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TV Feature: The 10 Biggest Emmy Snubs of 2012

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CHICAGO – Last year represented a notable leap forward for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as they finally embraced a few critical darlings over popular favorites, finding room for major nominations for shows like “Louie,” “Justified,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Parks and Recreation.” Despite a few wonderful surprises this year at this week’s 64th Annual Emmy Nomination announcements, it was a slight step back. There are still some very deserving nominees but there are also a few choices that are just silly and some worthy artists whose work should have been recognized instead. Here are just ten (or so).

Before we get to the list, a few observations on the full list of nominees in categories that I won’t really be getting into in this feature. It’s interesting that neither of the powerhouse late night talk shows were nominated for Best Variety Series — the press likes to paint it as Leno vs. Letterman in the public eye but neither will win an Emmy this year. Kathryn Joosten was a wonderful character actress who would tell you she didn’t deserve an Emmy nominee if she could still do so. And I think Betty White knows deep down that she doesn’t deserve a reality host nomination over Jeff Probst for “Survivor.”

The good stuff? I loved the following nods that I won’t have a chance to mention in snubs below and so want to give credit for here before pointing out “mistakes” — all four cast members for “Breaking Bad” (Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Giancarlo Esposito), Merritt Wever for “Nurse Jackie,” Lena Dunham for “Girls,” Denis O’Hare & Connie Britton for “American Horror Story,” and the quartet from the amazing “Game Change” (Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Ed Harris, Sarah Paulson). I’m also happy that the Academy jumped off the “Glee” bandwagon, recognizing that the show is not what it used to be. There were times in the recent past where Emmy voters often nominated shows long past their prime so it was good to see a more timely list of choices this year.

The ten (or so) biggest Emmy snubs of 2012 (with the actual nominee they should have replaced):

10. Jessica Pare for “Mad Men”

Jessica Pare in Mad Men
Jessica Pare in Mad Men
Photo credit: AMC

It might seem silly to suggest that “Mad Men” was snubbed for anything given its multiple nominations but I truly thing that Jessica Pare injected the show with some unique energy this year and would have been a much-more-inspired choice than Kathy Bates in “Harry’s Law” (then again, so would about fifteen options they could have taken). Pare was a perfect counterpoint for Jon Hamm’s aging dinosaur — the symbol of a new era of sexuality and acceptance to balance the increasing cynicism in the heart of the most famous advertising agency in TV history. And she could have sung “Zou Bisou Bisou” to open the ceremony. Tell me you wouldn’t have wanted that to happen.

Replace: Kathy Bates, “Harry’s Law”

9. Cheryl Hines for “Suburgatory”

Cheryl Hines in Suburgatory
Cheryl Hines in Suburgatory
Photo credit: ABC

If you need to see a lesson in pitch perfect comic timing watch what Cheryl Hines does every week in just about 5 to 6 minutes of screen time (on average). She’s perfect. As much as I love the attention paid to the great “Modern Family,” it’s silly that the Academy can’t see beyond that show to at LEAST one more ABC sitcom. Hines is just the representative for Patricia Heaton on “The Middle,” Adam Pally on “Happy Endings,” or Krysten Ritter on “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apt. 23,” great actors who would have made a more inspired choice than some 2012 Emmy nominees. I really like the cast of “Modern Family,” but if they keep nominating ALL SIX of them than they may have to pull themselves out of the running just to get their worthy network-mates nominated.

Replace: Kathryn Joosten, “Desperate Housewives”

8. “Community”

Photo credit: NBC

I knew it wasn’t going to happen, especially for a relatively down season, but it’s still disheartening every year that the Emmy nominees are announced and one of network TV’s most creative comedies of the last decade is just completely ignored. Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Joel McHale, Best Comedy — any ONE of the above would have made a lovely surprise on Emmy morning and, more importantly, helped push the show to a larger audience instead of increasing the chances that it’s going to wither and die on Friday nights with “Whitney,” a show that has just as many Emmy nominations. Sigh. If it matters, beloved TV hits like “The Wire,” “Firefly,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” combined for a total of ZERO major Emmy nominations. Good company.

Replace: “The Big Bang Theory”

7. Regina King for “Southland”

Regina King in Southland
Regina King in Southland
Photo credit: TNT

This is another snub that I knew was inevitable but hurts a little more this year after Ms. King had her best showcase for Emmy consideration in the amazing “Identity,” an episode in which her character had to deal with a possible pregnancy while also still being an L.A. cop. There is no cop show on TV right now that comes close to matching “Southland,” a show that deserved consideration in multiple categories (Michael Cudlitz is a strong snub for Best Supporting Actor as well) but probably never had a chance against more high profile networks. The Academy simply doesn’t look to TNT for drama like they do HBO, AMC, FX, etc. It’s a shame because it’s the home of one of TV’s best.

