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This Is What We Think of the Emmy Costume Design Nominations

The verdict: Did the Emmy voters forget to update their DVR settings to include new TV series this season? Or did a batch of screeners go missing?
"Game of Thrones"
Courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

Perhaps these are the reasons why so much laudable costume design on new and returning TV series were not on the Emmy nominations list. This year’s nods went to Downton Abbey (duh), Boardwalk Empire (fourth nod, zero wins), the first half of the final season of Mad Men (no costume nods since 2011?), Game of Thrones (of course) and Once Upon a Time (again?).

It’s wonderful to see Mad Men back in the talented mix. But otherwise, the 2014 list reads like a rerun of last year’s picks. HBO’s Boardwalk Empire's post-prohibition garb has stayed late at the party with colorful period garments designed by John Dunn, Lisa Padovani and Joseph La Corte. Their work has been nominated three times but has not won — yet. 

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What would an Emmy costume nod list be without Caroline McCall's name for her period-perfect work on Downton Abbey? HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones just keeps getting and better and so do the intricate costumes, thanks to the skills of Michele Clapton and her international team of embroiderers, artists, dyers, cutters, agers, leather makers and metal workers.

Mad Men stayed marvelously true to period, garnering chuckles for all the hipper and hairier male characters. But of special note is Janie Bryant’s homage to '70s fashion icon Sharon Tate, worn by Don Draper’s second wife, Megan (Jessica Pare). Kudos to Bryant for this colorful final season’s flashback.

For all those who thought the Once Upon a Time costume nod was a fluke, it wasn’t. Eduardo Castro's and Monique McRae's imaginative costumes on this updated fairy tale put voters back in a magical mood.

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So what was overlooked? There were two shameful snubs of extremely talented Emmy-winning costume designers.

Gabriella Pescucci's Victorian-era costumes in Showtime’s marvelously macabre Gothic horror drama Penny Dreadful went unnoticed. How is this even possible? Pescucci’s a two-time Emmy winner and one-time nominee, all for her work on Showtime’s The Borgias. It should be mentioned that the twice Oscar-nominated designer also won an Academy Award for The Age of Innocence.

To top it off, her last Emmy win was…wait for it… last year. Penny Dreadful's Grand Guignol style will make a bloody splash at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 24, so expect the show’s profile to rise. Maybe this will put the show — and Pescucci — on Emmy voters’ radar for next year.

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The transformative costumes in the second season of The History Channel’s Vikings, designed by Joan Bergin, also were overlooked. Bergin has won three Emmys for her costume work on The Tudors so she’s no small potatoes to pass down the table. The Costume Designers Guild also nominated her four times for The Tudors.

And the time period is fascinating, and one that has been overlooked in costume drama. "In many ways, this is one of the most interesting things I have ever done," Bergin tells Pret-a-Reporter. "This season you will really begin to see the complexity of Viking society, from weddings to ceremonies. And although there are differences between Anglo Saxons and the Norse, it also exposes many similarities between the Christian and Pagan societies."

Bergin admits that she was baffled by last year’s omission. “I was curious why the costumes were ignored on the awards circuit, especially at the Costume Designers Guild Awards. I was delighted to be an Emmy winner for my work on The Tudors and this is such a fresh and different show. I had hoped that its newness would bring it the forefront but maybe it will just take more time."

Maybe it will just take another year. To that end, the History Channel has renewed its hit series Vikings for a third season.

What do you think?

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