talent from which she draws. Over in Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Tituss Burgess had his best season on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet and more than deserves this win. The category is jam-packed, however, with Louie Anderson in for Baskets, Veep sneaking both Tony Hale and Matt Walsh into the field, Alec Baldwin nominated for playing Donald Trump on SNL, and, ugh, Ty Burrell somehow getting in for Modern Family. Meanwhile, Ted Danson gets left out in the cold for his incredible performance on NBC's The Good Place. Andre Braugher also came away with no nomination for his work as Captain Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

 

And that's it for my selective reactions to the many of the 2017 Emmy nominations. Who do you most want to win? What was the biggest snub for you this year? Why do you think Modern Family is still allowed to steal nominations from more-deserving series and actors year-after-year? Let me know in the comments.