It's hard to recall the last time a list of Emmy nominations prompted such an outpouring of glee.
But with so many new shows and fresh faces in the various categories, along with amending at least one long-time snub (the lead Friday Night Lights actors!) while delivering a giddy slap in the face to the establishment—take that, NBC; we're nominating Conan's short-lived Tonight Show over Jay's—there's much more reason to celebrate this year than to gripe. Click here for the full list of nominations.
Let's break it down by genre.
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My main worry was that Lost and its controversial but spectacular final season would get lost in the clutter. Amazingly, that's didn't happen, and a show that won for its first season finds its final year going up against repeat nominees from the world of cable: Mad Men (no doubt still the front runner after two consecutive wins), Breaking Bad and Dexter. Ousting House (and it's about time) from the network top tier is CBS' freshman breakout hit The Good Wife. And this year's inevitable HBO slot goes to guilty pleasure True Blood.
Snubs: HBO's scrupulously authentic but sometimes underpowered Treme may end up falling into the Wire trap of being more acclaimed than beloved by Emmy voters. Too subtle (and some, I'm sure, would say too boring). Friday Night Lights once again doesn't make the cut for best drama, but at least it earns some major love for its actors this year, and for writing (the standout "The Son" episode), so someone is finally paying attention. Would have liked to see something from FX make the list: either the final season of Damages (for its return to form) or the first season of the hugely entertaining Justified. As for the final year of 24: It had its moment, and this season was not one of them.
In lead acting, how great for Lost's Matthew Fox to finally get a nomination and for Friday Night Lights' quietly heroic Kyle Chandler to break into one of the toughest categories. (The return nominees are formidable: two-time winner Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall and Hugh Laurie, all equally deserving.) Was also thrilled to see Chandler's acting partner Connie Britton and Hamm's estranged TV mate January Jones join the ranks of nominated lead actresses. The front-runner here is most likely Good Wife's Julianna Margulies, with a Golden Globe and SAG Award already to her credit.
In the supporting field, glad to see the women of Mad Men (especially Christina Hendricks, alongside Elisabeth Moss) recognized, as well as Good Wife's Christine Baranski (who also a guest-comedy nod for The Big Bang Theory) and the wonderful Archie Panjabi. Sharon Gless (a long-time Emmy darling) getting noticed for Burn Notice was a fun surprise, but I'm sorry Grey's Anatomy's strong supporting cast (most notably Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh) was snubbed. Among the men, Damages' Martin Short and Men of a Certain Age's Andre Braugher are the first-timers facing Lost vets Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn (but no Josh Holloway?), Breaking Bad's remarkable Aaron Paul and Mad Men's super-cool John Slattery.
In the guest-actor category, I've already fielded mail from fans upset that Friday Night Lights' Zach Gilford wasn't acknowledged for his work on "The Son," and some of that can be attributed to a bias against younger actors in almost every category. But look at the competition in this one: Ted Danson for Damages, John Lithgow's killer work on Dexter (how this doesn't qualify as a supporting-actor performance is beyond me), Alan Cumming and Dylan Baker, both superlative in The Good Wife; Gregory Itzin's reprise of the despicable President Logan on 24 and Robert Morse's mercurial Mad Men boss. (Only Beau Bridges, an Emmy stalwart, for an episode of The Closer is debatable here.) From the guest-actress ranks, Lily Tomlin's steely matriarch from Damages and Elizabeth Mitchell's overdue nod as the doomed Juliet from Lost are the standouts.
The bias against traditional multi-camera comedies is alive and well, as CBS hit The Big Bang Theory is shut out in favor of the played-out The Office. But otherwise, how to argue about a list that includes first-timers Glee (the most nominated series with 19 nominations), Modern Family (14) and the very dark Nurse Jackie (8)? Though more uneven than ever, 30 Rock is still NBC's most distinctive comedy (though I'd liked to have seen Community get some attention), and HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm boasted the mock Seinfeld reunion so had to be considered a lock. (Entourage dropped off the radar altogether, and HBO's other feeble stabs at comedy last season were justifiably ignored.) The battle this year is really between Glee and Modern Family, and I'll be curious how that plays out.
Still rooting, as I did last year, for Jim Parsons to win for lead comedy actor for his inspired creation of Big Bang's Sheldon Cooper, and once again, his biggest threat will be 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin. (Unless a sentimental vote for Monk's Tony Shalhoub provides an upset. Thankfully, this is his last year of eligibility, potentially opening the door next year for more new blood like Community's Joel McHale.)
Glee's leading man Matthew Morrison and belter supreme Lea Michele are unsurprising breakthroughs, but the lead female field is especially tough, with Showtime's Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) and last year's winner Toni Collette (Tara) going up against SNL alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (the sole major nomination for Parks and Recreation) and, for the last time, Old Christine's Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (I was hoping and expecting that The Middle's harried heroine Patricia Heaton would make the cut, and/or Courteney Cox of the underrated Cougar Town.)
Modern Family dominates the supporting actor field, with Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet all nominated. (Sorry not to see Ed O'Neill there; maybe next year he should submit himself in the lead category, although I respect the ensemble's choice not to elevate any one star.) Chris Colfer as Glee's proudly gay Kurt is the category's other newbie, competing against How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris (who's also nominated for his guest turn on Glee) and Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer.
Glee's uproarious Jane Lynch (also nominated for her guest role as Charlie's shrink on Two and a Half Men) is the front-runner among supporting-actress nominees, who include Modern Family's Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, SNL's versatile Kristen Wiig, 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski and Two and a Half Men's Holland Taylor.
Standouts in guest performing include the ubiquitous Betty White from her SNL hosting gig—how can she lose?—and Mike O'Malley's memorably poignant performance as Kurt's dad on Glee.
Finally, a thought about the reality-competition category. While it seems a foregone conclusion that The Amazing Race will win an eighth consecutive Emmy, its only real competitor should be Survivor, which had a terrific watercooler season—thanks, Russell!—and wasn't even nominated. Instead, American Idol makes the cut again, for an underwhelming season from every perspective: performing, hosting, judging. Project Runway stumbled out of the gate on Lifetime, but it's still somehow deemed worthy. And TV's best performance series, So You Think You Can Dance, still can't get any respect (though it did earn two choreography nods). There are always irritating oversights in any Emmy list, but snubbing Survivor qualifies as this year's most egregious head-scratcher.
And while I reserve the right to change my mind as I analyze the categories further, my knee-jerk prediction of how the races will play out goes like this:
Drama: Mad Men (again; they shook everything up)
Comedy: Glee as phenom (or Modern Family as the truly finest work in comedy)
Actor, drama: Hugh Laurie (because he's overdue, and only for the season bookends, but this one is anyone's game)
Actress, drama: Julianna Margulies
Actor, comedy: Jim Parsons
Actress, comedy: Edie Falco
Supporting actor, drama: Aaron Paul (if the Lost guys cancel each other out; otherwise, Terry O'Quinn)
Supporting actress, drama: Christina Hendricks or Archie Panjabi (I'm torn)
Supporting actor, comedy: Ty Burrell
Supporting actress, comedy: Jane Lynch
So what did you think of the nominees? Sound off below.