Emmy Nominations: A TV Academy Member Dishes on His Ballot
Emmys: Sibling Writers Compete as 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad' Vie for Top Drama
I recently had a marathon phone conversation with one of the most diligent of the 15,000 members of the TV Academy of Arts and Sciences -- a young male who watches virtually every major drama and comedy series and attends their panels and receptions -- who agreed to share with me the names of the shows and people he voted for on his nomination ballot for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards. (Nomination ballots had to be turned in on June 28 and the nominations will be announced on July 18.)
His picks are not necessarily indicative of how the overall membership felt about these shows -- nothing really is -- but they are as carefully considered as any voter's picks could be, and, as you can read below each of them, cogently defended.
Best Drama Series
1. Mad Men
Well-written and visually-beautiful, as always, this season was particularly powerful and devastating to watch, as Don Draper's problems finally came to a head.
2. Game of Thrones
Its ambition and writing are second to none, as demonstrated by the fact that they killed off several major characters and not only retained their audience but became the talk of the town.
3. Downton Abbey
With its intertwining and melodramatic storylines, it's hard to argue that this isn't a period-piece soap opera -- but it's a soap opera that's so smart that you can feel proud to watch it.
4. Breaking Bad
Watching the show is probably not unlike being on meth -- once you start, you can't stop. Vince Gilligan and his stars are winding down the series even better than they began it.
There's no question that it has fallen off a bit since season one, but it still has breathtaking moments that will get your heart beating faster than just about anything else on the air.
6. House of Cards
At a time when real-world politics are as dirty and cutthroat as ever, it's oddly cathartic to watch a show that revolves around a politician who is open and honest -- at least to the audience -- about being a scoundrel.
Best Actor (Drama Series)
1. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
He plays the most complex character on television and makes it look effortless. Plus he's an incredibly nice guy who made a strong impression at this year's TV Academy talkback.
2. Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Hamm has always played Don as totally in-control, which made the latter part of this season, when his emotions finally bubbled to the surface, all the more powerful. Getting caught wiped the smirk right off his face, possibly forever.
3. Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
He's an average-looking guy, but when he's on screen you can't take your eyes off of him. I find the Shakespearean asides to the audience to be a little off-putting, but the overall performance to be masterfully nuanced. And a great Q&A and event at the TV Academy certainly didn't hurt.
4. Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Has there ever been a better depiction of Stockholm Syndrome? And, like the lead characters on The Americans, you find yourself liking the guy in spite of his muddled ideology because you want to believe that he will eventually come around.
5. Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)
Daniels rises above the inherent flaws of the show and gives a searing portrayal of a man in crisis. (I'm always fascinated by characters who present different private and public faces.) Plus he stayed at the TV Academy reception until there were only 10 people left, which really endeared him to a lot of people.