As usual, today's Emmy nominations included a lot of familiar names. (Hello again, "Mad Men"; nice to see you, too, "Modern Family.") But the TV academy still managed to sneak in a few shockers — and left off plenty of very deserving contenders as well. Here are a few surprises and our highly opinionated list of snubs from this year's Emmy nominations.
Surprise: Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
How you doin'? The former "Friends" star has earned some of the best reviews of his career for his self-mocking role on Showtime's "Episodes," but we were still surprised to hear his name called. (We didn't think anyone knew that show existed.) It's doubly shocking because he never received the acting kudos that his "Friends" cohorts Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry did, and neither of them earned nominations for their new projects, "Cougar Town" and "Mr. Sunshine." LeBlanc still has a long way to go to make up for "Joey," though.
Snub: Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
It's rare to see a reigning Emmy winner not even get a measly nomination the following year, but that's just what happened to Sedgwick, who stars as super sleuth Brenda Johnson on TNT's hit procedural. And it's all the stranger when head-scratchers like Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law") and Mireille Enos ("The Killing") earned first-time nominations instead. We wonder if even Brenda herself could solve this mystery.
Surprise: Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly"
We should've known McCarthy was in when they asked her to read the Emmy nominations this morning. But it was still a stunner to see her land a Best Actress in a Comedy nomination (her first) for CBS's lightly regarded "Mike & Molly." Did her recent scene-stealing turn in the big-screen hit "Bridesmaids" win her votes? Or did she simply sneak into an admittedly weak category that's had to resort to dramedies like "Nurse Jackie" and "The Big C" to fill out its ranks?
Snub: "The Voice"
With its strong ratings, unique concept, and Mark Burnett's golden touch, we were sure "The Voice" would be a shoo-in to get an Emmy nod for Outstanding Reality Competition Program. The rookie series took the "American Idol" formula and turned it upside down with compelling blind auditions, exciting duet battle rounds, a roster of contestants with genuine singing talent, and four superstar music artists — Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton — as the show's coaches. From beginning to end, "The Voice" hit all the right notes, and perhaps if it had received a nomination, it may have actually taken home the award — something "Idol" has failed to do at the Emmys all eight years it's been nominated.
Snub: Nick Offerman, "Parks and Recreation"
Remember how devastated Ron Swanson was when he discovered his favorite steakhouse had closed down? Yeah, that's us right now. Sure, we're thrilled that "Parks" got a Best Comedy Series nod, along with Amy Poehler. But we just can't understand how we live in a world where Nick Offerman's sublimely stoic performance as the gruff Swanson goes unrecognized. We'll take a page from the man himself and blame the snub on the bureaucrats in Washington.
Snub: "Cougar Town"
Look, we love "Glee" and "Modern Family," and we were delighted to see them recognized when the nominations were announced. However, TV's funniest sophomore series, "Cougar Town," was blatantly brushed aside. Blasphemy! "Cougar" is truly one of the best ensemble shows on the air because of star Courteney Cox's chemistry with supporting players Busy Philipps and Christa Miller. Unfortunately, the show's risqué title is most likely to blame for turning off viewers and offending uptight Academy voters, who prevented the laugher from getting its due recognition.
Snub: Michael Shannon, "Boardwalk Empire"
Steve Buscemi gets the lion's share of "Empire's" acting accolades (including his Emmy nod today), but we want to call attention to Shannon's fearless performance as conflicted Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden. With his obsessive zeal for stamping out moral impurity and secret masochistic streak, Van Alden proved that cops can be just as screwed up as criminals. Shannon scored an Oscar nomination for 2008's "Revolutionary Road"; he deserved to match that with an Emmy nod this year.
Snub: "Big Love"
We tend to hate how Emmy voters fawn over departing shows that are well past their prime. Case in point: "Lost," which really didn't deserve an Outstanding Drama Series nod last year. But we get it: Honoring a show for its game-changing run makes sense. So why didn't "Big Love" make the cut this year? HBO's groundbreaking polygamist drama rebounded after its lackluster fourth season and delivered its strongest outing to date, thanks primarily to the brilliant and painfully underrated performances of Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his three sister wives: Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloe Sevigny), and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) — who were also robbed of nominations.
Snub: Mae Whitman, "Parenthood"
Never mind the fact that Whitman is already 23; when she's playing "Parenthood" teen Amber Holt, nobody is better at demonstrating life's grueling growing pains. And Season 2 had plenty of pain for Amber, who navigated parental strife, college rejection, and even a near-fatal car accident. In the hands of a less skilled actress, it could've played like movie-of-the-week melodrama. But instead it felt so real that sometimes Whitman wasn't the only one getting choked up.
Comedian Louis C.K. scored a surprise nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy, but we still think his bleak autobiographical FX series deserved a nod as well. "Louie" gets so dark and disturbing at times, it's hard to even call it a "comedy," but it also manages to provide more laughs than most network sitcoms. Season 1 of "Louie" established C.K. as a bold new voice in TV comedy, and it definitely deserved to be ranked among the year's top five comedies — especially considering what did get
nominated. "Glee"? Please.
Snub: Patricia Heaton, "The Middle"
Yes, she's a polarizing figure because of her politics. Yes, she already has two Lead Actress Emmys on her mantle for her work on "Everybody Loves Raymond." Yes, the kids on "The Middle" steal the show nearly every single week. Yes, there are a ton of additional reasons why Patricia Heaton's name wasn't called out when the noms were announced Thursday morning. That, however, doesn't excuse her absence from the category she once owned; Heaton's constantly frazzled Frankie Heck is the most realistic middle class American mom on TV since Roseanne.
OK, we feel a little guilty touting fluff like the "Real Housewives" franchise for an Emmy. But in a category that nominates can't-look-away horror shows like "Hoarders," surely we can find room for a show that actually entertains
people, no? In its first season, "Beverly Hills" shot to the head of the "Housewives" class with ridiculous displays of wealth, juicy catfights, and the most uncomfortable dinner party in reality TV history. And can you imagine Camille Grammer's acceptance speech?
Snub: "Men of a Certain Age"
Yes, the show's Andre Braugher scored a Supporting Actor nomination. But Season 2 of "Certain Age" showed how strong all three of its leads are, not to mention its writers and producers. Womanizer Terry (Scott Bakula) scored his first taste of real love — and had it taken away from him. Meanwhile, gambling addict Joe (Ray Romano) found a new way to get his fix, but lost a friend in the process. And Owen (Braugher) struggled to turn around the car dealership his father drove in to the ground. More than just a sum of its parts, this star-studded series proved it's a show of a certain caliber.
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