THR TV Critics Debate: Searching for Snubs After the Best Emmy Nominations Ever

The TV Academy largely got it right this time around, but THR TV critics Tim Goodman and Dan Fienberg still found (a few) things to gripe about.
Chris Large/FX
Patrick Wilson on 'Fargo.'

Though Thursday's Emmy nominations are arguably the most across-the-board on-target they've ever been, THR critics Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg took some time getting used to all the warm fuzzies, and then located the oversights they found most annoying or troubling.

Fienberg: Holy cow, man. This is just about as close as the Emmy voters have come to my dream ballot in years. The Americans! Louie Anderson! Black-ish! Bokeem Woodbine! Sterling K. Brown! I mean, it's not a perfect list of Emmy nominees, but it's a very good list of Emmy nominees. Nobody, however, is here to watch us be happy. So ... how easy is it for you to find points of disgruntlement with this year's nominees? Who got snubbed?

Goodman: It's probably easy for both of us because we're well-oiled professional machines, Dan. Wasn't it harder to be all warm and fuzzy? But yeah, despite this being a huge step forward for the Television Academy, there were snubs (or, in some cases, let's just say dark horses that didn't come in). Instead of giant lumps of show titles, let's start with Orange Is the New Black. I think that stands out, even if season three wasn't the strongest. Yes? 

Fienberg: As somebody who believes the Emmy blue ribbon panel screwed up in not letting Orange submit as a comedy — don't tell me it's less of a comedy than Transparent and Shameless — this is the unfortunate side effect. When even Uzo Aduba isn't getting nominated, that means the bloom is off this rose for Emmy voters. It's baffling that Emmy voters keep going to the House of Cards well over and over and over again, but they tired of Orange this quickly. OK. Fine. I can get angry about something if I need to, Tim.

Goodman: Well I've got plenty of anger about House of Cards, Homeland and Downton Abbey — series that are fine enough if you want to argue with their fans, but not quite up to the standards of the category. I think the same thing about The Good Wife. I have no energy to argue about whether they are more than just good shows. But I've got all the venom necessary to argue them out of the best drama category. To me, with all the great improvements in this year's nominations, it's this drama class that stands out as really being the Television Academy's biggest stumble this year. The Leftovers could have been in there, for starters. (I would just say as an asterisk as we go forward, that a lot of the reasons why I'm not outraged in other categories is that a lot of people/series that didn't get in are ones that I either didn't realistically expect to get in or those that had enough representation from the show in question to temper any upset.) Do you have others or should we shift to comedy?

Fienberg: There is the old saw that you shouldn't complain about snubs if you aren't prepared to say whose spot they should have taken, and I'm right there with you that House of Cards, Homeland and Downton Abbey all could go and The Leftovers is the first thing I'd put in their place, with Carrie Coon and Regina King both deserving acting nods there as well. A lot of the things I would have personally included there didn't have a realistic chance, including Rectify, so that's a category that really doesn't fuel my snub rage. 

And guess what? I'm not angry at the comedy category either. I knew Review and Survivor's Remorse weren't getting nominations and that Broad City and Carmichael were long shots. So my snubs are nit-picking. Black-ish deserved at least one writing nomination. It would have been nice to make a place for Rachel Bloom and/or Gina Rodriguez. Tim Simons could have gotten a nomination, but I have no objections to Matt Walsh and Tony Hale getting the Veep love. Etc. You?

Goodman: I certainly think Jane the Virgin deserved a nomination — and Modern Family would have been the one I kicked out (not because it's a bad show, because it's still quite funny; it's just not in the top tier any longer). I agree, though, that at some point the series I wanted here were glorious wishes — Catastrophe, Casual, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat. But it would be hard to oust others. I think Gina Rodriguez could have easily and deservedly been slotted in there for lead actress, and Jaime Camil would have been my choice over Will Forte, but elsewhere (and especially in supporting) there wasn't much wiggle room. It's like wanting the whole casts of Silicon Valley and Veep nominated, which would be fine with me, but then I would yell at myself for leaving out other people I really liked. So, yeah, truly hard to quibble at some point. Limited series might be another matter because of Show Me a Hero and Oscar Isaac and Patrick Wilson for Fargo. But there was so much goodness, it neuters me again. Damn it, Dan!

