The Emmy Nominations Ballots Are Out: Let's Take a Look at Them! (2013 Edition)


While you're still basking in the glow of Tatiana Maslany's victory at the Critics' Choice Awards the other night, or the big Television Critics Association Awards nominations for The Americans (those are two totally different organizations, I swear), it's important to remember that the generally less interesting yet more prestigious Emmys are currently in the middle of their nomination process. On the film circuit, the basic assumption is that awards season builds to the Oscars, with smaller outfits like the Golden Globes providing the inside track to what could happen at the big show. In theory, the Critics' Choice Awards and the TCA Awards give television the same kind of framework—but in reality, the relationship between the three ceremonies is so nonexistent that it's tough to say that they have any effect on the Emmys at all. 

However, we can better understand the Emmy nominations and eventual winners by looking at the nominations ballots, which the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences releases publicly. The 2013 ballots came out this Monday (you can see them on the Emmys' official site) and Academy voters have until June 28 to turn in their picks. As I wrote at this time last year, the voting process is kind of silly. Voters still pencil in their picks via a Scantron sheet, and can choose anywhere between zero and 10 nominees, depending on the category. The nominees are listed in alphabetical order, and I've heard a number of people joke that voters simply exhaust their allotment with names that appear early in the alphabet, then just give up and move on. But even though the voting process could be much better, it's not likely to change anytime soon. So let's instead turn our focus to what we can learn from this year's ballots and all the weird, funny, and sometimes downright perplexing inclusions they have have to offer.


It's an honor just to have the chance to be nominated...

One of the more magical things about the nominations ballots is how hopeful they can seem. We all know that the ACTUAL nominations will be riddled with the usual suspects—Mad MenModern FamilyBreaking BadThe Big Bang Theory, and the like. Yet, because the responsibility of submitting actors and shows for consideration usually falls to individual performers/producers (or to their "people"), just about anyone who worked in Hollywood during the eligibility period can throw their name in the ring. As a result, the ballots are full of people who we know won't even come close to be nominated, not to mention people whose work or show we've barely even heard of. This year, for whatever reason, there are a number of submissions from people who worked on a Halo 4-related show, which is about as random as these things get. 

The nomination process also allows for more recognizable actors from less-prestigious networks to try to leverage their recognition into a nomination. It's going to take a dramtic change in the Emmy voter population before nominations for people from the Disney Channel, ABC Family, The CW, BET, DirecTV, and TV Land ever happen, but that didn't stopping Austin and Ally's Laura Marano from submitting herself in the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category, or the cast of Real Husbands of Hollywood from submitting in the supporting acting categories. And the logic of The CW's performers never ceases to fascinate me. Last year, a number of leading ladies joined the fray, and that's mostly true this year as well; I guess Kat Graham thought she had a reasonable amount of stuff to do this season on The Vampire Diaries, and I'd be okay living in the weirdest world where AnnaSophia Robb made good on her effort to earn a nom for her work on The Carrie Diaries. Meanwhile, I expected a little more of a push for Arrowperhaps coming from The CW itself—but only Stephen Ammell and Katie Cassidy made the effort to submit. 


...but realistically, for many, nominations aren't worth trying for

Speaking of making an effort, although hope springs with these ballots, I can appreciate the way that some actors don't even consider wasting their time on filling out the necessary paperwork to make it onto these PDFs. The most notable omission, for me at least, is probably Fringe's Anna Torv. If you'd like to read her absence here as a subtle comment on the quality of the final season I wouldn't totally disagree, but it's more likely that she understands that neither she nor the show is getting nominated no matter what. Torv legitimately deserved a nod for her work in Season 3, but it didn't happen. Perhaps she took a hint from John Noble's experience; various corners of the internet have been trying to get  him into the race for five years, to no avail. 

Also missing from the ballot are the cast of Doctor Who, and the show itself in the big Drama Series category. Again, this is probably a case of actors and show that literally have no chance of being nominated (at least this year; you could have made a case for the cast and show at various times over the past few season) not wasting their time, but I at least expected to see Matt Smith and the show itself on the list. 


When choosing a category, strategy matters

Another thing to keep an eye out for is where actors and actresses decide to submit themselves because that can change from year to year. Three particular individual choices stood out to me for 2013.

The first is Hayden Panettiere choosing to submit herself in the Supporting Actress race instead of the Lead Actress one. Nashville was certainly promoted as a two-hander featuring Panettiere and Connie Britton, and although the press certainly loves Connie B. more (and I mean, duh), the fact is, Hayden consistently did better work in the first season of a very messy show. If you told me that she'd submitted in the Lead Actress category, I'd nod in agreement. But there's a strong argument against submitting in the bigger race; this way, she avoids competition with a co-star and the Claire Danes/Julianna Margulies buzzsaw. Realistically, Panettiere has zero chance of winning, and a minscule chance of being nominated in the Lead Actress spot. But I'm not so sure the Supporting Actress race is any easier. Dame Maggie Smith is still around, so she's automatically going to win for Downton Abbey unless something really weird happens, and the women of Mad Men and The Good Wife are going to make it tough to get into the category at all. 

Then there's Freddie Highmore's run at the Supporting Actor category for Bates Motel. This is less about Highmore's work on the show, or his prominence in its promotional campaigns, and more about how A&E is likely putting a big push behind Vera Farmiga in the Lead Actress race. Highmore certainly has a better chance of getting nominated as a supporting actor than he does as a lead, which gives A&E more resources to allocate toward Farmiga's campaign. Her TCA Award nomination might help a little, but I'm very curious to see how Farmiga fares for her performance on the show. 

Finally, although it was announced a while backJake Johnson submitting himself for Lead Actor is a smart decision. New Girl's second season was all about Nick Miller, much like the show's first season was dominated by Schmidt. The Supporting Actor race is so stuffed that Johnson would have trouble standing out there, but in the Lead Actor race, he might be able to sneak in if the buzz sustains through the voting period like it did for his co-star Max Greenfield last year.


In the Lead Actor categories, your fiercest competition may be be your co-star—and it could hurt you both in the end

Although you'd think that shows would want to spread out their chances to grab multiple nominations (see the "strategy matters" section above), a number of top-lining duos have submitted in the Lead Actor categories—which could, at least in theory, lead to stiff competition among co-stars. This isn't an entirely recent phenomenon; in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, the leading men of shows like L.A. Law, St. ElsewhereNYPD BlueER, Law & Order, The West Wing, and Six Feet Under all scored Lead Actor nominations alongside their fellow cast members. In many cases, neither man won (1986, 1987, 1994, 1997, 1999-2001), but there were a few instances (St. Elsewhere's William Daniels when he ran against co-star Ed Flanders in 1984, and NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz when he ran against David Caruso in 1994 and Jimmy Smits in 1996 and 1998) where two performers from the same show made it into the lead category and one of them ended up winning. All told, the approach garners mixed results at best—but Jon Cryer won Lead Actor in a Comedy last year, so it's no surprise that he and Ashton Kutcher are sharing the spotlight on this year's ballot, nor is it shocking that Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, each of whom was nominated in the Lead Actor category two years ago, are both vying to return to it. 

Here's a list of shows with more than one actor trying for Lead Actor consideration this year: Workaholics (Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson), The New Normal (Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha), Parks and Recreation (Adam Scott and Rob Lowe), Suits (Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht), White Collar (Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer), Person of Interest (Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel), Vikings (Travis Fimmel and Gabriel Bynre), Dallas (Patrick Duffy and Josh Henderson), NCIS: LA (LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell), Franklin & Bash (Breckin Meyer and Mark Paul Gosselear), Vegas (Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid) and The Vampire Diaries (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder). Add the Lead Actress race and and you've also got 2 Broke Girls (Beth Behrs and Kat Denning), 1600 Penn (Jenna Elfman and Martha MacIsaac), Once Upon a Time (Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison), and Rizzoli & Isles (Sasha Alexander and Angie Harmon). Considering the approach worked for Parsons and Galecki two years ago in that they both earned nominations in an already-competitive category and Parsons actually won, perhaps more and more leading actors are purposefully going head-to-head with one another. Which isn't to say that doing so necessarily helps their chances of taking home a statue: It's likely that the vote gets split when actors compete against one another. We'll never know, but it's a risk that lots of actors seem prepared to take.


