2016 Emmy Award Nominees: The Biggest Surprises and Worst Disappointments
Boy, that was quick. 2016 Emmy nominees were announced this morning, and special presenters Lauren Graham and (a very excitable) Anthony Anderson wasted no time in revealing this year’s crop of nominees. While there was rightfully plenty of love to go around for dramas like The People v. O.J. Simpson and Mr. Robot, and comedy faves Veep and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, there were a few disappointments — namely, where the hell is UnREAL?! Or The Leftovers? Come on, Emmys.
There was plenty to be thrilled about among this year’s list, including multiple nods for The People v. O.J. Simpson (Sarah Paulson!), Game of Thrones (Kit Harington, sure), Veep, Mr. Robot (hooray!) and even Silicon Valley. The usual suspects were all present and annoyingly accounted for as well, like Modern Family and Downton Abbey. There’s so much to love and despise about this year’s nominees, but below we’ve chosen the most exciting (and egregious) of the bunch.
1. The Americans Finally Gets Noticed
Crazy as it may seem, FX’s Cold War spy drama hasn’t received much love from the Emmys in the past. Margo Martindale has been nominated several times for her fantastic guest appearances, but this is the first year that The Americans picked up some legit nominations. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are up for Outstanding Lead Actress and Actor, respectively, while the series itself is in the running for Outstanding Drama and Writing. Oh, and Martindale picked up her fourth Emmy nod to the surprise of absolutely no one.
2. Veep Rules Everything Around Me
Despite creator and showrunner Armando Iannucci’s departure last year, Season 5 of the hit HBO political comedy series may have been the best yet. Veep picked up 17 nominations this year, including nods for Directing, Writing, Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, and noms for various supporting and guest stars — including Peter MacNicol, whose performance as Jonah’s outrageous, ill-tempered uncle nearly stole the whole damn show. It’s hard to be disappointed here, though I do wish the consistently hilarious Timothy Simons had been nominated for his supporting role.
3. Okay, But Where the Hell Is UnREAL?
One of the biggest surprises of last year was UnREAL, the new drama series about what goes on behind the scenes of a Bachelor-style reality show. Maybe no one at the Emmys is watching it because it’s on Lifetime — and I get it. When I tell people how incredible this show is, I usually have to say, “It’s on Lifetime, BUT HEAR ME OUT.” It’s easily the most fierce, feminist and compelling drama on TV right now, and hopefully Season 2 (which is currently airing) will sway voters next year. At least Constance Zimmer rightfully picked up a nom for Outstanding Supporting Actress, which is literally the least they could do.
4. And For That Matter, Where Is The Leftovers?
Last year’s news that the show’s upcoming third season will be its last felt bittersweet for fans of HBO’s complex, riveting drama, which has received absolutely zero love from the Emmys. While I’m thrilled that we’re getting one more season to wrap things up and give these characters some sense of closure, it’s kind of a bummer that the series didn’t catch on with audiences as much as it should have — or Emmy voters, either, apparently.
Justin Theroux is good, yes, but the real stars of The Leftovers are Carrie Coon, Regina King and Ann Dowd, all of whom have given unnervingly fantastic performances. Season 2’s best episode, “Lens,” pit Coon and King against each other in one of last year’s most intense hours of television, and was totally worth a nomination for best writing, at the very least. There’s always Season 3, I guess.
5. Hey, At Least They Honored the Best Netflix and Amazon Comedies
While Maria Bamford’s incomparably zany and deeply relatable Lady Dynamite didn’t make the cut (maybe next year), the Emmys got things right elsewhere. Aziz Ansari’s insightful comedy Master of None, the blissfully wonderful Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the consistently fascinating Transparent were each bestowed with multiple nominations. I can deal with the Emmys’ absurd, never-ending affection for Modern Family as long as shows like these get their due. Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Aziz Ansari, Ellie Kemper and Jeffrey Tambor all seriously earned those acting nominations, though I would have liked to see Lisa Kudrow up there for her guest spot on Kimmy Schmidt, or Transparent star Jay Duplass, who took a laughably despicable character and gave him painful dimension in Season 3.
6. No, You’re the Worst, Emmy Voters
Oh, hey, another snub for You’re the Worst. I can understand why Season 1 maybe didn’t make the cut, but Season 2 took a darkly comedic show about two relationship-phobic people and their deeply flawed friends and transformed it into a poignant (but still darkly comedic) exploration of depression and neuroses and what we do (both good and bad) for the people we love. That show has gotten so much better than it has any right to be, and at the very least, Kether Donohue should have gotten a nom for her dizzying portrayal of Lindsey, the MVP of Hot Messes everywhere.
7. Jessica Jones Should Punch Someone Through a Wall
Okay, Krysten Ritter’s fantastically flawed Jessica Jones probably couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about the Emmys, but I do. Where’s the acclaim for one of last year’s most acclaimed new series? The mere fact that a Netflix show based on a Marvel comic book character could explore concepts like rape culture with such breathtaking complexity and nuance is nothing short of astonishing. We need a separate Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Blowing Your Mind.
8. Tatiana Maslany Can Get It
It took them long enough, but the Emmys finally recognized the impeccably versatile talent of Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany last year. Although the BBC America series isn’t as good as it once was (though still pretty good!), Maslany picked up another well-deserved nomination this year for the sci-fi drama series in which she plays various clones. It’s been said often, but it’s true: Maslany is so great that you often forget it’s the same actress playing every role.
9. The Knick. The Knick. The Knick.
Season 1 of Steven Soderbergh’s intense period drama picked up nine nominations — mostly for makeup, production design and directing — but Season 2 is bizarrely absent from this year’s list. Homeland ceased being worthy of acclaim sometime around Season 3, and I’m fairly certain the only people still watching are parents who still want to feel sorta woke and aren’t quite ready to switch over to NCIS or JAG or whatever. In any case, The Knick deserves the same nods it earned in Season 1 and then some — specifically for Clive Owen’s lead performance and equally good supporting work from Andre Holland, Chris Sullivan and Cara Seymour. While we’re at it, let’s give Clive Owen’s shoes a special award because seriously, those shoes.
10. Oh Hannibal, Where Art Thou
Are we really that surprised that the Emmys snubbed Hannibal again? At least they’re consistent. Bryan Fuller’s gorgeously macabre NBC series was too good for the network and probably too good for the Emmys, as well. Fannibals can rest easy in their knowledge that Fuller made something truly special despite the lack of awards recognition — especially in Season 4, which fully embraced the deranged affection between its two leads and gave us what might be the greatest, most unsettling love story ever told on television. Still, not even a nod for production design? Or how about for Mads Mikkelsen, who was finally allowed to put the titular villain’s delectable lunacy on full display in the fourth and final season? Gillian Anderson, then? Nothing? Oh, okay, whatever.