The Alternative Emmys: Recasting the Big Categories

Tatiana Maslany Next Big Thing Horizontal - H 2013
Amanda Friedman

Tatiana Maslany Next Big Thing Horizontal - H 2013

An argument can be made that the yearly snubs in the Emmy nomination process generate more attention (and column space) than the the nods voters get right without having to be nagged. Now all that's left is to hand out the actual awards on Monday and let the critics and fans have one last round of joy/ranting (joyful ranting?) about the winners and losers.

Except if someone, ahem, decides to offer up alternative nominees. Consider this less of a rant about snubs and more proof of just how deep the quality runs in today's TV landscape. Here, in the major categories, are full slates of deserving nominees who won't be participating in Monday's Emmys — but could have been. No picking of winners. Just noting that they were all worthy.

(The only caveats I'll use here are that some of these actors and actresses may have nominated themselves for different categories — say, lead instead of supporting — and as much as I love the actors in Shameless, the show's insistence on switching to the comedy category ruled them out).

Drama series: The Americans (FX). One of the best shows on television. The Walking Dead (AMC). Most underrated drama. The Good Wife (CBS). Best drama on network television. Masters Of Sex (Showtime). How did this not make it? Orphan Black (BBC America). How about a little respect for genre TV? Boardwalk Empire (HBO). Forgotten, but still great.

Comedy series: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox), The Goldbergs (ABC). These two tie for best freshman comedy. Also: both hilarious. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX). Most snubbed comedy in history? Girls (HBO). Had one of its best seasons, but no Emmy nom. Fixed! Parks and Recreation (NBC). So great. So what happened? The Middle (ABC). Network TV's most underrated comedy?

Lead actor in a drama: Matthew Rhys, The Americans. Incredibly inventive — he can do it all. James Spader, The Blacklist. He is the show. Period. Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead. In a series continually overlooked or dismissed, his exclusion is most puzzling. Michael Sheen, Masters Of Sex. Quiet, layered performance. Damian Lewis, Homeland; The show may be subpar now, but he's still top-tier. Charlie Hunnam, Sons Of AnarchyAnother longtime Emmy snub who always delivers.

Lead actress in a drama: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black. Don't get me started. No, really, don't. Kerri Russell, The Americans. What else does she have to do? Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men. A great season for her (again). Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel. She's the reason to watch. Nicole Beharie, Sleepy Hollow. It's a crazy show, but watch how steady and good she is. Lucy Liu, Elementary. Understated — plays serious and comedic equally well.

Lead actor in a comedy: Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He's gold. Chris Messina, The Mindy Project. Perfect counterpart to Kaling and the show's vibe. Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation. Never not excellent. Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley. The surprise newcomer truly shone. Rob McElhenney, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. What does he have to do? Because he did it. Mark Duplass, The League. Solid in the insanity.

Lead actress in a comedy: Kaitlin Olson, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Another yearly Sunny snub. Her acting and timing are flawless. Zooey Deschanel, The New Girl. What, too adorkable? Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project. Fearless and hilarious. Malin Akerman, Trophy Wife. I guess nobody watched her nail this difficult part. Wendi McLendon-Covey, The Goldbergs. Are you kidding, Emmys? She should be a yearly lock. Katie Aselton, The League. How do you stand out in this cast? By being spot-on, always.

Supporting actor in a drama: Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead. Magnetic, nuanced. Dean Norris, Breaking Bad. Such an incredible season, such an incredible snub. Fixed! Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire. Stole the show. John Slattery, Mad Men. It's inconceivable that of all seasons, he's left off after that one. Walton Goggins, Justified. Like Reedus, you can't take your eyes off him, and he stands up to the scrutiny. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones. A truly first-rate performance, one of the best in this series.

Supporting actress in a drama: Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead. The overlooked theme continues. Annet Mahendru, The Americans. Wow, was she good. Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy. She ran the gamut of emotional portrayal. Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones. One of the best young stars on television. Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones. Should have been a sure thing. Monica Potter, Parenthood. Two seasons in a row of deserving a nod.

Supporting actor in a comedy: Danny Pudi, Community. Eclectic genius. Timothy Simons, Veep. Took the expanded role and dominated.  T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley. MVP of that series. Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation. A yearly Emmy crime. But not here. Reid Scott, Veep. Underrated in strong ensemble cast. Christopher Evan Welch, Silicon Valley. Performance of a career that ended too early.

Supporting actress in a comedy: Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer. Another fearless performer. Pamela Adlon, Louie. Maybe she just makes it look too easy? Chelsea Peretti, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Stands out in a solid, punchline-heavy cast. Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation. Conveys so much with a look; kills with the delivery. Kristen Bell, House of Lies. Impressive acting chops. Tamsin Greig, Episodes. Textbook delivery, seriously underrated acting.


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