Nitpicking the Noms: This Year’s Emmy Snubs and Surprises

by | July 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM | 2013 Emmy Nominations, TV News

Snubbed? Clockwise from upper left: Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"), Rob Lowe ("Behind the Candelabra"), David Letterman ("Late Show"), Monica Potter ("Parenthood"). (Photos: CBS, HBO, NBC)

Every year at Emmy nomination time, we have the same lament: If only the Emmys could include more nominations.

Think about it: Each category — from the most important to the least — contains five or six nominees, a number that’s been more or less static for the whole history of the Emmys.

But then consider how many shows and channels we have today. How on earth can the Emmys encompass all the outstanding work being done on the hundreds of dramas, comedies and reality shows on TV today if the number of nominees remains the same?

The answer: They really can’t.

And that gives us the opportunity each year to talk (OK, to gripe) about who we wish the Emmy voters had nominated, but did not — and to plumb some of the other mysteries of the Emmys such as: How does “Antiques Roadshow” wind up vying with “Deadliest Catch” for an Emmy award?

Here we go:

1) Drama actresses left out in the cold: Drama series on the old-fashioned broadcast networks were omitted from a number of top categories, thanks to the motherlode of quality dramas seen these days on cable networks ranging from HBO and Showtime to AMC and FX. While there were no network dramas in the Best Drama nominations nor any leading actors from any network dramas in the Best Dramatic Actor category, two leading ladies made the Dramatic Actress list — Connie Britton of “Nashville” and Kerry Washington of “Scandal.” And we beg to differ: We happen to have a soft spot for Julianna Margulies, who dominates her series, “The Good Wife” on CBS, like no other lead actress on network TV but was not nominated this year. And then there was Monica Potter this past season on “Parenthood,” whose character contended with cancer. We thought she was a shoo-in for a nomination for this brave performance. Evidently, we thought wrong.

Watch Aaron Paul and Neil Patrick Harris announce the Emmy nominations on Thursday morning:

2) A Lowe blow: This is the one that, based solely on our own personal taste, is an authentic omission, if not a snub, of one of the top performances on TV this year. It was Rob Lowe in a supporting role in HBO’s Liberace movie “Behind the Candelabra” (which, to be fair, got a slew of rightful nominations). Lowe, in heavy makeup and hairpiece, played an otherworldly, drug-addled plastic surgeon in scenes that were brief but electrifying — the very essence of an award-worthy supporting role. Instead, the Emmys nominated supporting player Scott Bakula for the same movie, and he was very good. But still …

3) Late-night’s old guard takes it on the chin: The older generation, represented by David Letterman and Jay Leno, were left out of the fray in the Outstanding Variety Series category (which is where the late-night shows get nominated). All the nominations went to younger-skewing shows and hosts — Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and “Saturday Night Live.” We felt that maybe Letterman would get a nomination this year since this was the year he was honored by the Kennedy Center as a one-man cultural institution. But it was not to be.

4) Make room for “Downton”: This is an example of why there ought to be more nominees — a sprawling drama series such as “Downton Abbey,” whose huge cast turns in some of the finest performances on TV week after week. Congrats to nominees Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carson (“Mr. Carson”) and Maggie Smith. But what of Phyllis Logan (“Mrs. Hughes”), Lesley Nicol (“Mrs. Patmore”), Laura Carmichael (“Lady Edith”), Brendan Coyle (“Bates”), Joanne Froggatt (“Anna”) — the list of possible nominees from what might be the finest series currently on TV just goes on and on …

5) Reality bites: Every year, we’re intrigued by the reality-TV categories and this year is no exception. What caught our eye this year: The seeming incongruity of competing nominees in the Outstanding Reality Program category. With “Antiques Roadshow” competing with the likes of “Deadliest Catch,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” “Mythbusters,” “Shark Tank” and “Undercover Boss,” this category is literally all over the map. This isn’t a snub complaint (though, come to think of it, we wish “The First 48″ had been nominated) — just one of the mysteries of the Emmys.

6) Speaking of reality — What? No “Duck Dynasty”? Are you kidding me?: Now here’s a genuine omission and, yes, it probably qualifies as a snub. No show on TV made a bigger splash or had a greater impact on the industry than “Duck Dynasty” this past season. This series was beautifully produced, and it drew, on average, 8.5 million viewers per episode on A&E — numbers that shocked everyone. Sure, we know the Emmy nominations are not based on ratings, but they should be based, at least in part, on impact and innovation — and “Duck Dynasty” encompassed both.