2014 Emmy nominations: Small surprises to soothe the snubs

[2014 Emmy Award nominations: "Game of Thrones" leads the pack with 19 nods, "True Detective's" gamble pays off]

This year’s Emmy Award nominations are full of the expected honorees, but they also include a few dark horses. The Post's Emily Yahr has four things you should know about in this pack of nominees. (Nicki DeMarco, Tom LeGro and Emily Yahr/The Washington Post)

Some other reactions from your embittered TV critic …

What is this, the Leftovers? If HBO hadn’t taken the chance and submitted its totally-a-miniseries-in-every-possible-definition-of-the-word “True Detective” into the drama category, this list would look far too much like last year’s. The “Breaking Bad” finale, brilliant as it was, feels like a squillion years ago already. PBS’s “Downton Abbey’s” best seasons are certainly far behind it. Netflix’s “House of Cards” – meh. (“The Americans” is 10 times better than it. CBS’s “The Good Wife” this season was 20 times better.) AMC’s “Mad Men” – it’s hard to remember which season we’re talking about here (along with which Don Draper we’re talking about with the Jon Hamm nomination for best actor): Hershey-meltdown Don of season 6? Or subservient-employee Don of the first half of season 7? In any event, my choice was clear long ago: Since we’ve exhausted our supply of praise and accolades for AMC”s “Breaking Bad,” the time is now to acknowledge that the best show on TV is HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

 

Sharp satire rules! For once, I find myself nodding in assent with the list for best comedy series, which made room for HBO’s “Silicon Valley” as well as Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” HBO’s “Veep” and FX’s “Louie” – all of which practice smart, relevant satire that starts and finishes conversations. It means one less conversation to have about the “How I Met Your Mother” finale.

Enough of the platform talk! Why no big network shows in drama? What does this mean for Netflix? Who watches television anymore? How does the Supreme Court decision on Aereo affect all this? What is Nielsen measuring now?

Oh, won’t you people give it a rest? You take all the fun out of watching anything.

Happy little surprises … For those dedicated enough to scroll all the way through it, there are some happy little surprises in the nomination list:

• NBC’s “Saturday Night Live’s” most interesting cast member, Kate McKinnon, got a supporting actress/comedy series nom, as did Kate Mulgrew (as Red) in “Orange Is the New Black.”

• Fred Armisen is in the supporting actor/comedy category for his “Portlandia” repertoire on IFC, as is “Girls’s” Adam Driver, who is the best thing about that HBO series. (Speaking of “Girls”: No supporting actress/comedy nomination for Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna? After that wonderful verbal takedown at the beach house?)

• Ricky Gervais is duly rewarded for going out on a limb with “Derek,” his surprisingly moving, small-scale British comedy (available on Netflix) about a simple guy who works in a nursing home.

• Allison Janney improves most everything. From elevating that CBS sitcom “Mom” into something watchable (she’s up for supporting actress there) to her stunning work as Margaret Scully, the lonely wife of the secretly-gay provost in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” (she’s up for “guest actress/drama” award there), I’m pretty much always glad to see her. (What’s a “guest actress” anyhow, when so many of the nominees feel like regulars? For former “House of Cards” cast member Kate Mara – also nominated – it can be as simple as getting pushed in front of Metro train.)

That explains it! The “Optimal Tip-to-Top Efficiency” episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” (don’t make me explain it) is up for a writing award. I wonder if the same whiteboard filled with those calculations could be used to devise a universal grand theory of how Emmy nominations are chosen.


Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Josh Brener and Thomas Middleditch in “Silicon Valley.” (Jaimie Trueblood)

 

READ MORE:

Is ‘True Detective’ going to squeeze a worthy show out of the Emmy drama race?

Hilarious hidden gems of the new reality show category at the Emmy Awards

 

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Hank Stuever has been The Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation.
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