7 Pleasant Surprises From The 2015 Emmy Nominations

By  · Published on July 17th, 2015

BBC America

Three-time Emmy nominee Dog With a Blog. That’s real thing, thanks to the 2015 Emmy nominations, which were announced this morning (If you’d like to peruse the full list, here you go). Shockingly, the Emmy voters seem to be on the ball this year. Some obvious snubs (Empire fans mourn) and as usual, the Emmys have plucked one show out of a hat and pummeled it with way too many acting nominations. Out of 12 total Supporting Actor/Actress in a Limited Series or Movie slots, American Horror Story: Freak Show nabbed five.

Mostly, though, the Emmys are ditching the old stale routines and limbering up. It’s a blessed thing. And it’s left us with plenty of pleasantly surprising nominations to discuss.

1. Game of Thrones Is the Year’s Big Winner

This year’s Emmy winner for most Emmy nominations: Game of Thrones, with a whopping 24 total potential awards (the closest runners up were AHS: Freak Show with 19 and HBO’s Olive Kitteridge with 13). I guess the pleasantness of this surprise is relative, depending on how you took this year’s season of GoT. If you loved it, great; if you soured at the controversial rape scene and all that Dorne stuff… maybe not. Still, 24 nominations is nothing to sneeze at.

And “Hardhome” scored nominations for Production Design, Cinematography, Editing, Prosthetic Makeup, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. That we can agree on, right?

2. A Banner Year for Black Actors

The Emmys have been plenty whitewashed in the past. They still are, mostly. But this year’s acting nominations were a solid push towards a more diverse field. Nearly every acting category contained at least one black actor (Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Lead Actress in a Comedy Series were two of the rare few without). A couple standout categories:

Lead Actress in a Drama Series, with Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, with Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele) and Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

All outstanding picks.

3. Streaming TV Gets the Recognition It Deserves

Streaming TV’s been a legitimate entity for a few years now, but the Emmys have been a little slow on the trend. They’ve finally caught up. We’ve got a representative of streaming TV in every one of the six largest categories (for the record, I’m counting those as Series, Lead Actor and Lead Actress in Comedy/Drama). Obvious nods like Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor (I’d be dumbstruck if he didn’t win), but also outside choices like Lily Tomlin for Grace and Frankie, and Kyle Chandler for Bloodline.

Netflix closed out the day with 34 total nominations, and 12 for Amazon- 11 of those going to Transparent (Amazon’s lone non-Transparent nominee was Bosch for Outstanding Main Title Design. They’re pretty nifty). Really makes it clear who runs the streaming game in this town.

4. Tatiana Maslany Finally Gets a Nomination

I have never seen Orphan Black. But Neil Miller has, and he’s making me include it in this piece (I’ll watch it one day, Neil, I swear), so here we go: Tatiana Maslany’s been a one-woman army on Orphan Black, playing a small army of clones for three seasons now. She’s an incredible performer, according to the critics. And the Internet. And Neil. Good on the Emmys for finally recognizing that. Apparently, Maslany herself assumed she’d be passed over again this year, so I’d wager she’s feeling pretty great right now.

Will she win? No idea. It’s a tough category, between Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis and Elisabeth Moss’s final season on Mad Men. I just hope they read “Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel and Krystal” (as it says in the official Emmy text) during the ceremony.

5. The Big Bang Theory Gets Snubbed, Hard

Is this mean? Even if it is, I’m placing “The Big Bang Theory and Jim Parsons get snubbed” squarely in the “pleasant surprise” category. I’ve never understood the Emmy voters adoration of this show. I’ve watched it. I’ve even laughed. It’s a reasonably okay sitcom. Yet it’s been nominated four Outstanding Comedy Series for the last four years (no wins), and Parsons has been nominated for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for the past six years. With four wins. Someone else is winning that trophy this year, by default. Again, that someone is probably Jeffrey Tambor.

6. The Emmy Voters’ Taste in Comedy Improves

As a general rule, I can’t stand the Emmy voters’ taste in comedy actors. Every year Supporting Actor is half the cast of Modern Family, plus a sympathy runner-up or two (I inhale Modern Family reruns like potato chips, but come on). Last year was better, with newcomers Fred Armisen (Portlandia) and Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). This year is best- Ty Burrell is the sole Modern Family nominee and we’ve got two more extremely deserving newcomers in Key & Peele’s Key and Kimmy Schmidt’s Tituss Burgess.

Lead Actor in a Comedy is also an improvement, having thrown Anthony Anderson a nomination for black-ish and Will Forte one for The Last Man On Earth (also Tambor. Always Tambor). Ditto for the actress side of things- hooray for Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Shumer), hooray for Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie). Although I’ve always kinda thought the Emmy picks were more solid on the comedic actress categories.

7. Jon Hamm Might Actually Win an Emmy

Jon Hamm has been nominated for Lead Actor in a Drama Series every year, since Mad Men began (that’s eight straight nominations, counting the last split season as two years). He’s never won. 2015 is his last chance. I’m hopeful, considering Breaking Bad is over and Bryan Cranston was an Emmy vacuum (for a couple years the Emmys tried to mix it up, but chose guys like Kyle Chandler and Jeff Daniels over Hamm).

Without Cranston or either of last year’s True Detective leads, Hamm’s starting to look like a frontrunner. His fiercest competition is probably Kevin Spacey, but who knows? Maybe they go oddball again and give it to Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) or Kyle Chandler. Hopefully, this being the last year of Mad Men is enough of a guilt trip to get Hamm his long-deserved statue.


Any other Emmy nominations catch you off guard?

Related Topics: