Emmys

The fifth annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards announced their winners tonight on A&E in a ceremony hosted by So You Think You Can Dance‘s Cat Deeley. In a recent article in The Hollywood Reporter, show producer Joey Berlin hoped that the awards would influence Emmy voters by providing some guidance in the nominating process. That would explain the many new faces and series recognized with nominations and wins.

Here are the winners in each category.

Best Drama Series – The Americans (FX)

Best Actor in a Drama Series – Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)

Best Actress in a Drama Series – Taraji P. Henson, Empire (FOX)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Lorraine Toussaint, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Guest Performer in a Drama Series – Sam Elliott, Justified (FX)

Best Comedy Series – Silicon Valley (HBO)

Best Actor in a Comedy Series – Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)

Best Actress in a Comedy Series – Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley (HBO) 

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)

Guest Performer in a Comedy Series – Bradley Whitford, Transparent (Amazon)

Best Movie Made for Television – Bessie (HBO)

Best Limited Series – Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series – David Oyelowo, Nightingale (HBO)

Best Actress in a Movie or Limited Series – Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Limited Series – Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Limited Series – Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)

Best Reality Series – Shark Tank (ABC)

Best Reality Competition Series – Face Off (Syfy)

Best Reality Show Host – Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)

Best Animated Series – Archer (FX)

Best Talk Show – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

“I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can’t be alone! Because – as you must have noticed – I’m – not very well…” Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire

I went into Nightingale, the newest film made for television from the HBO factory, knowing absolutely nothing about it. I knew that it was on HBO and that it starred the brilliant David Oyelowo (Selma). That was it. And that was the best possible circumstance. Writing a review of the piece will be tricky as I don’t want to give away any cruicial details. So, if you want to remain as pristene on the film as I did, then read no further. Just know that Nightingale is a brilliantly fascinating and absorbing journey into a solitary mind as it falls apart. It’s not an easy sit, but you’re not likely to see a better performance this year by an actor in any television medium.

Oyelowo stars as Peter Snowden, a man living in near-complete isolation at home with his mother. Peter was once enlisted in the Army, although it’s not exactly clear how long and how in depth his involvement was. En route to basic training, he quickly bonded with another recruit named Edward but has sense lost touch with him. Nightingale, at its most basic plot, is about Peter’s many attempts to reconnect with Edward and regain that component of his lost youth. Not much else is known about Peter – the piece is a one-man show for Oyelowo and, as such, it only gives us the story from his perspective. There are knocks at the door and several phone calls made, but everyone is kept off-screen, hightening Peter’s rapidly deterioriating mental state. The entire proceedings rest on Oyelowo’s shoulders, and he carries it beautifully, digging into Peter headfirst in a wild performance unhindered by vanity. He delivers it all brilliantly, only fully diving into rage a few moments and making the audience believe that Peter is a deeply troubled man whose mental issues could indeed go undetected by the casual observer. It’s a fantastic performance that ranks with his formidable work in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. He will be nominated.

Director Elliott Lester and first-time screenwriter Frederick Mensch have, in my opinion, created an admirable modern update/homage to the work of celebrated playwright Tennesse Williams. Isolation. Financial woes. Mental struggles. It’s all here coupled with modern medication and presumably some influence of PTSD. Oyelowo’s Peter has roots in The Glass Menagerie‘s Amanda Wingfield and, of course, A Streetcar Named Desire‘s Blanche DuBois. Infinitely more dangerous than either of those women, Peter is nonetheless struggling to regain a sense of his self, his own persona, by desperately reaching out to that elusive other – an other that never really seems to materialize in the way Peter needs him to. Much like Williams’s plays, the setting is constrained to the dilapidated house – furnished with religious iconography and personal relics from their past – that Peter shares with his mother, and the claustrophobia we feel greatly suppliments the dread of the piece. Given that, there are even echoes of Roman Polanski’s claustrophic chamber pieces such as The Tenant or Repulsion where the setting influences the main character’s mental state.

Nightingale certainly isn’t a film with mass appeal, yet the experience is an extremely rewarding one should you give it the time. It is an engaging and fascinating work that you still may never want to revisit. But there is much more at work here than simply a man losing his mind. This is a film of profound sadness and desperation. Peter, like Blanche DuBois before him, is a man looking for kindness from a stranger. These people suffering in the shadows that we all ignore, these are the ones in need of help far more than we are willing to admit. Oyelowo and his team bring that truth to light in a shattering way.

Vera Farmiga

“Parents do not have needs. You ever read the book ‘The Giving Tree?’ It’s about this tree and this kid keeps coming and taking stuff from it his whole life until there’s nothing left but a stump and then the kid sits on the stump. That’s being a parent.” – Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), Bates Motel

Few television actresses are giving the kind of material that Vera Farmiga has been blessed with in A&E’s drama Bates Motel, which recently completed a much-improved third season that saw the series draw closer to the original Psycho mythology. As Norma Louise Bates, Farmiga’s turn over the show’s first two seasons primarily focused on two aspects of her character: her unending love for her son, Norman (played by the brilliant Freddie Highmore), and her admirable (to a fault) ability to ignore the truth and plow forward with psychotically plucky optimism.

Yet, in Season Three, Farmiga and her writers have grown Norma beyond the singular tropes that covered the first two seasons. Her cracks and neuroses begin to unravel, exposing the raw nerve at the core of this battered and embattled woman. Farmiga’s performance over Bates‘ third season ranges from one of a mother’s unbridled adoration to a woman scorned’s fury to a sexual woman’s seduction to giddy (if fleeting) empowerment. Farmiga’s transformation over the season has been a marvel of complex and awe-inspiring acting, and, if the Emmy gods pay attention, then she will be awarded with a nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series on nomination morning.

Farmiga’s finest hour over the 10-episode season (and hopefully one she considers for her official Emmy submission) was its sixth hour: “Norma Louise.” Here, Norma reacts poorly to an earlier confrontation with her sons – Dylan and Norman – over her brother’s secret wish to reconnect with her. Remember that Norma’s brother effectively raped her as a young girl, impregnating her with Dylan. Furious at her sons and terrified of the potential reconnection, Norma storms out of the house, fleeing White Pine Bay in an attempt to restart her life. That’s what Norma does – she runs away, constantly looking for the Next Best Thing. In Portland, she tries on a new persona by buying new clothes and trading in her car. When she seduces a man at a bar, he assumes things will progress in his truck, but Norma, faced with sexuality as the unsettling undercurrent of her brother’s actions loom large, freaks out on him, raging against the confused suitor.

Later, she experiences a similar attraction/repulsion relationship with psychologist James Finnigan who attempts to dive into her troubled past under the guise of helping Norman. It’s clear he considers her damaged goods as well. She begins to open up to him after he gently earns her trust and shares perhaps a bit too much about her past. Frightened, she tries to leave, but James pulls her back inside, carrying her upstairs where she can rest. Norma then does what only a sexual creature can: she uses her looks and body to divert James’s focus on her troubled past. Despite the inappropriate nature of the relationship, Norma is able to fully seduce him. When she arrives home, she agrees to meet with Caleb, and the episode culminates in a tender, emotional scene in which the two damaged people ultimately – if only for a moment – reconnect with tears and embraces.

Just within the single episode, Farmiga leads us on an incredible journey through the tortured psyche of Norma Bates from mother to whore to the damaged little girl in a woman’s body. It’s a touching, incredibly powerful episode that changes not only the character of Norma Bates but the direction of the series. Only an actress of incredible range and laser focus could convincingly take us on this journey, let alone leave such vivid scenes burned into our collective memories. Taken piece by piece, Norma’s path over the season dangers on touching so many emotional hot spots as to become unbelievable, yet, somehow, Farmiga carries it beautifully. Whether though outcries of rage or silent glances, she manages to gracefully connect the pieces of Norma Bates. Even in the subsequent episode – “The Last Supper” – she tries to return to the bliss of ignorance, to regress into the world of denial, by constructing an impossibly perfect family meal, and Farmiga makes the regression a believable one. Here is a woman that, above all, wants a sense of normalcy in her life – the one thing she can never have.

Vera Farmiga has always been a top-notch actress – the rare combination of beauty, brains, and raw sexuality that echoes the great Hollywood actresses of the 1940s. However, modern Hollywood doesn’t understand how to use her. Fortunately for her and us, she has been given the opportunity to mold one of cinema’s most infamous mothers into a flesh and blood woman on television. Bates Motel isn’t the story of Norman Bates, ultimately. It’s more the story of (presumably) the fall of Norma Bates, the shattering of a woman whose greatest mistake was thinking she could be a good mother.

Farmiga has once before been Emmy nominated for the role in Season One but was overlooked in Season Two (understandable given the overall deterioration in quality for the sophomore season). Yet, Emmy voters need to reconsider her towering achievements in Season Three and nominate her once more. The field is crowded for sure, but there is little excuse for not recognizing this talented actress this year. I beg all Emmy voters to consider her “Norma Louise” performance before checking off the obligatory Julianna Margulies or Viola Davis boxes (no offense to those fine actresses).

You wouldn’t want to upset Mother, would you?

The Water Cooler podcast gang is back together to take a pulse check just beyond the midpoint of the Game of Thrones fifth season, particularly the recent Sansa Stark rape controversy. Next, they shift into the Mad Men and David Letterman show finales. Finally, they pool their collective thoughts on the last round of Emmy predictions to cover the Limited Series, TV Movie, Mini Series, and associated acting categories where you’ll find out what aspect of HBO’s recent high-profile film Bessie is ravenously driving Megan and Joey to watch it.

2:40 – Game of Thrones update
23:25 – Mad Men finale
42:48 – Goodbye to David Letterman
52:00 – Emmy Predictions: Limited Series, TV Movie, Mini Series

Everyone interested in the outcome held their breath to see how AMC’s Mad Men would land. Would it end with the widely predicted (without significant evidence, mind you) Manson or D.B. Cooper angles? Would it go the way of The Sopranos and refuse to grant a satisfying conclusion to the beloved-by-television-elitists series? The final episode, fortunately, stayed true to the heart of the series by in some ways resolving the inner conflict of its central character Don Draper / Dick Whitman (Jon Hamm) that has plagued him since day one. It avoided dramatic histrionics or extravagant plot mechanics and focused instead on what people loved about the series most: its characters.

By doing so, I suspect, it has cemented its place, if ever there was a doubt, in the final seven slots for Best Dramatic Series at the 2015 Emmys. Highbrow critics proclaimed it brilliant, echoing most of the Twitter reaction I saw through an entirely informal poll. I’m not here to debate the quality of the series finale, but I do think it was good enough, memorable enough, to stick in voter’s minds. Whether or not it will win is a question for another day, but the battle for Emmy supremacy in the Dramatic Series category will be a tough one given the current vast quality of dramatic television. Common thought has largely settled around seven series, but it feels as if seven more could rise up and take their place. Television dramas are a boom industry right now.

Joining Mad Men is the perennial nominee Game of Thrones. