Emmy Nominations 2011: The Year's Biggest Snubs and Surprises

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It’s Emmy nomination day! By now, we’re sure the TV nerds among you have scoured the nominations, looking for heartening wildcards and frustrating omissions. Of course, we’ve been knee-deep in the wonkery, too. After the jump, we list the nominees in each of the Emmys’ most prominent categories and underline what we feel are this year’s biggest snubs and surprises. Tell us whether you think every single actor on Modern Family deserved a nomination — or complain about something entirely different — in the comments.

Best drama series Boardwalk Empire Friday Night Lights Dexter Game of Thrones The Good Wife Mad Men

Snubs: Many assumed that FX’s critical darling Justified would get a nod this year. It’s also notable that two new AMC shows — The Killing and The Walking Dead — didn’t merit nominations. Both launched with great premiere episodes and high expectations but deteriorated in quality over the course of the season. (Breaking Bad, meanwhile, wasn’t eligible because its new season won’t start until this weekend.) True Blood, which was up for an Emmy last year, is also absent from the list. Although we love the show, we have to admit that it’s better as trashy fun than award-winning television. We would, however, have liked to see Big Love recognized for finishing up strong and changing the show in response to fans’ criticisms after a few weird seasons. To round out the trifecta of HBO snubs, where is Treme? Just because no one’s watching it doesn’t mean David Simon’s lost his touch.

Surprises: Although HBO’s Game of Thrones has been popular with many viewers and some critics, many doubted the Emmys would consider a fantasy series. It’s a good day for genre-TV geeks.

Best comedy series Modern Family 30 Rock Glee The Office The Big Bang Theory Parks and Recreation

Snubs: Nurse Jackie is the only continuing series that was nominated in 2010 and not 2011. This seems about right to us — the show gets less interesting the more we watch it. In our opinion, though, the wonderful-but-canceled United States of Tara, which just finished an excellent season, merited consideration. Also, in terms of quirky, nerdy comedies, Community has it all over The Big Bang Theory.

Surprises: There really are no shockers on this list, although considering its declining quality, the Glee nomination seems more obligatory than deserved. Meanwhile, it’s not surprising that critical favorite Parks and Recreation made the cut after last year’s snub, but it sure is nice to see it here.

Drama actress Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights Mireille Enos, The Killing

Snubs: Two grand dames of TV who made the list last year — Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close — didn’t make the cut in 2011 (in Close’s case, this is probably because of the way Damages‘ seasons have been timed). But the biggest snub is January Jones, who was nominated in 2010 but is replaced this year by her co-star Elisabeth Moss. We think it’s a good swap.

Surprises: Harry’s Law hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention, and for a while there, it seemed doubtful that it would get renewed, but it’s always nice to see the always-fabulous Kathy Bates get the recognition she deserves.

Drama actor Jon Hamm, Mad Men Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights Michael C. Hall, Dexter Hugh Laurie, House Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Snubs: This was a pretty predictable list — everyone who was nominated last year and eligible again in 2011 made it. That being said, William H. Macy got fantastic reviews for his role in Shameless, so his exclusion feels like a snub. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead shutout continues, with no nomination for Andrew Lincoln as frustratingly one-dimensional hero Rick Grimes.

Surprises: None.

Comedy actor Steve Carell, The Office Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory Matt LeBlanc, Episodes Louis C.K., Louie Johnny Galecki, Big Bang Theory

Snubs: Well, maybe the empire of Glee is finally starting to fall — Matthew Morrison, aka the increasingly creepy Mr. Schue, is nowhere to be found among this year’s nominees. All of the other nominations are consistent with last year’s and make good sense — but couldn’t they somehow have found room for Joel McHale?

Surprises: Welcome back, Matt LeBlanc!

Comedy actress Tina Fey, 30 Rock Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Laura Linney, The Big C Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly

Snubs: Oh, hell no. Oh, hell no, Emmy voters! You did not just snub Toni Collette in her last year on United States of Tara, in favor of two actresses doing inferior work on inferior shows on the same network (Laura Linney and Edie Falco)! We’re talking about a woman who believably portrays a lady with more personalities than we can count on one hand and who raised the stakes this year with a chilling depiction of Tara’s sadistic, teenage “abuser alter.” We’re just going to say it: there was not a single better performance on TV this year. (Also? Buh-bye to Lea Michele, who made the cut last year but won’t be vying for an Emmy in 2011, thank God.)

