The 2014 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 10, with the ceremony then taking place on August 25. I am going to be running through my wish lists in most of the major categories, as well as offering predictions of the likely actual nominees.
When making my wish lists, I do not confine myself to the categories that shows and performers were actually submitted in. If a show submits as a comedy but should have submitted as a drama, then I will consider it as a drama. Or if an actor submitted as a lead but really should have submitted as supporting (like Rob Lowe every year for Parks and Recreation), or vice versa, then I consider them in the more appropriate category. If there is some wiggle room for what the appropriate category is, then I will probably go by the actual ballot. Although, there still remains difficulty with recurring cast members who do not appear in every episode, who may appear enough to be considered Supporting, but may also appear infrequently enough to be considered Guest. Also, if there are certain performers who declined to submit, I may still consider them.
My selections are mentioned roughly in order of how deserving I believe them to be, starting with who I believe deserves to win. I will try to limit myself to the typical Emmy number of six nominees per category, though I may find it necessary to go beyond that figure in a few fields.
If there are any particularly acclaimed shows missing from my choices, then there is a good chance I do not watch those shows and cannot fairly comment on their worthiness.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Review presented an ingenious concept geared towards a perfectly suited lead performance, resulting in one of the best comedy debut seasons of all time. Louie had perhaps its least comedic season yet, but it had a whimsical touch in its formal daring, wringing laughter out of existentialism. Community got back to its roots while continuing to demonstrate that it is so far removed from anything else on the pop culture landscape. With so many shows aiming to be “authentic,” Broad City actually managed authenticity by being goofy and direct. The Neighbors broke out of its inauspicious roots to become one of the most satisfyingly unlikely fourth-wall-breaking shows of all time. I struggled with the final slot. I could have gone with Veep, a show I admit is good, but one I have only seen a couple of episodes of, since it is just not for me, so I can’t fairly judge it. A number of animated sitcoms could easily make it in on merit, and in the past, I have considered cartoons with live-action, but this year I have decided that there is enough of a difference between the mediums to consider the likes of Rick and Morty and Bob’s Burgers separately. The Middle, ABC’s little show that could, also made a case for itself, but it wasn’t its strongest season. Ultimately I went with Silicon Valley, Mike Judge’s heartwarming blend of satire, awkward comedy, and raunch.
-The Big Bang Theory
-Orange Is the New Black
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Andy Daly (Review) burrowed deep into the soul of Forrest MacNeil to create a man who is so lovable because of how open he is to any experience but also a little scary for the same reason. In getting into an even darker period of Jeff Winger’s life, Joel McHale (Community) continued to deliver some of the best dramatic work on any sitcom. He also had time to show off his stand-up skills in an insane context that only Community can provide. Louis C.K. (Louie) continued to be Louis C.K. Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) had a whole lot of weird affectations and wonderful nervous energy. Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) was actually given multiple opportunities to portray the growth of Sheldon Cooper. And, finally, I would pull for a co-nomination for the most important sketch comedians of the moment, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (Key & Peele).
-Louis C.K., Louie
-Don Cheadle, House of Lies
-Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
-William H. Macy, Shameless
-Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
-Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Ilana Glazer is lovely and amazing on Broad City. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of Veep, but that’s enough to know that Julia Louis-Dreyfus deserves all the praise heaped upon her. Suburgatory has always been a show that has struggled to have a consistent tone (often purposely so), and Season 3 was its least assured, but Jane Levy did her best to keep everything grounded. Abbi Jacobson has the less showy role on Broad City, but it’s also the trickier one, and arguably the more difficult one. Amy Schumer goes Inside herself to make the most pointed comedy of the moment. My last choice was a battle of leading ladies whose shows have had better seasons. I considered Amy Poehler (I mean, how could I not, she’s Amy Poehler), but her performance lately has put too much faith in weaker material. Meanwhile, Season 3 of New Girl was kind of all over the place, but in a way that oddly helped Zooey Deschanel, as it forced her to play to a wider than usual range of styles.
-Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
-Lena Dunham, Girls
-Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
-Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
-Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
-Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
The top of this field is a dead heat between two men marked by abnormal social interactions, one old reliable and one new and exciting. Every year that Community has been on, I’ve been pulling for Danny Pudi, and amazingly, he is still showing new nuances to his performance, particularly this year as Abed adjusted to a new normal in Troy’s absence. The late Christopher Evan Welch (Silicon Valley) was bewildering, and riveting, going on about sesame seeds and cicadas. Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) was deader than deadpan. Jim Rash (Community) rapped in a peanut costume. Ian Patrick (The Neighbors) is wise and alien beyond his years. Also on The Neighbors, Simon Templeman may, as an alien named Larry Bird, have been giving the most meaningful performance of the modern male in crisis. Here is a category in which I have to go beyond the prescribed 6 slots. Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife) was the personification of delight as BERT! I could very easily have gotten to 10 spots here, as I considered Timothy Simons, whose go-for-broke style is impressive no matter how cynical Veep is or isn’t, as well as Zach Woods (Silicon Valley), who proved that awkward comedy still has unexplored, endearing territory. Ultimately, I stopped myself at 8 and gave my last spot to Parker Young, who perfectly embodied the unique mix of silly and sincere on Enlisted.
-Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
-Ty Burrell, Modern Family
-Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
-Tony Hale, Veep
-Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
-Christopher Evan Welch, Silicon Valley
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
I’m a little concerned that I’m being complacent with my top picks here, but I guess that’s because my co-winners (as in Supporting Actor, I’m calling it a tie) didn’t quite live up to the impossibly high standards they’ve set for themselves. Alison Brie (Community) had her best material in earlier seasons, but she lacked a strong narrative progression of her own those years; in Season 5, she really got to show off Annie Edison’s maturation. Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors) didn’t get to play any Jersey Housewives in Season 2, but she did – upon learning how a pregnancy test works – ask the question, “What does it tell you if you poop on it, the weather?” Michaela Watkins (Trophy Wife) didn’t need to stoop to cliché to play kooky. Initially I thought that Gillian Jacobs didn’t have that much to do in Season 5 of Community, but having mustard on her face was the perfect showcase for her, and then I remembered she also got to play some great emotional beats in forcefully dealing with Troy’s departure. Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory) continued to somehow find the realness in Dalia Royce, one of the most seemingly unrealistic characters ever created. Aidy Bryant mostly plays variations of herself on SNL, but she plays that part really well.
-Julie Bowen, Modern Family
-Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
-Anna Chlumsky, Veep
-Allison Janney, Mom
-Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
-Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
(And if there’s a seventh nomination: Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black)
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
We already knew that Mitch Hurwitz (Community) is one of the greatest TV writers of all time; now we know he’s also a mighty fine performer; the Koog approves! Charles Grodin was the funniest part of a season of Louie that wasn’t primarily comedic. Billy Eichner basically played himself on Parks and Recreation, and that was a good thing. Skip Sudduth (Louie) played the perfect teacher for young Louis C.K. It is now becoming a yearly tradition that I say a particular Community guest star should become a regular; this year, that guest star was Chris Elliott. Drake was the best host of SNL Season 39.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Shannon O’Neill was a force of nature on Broad City. Gaby Hoffmann was a force of nature of a different sort on Girls. You could really see the power in Amy Landecker‘s eyes as Louie’s mom. Maria Thayer (Review) seems so sweet, so it was an absolute delight to see her play completely off-the-rails as free spirit Eliza. June Squibb was at her June Squibb-iest on Girls. Melissa McCarthy (Saturday Night Live) played a wacky game show contestant and a woman bent on avenging her father’s death, among others.
Outstanding Writing on a Comedy Series
I don’t have a full wishlist in this category, but I did want to mention that I am pleased that Review submitted its best episode (also the best half hour of comedy of 2014): “Pancakes; Divorce; Pancakes,” and I would love it if by some miracle it ends up being recognized.
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.