August 28, 2015

By Brad Oswald


Emmy-barrassment of riches

Crowning TV's top shows is an exercise in futility when the field is so crowded with gems

Matthew  McConaughey (left) and  Woody Harrelson in True Detective.

Matthew McConaughey (left) and Woody Harrelson in True Detective.

The Emmy Awards have a problem.

It's a pretty high-class problem, to be sure, but it's a problem nonetheless, and it will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the number of TV viewers who think the medium's annual trophy handout has become irrelevant.

Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo in Fargo.


Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo in Fargo.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as the U.S. vice-president in Veep.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as the U.S. vice-president in Veep.

The problem is related to volume, and quality -- specifically, the increasing number of really great programs on television, which has made singling out individual shows for nomination and Emmy Award recognition an exercise in frustration for many TV fans.

For every worthy winner or nominee the TV Academy recognizes with its annual Emmy Awards, there's a handful of omissions that leaves pockets of angry viewers feeling that their favourite shows and stars have been snubbed.

Claire Danes's stellar work in Homeland is fully deserving of its Emmy-season consideration. But omitting Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany from the best actress/drama series category, two years in a row?

That's madness.

Bryan Cranston's final Breaking Bad unravelling merits all the Emmy love his TV-biz peers can muster, but how can voters who supposedly know a lot about television ignore James Spader's work in The Blacklist?

The oversights are overwhelming. How is The Good Wife not nominated for TV's top drama prize? Mad Men's Jon Hamm gets Emmy respect, but what about co-star Elisabeth Moss? And seriously, can Justified's Timothy Olyphant get a bit of trophy-season justice anytime soon?

It's crazy-making for faithful followers of overlooked shows, but in this, TV's greatest golden age yet, there's no getting around the fact that worthy shows and performances are going to be left out because there's so much great TV being made and there simply isn't room to shoehorn it all into the Emmys' limited fields of nominees.

It's enough to make a wise man give up on the whole Emmy experience.

However ... well, here are this TV watcher's annual fearless (and, per usual, probably pointless) predictions for Monday night's Emmycast, which airs at 7 p.m. on NBC and CTV.

As usual, I'm not at all looking forward to tallying up the scorecard after the show.



Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex)

Claire Danes (Homeland)

Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)

Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)

Kerry Washington (Scandal)

Robin Wright (House of Cards)

FAVOURITE: Margulies, whose work in a season filled with surprises and outright shocks was transcendent.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Danes, who remained strong despite Homeland's lost momentum, and Caplan, in one of TV's most challenging female roles.



Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Woody Harrelson (True Detective)

Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

FAVOURITE: All the smart money is on McConaughey completing the Oscar-Emmy double-up.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: An incredibly deep field -- Cranston and Spacey are as good as TV-acting gets, but this year, they'll surely be left behind.



Lena Dunham (Girls)

Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)

Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black)

FAVOURITE: Louis-Dreyfus, whose Veep combination of fury and funny continues to be unbeatable.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Falco, an Emmy favourite in the past for a show that some argue isn't a comedy, is somehow always a factor, and Poehler could finally attract some votes for her Parks performance.



Louis C.K. (Louie)

Don Cheadle (House of Lies)

Ricky Gervais (Derek)

Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)

William H. Macy (Shameless)

Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

FAVOURITE: Louis C.K. should finally get a nod for working the hardest (in every aspect of production) on the tube's most challenging comedy.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Parsons, whom Emmy voters adore and who could always be considered a well-chosen winner.



Breaking Bad

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

House of Cards

Mad Men

True Detective

FAVOURITE: Looking for evidence that TV is great these days? See above. In a stellar field, True Detective stands out.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: You can't go wrong by betting on the "of" shows -- both Game/Thrones and House/Cards are capable of pulling an upset.



The Big Bang Theory


Modern Family

Orange Is the New Black

Silicon Valley


FAVOURITE: Veep, on the strength of its star's profane, perfect performance.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Louie might, and Orange could, but the feeling here remains very Veep.





American Horror Story: Coven

Bonnie & Clyde



The White Queen


FAVOURITE: Fargo will freeze out the competition.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Sorry, no surprises here. If you're looking for this Emmy, head straight down I-29.



The Amazing Race

Dancing With the Stars

Project Runway

So You Think You Can Dance

Top Chef

The Voice

FAVOURITE: After taking one of its rare years off last year, The Amazing Race returns to the top of the heap.

OUTSIDE CHANCE: Only two other shows have won this category -- Top Chef and The Voice -- so they deserve this year's dark-horse designation.

Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2014 ??65535

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