Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Five Most Egregious Emmy Snubs

John Noble as Walter Bishop in Fringe. Photo courtesy of

Emmy season, the single most frustrating time of year for an avid television viewer, has rolled around again. While this year was less frustrating that most - after all, Game of Thrones received 13 nominations, as did 30 Rock, while Modern Family walked away with a whopping 17 - there was still plenty to be angry about. Following are my picks for the five most egregious snubs of 2011. You can check out a full list of nominees here.

5. Emilia Clarke

While I'm absolutely thrilled that Game of Thrones was nominated for Best Drama Series, and even happier to see that the always excellent Peter Dinklage got a Best Supporting Actor in a Drama nod, I think it's criminal that Emilia Clarke was snubbed. Her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen was wonderfully nuanced, and she did an excellent job of conveying Dany's transformation from frightened girl to powerful Dragon. A performance like this would have been impressive from any actor; coming from Clarke, who was unknown before she was cast as Daenerys, it is phenomenal.

On a side note, I would have also loved to see a nod for Sean Bean. Portraying an irrefutably good and noble character is often more of a challenge than playing a baddie, but Bean kept the audience invested in the character without resorting to any tricks. If getting beheaded on television doesn't get you an Emmy nod these days, what does?

4. Archer

I know that Archer is a cult favorite animated show on FX, and as such has about as much chance of a nomination as Jersey Shore. Archer, however, is consistently funny, sharply written, and features the best voice cast on television (no disrespect to The Simpsons, but they don't have Jessica Walters). The snub wouldn't hurt so much if the seriously sub-par second season of Glee hadn't scooped up a mass of nominations. Maybe if Sterling and Lana broke out into song more often their show would stand a better chance of recognition.

3. Nina Dobrev

The reason that I've singled out Dobrev, rather than the entire cast and writing staff of The Vampire Diaries, is the knowledge that this excellent series is a teen vampire show on the CW, and as such is even farther from a nomination than Archer. Out of all the extremely deserving cast members, Dobrev is the standout (trailed closely by Ian Somerhalder). She imbues both her characters with a realness that is rare on any show, let alone a supernatural teen drama - her Elena is a strong, independent woman who struggles with the role foisted upon her without letting her problems get the best of her, while her Katharine grew this season, starting as an all-out wicked villain and slowly letting her fear of Elijah and Klaus take control of her actions. Dobrev's work was so subtle that I forgot for much of the time that Elena and Katharine were played by the same actress. For playing two different characters and making it look easy, Dobrev deserves at least a nomination. Maybe she'll finally get one next year, when she adds yet another character (the original Petrova doppelganger) to the mix.

2. Community

To my mind, Community is not only the best comedy on television right now; it ranks with the all-time great sitcoms like Arrested Development and Seinfeld. The writing is clever and sharp, packed with details that you have to watch a second, third or fourth time to pick up, and the acting is uniformly excellent. The fact that one of the best ensembles on television did not scrape a single acting nod between them, while six (!) of the members of the Modern Family ensemble received nominations. As in the case of Archer, the multiple nominations for Glee make this one even more infuriating.

1. Fringe

I don't even know what to say about this one. Fringe is absolutely one of the best drama series on television, right up there with Game of Thrones. I realize that it's a science fiction show, and that Thrones probably took up the genre slot that could have been Fringe's, but that doesn't make it any better. The season was creatively and emotionally rich, and the performances by the central cast were beautifully realized and resonant. Lance Reddick deserves a nomination based purely on the moment when Agent Broyles came face-to-face with his own burned and mutilated corpse, and John Noble is the best actor working in television today, bar none. The fact that Anna Torv's portrayal of not one, not two, but three different characters - Ourlivia, Fauxlivia and William Bell - went unnoticed is an absolute travesty. I take back what I said before about Nina Dobrev. Apparently, if you're in a genre show, not even playing three different, fully realized characters can get you an Emmy nod.

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