Emmys 2016: If I had 3 strikes…

I previously published my quick take on the 2016 Emmy nominations. Now, time for a little fantasy nominating.

Let me explain how this fantasy nominating works. I’ll go through the nominations, and in each category I’ll select up to three entries that I would delete and replace with new nominations of my choosing.

To note, I’ll only pick new nominations based on shows I have watched. Thus, if I did not nominate a show or actor or actress, I may simply not have found it justifiable to nominate them based on hearsay from others.

Also, I restricted my picks to actual entries that were submitted for balloting to the Emmy voters. So for example, even if  I thought Alison Janney’s performance on Mom was deserving of a Outstanding Lead Actress nomination, I could not have done so because she had submitted her entry for the Outstanding Supporting Actress category.

Let’s get cracking.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Americans (FX)
  • Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Game Of Thrones (HBO)
  • Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
  • Manhattan (WGN America)
  • Mr. Robot (USA)
  • UnREAL (Lifetime)
  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
  • Homeland (Showtime)
  • House Of Cards (Netflix)

Downton Abbey and Homeland have, by this point in their lifespans, lost their sheen by reason of simply not having anything new to say. For Homeland, its recent fifth season was nothing special; a jaunt in Berlin did nothing to assure me that the show has anything left to say after its Brody arc.

Meanwhile, Manhattan and Halt and Catch Fire had immense second seasons. Manhattan strode confidently towards the climatic final scene of the season, while Halt and Catch Fire rebelled against its staid first season to be a sleeker, more potent machine.

UnREAL was the surprise package of the past year and just manages to unseat House of Cards, despite the Netflix show largely arresting its decline with a decent fourth season.

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Jane The Virgin (CW)
  • Master of None (Netflix)
  • Review (Comedy Central)
  • Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
  • Veep (HBO)
  • You’re The Worst (FX)
  • black-ish (ABC)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • Transparent (Amazon)

It’s time for Modern Family to go. Four consecutive wins in this category is a remarkable feat, but the show is currently just not good enough in comparison to its competition.

Meanwhile, black-ish and Transparent are not unworthy of the nomination, but for this case I would tip the scales in favour of Jane the Virgin, Review and You’re The Worst. They are three fantastic comedies that have really shown their strengths in their second seasons; they are three very different shows, but similar in how they are wickedly funny.

I was hamstrung by my own rule of three changes in this category, as I could not find a way to squeeze Crazy Ex-Girlfriend into this category. The oddball musical comedy was a genuine charm in its first season with its goofy songs and still found a way to examine the very real issue of mental illness. Another show that narrowly missed out was Fresh Off The Boat, which enjoyed a very solid second season.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Matthew Rhys, The Americans
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Damien Lewis, Billions
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • Rami Malek, Mr Robot
  • Wagner Moura, Narcos
  • Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

I simply had to find a way to get Damien Lewis and Wagner Moura into the category despite the merits of Kyle Chandler and Liev Schreiber’s performances.  Lewis and Moura took up similar characters – power-hungry, powerful men at the top of their game with a long, long way to fall – and gave performances that carried their respective shows.

Those that I considered, but just could not squeeze in, were Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Scoot McNairy (Halt and Catch Fire).

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Keri Russell, The Americans
  • Taraji P. Henson, Empire
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards
  • Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Shiri Appleby, UnREAL
  • Claire Danes, Homeland

This category had perhaps its strongest field of nominees, as each of the seven nominees gave great performances.

However, Claire Danes had little to do on the recent season of Homeland that she had not already done in previous seasons. It’s a very close decision, but I would strike her off in favour of Shiri Appleby, who played the tortured Rachel Goldberg to perfection in the first season of UnREAL.

I considered MacKenzie Davis and Kerry Bishe after their impressive performances in Halt and Catch Fire‘s second season, but ultimately could not find a way to justify their inclusion as compared to the remaining nominees.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Rob Lowe, The Grinder
  • Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
  • Aziz Ansari, Master of None
  • Gael García Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
  • Andrew Daly, Review
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
  • Anthony Anderson, black-ish
  • William H. Macy, Shameless
  • Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley

It’s perhaps an anomaly that the two most well-known TV comedies now – Veep and Silicon Valley – do not have a real stake in this category. While Veep does not have a representative in this category, Thomas Middleditch got nominated despite giving a middling (I’m sorry) performance.

