Donald Trump, take note: Emmy Awards voters have finally realized The Americans is great! Among the many surprises and snubs from the Thursday, July 14, announcement of this year’s nominations was FX’s tense and steel-cool Cold War tale, which charts two spies posing as an average American couple in Washington, D.C.’s suburbs, finally landing its first nomination for best drama series.
That’s got to be heartening for the show’s creators and stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell — who also each scored their first nominations for the hit in the top drama series acting categories.
And no one can blame the TV academy for swilling too much vodka here — the show’s fourth season, showing that the faux (yet really in love!) married duo finally facing the insanity of their mission was an intricate, stunningly acted nail-biter.
Check out Us Weekly TV critic John Griffiths’ picks for the other big shockers from the day’s announcements. (And click here to read reactions from a number of nominees, including first-time honorees Kit Harington and Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones!)
ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Emmy cast a rebel vote for Mr. Robot, the freshman drama about a hacker (Rami Malek) out to right the wrongs in the world (but doing it the wrong way). As expected, the sunken-eyed Malek, a breakout star, finagled a nomination alongside Rhys, making the race for lead actor in a drama series into a serious bad boy party. Filling out the category: Kyle Chandler, who plays a haunted killer in Bloodline; Liev Schreiber now the same in Ray Donovan; Kevin Spacey also the same (did we mention he’s America’s president?) in House of Cards and Bob Odenkirk as a conflicted con man–in-the-making on Better Call Saul. No huge surprises there among the well-earned nods, though it’s sad to see Downton Abbey’s distinguished patriarch, played by Hugh Bonneville, not get a proper send-off for his work on the shuttered period drama.
ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Outside of Russell landing her first-ever Emmy nomination, the big shocker here is Julianna Margulies not nabbing notice for her final season as ambitious attorney Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife. Call it The Big Snub. Granted, the show’s writing had grown uneven — and some backstage infighting didn’t put the actress in a great light. But Margulies, a past winner here, did some nice work, especially in the finale. It’s sort of the Emmy’s equivalent of a slap in the face. Oh, and it’s a little thrill to see Tatiana Maslany get her second nomination for playing a slew of diverse clones on the conspiracy thriller Orphan Black. Turns out voters weren’t just throwing her a bone last year due to hype.
No big wowzas or snubs here, save for inclusion of The Americans. The Academy even made room for all the worthy contenders, including aging shows like Downton Abbey and acclaimed newer ones like Mr. Robot. The one criminal omission: Orange Is the New Black. Samira Wiley’s final episode as Poussey, an inmate with hope, was a heart-wrencher that should’ve kept the show in the running.
No big surprises here.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
This is the award’s most mixed bag. Yay for Grace and Frankie’s Lily Tomlin (Frankie)! Argh for her costar Jane Fonda (Grace), though — the legendary actress, whose care for her character radiates off the screen, helps make the show seem funnier than it is. Amy Schumer’s just-finished third season of her Comedy Central show was incredibly wobbly (it’s tough carrying and overseeing a filmed sketch show while trying to live up to the hype), but voters made their considerations based on season 2, her breakout and brilliant batch.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper’s first Emmy nomination (for anything) is somewhat of a head-scratcher — she doesn’t transcend her character’s cartoonish bent. But wow, voters noticed Laurie Metcalf’s hilariously jittery hospital honcho in HBO’s outgoing Getting On (and her costar Niecy Nash in the supporting comedy series actress race). That’s comforting. But Rachel Bloom not getting recognition for her singing, dancing and comedic dazzling in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — that’s crazy.
OTHER SURPRISES AND DEFLATED HOPES
— NICE: It’s a mild relief to see Lili Taylor on the list for best actress in a TV movie or miniseries — her earthy performance as the blue-collar mom of a gay teen lent American Crime its emotional grit.
— HMM: Kerry Washington was fine but no great shakes as Anita Hill in HBO’s scandalous, yet boilerplate, docudrama Confirmation. Her nomination here is a squeaker.
— HMM: Tom Hiddleston for his undercover spy in The Night Manager? Emmy voters might’ve been swayed by his dreaminess.
— NICE: Congrats to Aziz Ansari for making the comedy series actor short list. The Master of None star, not a given here, showed a subtle finesse playing an underdog — not the sort of showy, glowy role Emmy likes to praise.
— HMM: Speaking of subtle — subtle to the point of sleep-inducing — it’s bit of a surprise to see Thomas Middleditch get a nod for comedy series lead amid such forces as Ansari, Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor and The Last Man on Earth’s Will Forte. His role as a would-be tech guru on Silicon Valley strikes as a catalyst in an ensemble, and the show’s premise, chortle-worthy initially, has become stagnant.
— NICE: Constance Zimmer really deserved that nod for her turn as an oh-so-jaded reality producer on Lifetime’s UnREAL.
— SNUB: John Stamos and Rob Lowe must especially be gnashing their teeth over Middleditch’s nod. The eternal heartthrobs both campaigned heavily for their (fun but somewhat one-note) performances in Grandfathered and The Grinder, respectively, two amiable-enough Fox fizzles. At least they have their looks!
— SNUB: The final season of the iconic American Idol didn’t impress the judges in the reality series race. But The Voice — and American Ninja Warrior? — did.
— SNUB: Waaah, Trevor Noah flamed out taking the torch from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in the variety talk series category. He keeps improving, so maybe next year. But the voters could’ve given him some encouragement instead of opting for Jerry Seinfeld’s sweet but meandering Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
— SNUB: It’s hard to forgive the Emmy peeps for overlooking Jane Krakowski, the funniest of the satirical nuts in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
— NICE: John Travolta’s bold portrayal of Robert Shapiro in The People v. O.J. made it!
— SNUB: Lady Gaga, who some thought would dig up a nod for her campy tramping on American Horror Story: Hotel, did not.
Tell Us: Did your favorite shows and stars get nominated?
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