The nominations for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards honoring the best in broadcasting will be revealed on July 14. With more than 400 original programs vying for a spot on the ballot, the competition is going to be more heated than ever this year. So this week, I’d like to highlight the shows and performances truly worthy of being nominated this year, but could easily get lost in the clutter.
Emmy is known for revisiting the same shows year after year, so you can expect the lion’s share of the ballot to include established fare like "Game of Thrones," the final season of "Downton Abbey," "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black," "Veep" and "Modern Family." There will likely be some new blood, too. USA Network newbie "Mr. Robot," for example, is expected to rack up multiple nominations. The buzz is also building on digital drama "Horace and Pete," with Alan Alda likely to get a nod for Best Supporting Actor. ABC's "black-ish" should also make the cut for Outstanding Comedy Series. The sitcom tackled the subject of alleged police brutality against the African American community in a highly lauded episode earlier this year, and the recognition would be well deserved.
But there are many others that should be noticed, too. Eden Sher of ABC’s "The Middle" and Melissa Rauch of CBS’ "The Big Bang Theory" should be considered in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series but will likely be overlooked, as always. Particularly worthy for Outstanding Actress is a Comedy is "Mom" star Anna Faris. As recovering alcoholic Christy, Faris took center stage this season, with an emotional storyline dealing with the untimely death of recurring character Jodi.
"Mom," which offers a satisfying mixture of comedy and drama reminiscent of the Norman Lear era of storytelling, would make a stellar candidate for Outstanding Comedy Series. So would Netflix’s "Master of None," with former "Parks and Recreation" star Aziz Ansari as a 30-year-old single guy who likes to hang out with his friends in between acting jobs.
As much as I enjoy Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on HBO’s "Veep," four consecutive wins as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy is enough. Instead, I’d like to see Rachel Bloom as manic Rebecca Bunch on The CW’s "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," that wacky singing-and-dancing gal who moved to California on a romantic whim, make the cut. A golden statue would certainly add credibility to The CW, which also houses another worthy contender in "Jane the Virgin’s" Gina Rodriguez. A comedy shout-out also goes to Michaela Watkins on Hulu’s just-renewed "Casual," who as troubled therapist Valerie is in dire need of some head-shrinking of her own.
Emmy voters in search of drama alternatives should revisit the final episode of "Bates Motel," where Freddie Highmore as Norman inhabits his dead mother’s persona, while grieving widower Nestor Carbonell as Alex violently lashes out and vows to prove that Norman is a murderer. Highmore’s performance pulls off the seemingly impossible, making us feel somewhat sympathetic to Bate’s murderous streak. Plus, Carbonell falling in love with Norman’s whack job Mama was the most unexpected roce of the season. With the exception of a nomination for Vera Farmiga in 2013, "Bates Motel" has been noticeably absent on the Emmy ballot.
Lifetime also has its first real competitor with "UnREAL," the comical and often-disturbing tale of life behind the scenes at a "Bachelor"-like reality show. It is no bed of roses. And sophomore drama "The Knick," a period piece tacking issues of race, addiction, women’s rights, class warfare, and much more, would give Cinemax the boost it deserves to be considered more than just HBO’s corporate cousin.
Other notable dramas include HBO’s "The Leftovers"; Showtime’s "The Affair"; and FX’s "The Americans" (which Emmy finally honored last year with Margo Martindale’s win for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series). Additionally, nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Titus Welliver for Amazon’s "Bosch," Justin Theroux for "The Leftovers" or former "Breaking Bad" Emmy winner Aaron Paul for recent Hulu entry "The Path" would mean the constant accolades showered by the TV critics will not have gone unnoticed.
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, "The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards" will be telecast live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 18, the night before the official start of the new season. Unlike prior years, when the category choices seemed a bit of a stretch, the challenge this year will be choosing the best from a sea of exceptional content.