With the top comedies locked out of this category, the field could have been truly opened up to include work from the lesser-known comedies. Rob Lowe continued to harness his comedic talent after a similar role in Parks and Recreation (as Chris Traeger), Gael García Bernal hit the right notes in a kooky, yet charming portrayal of a world-famous orchestral conductor, and Andrew Daly plumbed new depths of comic delusion in the second season of Review.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
  • Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin
  • Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Aya Cash, You’re The Worst
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
  • Laurie Metcalf, Getting On
  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer

This is another category that presented several glaring omissions  – Rachel Bloom and Gina Rodriguez anchored Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane The Virgin so well that I would have been, well, crazy not to pick them. While Rodriguez continued to shine as the titular Jane Villanueva, Bloom had picked up a Golden Globe for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

In the second season of You’re The Worst, Aya Cash really stepped up her performance, as Gretchen, in what should be her breakout career performance. She had some heavy, gloomy material to work with and pulled it off – Gretchen’s downward spiral into depression was some of the most heartbreaking TV I watched this past year.

A deserving actress who narrowly missed out was Constance Wu (Fresh off the Boat). Wu’s character Jessica Huang was the best part of the promising first season of the ABC show; the show wisely gives Jessica an expanded role in the second season. Fine by me.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Noah Emmerich, The Americans
  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Jonathan Tucker, Kingdom
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
  • Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
  • Michael Kelly, House of Cards

The strange obsession with House of Cards extended to Michael Kelly’s nomination, despite Kelly not doing anything particularly impressive in the recent season of the show. Kit Harington’s nomination smacks of an extension of the larger popularity of Game of Thrones – his performance as Jon Snow was not bad by any means, but surely not as good as some of the other performances out there.

Seeing how this is the year The Americans firmly breaks through in the Emmy nominations, surely a space can be made for Noah Emmerich, who is the quiet but effective foil to Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s sterling performances.

However, the truly unrecognised outstanding performance I could think of was from Jonathan Tucker on Kingdom. As the MMA fighter Jay Kulina, Tucker’s blend of unhinged intensity and vulnerability is perhaps the highlight of the show. Tucker previously caught my eye in his guest arc on Justified – this actor is doing fine work and due for greater roles.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Maura Tierney, The Affair
  • Alison Wright, The Americans
  • Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
  • Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
  • Constance Zimmer, UnREAL
  • Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
  • Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

The popularity of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones may have strangled this category, seeing as four of the original six nominees worked on these two shows. Of the three Game of Thrones nominees, I would retain only Lena Headey – Cersei Lannister remains one of the most fascinating characters on TV at the moment.

As a replacement, I would pick Rhea Seehorn, as she effectively co-starred with Bob Odenkirk on the second season of Better Call Saul and did not falter. For Uzo Aduba, her performance as Crazy Eyes remained consistently good even if the third season of Orange Is The New Black may not have lived up to the standards set by its previous seasons.

Meanwhile, Alison Wright‘s work as Martha on The Americans was as sombre as they come, as she played perfectly Martha’s desperation for her faux-relationship to a KGB spy to be the one true romance she had always hoped for. The show charted Martha’s slow decline into misery, culminating in her despair this season as she finally realised the trouble she had gotten into herself into.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Louie Anderson, Baskets
  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Jaime Camil, Jane The Virgin
  • Keegan Michael-Key, Key & Peele
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Tony Hale, Veep
  • Matt Walsh, Veep
  • Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This is another very strong category, with every nominee having given a deserving performance in his own right. I would have only nominated one new entry: Jaime Camil as Rogelio in Jane The Virgin. Rogelio is consistently the funniest character on a very funny show, and this is almost a no-brainer.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Andrea Navedo, Jane The Virgin
  • Kristen Schaal, The Last Man on Earth
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Judith Light, Transparent
  • Gaby Hoffman, Transparent
  • Anna Chlumsky, Veep
  • Niecy Nash, Getting On
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

The field of nominees for this category is somewhat threadbare as compared to the other categories. Nevertheless, I would nominate Kristen Schaal, as she kept up her fine work as Carol on The Last Man on Earth. The partnership between Carol and Phil (played by Will Forte) is the best part of the show, and Schaal has to get her fair share of the credit for that success.

When Jane The Virgin is discussed, the performance of Gina Rodriguez is invariably brought up, with the omission of a fine supporting performance of Andrea Navedo as Xiomara Villenueva. Jane’s mother Xiomara is Jane’s closest confidant and pillar of support, and in an entertaining subplot, Xiomara also rekindled her tumultuous relationship with Jane’s father Rogelio. Navedo has been a solid part of the Jane The Virgin ensemble and should be duly rewarded.

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