Best drama series: Boardwalk Empire Breaking Bad Downton Abbey Game of Thrones Homeland Mad Men
Snubs: The small but vocal Justified fan base will be annoyed to see that show ignored for yet another year. Meanwhile, Dexter — which many weren’t happy with last season — and The Good Wife both got nods in 2011 but were pushed off the list by newcomers Downton Abbey (which competed in the miniseries category last year) and Homeland. In the latter’s case especially, this seems like a good trade. Finally, after a second season that restored many viewers’ faith in The Walking Dead, it’s notable that the show is still only racking up technical award nominations.
Surprises: There really aren’t any. Homeland has gotten such huge buzz that it would have been shocking if it didn’t get a nomination. And even though not everyone was thrilled with Downton Abbey‘s second season, it’s become such a staple of Quality Television that it was basically guaranteed recognition, too.
Best comedy series: The Big Bang Theory Curb Your Enthusiasm Girls Modern Family 30 Rock Veep
Snubs: Ugh. Yuck. We live in a world with Community, Parks and Recreation, and Louie — and these are the shows that get nominated? We don’t dislike any of them — OK, we’re not fans of The Big Bang Theory at all — but how about a nod for the excellent Bored to Death in its final season (despite the fact that it accidentally ended on kind of a gross bummer note)? Where is Laura Dern and Mike White’s painfully perceptive Enlightened? Meanwhile, what we won’t complain about is the lack of love for Glee and The Office, both of which were nominated last year but are now well past their prime.
Surprises: It may not be surprising to see 30 Rock honored instead of Community and Parks and Rec, despite the fact that both of its Thursday night neighbors had far stronger seasons than Tina Fey’s show, which seems to be running out of material — but it is irritating. Curb Your Enthusiasm, likewise, is a great series whose most recent season was far from its best. What’s really unexpected, though, is that HBO’s two new female-fronted comedies both got nominations. We would have guessed that only Veep would be up for an Emmy, considering its heavy-hitting cast and producers. But apparently Girls isn’t too young and hip to impress the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. So, seriously, we’re only going to ask one more time, what is it exactly that’s keeping these people from recognizing Community?
Drama actress: Glenn Close, Damages Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law Claire Danes, Homeland Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Snubs: Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU) and Mireille Enos (The Killing) both made the list last year but not in 2012. In Enos’ case, it seems like she’s being unfairly punished for how bad her show has become, which is sad because her performance has always been great.
Surprises: Again, it isn’t exactly a surprise, but it sure is nice to see the wonderful British actress Michelle Dockery appreciated for her beautifully nuanced portrayal of Lady Mary on Downton Abbey.
Drama actor: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire Jon Hamm, Mad Men Michael C. Hall, Dexter Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey Damian Lewis, Homeland Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Snubs: Wow. The Justified people really are going to be mad this year, huh? Although he was nominated last year, Timothy Olyphant is nowhere to be found in 2012. Even more noteworthy, though, is Hugh Laurie’s absence from the list, considering that he’s been nominated for the past six years of House and the show just wrapped up its final season this spring.
Surprises: The closest thing to a surprise here is the Academy’s recognition of Damian Lewis, who is excellent as a rescued POW in Homeland, but whose strong performance was overshadowed by all the gushing over Claire Danes’ portrayal of a CIA agent with bipolar disorder.
Comedy actress: Lena Dunham, Girls Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly Zooey Deschanel, New Girl Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Tina Fey, 30 Rock Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Snubs: OK, so maybe Enlightened isn’t doing it for the Academy. But no one can deny that Laura Dern’s performance on the show is one of the very best on TV right now. It’s also disappointing to see Krysten Ritter passed over, when she’s created such a weird, maddening yet charming con artist character on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Meanwhile, in news that upsets us far less, it looks like 2 Broke Girls couldn’t even scare up a nomination for Kat Dennings, who is generally excellent but totally wasted on that show. And finally, Laura Linney (The Big C) and Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope) both made the list in 2011 but not in 2012.
Surprises: In what looks like a silent acknowledgment of the much-discussed explosion of new, women-led comedies this past season, the Academy has seen fit to nominate seven — rather than the usual six — lead actresses. Beyond that, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an Emmy lifer, so of course she’s represented (also, her performance on Veep just got better and better as the season progressed, and she totally deserves it). We may not have jumped on the Zooey Deschanel bandwagon, but she was obviously a lock. Really, the only big surprise is that Lena Dunham has been honored for her portrayal of Hannah Horvath, in addition to her writing and directing.
Comedy actor: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm Don Cheadle, House of Lies Louis CK, Louie Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Snubs: Last year, Johnny Galecki joined his Big Bang Theory co-star on this list, but not in 2012. And the initial enthusiasm for Episodes, which earned Matt LeBlanc both an Emmy nod and a Golden Globes win last year, seems to have faded. Um, does it do any good to remind the world that Joel McHale has never, ever been nominated for his performance on Community? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Surprises: Seriously? We are still pretending Two and a Half Men is an excellent showcase for anyone’s talent? Listen, we’ve got nothing against Duckie, but he’s not doing his best work on the zombie Ashton Kutcher version of a show that was never good. But hey, at least Louis CK is getting the recognition in the actor category that his entire show should be getting.