Fienberg: Catastrophe did get a writing nomination, so I considered that to be worthy acknowledgement enough. And The Narrator (Anthony Mendez) got another nomination, so that's the love for Jane. I'll fight on behalf of Will Forte and against the contention that Modern Family is still funny, but that's a different fight.

So let's go to the limited field, which I continue to find more interesting than drama series. My biggest surprise: John Travolta was nominated, which I still find ridiculous, but with Bokeem Woodbine and Sterling K. Brown both still getting nominations, I can't be resentful. OK, fine. I can be resentful: No acting nominations for Roots? That's a sham. But it's a sham brought about by such a great assortment of options. There could have been five different Fargo and People v. O.J. Simpson nominees and that would have been warranted (and Roots still would have been shut out). The Patrick Wilson exclusion is the one that irks me, especially with the voters star-pandering with Cuba Gooding Jr.'s inconsistent turn as O.J. And poor Oscar Isaac. He definitely deserved a nomination, but I guess now we know why he's not called Emmy Isaac.

Why are you snubbing my joke with a lack of laughter?

Goodman: I think Roots might qualify for the "Hey, glad you noticed!" star/smiley face that the Television Academy gets for these steps forward it's making. I mean, given my previous asterisk about being satisfied, I could have bitched about Happy Valley and Sarah Lancashire or, in this category, The Last Panthers, but happiness is winning the day it appears. (We're wearing it well, by the way!) Agree that Isaac and Wilson are the biggest surprises but actual, non-debatable snubs are to be found in the variety category, right? Or are we going to have to debate that? I'll let you riff first on the oversights.

Fienberg: The variety category is just weird. So much of the narrative this past year was about how Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore had made the late-night field into something new, something that wasn't exclusively the domain of white men anymore, and then you look at the six nominees and … all hosted by white guys. And Wilmore was always a long shot and I know I'm going against the grain in my support of Noah, but Full Frontal With Samantha Bee was such a no-brainer that the show got a writing nomination … but not a series nod? Nope. Not accepting this one. Go back to the drawing board here, Academy. Now I'm mad.

Goodman: I figured that would do it. I'm with you on Sam Bee, though. She came out like a Roman candle and hasn't stopped yet. I don't think either Noah's show or Wilmore's show reached the heights necessary to be included here. As the category currently stands, I'd dump Maher for Bee in a heartbeat, but also Fallon for Seth Meyers and Late Night.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is pretty damned inspired, actually. I really like that series and I applaud the Emmy voters for actually going further than maybe even I would here. I like it, though. I certainly think Stephen Colbert qualifies as a snub. If nothing else, it was a shock. But it's also a show with problems, and while CBS is addressing those, this is both a wake-up call and partly an embarrassment. While I think The Late Show is right now marginally better than both The Daily Show and The Nightly Show, trying to "figure out" Colbert and the show is definitely a thing Emmy voters seem to be stuck on. I am, too. It's how I really like Wilmore but the show isn't compelling enough (and he can sometimes disappear in it), and I really like Colbert but can't stop contrasting him with his unsettled show. Maybe next year on that one. (And no, I don't think CBS is going to give up on him). 

Fienberg: And so we're gonna conclude with our frustration about BoJack Horseman not getting any nominations in the animation and voiceover categories, right? Or a classic Survivor season getting left out for another subpar run of The Amazing Race? Tim? Tim?

Goodman: Oh, sorry, I had circled back to Eva Green plus residual Leftovers anger and … man, I don't have much else. You know, being mostly satisfied is weird. I think we can both agree on that.

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