Surprises: We have to admit we haven’t been watching Mike & Molly, but we love Melissa McCarthy and are both surprised and pleased to see her among the nominees. Martha Plimpton’s nomination, meanwhile, doesn’t seem undeserved, but with such a strong pool of actresses this year, she wouldn’t have been on our list of predictions.

Supporting drama actor Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age John Slattery, Mad Men Alan Cumming, The Good Wife Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones Josh Charles, The Good Wife Walton Goggins, Justified

Snubs: John Noble, who took home a Critics’ Choice TV Award this year for his work on Fringe, didn’t even score a nomination — although considering that the Emmys seemed to have forgotten about that show’s existence this year, his omission isn’t a huge surprise. More questionable is his fellow Critics’ Choice nominee Michael Pitt’s absence from the list. Boardwalk Empire is certainly on the Emmy radar, and Pitt is among its strongest actors. And, for that matter, where is Michael Shannon?

Surprises: Honestly, nothing on the list seems particularly out of the blue, although it’s notable that The Good Wife managed to score two nods in this category; Alan Cumming was a favorite, so few would have wagered that Josh Charles would also be nominated.

Supporting drama actress Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire Christine Baranski, The Good Wife Michelle Forbes, The Killing Margo Martindale, Justified Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Snubs: Paz de la Huerta was robbed! Uh, but seriously, guys. Where is Chloë Sevigny, who has made Big Love worth watching for five seasons.

Surprises: Everyone seems to love Kelly Macdonald on Boardwalk Empire, so we aren’t shocked to see her nomination. But we find her so wet as to verge on camp. It’s certainly not among the six best supporting performances of the year.

Supporting comedy actor Ty Burrell, Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Ed O’Neill, Modern Family Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men Chris Colfer, Glee

Snubs: For heaven’s sake, where do we start? Contrary to what the Emmy folks seem to think, Modern Family is not the only comedy on TV! First of all, there’s Adam Scott and Rob Lowe and Nick Offerman — Ron Freaking Swanson! — on Parks and Recreation. You couldn’t even nominate one of them? We’re thinking Tracy Morgan’s homophobic outburst a while back lost him a nomination, but how about his unsung 30 Rock co-star, Jack McBrayer? Remember when you loved Neil Patrick Harris, who just won a Critics’ Choice TV Award for his role on How I Met Your Mother? You nominated him for four years straight. Why no love in 2011? And, again, a nod for Community might have helped the show stay on the air.

Surprises: Seriously, guys? You nominated, like, the whole cast of Modern Family? For real? Also, sorry, Jon Cryer, loved you in Pretty in Pink, but could we stop pretending that putting up with Charlie Sheen is Emmy-worthy in itself? We’re not really surprised — just disappointed.

Supporting comedy actress Julie Bowen, Modern Family Sofia Vergara, Modern Family Jane Lynch, Glee Betty White, Hot in Cleveland Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

Snubs: Holland Taylor of Two and a Half Men is the only actress who was nominated in this category last year but didn’t make the 2011 list — which, like, fine. The less we continue to hear about that show, the better. The real snub is Cougar Town‘s Busy Phillips, who just nabbed a Critics’ Choice TV Award.

Surprises: None. Betty White is new to the list this year, but everyone Betty White is America’s foul-mouthed, elderly sweetheart, so she was never an underdog.

Reality competition So You Think You Can Dance Top Chef The Amazing Race American Idol Dancing With the Stars Project Runway

Snubs: These are actually exactly the same shows that got nominated last year, plus one — So You Think You Can Dance. But the best reality competition on TV is RuPaul’s Drag Race, on Logo, which finished its most wonderful season yet a few months ago and deserves so many more viewers than it has.

Surprises: Uh, are you guys watching the same Project Runway we swore off at the end of last season? Spoiler alert: It used to be good, and now it’s awful. Stop nominating it!

Variety, music or comedy series The Colbert Report Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Saturday Night Live Conan Real Time with Bill Maher The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Snubs: Well, well, well! Somewhere, Conan O’Brien is doing a serious fist-pump. He made the list while the two biggest names in late-night — Jay Leno and Dave Letterman — are conspicuously absent. Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel Live has earned a ton of praise this year and still couldn’t crack the list. Also, although no one seems to agree with us, we think Chelsea Lately is wonderful.

Surprises: The only show to make the list this year that didn’t appear in 2010 is Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. And you know what? We hated Fallon on SNL and were skeptical of the show when it was announced, but we think he’s absolutely earned it.