The Miniseries/TV Movie designation is still laughable

Another thing that I mentioned last year, and another thing that's worth noting again. The fact that American Horror Story: Asylum and its cast and crew get to enter the Miniseries/TV Movie category is a little ridiculous. Downton Abbey  entered the series race after its initial stay in the Miniseries/TV Movie category, but that's apparently not going to happen with AHS because AHS is an anthology series. So if you're not ready for at least another two years of Jessica Lange winning awards for her work on the show, prepare yourself. But the silliness doesn't just end there. Political Animals and The Hour get to slide into the Miniseries/TV Movie race because they were both canceled, even though their producers had full intention on continuing after their respective first and second seasons if given the chance. The Big C: Hereafter sneaks into the race as well because its final season was comprised of just four "event"-style episodes. 

Of course, a lot of of this probably doesn't matter as much this year because Behind the Candelabra is rightfully going to dominate this category outside of Lange's likely second win in a row, but it'd really be nice if the categories actually made sense. 


But at the very least, the ballots can be good for a chuckle

I don't want to knock individual actors or their agents for trying to get the word out about their work, so I'll just point out a few shows that humorously appear on their respective Outstanding Series lists...

Outstanding Drama Series: Gossip GirlHemlock GroveMonday MorningsThe Client ListFranklin & BashRogueTouch

Outstanding Comedy Series: Men at WorkGuys With KidsThe First FamilyBaby DaddyAfter LatelySullivan and Son, The Carrie Diaries


Wanna play along? Take a look at the ballots for yourself and let us know what glaring omissions or hilarious inclusions YOU see!

Comments (73)
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I know there isn't even a chance that Fringe is gonna win something but if it doesn't I'll bang my head at the fucking wall.

I guess I better buy a plaster.
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Looking through these have reaffirmed my view that there are not enough good roles out there for women...
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The miniseries category is definitely frustrating, although it can produce some very unusual competition (AHS vs Candelabra - how would you even compare the two?) At least Emmys expanded the categories a bit to allow six noms in some categories so that the goodwill can be spread out a bit.