Replace: Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”

6. Mandy Patinkin & Morena Baccarin for “Homeland”

Morena Baccarin in Homeland
Morena Baccarin in Homeland
Photo credit: Showtime

It’s great that Showtime’s riveting “Homeland” got nods for series, Claire Danes, and Damian Lewis, but I’m surprised that neither of its strong supporting actors got the nod, especially a veteran like Mandy Patinkin, who did some of the best work of his career on this show’s freshman season. Baccarin would have been a bit more surprising but just as deserving as the program’s leads. All season, “Homeland” was very much a four-person piece and every member of the quartet deserved to be invited to the party.

Replace: Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” & Archie Panjabi, “The Good Wife”

5. Laura Dern for “Enlightened”

Laura Dern in Enlightened
Laura Dern in Enlightened
Photo credit: HBO

They nominated SEVEN actresses for comedy but they couldn’t find room for the best thing about HBO’s new series, “Enlightened,” the always-stellar Laura Dern. This one is a bit baffling. I think that perhaps voters didn’t take to the overall series (I’m also not the biggest fan) but that doesn’t mean that what Dern does within it should be ignored. It’s an amazing time for women in comedy on TV, arguably better than it’s ever been. And so I understand that a few talented women were going to be snubbed in this incredibly competitive category but one of them shouldn’t have been Laura Dern. I don’t think she’ll miss out next year. This is a mistake they make once.

Replace: Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly”

4. “Justified”

Photo credit: FX

I’ll admit that season three of FX’s best drama (sorry “Sons of Anarchy” fans) was a bit down from season two but did it have to be left out ENTIRELY? For season two, Timothy Olyphant & Walton Goggins were nominated and Margo Martindale WON. And no one gets invited to the party in 2012? That’s just strange. “Breaking Bad” was ineligible last year and maybe its return (along with “Downton Abbey” being upgraded from mini-series to drama) just made these categories too crowded but I would have liked to see one nod in a major category for this major show.

Replace: “Downton Abbey”

3. Adam Driver for “Girls”

Adam Driver in Girls
Adam Driver in Girls
Photo credit: HBO

This one hurts the most. I’m real happy that HBO’s daring “Girls” was accepted enough to land spots in Series and Actress but the best performance on the show this inaugural season was from the riveting Adam Driver, who started as a typical hipster creep and developed into someone truly fascinating. I understand that his character’s bizarre sexual tendencies and general ick factor (especially in the first half of the season) probably turned off voters but he’s easily one of the most memorable characters on TV in 2012. It’s a shame that wasn’t recognized. Once again, when 2/3rds of the category is taken up by one show, there’s no room for innovative performers like Driver.

Replace: Any of the four guys from “Modern Family.” Pick a single representative next year and allow some other talent some credit.

2. “Louie”

Photo credit: FX

It’s an amazing world where an actor like Louis C.K. is nominated for his individual work but it saddens me that his daring, incredible program couldn’t find its way into the Best Series category. The second season of “Louie” was the best “comedy” on TV in 2011. I put it in quotes because the brilliance of this show is in how it doesn’t really fit into a single category. But it’s a two-party system at the Academy and comedy is where it qualifies. “Joan,” “Come On, God,” “Eddie,” and “Duckling” were four of the best episodes of ANY show that aired on any network last season. This is a classic, influential piece of work airing in our time and it would have been a sign that the Academy gets the revolutionary work being done here if they had nominated it for Best Series.

Replace: If “Community” replaces “The Big Bang Theory,” then, as much as I love it, “Veep.”

1. “Parks and Recreation”

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation
Photo credit: NBC

Another tragic step back in that network TV’s best sitcom somehow missed out in what was arguably the day’s biggest surprise. What can I say? “Parks and Recreation” was down a bit from its amazing 2010-11 season but it was still pure genius more often than most of the other nominees in this category, even great shows like “Veep” and “30 Rock.” And let’s talk about the non-Poehler cast. What does Nick Offerman have to do get nominated? Maybe he should guest star on “Modern Family.”

Replace: Following previous replacements for “The Big Bang Theory” & “Veep,” “30 Rock.”

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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Emmy Snub

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy - Reno Wilson from Mike & Molly. Hands down the funniest person on that show. Funnier even than the Emmy-nominated Melissa McCarthy in my humble opinion.

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