In a few weeks, the nominees for the 2016 Emmy awards will be announced and as is almost inevitable with the amount of good television right now (and the somewhat repetitive nature of Emmy nominations), there will be a good number of worthy actors and shows that are once again overlooked. I may not have any control over the eventual nominees, but I can take this opportunity to celebrate some of the outstanding work I’ve seen over the past year and share the shows I watch that I would love to see recognized.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Jane the Virgin
Master of None
You’re the Worst
Wow. What an incredible year it’s been for comedy. There were seven other shows that could have easily been on my own personal list and that’s not counting presumed nominees Veep and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. From the absurdity of Broad City to the diversity of perspective added by Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat to the resurgence of the Norman Lear-style multicam in The Carmichael Show, it’s time for comedy’s moment to shine.
Outstanding Drama Series
I have a type when it comes to acclaimed dramas. I want them to focus on emotion and connection more than I do drama or darkness. I want them to have a specific look and feel that distinguishes them from everything else. And apparently, I want them to be watched by about 10 other people (not including all the critics who loudly love them) because none of these shows have high viewing numbers. If we get very lucky, this may be the year The Americans finally breaks into the nominees, but otherwise, I recognize that this list is just a dream (and a nice set of recommendations for anyone looking for a new show).
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson (Black-ish)
Aziz Ansari as Dev (Master of None)
Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly (You’re the Worst)
Randall Park as Louis Huang (Fresh Off the Boat)
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (Transparent)
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fact that 3 of these actors are on a network comedy. I continue to believe that despite their bad rap, networks are capable of showcasing amazing talent on shows that properly know how to utilize those talents and this is something else comedies are currently excelling at. The character types represented here range tremendously (largely due to the fact that Transparent submits as a comedy) but the commitment and dedication to their characters remains the same throughout this list.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Rebecca Bloom as Rebecca Bunch (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler (You’re the Worst)
Anna Faris as Christy Plunkett (Mom)
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)
Tracie Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson (Black-ish)
Constance Wu as Jessica Huang (Fresh off the Boat)
This is one of the most exciting categories this year. Network comedies are the place to be for vibrant, outspoken women with a vision of what the world can and should be. These ladies are incredibly talented and I truly hope they are recognized for all they do, not only at the Emmys, but in the larger conversations of what women on TV can be.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler (Penny Dreadful)
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
Mad Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lector (Hannibal)
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes (Elementary)
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings (The Americans)
Adan Young as Daniel Holden (Rectify)
My viewing is skews extremely female, so as a consequence, I don’t watch a lot of dramas with male leads. Fortunately, the shows I do watch with male leads are all fantastic. Whether they are putting their own spin on a character we are already familiar with, bringing to life a beloved book character, or making their own way with an original character, these men are some of the best at what they do. Each of them bring an intensity and focus to their roles that is mesmerizing to watch.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Shiri Appleby as Rachel Goldberg (UnREAL)
Catriona Balfe as Claire Fraser (Outlander)
Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El (Supergirl)
Eva Green as Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)
Rose McIver as Olivia Moore (iZombie)
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)
This is the category in which I’m most glad that I don’t actually vote for the Emmys because in the very unlikely possibility that both Eva Green and Keri Russell were nominated, I would be unable to choose. The brilliance contained in those two alone is awe-inspiring enough, but when considered alongside the very different but no less talented performances by the other ladies in this category, make me very proud of my viewing choices.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Desmin Borges as Edgar Quintero (You’re The Worst)
Andre Braugher as Ray Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Jaime Camil as Rogelio De La Vega (Jane the Virgin)
Arturo Castro as Jaime Castro (Broad City)
Pete Gardner as Darryl Whitefeather (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Keegan-Michael Key as Mark Rodriguez (Playing House)
For my personal tastes, I think this category is even stronger than lead actor in a comedy series. These characters are some of the most memorable on TV right now and it all has to do with the humanity and depth these actors bring to the role. They aren’t just there for comedic value, as many could have been with lesser writing and acting. They stand on their own and demand our attention and love.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Ivonne Coll as Alba Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)
Loretta Devine as Cynthia Carmichael (The Carmichael Show)
Kether Donohue as Lindsay Jillian (You’re The Worst)
Melissa Fumero as Amy Santiago (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett (Mom)
Niecy Nash as Denise “Didi” Ortley (Getting On)
Once again, it’s time for me to marvel at the talent of the ladies on TV right now. We’ve got Emmy-favorite Allison Janney in this category and I wouldn’t be at all upset if she was nominated and won yet again because it was another stellar year for her on Mom. However, my ultimate dream nominee in this category is Ivonne Coll. Alba does so much to ground the show and provide the strength upon with the Villanueva family is built and it wouldn’t be possible without the love Coll puts into the role.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Dylan Baker as William (The Americans)
Clayne Crawford as Ted Talbot, Jr. (Rectify)
Alan Cumming as Eli Gold (The Good Wife)
Rory Kinnear as The Creature (Penny Dreadful)
Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall/”Black Jack” Randall (Outlander)
David Tennant as Kilgrave (Marvel’s Jessica Jones)
At one point, I had four actors from The Americans on this list, so I had to make a decision to only pick one actor per show in order to spread the love around a little more. But let it be known that everyone involved with the show did a fantastic job this year and are also well-deserving. But the decision to cut them in order to make room for actors like Crawford and Kinnear, along with a repeat nomination for Cumming was worth it. With all three of them appearing on shows that have ended or will end this year, I want them to receive as much praise as possible for as long as possible.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranksi as Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife)
Adelaide Clemens as Tawney Talbot (Rectify)
Taryn Manning as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (Orange is the New Black)
Billie Piper as Lily Frankenstein (Penny Dreadful)
Alison Wright as Martha Hanson (The Americans)
Constance Zimmer as Quinn King (UnREAL)
When making these lists, I thought it was hard to make the decision for all of the other actress categories. Then I got to this one. To be consistent, I once again stuck with a one actress per show rule, which led to me having to cut Holly Taylor from my final list, causing me a great deal of pain. But I also couldn’t find anyone to cut in her favor, so this category is just absurdly strong. It also caused me some pain to cut Lindsay Morgan, who was my MVP on this season of The 100 and deserves all the recognition in the world for what she did this past season. And for one final time, I will continue to yell about Christine Baranski’s need for an Emmy for this role because it’s ridiculous that she doesn’t have one yet.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Black-ish – “Hope”
Master of None – “Parents”
Mom – “Sticky Hands a Walk on the Wild Side”
Transparent – “Man on the Land”
You’re the Worst – “LCD Soundsystem”
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Hannibal – “The Wrath of the Lamb”
Outlander – “Faith”
Penny Dreadful – “The Nightcomers”
Rectify – “The Source”
UnREAL – “Truth”
While I haven’t seen enough of the movies or miniseries to make a full list, I very much need (and expect) Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, and Sterling K. Brown to be recognized for the tremendous work they did on People v. OJ Simpson
Head to the comments if you want to talk more about my choices and to share your own dream nominees!