They just need to let go of repeat nominees/winners a bit. Just because last year (or five years ago) was good doesn't mean you need to give that person/show a shoo-in nomination. Spread the wealth!
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What ! I think The Client List is amazing. It's so different from waht I've seen before (including the original movie itself which was ridiculous). The characters are great and the serie is sexy and misterious and funny... Love it.
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Also, Downton wasn't forced into Drama series, it wanted to make the move; you should check some of your facts before publishing these things!
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We don't completely agree with this. In miniseries it was a complete shoo-in, but they literally couldn't stay there in second season. It was a loop-hole that was exploited for series 1, but they were ineligible in later season, so technically the facts are that if they wanted to be nominated they had to move to Drama
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What made them ineligible then?
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Miniseries is only for limited events. As soon as Downton started a second series, it had to be submitted as a series
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Where did you read that rule?
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I keep trying to respond to this comment but it won't let me! There was talk that people really wanted Downton to leave mini, and there are articles out there (that I tried to link to) about how it had too many episodes to be in that category.
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Oh, well from everything I read, it wanted to.
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Johnny Galecki wasn't actually nominated last year... but he was the year before, when Jim Parsons won. So you were wrong in your section about two people submitting in lead!
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Thank you so much for the note. I was looking at the wrong year online.
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Thanks, will fix.
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You're welcome, I hope my comments didn't make me look like too much of a douche, haha
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Not at all. I *was* wrong, and it needed to be fixed. I really do appreciate it.
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Rob Lowe is going for Lead Actor for his work in Parks & Rec? He is a supporting cast member in the show, I think that's kind of pompous to do that. Not that he will be nominated anyway.
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It's because he's a movie star! (Don't agree with it, but that's frequently the thought process)
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He always, always puts himself there.
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Wait Wait Wait
Ginifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison are going for OuaT but Lanna Parilla doesn't?!?!?!?
Say WHAT?!?
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Are you kidding me?! Lana owns the show!
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That's exactly what I was saying...
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Why is there no Brienne??? Catelyn and Cersei have a better chance, granted, but she was GREAT.
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The actors (or their reps) choose to submit, so I guess she didn't care?
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Your article really explains perfectly why we should not bother with all this awards nonsense. Sci-Fi BAD--Uppity crap GOOD. I've been around long enough to know that most good actors don't care what the role is, they just do it well every time out. Look at Michael Chiklis, that's what I'M talking about. He's a great actor because he just rocks it, whatever IT is...
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it's really about time for a thumbs down option, no?
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LOL Gossip Girl and Hemlock Grove for Outstanding Drama is hilarious.
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Downton Abbey should be in the tv drama category cause is not a miniseries. If it was then so many other shows that just have a couple of more episodes per season (game of thrones, true blood with 10 episodes, etc) would enter the race as mini series. American Horror Story on the other hand it is a mini series cause is only 1 season story. Every year is a different story/characters, different show actually. So I wouldn't call it silliness to enter as a mini series. Also, Jessica Lange did not win the two big awards for Asylum even though her performance was stellar and she deserved every single award that exists in her category!
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It's ridiculous. I understand how they get around the rules, but it's ridiculous.

And Jessica Lange did win the big award for mini last year. Not sure what you mean.
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Why it's ridiculous? If a series has a beginning and an end in just 12-13 episodes, doesn't that make it a mini series? And I am sorry to tell you, but do your homework better. Jessica Lange did not win her golden globe nomination for Asylum. She won an emmy and golden globe for AHS 1. As far as I am concerned for TV these are the two big awards and so far she didn't win for Asylum...She will probably be nominated for an emmy as well this September.
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Yes of course. The Emmys wouldn't be living up to their name if they didn't act as if Fringe never happened.
I bet they are all from the Red Universe...
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I hate enemas. And yes, if you can't give to John Noble and Anna Torv, you're wasting our time with this nonsense...
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awards are stupid
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That sad fact is that most people in the industry don't watch much TV... they're busy. Which means that people who can vote aren't watching enough different shows to pick correctly (by which I mean "the way I would have", of course).

If I were running things, I'd make a few changes... separate categories for "broadcast network" programming and "cable channel or other" programming, and I'd add a category for "ensemble cast" (which, to make it more interesting, would be ineligible of nominating any of the actors in it for individual awards). This would solve the "Friends" problem of years past, and would reward the depth of the bench rather than the star power at the top.
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Are there really enough "broadcast network" programs worth celebrating? You can't have comedies and dramas in the same category, so although network comedies can definitely hold their own, dramas might be in short supply (Good Wife, Hannibal...and that's all we've got)

It's all hypothetical, of course, since this would never happen (too many awards to vote for, too long a telecast and no desire to separate them). Fun to consider how the system can be improved though
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Mostly it is all the same, and some shows get multiple nominees!
Again, I say there should be just 1 nominee from a show, not 3 actors for best coz they all happen to be on the high rated show, as just an example!
Anyway, Many good shows never get Cred! Example--The League!!!
So, with that said, it will probably be much the same as before.
Here's an idea, How about best comedy show 1-with laugh track, 2- No laugh track, might make for better interest!
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definitely Freddie Highmore for Best Supporting Actor. Bates Motel may not have the biggest following compared to the other shows, and I'm not sure who he'd be up against, but that kid is talented and at least deserves a nomination.
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I really hope either Michelle Fairley or Lena Headey (or both, preferably) get nominated for best Supporting Actress. Both of them were phenomenal in this season of Game of Thrones, and really deserve recognition.
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Hate the fact that Maggie Q probably isn't gonna get nominated because her awesome show is on The CW. She deserves a nomination for her amazing work in Nikita.
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Yeah, she has no chance.
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How do you know which ones of these people submitted themselves?

