A bunch of Emmy rule changes brought about a very interesting field of nominations Thursday. But as usual, for every unsuspecting shocker, there was a head-scratching shut-out. Here are the biggest surprises and snubs.
Tatiana Maslany: It finally happened. After snubs the past two years, the arguably hardest working woman in TV finally made the cut. Earlier this year, she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, perhaps a harbinger for good things to come since actors vote for acting nominees at the Emmys.
The comedy actor field: With all due respect to the all the talented previous nominees, this category has been a total snoozefest in recent years. It's mostly been the same faces and Jim Parsons has had a chokehold, winning four times. So color us shocked when they injected much-needed new life into it with three new names. Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) was expected, but Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) and Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) - two of our dream nominees - are well-deserved nominees.
Tons of fresh faces in general: The Emmys are creatures of habit, constantly rubberstamping nominees and winners, but it pulled a Golden Globes this year, shortlisting a bunch of freshmen nominees and/or previously un-nominated contenders. Transparent and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt snagged comedy series nods, whileBetter Call Saul broke through in drama series and would be the first spin-off of a previous drama series winner to earn the top prize. Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) and Taraji P. Henson (Empire) scored their expected nods in drama actress, becoming the sixth and seventh African-American actresses to do so; none have ever won (two-time nominee Kerry Washington was also snubbed). Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele) grabbed a supporting comedy actor mention, and the eight-person supporting comedy actress field features three newcomers: Niecy Nash (Getting On), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent), who also scored a guest actor nod for Girls.
Parks and Recreation: The Emmys have never been into Parks and Rec - it's only received one previous comedy series nomination and Amy Poehler has never won, for anything - and the fact that NBC basically rushed it off the air ostensibly didn't help. And yet, it somehow managed a comedy series nod over perennial nominee The Big Bang Theory (see below).
Happy returns: The best nominations are the reactive ones to quality.Homeland was dropped last year after that loathed Season 3, but it's back in the drama series mix following its well-received, resurgent fourth season. (Conversely, the Emmys did not nominate The Good Wife last year after its Season 5 renaissance.) Also making comebacks are Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) in drama actress and Late Show with David Letterman for variety talk series. Mad Men, which is going for a record fifth drama series trophy, has never won an acting Emmy (leading man Jon Hamm would extend his biggest loser record to 0-8 if he doesn't win). Late Show hadn't been nominated since 2009 and hasn't won since 2002.
Grace of Monaco: Because LOL.
Game of Thrones, Tatiana Maslany lead Emmy nominations
Jane the Virgin: One day, the Emmys will get over its CW bias. That day is not today. No show or actor from the CW has ever been nominated for major prizes, and Gina Rodriguez was its best shot since the WB's Lauren Graham/Gilmore Girls days. The silver lining: Jane narrator Anthony Mendez was nominated for his narration.
Empire: The sensation of the season was almost too big to fail and had to get in, right? After all, the Emmys have nominated populist shows before (Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, House) and an extra seventh slot in the series races meant extra room. Instead, it was left out in the cold, meaning this is the fourth straight year a network show has not been nominated in drama series. Empire, in fact, only received three nods total.
Julianna Margulies: In 2013, The Good Wife star was unceremoniously dropped after winning the award, and it just happened again, a year after snagging the trophy. The reality is that drama actress was a super competitive field this year, but conspiracy theorists would surely suggest that the infamous Kalicia "reunion" had something to do with it. Fun fact: The Good Wife has won an acting award every year it's been on. It's up to Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming and guest actor Michael J. Fox to continue that trend.
The Big Bang Theory: The four-time comedy series nominee failed to make the cut even in the expanded field, but the biggest snub is without a doubt Jim Parsons. The two-time defending champ and overall four-time winner was gunning for a record fifth statuette. Perhaps voters didn't want him to have more Emmys than Carroll O'Connor, Kelsey Grammer and Michael J. Fox?
The Americans: It's official: The Emmys just do not like The Americans. The sterling spy drama managed just two nominations for a grand total of five over the past three seasons. One of them was drama guest actress for Margo Martindale - her third in a row - which really should've gone to Lois Smith for her exceptional performance in "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?" The Americans has at least one more year to change its Emmy fortunes, which can't be said for its FX network mates, the departed Justified and Sons of Anarchy.
Maggie Smith: Have the Emmys finally stopped name-checking nominees? Probably not, but it's a head-turner to see the Dowager Countess left off the supporting drama actress list. Instead, her much-deserving Downton Abbey co-star Joanne Froggatt, who won the Golden Globe, is up for the honor.
The Affair: The Showtime drama won two Golden Globes for drama series and drama actress for Ruth Wilson in January, but it was blanked by the TV academy. It's the first Globe champ to not be nominated for drama series at the Emmys since Nip/Tuck 10 years ago and Wilson is the first Globe champ to fail to get an Emmy nod since Katey Sagal four years ago.
What do you think of the nominations?
We break down the Emmy nods: