Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Emmy Awards 2011: Who should win

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. Photo courtesy of

The Emmy's are almost here, which means it's time to start prognosticating about the winners. The nominations this year were not as all-out terrible as they generally are (although I certainly had some complaints), and I feel like throwing in my two cents. So, here are my picks for the shows and actors who should go home with statues on Sunday night, as well as those who should have gotten a nomination. (I'm not going to pick the likely winners; if you want someone to help you place your bets, there are plenty of other options out there for you.)

Best Drama Series

Should win: Game of Thrones
Should have been nominated: Fringe

I know that there are plenty of people out there who turn away in disgust at the sight of fantasy, preferring instead the gorgeous, ponderous stillness of Mad Men or the fine-grained realism of Friday Night Lights. I'm not trying to belittle those people. I just happen to think that Thrones' first season was a triumph of writing, acting and directing that managed to sate both fans of the books and newbies who didn't know the difference between a Lannister and a Stark. Not to mention that the show killed off the central character in episode nine, which means they should get an award for biggest balls on television. As for Fringe, the excellent third season provided viewers with a desperately needed dose of trippy yet emotionally grounded sci-fi, as well as a showcase for the excellent cast. How many other shows have you seen where every actor had to play two roles, and managed to play them convincingly?

Best Comedy Series

Should win: Modern Family
Should have been nominated: Community

Community is the single funniest show on television right now, and the fact that the folks at Greendale lost the nomination to the wildly uneven, offensively bad second season of Glee is a travesty. Of the nominated shows, however, I give the edge to Modern Family, which takes what could be a cliched, sentimental drama and makes it fresh and slyly funny without losing its heart.

Best Actor in a Drama

Should win: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Should have been nominated: Sean Bean, Game of Thrones

Buscemi is probably going to be a controversial choice, but the spin this non-leading man put on his leading-man role of Nucky Thompson kept the character from being just another mob boss. Buscemi embodied the contradictions inherent in the honorable yet criminal Nucky in a way that made him seem genuine and, despite his many terrible actions, sympathetic. Bean gave a solid performance that may not have stood out among his flashier costars, but which provided a moral center that helped anchor Thrones many, many plot threads. Plus, the man got beheaded on camera!

Best Actress in a Drama

Should win: Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Should have been nominated: Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries

I, unlike so many other TV connoisseurs, am not a huge fan of Mad Men, but Moss' performance as Peggy Olsen has always been one that drew me in on a show that kept me at a distance. Peggy's journey may represent the struggles of all women in the 1960s, but Moss ensures that the audience never loses sight of the very real girl at the heart of the character. As you know if you read this blog regularly, my love for Dobrev knows no bounds, and she really upped her game in the second season with dual portrayals of the tough, determined, kind Elena and the devious-with-a-heart Katharine.

Best Actor in a Comedy

Should win: Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Should have been nominated: Joel McHale, Community

I love Jim Parsons' Sheldon as much as anyone, but when it comes down to it Galecki's Leonard is the most identifiable character on the show. Galecki makes the character nerdy without being incomprehensible, awkward without being pathetic, and just cool enough that you believe he could really attract a girl like Penny. As for McHale, he uses his coolness to his advantage while making sure the audience doesn't get so sucked in by Jeff's sardonic charm that we forget what a jerk he can be. At the same time, he manages the occasional moment of sweetness that makes all the snark seem worth it.

Best Actress in a Comedy

Should win: Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
Should have been nominated: Aisha Tyler, Archer

McCarthy's natural comedy chops were put to great use in this summer's Bridesmaids, and her sharp, likable performance elevates Mike and Molly above its mediocre premise. Tyler may not physically appear as sexy, sassy secret agent Lana Kane, but without her magnificently funny line readings the character would be only a shadow of herself.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Should win: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Should have been nominated: John Noble, Fringe

Dinklage is a standout among a superb cast. His Tyrion is funny and charming even when he's scheming - especially when he's scheming - without sacrificing the pain that Tyrion constantly carries. He's a freak and a disappointment to his father, and Dinklage, even in his lightest moments, never lets us forget that. Noble is another standout in a great cast, and his performances as the harebrained Walter Bishop and the desperate, icy Walternate are some of the best work happening on television right now. Hell, they're some of the best work happening anywhere.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Should win: Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Should have been nominated: Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

MacDonald helped to humanize Boardwalk Empire with her character, the kind, conflicted Margaret Schroeder. Margaret was a woman in a difficult position, and her character's moral dilemma over becoming Nucky's kept woman in order to provide for her family was beautifully acted by MacDonald. Clarke - who barely had a screen credit to her name before Thrones - was superb in showing Daenerys' journey from frightened girl to badass dragon. Plus, she was nude. A lot.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Should win: Ed O'Neill, Modern Family
Should have been nominated: Donald Glover, Community

O'Neill's costars Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell may have the flashier parts, but gruff, loving dad Jay is the real heart of this family. Glover's case is similar; his costar Danny Pudi may steal the attention, but Troy is just as funny while still managing the occasional mature, heartfelt moment. Glover's performance in Mixology Certification - one of my favorite episodes - was subtle and nuanced in a way that few sitcom actors ever manage. Then, several episodes later, he spent most of the runtime paralyzed (literally) in the presence of LeVar Burton.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Should win: Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Should have been nominated: Alison Brie, Community

Vergara is a very funny woman who makes sure that Gloria Delgado-Pritchett is a fully realized character, rather than letting her slip into the hot-younger-foreign-wife caricature. As for Brie... I love Alison Brie. Annie is often the most vulnerable, least comedic member of the study group, and Brie gave some excellent, vulnerable performances in Mixology Certification and Cooperative Calligraphy. And the she turned around and anchored what may be the single funniest scene in the history of television.


  1. If Peter Dinklage doesnt win my reaction will be:

  2. I don't watch most of these shows, but I do want to say that I could hardly have higher praise for Modern Family. When I started watching it, I expected it to be, honestly, kind of dumb. And occasionally it is. But it has characters with a lot of heart so that no matter how stupid a situation they get themselves into, you care.

    Also, it's rare to have an ensemble cast with that many strong and enjoyable characters. None of the characters get lost in the shuffle. Awesome.