'Game of Thrones' leads Emmy nominees
Fantasy saga Game of Thrones is this year's top Emmy nominee with 19, including best drama, while other critically acclaimed shows such as The Good Wife didn't make the list.PT0M59S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3bqna 620 349 July 11, 2014
Critically acclaimed dramas True Detective and Fargo have pushed their way to the top of the Emmy totem pole, but where was Girls? And Brooklyn Nine Nine? And The Good Wife? Why no nominations for James Spader? Or Sofia Vergara?
In true form, the nominations for the 66th annual Emmy Awards were full of surprises and oversights, though it is clear in the key drama, comedy and miniseries categories they are bulging under the weight of the world's best TV programs.
Snubbed by Emmys ... Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in 'The Good Wife', left. Photo: The Good Wife
This year's list of nominees is notable not for who appears in it, but who does not.
Where is The Good Wife, which delivered what many consider to be one of the finest seasons on record? It is a show which delivers top notch writing, with at least twice the volume of most of the nominated TV drama series: 22 episodes compared to a dozen or less.
Where is Ray Donovan, arguably one of the best cable dramas? And, for that matter, where is a nomination for Liev Schreiber whose performance as the conflicted fixer is one of the most mesmerising on TV? Schreiber's performance is breathtaking.
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series ... Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in the news drama series, 'The Newsroom'. The HBO series missed out on being nominated for in the drama category. Photo: AP
Where is The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin's brutal deconstruction of the modern television media?
Where is Homeland, not just a former nominee but a former winner for outstanding drama series in 2012 and outstanding writing in a drama series in 2013. From there to no nomination at all? That's a fall from grace indeed.
Where is The Blacklist and James Spader? Was it excluded because it's a network drama and, for the most part, the key categories of the Emmys are now the province of cable programming? Or simply because there was no room?
Left out ... James Spader as 'Red' Raymond Reddington in 'The Blacklist'. Photo: Channel Seven
And where is The Walking Dead? A decade ago "genre" shows (fantasy, horror, science fiction) never placed in the key categories but in the post-Game of Thrones, post-American Horror Story world nothing could be further from the truth. So how come the world's most successful cable drama is so poorly represented in the nominations?
The two key categories - outstanding drama series and outstanding comedy series - once again proved to be near-impenetrable clubs.
Only one new series managed to push into drama, the HBO crime series True Detective. It will face off against five well established nominees: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Mad Men.
Winner ... Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in 'Game of Thrones', which received 19 Emmy nominations. Photo: HBO
And only two new series pushed into comedy: HBO's Silicon Valley and Netflix's Orange is the New Black, joining The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Modern Family and Veep.
Of those, Netflix's Orange is the New Black is the most contentious because it is, essentially, a "comedy/drama" which leans towards the latter and is basically pushing its luck with the Emmy's self-submission rules.
Knowing it has no hope of getting traction in the drama category, and that it technically qualifies for either, it has instead been submitted as a comedy where it is up against three-camera half-hour comedies and single-camera cable comedies.
Nominated for best drama series... Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in 'True Detective'. Photo: HBO
In a similar fashion, the FX drama Fargo technically qualifies as both a drama and a miniseries, and has, for the same reason, elected to submit as the latter, landing in the outstanding miniseries category where the competitive heat is less likely to burn.
There, Fargo is up against American Horror Story: Coven, Bonnie and Clyde, Luther, Treme and The White Queen. And with a slip of the pen its chances go from zilch to very, very real.
True Detective, meanwhile, could have been submitted in either drama series or miniseries - it's story and cast will change for the second season - but HBO elected to submit as a drama series, no doubt confident that the sheer force of the show's film star cast could push it to a win.
Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo in a scene from 'Fargo'. Thornton was nominated for an Emmy Award for best actor in a miniseries. Photo: AP
Those categorical blips illustrate the biggest challenge an event like the Emmy Awards has in an era where genre boundaries are heavily blurred, and competitive force has never been higher.
They also illustrate the inequity of pitting one hour dramas against half hour sitcoms in the comedy category, or indeed using the short commitment of a miniseries to draw A-list film actors to a TV project and then using their force of personality to upset the apple-cart.
On a program basis, HBO's epic fantasy drama Game of Thrones leads the tally with 19 nominations, plumped up in creative areas such as costume and make-up, but well represented in the drama, actor and actress categories as well.
The rookie drama, Fargo, which became one of the most talked about new series and a breakout hit on the US schedule, sliced off 18 nominations for itself and is the second most nominated program. Not bad for a kid on its first outing to the ball game.
American Horror Story: Coven took out 17 nominations and the HBO drama The Normal Heart a commanding 16 nominations. Coming fifth with 16 nominations was Breaking Bad, the critically exalted cable drama which bowed out last year with a compelling final season.
On a network or channel basis, HBO leads the charge with 99 nominations. Its nearest competitor, CBS, is a long way behind with 47 nominations. Proof, if you needed it, that the Emmy Awards have been overtaken by a wealth of quality cable dramas and comedies in the last few years.
The network NBC was third with 46 nominations, followed by FX (45), ABC (37), PBS (34), Netflix (31), AMC (26), Showtime (24) and Comedy Central (21).
The announcement of the nominations was made by comedian Mindy Kaling and television host Carson Daly at the headquarters of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in LA's North Hollywood.
The winners will be announced at the Creative Arts Emmys on August 16 and the 66th annual Prime Time Emmy Awards on August 25.