Emmys 2012: Who WE Would Nominate

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One problem with the Emmys is that it tries so hard to please people that it in the end it pleases no one. Television is full of niches and nooks and crannies, and viewers' tastes range from subtle legal dramas to brain-splattering zombie head-shots. Every TV-related website on the internet has some sort of bent, and we're not shy about which ways we lean. So now that we've covered who we THINK will be nominated this year (announced tomorrow! At the crack of dawn!), it's time to discuss who we'd LIKE to see on this year's ballot. Yeah, some of our picks may be a little out there, but we're sure that more than a few of you will agree.

I asked fellow TV.com writer Price Peterson to join me in compiling a list of ideal Emmy nominees, and we've provided a little commentary to explain ourselves. Add your own picks in the comments, and don't be afraid to go off the page and choose some wacky ones.



Outstanding Drama Series

Price's Picks
American Horror Story
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
The Vampire Diaries
The Walking Dead
Tim's Picks
Awake
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
Homeland
Luck

Price: Admittedly some of my picks are more respectable than others, but I mean that The Vampire Diaries one in all earnestness. It'll be a cold day in heck before the Emmy voters even learn of The CW's existence, but as far as excellent ensembles and and storytelling go, TVD is right up there with any other prestige programming; it's just stuck in the written-off ghetto that is teen supernatural drama. As for American Horror Story, I think it legitimately redefined what a TV show even is, to say nothing of how artful and ambitious it was. (My inclusion of it over Homeland shows just how much I value a strong conclusion. Yeah, I said it.) As for The Walking Dead, I'm basically an apologist through-and-through. I love its casually paced storytelling, and if there's a better showcase for fully immersive, frayed-nerve dread, I haven't seen it.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. I put Awake and Luck in there. I guess I have a fondness for one-and-done shows! What I like about all the series on my list is that they did everything right: acting, writing, cinematography, etc. They were really complete shows with no weaknesses, and that's what I look for in the Best Series categories. Where's Justified? It just missed the cut, because Season 3 wasn't as good as Season 2. Sons of Anarchy also deserves consideration, but I'm still bummed over that finale. Full disclosure: I've never liked Mad Men. And just so you know, Franklin & Bash was also on the Emmy nominations ballot.



Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Price's Picks
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Patrick Wilson, A Gifted Man
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Peter Krause, Parenthood
Tim's Picks
Jason Isaacs, Awake
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Kelsey Grammer, Boss
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Price: Not gonna lie, I don't have terribly strong opinions in this category. Either I haven't watched enough serious drama, or I take certain lead performances for granted. But I think I should probably defend my Patrick Wilson nod: A Gifted Man wasn't amazing, but Wilson single-handedly made it watchable. The guy's got skills, so hopefully he'll land on something much better soon.

Tim: You can't go wrong with my five. With the exception of Lewis (who shared the duty with Claire Danes), they dominated their respective series. And just in case you were wondering, both Franklin AND Bash were on the Emmy nominations ballot, too. I wonder if Breckin Meyer is drafting acceptance speeches.



Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Price's Picks
Connie Britton, American Horror Story
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Juliana Margulies, The Good Wife
Claire Danes, Homeland
Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries
Tim's Picks
Anna Torv, Fringe
Juliana Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Claire Danes, Homeland
Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy

Price: What are Claire Danes' chances of taking this home? 99 percent? 100 percent? So picking another four nominees was always going to be an exercise in hypotheticals. But I would like to point out that Connie Britton never took home an Emmy for Friday Night Lights, and I feel like her work on AHS was brave enough to warrant a retroactive win. Nina Dobrev would be a long shot, obviously, but Elena's arc was particularly tragic this year, plus Katherine is never not electrifying. But again: This is all very hypothetical.

Tim: I'm throwing some love toward Torv, who played like 20 characters this year on Fringe. She deserves recognition just for being able to keep 'em straight. And how awesome was Stowe in ABC's primetime soap? But really, this category is a one-woman competition with Danes as the sole participant, so the rest of you ladies can get as drunk as you like.



Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Price's Picks
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Conleth Hill, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Joseph Morgan, The Vampire Diaries
Scott Wilson, The Walking Dead
Tim's Picks
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
John Noble, Fringe
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
John Ortiz, Luck

Price: This category belongs to the scene-stealers and I'm not sure anyone stole them with more brazenness than Conleth Hill as Lord Varys. It's really saying something that in a world with literal dragons, shadow monsters, and frequent nudity that a simple conversation between Lord Varys and anyone else could be just as riveting. Similarly, Joseph Morgan's Klaus was a straight-up electrifying presence on TVD. So good, in fact, that he's almost unkillable at this point. Who would want to watch a TVD without Klaus?

Tim: How crowded is this category? By the time I made my cuts, last year's winner Peter Dinklage was no longer on the list. Neither was Walton Goggins. Or Jason Gedrick. Or Ryan Hurst. Or Jack Huston. Or Neal McDonough. Or Nick Nolte. Or Ron Perlman. Or Michael Shannon. Or John Slattery. Or BD Wong. Lots of deserving names here. My most controversial selection is Ortiz, but I promised myself I would put him on this list way back in January, after I first heard him curse in Spanish. But obviously the winner should be Giancarlo Esposito, and if he doesn't earn a trip to the podium I'm going to throw a tantrum.



Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Price's Picks
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kristin Bauer van Straten, True Blood
Fiona Shaw, True Blood
Candice Accola, The Vampire Diaries
Laurie Holden, The Walking Dead
Tim's Picks
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Rose Byrne, Damages
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy

Price: As a viewer I gravitate toward the bigger performances, particularly from women who go proverbially balls-out with difficult characters. I'm not sure I'll ever see a performance as confidently, intricately unhinged as Jessica Lange's Constance, a monster so charismatic that you cry when she cries and you clap when she hastens Armageddon. Absolutely incredible.

