We’ve been let down by reality and variety, ranted about made for TV movies, and given up hope for comedy, but now comes the part where my heart breaks into four little pieces. This is the dilemma of so many great television shows airing at one time. It’s all good when you have quality TV to watch year round, but when the time comes to award those shows you’re always going to be sad because only one can take home the prize. You could argue that it’s an honor just to be nominated, but screw that. Everyone knows it’s all about who wins.
Note: As always, when I say will win I am basing it off of the current odds and buzz from people far more in the know than myself and when I say should win I mean in my own biased and deeply personal opinion.
Game of Thrones
Homeland (2012 WINNER)
House of Cards
Who Should Win: Breaking Bad
Who Will Win: Breaking Bad
This one is hard. Really hard. I thought Breaking Bad had it in the bag last year and then Homeland swept in and cleaned up. Bastards. And no, I don’t watch Homeland (or Downton Abby) so perhaps my dismissal of these shows is unwarranted, but I can only take my heart breaking into so many pieces come awards season. As it stands, as wonderful as Game of Thrones is, being a genre drama and having only one acting nomination, it doesn’t look good for it. After a four year run, the Emmys’ love of Mad Men seems to have waned. It’s still producing some of the best television ever created, but those Emmy voters are easily spoiled and have a wandering eye. They have come to expect greatness from Mad Men and are no longer enamored by it; instead they get distracted by hot, new shows. House of Cards could be a dark horse in the race. First, it was a stunning series debut and second, it marks the changing tides of television much the same way HBO did and we all know how that worked out for HBO. And then there’s Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad defies logic and continues to get better with each season. This being its last season (though only the 8 episodes that aired last summer are eligible for nomination) it is making sure to go out on top. I want to believe that this show will finally get some recognition, but history is not in my favor. One thing for sure though, if it loses next year (for the episodes currently airing) it will be a crime against television so severe I will boycott TV for the rest of the year.*
*this is not true.
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Connie Britton, Nashville
Claire Danes, Homeland (2012 WINNER)
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Who Should Win: Robin Wright or Elizabeth Moss… or Kerry Washington
Who Will Win: Claire Danes
Well, this isn’t getting any easier. My heart and head are so conflicted over these seven stellar women I had to actually get logical about my reasoning and look at the episode each actress submitted. Kerry Washington submitted “Happy Birthday Mr. President” (NOTE: THINGS ARE GETTING SPOLILERY FROM HERE ON OUT) the episode right after the president is shot. It’s an episode that allows Washington to do what she does best; show her take charge side and in equal measure, her vulnerability . I’d love to see her take it if only for a win in the network column and also because Scandal often gets dismissed as a frothy soap (which it is), but Washington does an amazing job of grounding the show and giving it a firm foundation on which to spin wildly out of control. However I want these next two ladies to win it even more. My feelings about Elizabeth Moss and her necessity for an Emmy are well documented. In “The Better Half” (her submission) she goes from someone who thought she had life pretty well planned (good job, alright boyfriend, moving along the trajectory of having it all) to someone completely adrift. Her face, caught between the shut doors of her mentor and her crush, is reason alone to give her an Emmy. But this year, the Emmy truly belongs to Robin Wright. She imbued Claire Underwood with such a quiet power it took until the tenth episode (which is the one she submitted) to fully understand how ruthless she could be.
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland (2012 WINNER)
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston
Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston
Just because my picks are definitive in no way means they were easy to come by. Jeff Daniels has the advantage of Aaron Sorkin’s writing backing up his performance, but there are so many detractors to The Newsroom it ends in a wash. Kevin Spacey is a revelation is almost everything he does and depending on how things shake out and how much The Emmys decide to award a show changing the television landscape, he could very well take it (and deservedly so). Jon Hamm has deserved an Emmy for the last six years and yet he will probably never get one (at least for Mad Men). It’s crazy to think that a show continually hyped for having one of the most talented casts on television holds no acting Emmys. Actaully it’s not crazy, it’s a travesty. The performances in Mad Men are subtle and nuanced and can easily be taken for granted, but Jon Hamm’s major obstacle to Emmy gold is Bryan Cranston. Hamm has never not been nominated with Cranston and has therefore never won. And the frustrating part is, as much as Jon Hamm deserves and Emmy, you can’t justifiably deny it from Bryan Cranston. Walter White is one of the most complex, layered, and fascinating characters ever on television and large part of that is owed to Cranston’s performance. The writers keep lobbing them up in the air and Cranston knocks it out of the park every single time.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (2012 WINNER)
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Morena Baccarin, Homeland
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Who Should Win: Anna Gunn
Who Will Win: Anna Gunn
True, it’s hard to win against Maggie Smith, but its Anna Gunn’s time. Even as much as I love Christina Hendricks and believe she needs an Emmy just as much as Elizabeth Moss and Jon Hamm, its Anna Gunn’s time. If you need any convincing go watch “Fifty-One” (the episode Gunn submitted, you know, the one where she tries to drown herself and then goes toe to toe with Walt in full on Heisenberg mode) and try to argue that it is not Anna Gunn’s time. Spoiler Alert, you will lose that argument.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (2012 WINNER)
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Who Should Win: Jonathan Banks
Who Will Win: Aaron Paul
The odds are currently split between Patinkin and Paul, but I am banking on this being Breaking Bad’s year. For one, current (brilliant) episodes are being aired so the performances are fresh in everyone’s mind. Second, it’s time for the show to get more than a little Emmy love. It deserves an out and out sweep. And then another sweep next year. If I was doing the actual choosing I would give the trophy to Banks over Paul if only because Paul already has two and Banks won’t be getting any more for playing Mike (unless he comes back in the newly announced Better Call Saul and you cannot fathom how tightly my fingers are crossed that that does indeed happen). They are both more than deserving and I wouldn’t be upset either way. Truthfully I wouldn’t even be upset if Patinkin took it because he’ll forever have my Evita loyalty and one time I saw him live and he made eye contact with me while he was singing and it was pretty magical.
WRITNG FOR A DRAMA
Breaking Bad , “Dead Freight”
Breaking Bad, “Say My Name”
Downton Abby, “Episode 3.04”
Game of Thrones, “Rains of Castemere”
Who Should Win: “Dead Freight” or “Rains of Castemere”
Who Will Win: “Q&A”
Writing an episode that makes people talk is a feat unto itself and one that undoubtedly deserves recognition. But surpassing that is the ability to write an episode that provides a visceral reaction and defies discussion. Two of the strongest reactions I’ve had to a television show (until this week’s “Ozymandias”) were “Dead Freight” and “Rains of Castemere”. They were two jaw dropingly brilliant hours of TV that I still find a little difficult to talk about. Those kinds of episodes are rare and deserve to be celebrated.
Truthfully, having such strong feelings about so many shows may make it hard to fill out a ballot, but it makes watching the ceremony all the more fun. When you’re rooting for over half the nominees in a given category the odds of being upset are significantly lowered. Unless those bastards from Homeland win again.
The Emmys air Sunday September 22nd at 8/7c on CBS.
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