I hope Jennifer Carpenter and John Noble are at least nominated.
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It really would be interesting to know "How do you know which ones of these people submitted themselves?"
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That's how the process works. No one puts SOMEONE else on the ballot. You put yourself on it, then someone votes for you.
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Haha, Franklin and Bash is a DRAMA? Are we talking about the same show?
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I can't believe that The Middle's Charlie McDermott (Axl) didn't submit himself. He's great on that show.
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I need Kerry Washington and Scandal to be nominated. That's really all I'm looking to see lol
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I think she will this year. Voters will recognize her now, and that matters.
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Mellie and Cyrus need nominations too IMO. I understand that buzz matters more so for the Golden Globes (so Scandal should do well for that award shows), but I hope that it gets recognized during the Emmys too
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I really liked "The Hour". It didn't get the third season it deserved, but it does deserve some recognition. It beats "Newsroom" hands down, and how many awards has that show won.
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Oh, I LOVED The Hour. Really sad it was cancelled.
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The Hour was great, but The Newsroom is pretty good too...
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I think sooner or later they should put some rules on the lead/supporting categories (e.g. screen time), some choices are ridiculous (e.g. Megan Hilty, Lena Parrilla, Sarah Paulson as supporting...). But I agree it's difficult for choral shows, as Game of Thrones.
Some shows are also difficult to place: Shameless is put in the drama category but it's difficult to say whether it's a comedy or a drama, for example.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, I noticed the absence of Charles Dance (pity!) and Richard Madden.

Am I wrong or last year Jessica Paré was proposed as lead?
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I don't disagree with the screen-time rule, but that'd be too hard for people to tabulate. The Academy won't want to do that much work.

I *think* Pare entered into lead. But she kind of was last season, no?
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I was wondering because this time has been proposed to supporting and not lead, but perhaps I had mistaken the award (she could have asked for supporting at the Emmys and for lead in another award).

Anyway it's just an academic discussion, considering that she doesn't have any possibility of being nominated in either category.

I also don't like too much the screen rule, but some actors are nominated in really absurd categories, it's not really believable for the awards.
We could also discuss ages for the criteria for a series to be nominated as miniseries or not.
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I think Shameless is very easily a drama with comedy elements. Rescue Me fell into that category and even Californication.
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My favourite submission is Amy Schumer in the "Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy" category for INSIDE AMY SCHUMER. A show that is literally built around her.
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Also, it's interesting that Madeline Stowe nominated herself in supporting for Revenge, even though she's billed first (although I think it's obvious Emily VanCamp is the lead).
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Yeah, both of those are all about positioning. Schumer clearly thinks that she couldn't get nominated in the Lead category.
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Is Glee in the comedy catagory? IT IS NOT A COMEDY!
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It's always in the comedy category. Just the way it is.
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Sometimes it decides to be a comedy. Sometimes it decides to be a drama. I think we can agree it is always an accidental comedy.
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Glee doesn't deserve to be in ANY category.
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Maybe a catagory for shows that should have died long ago, but still linger like a bad fart?
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Interesting article!

I'm surprised to see Simon Baker and David Boreanaz in the list for lead actor... Even if I watch the shows, I cannot see how they would have a chance to be nominated - they must see that too. Maybe it is a way to have their faces looked at for future jobs...
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I'm sure most of them know they have no chance but it's like playing the lottery: the odds aren't good you'll win but they're even worse if you don't play.
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