Tim: Can I first just say that I love Price's picks here? Okay, said. It's like a potpourri of supernatural creatures. Now for my picks: Let's stop the Skyler White hate and give Gunn the nomination she has deserved for some time now. She should get a nod just for her face at the end of "Crawl Sppace."



Outstanding Comedy Series

Price's Picks
Eastbound & Down
Enlightened
Girls
Louie
New Girl
Tim's Picks
Community
Louie
Awkward.
New Girl
Enlightened

Price: Turns out I love tragic cable comedies! As much as I adore the loose, casual spirit of New Girl, these other four were the ones that actually deserve accolades. They backed their hilarious (and melancholy) scenarios with ideas and emotions I still haven't shaken.

Tim: You know what? Screw Modern Family! The comedy category is almost always a letdown, but there are three legitimate great laughers this year in Community, Louie, and Enlightened. They're all very deserving. I included New Girl because I didn't know what else to include. Hope that doesn't hurt your feelings, New Girl. I don't have the balls to put Eagleheart or Comedy Bang Bang on my list, but they make me laugh harder than anything else on TV.



Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Price's Picks
Chris Lilley, Angry Boys
H. Jon Benjamin, Archer
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Danny McBride, Eastbound & Down
Louis C.K., Louie
Tim's Picks
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Joel McHale, Community
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Chris Elliott, Eagleheart

Price: I'm not even positive all these guys are eligible to be nominated, but the fact is they did some of the finest and funniest work of anyone on TV. Comedy is hard! Especially when you're playing six distinctively different characters as Chris Lilley did on Angry Boys. But I think my big wish would be for Danny McBride to take it. The guy is a one-man tour-de-force and so much of Eastbound & Down's excellence revolves around him. Give him all the Emmys pls.

Tim: No one really stood out from everyone else this year, but that's kind of how it is with comedy. Do you go with C.K.'s subtlety or Cheadle and David's over-the-topness? I put McHale on my list, and while I love him as Jeff Winger, is his performance really Emmy-worthy? Probably not. And yeah, I've decided I can do some Eagleheart nominating. Imagine Elliott's speech, for just a second. Wow.



Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Price's Picks
Lena Dunham, Girls
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tim's Picks
Ashley Rickards, Awkward.
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl

Price: I think Tim and I are pretty much in agreement on this one, but I'll give Lena Dunham the spot over the (still very deserving) Ashley Rickards, mostly due to Dunham's fearlessness. It's heartening to see this category so positively stacked with talent, it's just unfortunate that the award will probably go to Whitney Cummings. Haha j/k?

Tim: I wasn't initially on board with the Rickards for Emmy campaign, but she's done good work capturing normal teenage angst and she pulls off great off-camera stares during voiceovers. Once again, New Girl was my seat-filler when I couldn't think of anyone else to put in there. Congrats, Zooey! And sorry Lena Dunham, but haven't we had enough of you this year already?



Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Price's Picks
Steve Little, Eastbound & Down
Luke Wilson, Enlightened
Adam Driver, Girls
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Craig Robinson, The Office
Tim's Picks
Danny Pudi, Community
Jim Rash, Community
Jason Gann, Wilfred
Rob McElhenney, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Luke Wilson, Enlightened

Price: Here's one where it doesn't feel like New Girl is just filler. Max Greenfield's Schmidt is one of TV's best characters and it's time we start dealing with that fact. Otherwise, I'd be happy to see the more dramatic performances of Adam Driver or Luke Wilson get the prize, but I think I'd prefer if Steve Little took it home. Gosh dang he's funny.

Tim: Pudi gets the nod over Donald Glover from me because Abed had better material this year and Pudi took advantage of it. Same goes for Rash, who elevated Dean Pelton to new levels this season. I normally don't like Wilson, but he's really great on Enlightened as a loser ex-husband. Gann just cracks me up as much as anyone ever has on TV, and isn't that what comedy acting is really about? I hope Rob McElhenney from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia sneaks in here even though he won't, because anyone who puts on 50 pounds of fat for a sight gag deserves a trophy. Just missed the cut: Veep's Timothy Simons. Next year, pal!



Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Price's Picks
Diane Ladd, Enlightened
Zosia Mamet, Girls
Casey Wilson, Happy Endings
Pamela Adlon, Louie
Jillian Bell, Workaholics
Tim's Picks
Gillian Jacobs, Community
Casey Wilson, Happy Endings
Diane Ladd, Enlightened
Kaitlin Olson, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Carly Chaikin, Suburgatory

Price: Well, I'm not sure I'll ever get over the Diane Ladd-centric episode of Enlightened, just due to its sheer, subtle devastation. But I'd love to see Jillian Bell get more credit for how casually hilarious her performance is on a show that otherwise doesn't get enough attention for its surprising quality. But my main pick would be Pamela Adlon, whose occasional appearances during Louie Season 2 served to catalyze and provoke our hero in all the best ways. It's unclear whether she'll ever be back on the show, but her absence is already felt.

Tim: Britta Britta Britta Britta Britta Britta Britta Britta! I love Britta! And I included Carly Chaikin, who plays Dahlia on Suburgatory, for shits and giggles. But when you think about it, she's genuinely acting because she's playing a character who's nothing like the person she is in real life.


Who's on YOUR Emmy nominations wishlist? This year's nominees will be will be announced tomorrow at 8:35am Eastern / 5:35am Pacific.


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