Supporting comedy actress: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives Julie Bowen, Modern Family Sofia Vergara, Modern Family Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Snubs: Well, the Academy must be pretty upset with Glee if even Jane Lynch isn’t getting a nomination this year. Meanwhile, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) isn’t on the list this year, either, and the novelty of Betty White’s Hot in Cleveland performance has apparently worn off. (Betty fans shouldn’t be too disappointed, though — she is up for best reality host for Off Their Rockers.)
Surprises: Desperate Housewives, huh? Maybe this is because it was their final season? And Merritt Wever has long been one of the best things about Nurse Jackie, but we never expected to see her get an Emmy nomination for the show. And finally, welcome back, Blossom! It should be fun to see Mayim Bialik at the ceremony.
Supporting comedy actor: Ed O’Neill, Modern Family Cameron Tucker, Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Ty Burrell, Modern Family Max Greenfield, New Girl Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Snubs: Everyone who isn’t on Modern Family. Just like it did last year, this — admittedly great — show has eaten up two-thirds of the supporting actor nominations, and that is freaking ridiculous. Danny Pudi had his best year ever as Community‘s Abed, Mike White was the perfect depressive antidote to Laura Dern’s over-the-top character on Enlightened, Adam Driver was wonderfully creepy and then incredibly wonderful as Adam on Girls, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis will now never be recognized for their roles on Bored to Death, and it’s entirely clear that these Emmy people have no understanding of the brilliance of Ron Swanson. No wonder Nick Offerman (whose co-stars Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, and Aziz Ansari also deserved nominations as much as Modern Family‘s ensemble) didn’t make it to the announcements.
Surprises: We love Stefon as much as the next Tumblr user, but of all the great comedy actors that could have accompanied the Modern Family crew (and Max Greenfield, who really does make New Girl worth watching), an SNL guy gets nominated? Weird!
Supporting drama actress: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey Christine Baranski, The Good Wife Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Snubs: Kelly Macdonald earned a nomination last year for her role on Boardwalk Empire, but apparently we’re not the only ones who have begun to find her whiny character grating. The Killing blacklisting continues, with the incredibly talented Michelle Forbes dropping off the list. And while this should most definitely be Christina Hendricks’ year, for her delicate portrayal of Joan Harris, through the break-up of her marriage and one of TV’s most heartbreaking moral dilemmas, Jessica Paré was so perfect as Megan Draper this year that her omission feels like a snub. Also, what is with the total lack of recognition for the women on Game of Thrones? In our opinion, Lena Headey (Cersei), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), and Maisie Williams (Arya) should all be up for consideration.
Surprises: There’s no way Maggie Smith wasn’t going to get a well-deserved nomination for Downton Abbey, but we weren’t expecting to see Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna, share the spotlight. Hey, we won’t complain.
Supporting drama actor: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey Jim Carter, Downton Abbey Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones Jared Harris, Mad Men
Snubs: Meanwhile on the men’s side of Mad Men, John Slattery has been replaced by Jared Harris. Of course, if there’s one supporting actor on the show who deserves to be on the list this year, it’s Harris, whose character’s suicide colored the entire season. Elsewhere, the Justified shut out continues, with Walton Goggins snubbed. And while in 2011, two Good Wife actors — Alan Cumming and Josh Charles — were nominated, the category is entirely free of that show in 2012.
Surprises: Once again, it’s a bit shocking to see Bates and Mr. Carson both on the list — the Academy is pretty Downton-happy this year. While we enjoyed both of their performances, we would have left at least one off to make room for Vincent Kartheiser, who had a landmark year as the eye-rollingly obnoxious Pete Campbell on Mad Men.
TV miniseries or movie: American Horror Story Game Change Hatfields & McCoys Hemingway & Gelhorn Luther Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Snubs: For the purposes of the Academy, The Hour is a miniseries; it was nominated as such in other categories. But somehow, it failed to impress the Emmy folks more than Hatfields & McCoys.
Surprises: We only mention this category to register our confusion at American Horror Story‘s inclusion. Apparently, a drama series that (partially) changes its cast and setting each season is considered a miniseries. Huh.
Variety series: The Colbert Report The Daily Show Jimmy Kimmel Live Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Real Time with Bill Maher Saturday Night Live
Snubs: Oof. No Conan this year, huh? It’s also notable that the two late-night institutions who remain on the air — Jay Leno and Dave Letterman — are conspicuously absent. And while it isn’t exactly shocking, we’re shaking our heads over SNL beating out far superior newer sketch shows like Key & Peele and Portlandia.
Surprises: This is the same list as last year, except Jimmy Kimmel Live has replaced Conan. We haven’t been watching either show, honestly, so you can talk amongst yourselves about that. And, of course, it doesn’t really matter anyway, because The Daily Show has won for the past nine years straight.
Reality competition: The Amazing Race Dancing with the Stars Project Runway Top Chef So You Think You Can Dance The Voice
Snubs: We said it last year, and we’ll say it again: RuPaul’s Drag Race is quite possibly the best reality competition show of all time. The Academy should maybe give it a shot instead of nominating the same past-their-prime series year after year.
Surprises: That being said, it’s nice to see The Voice unseat American Idol, because it really is a whole lot better.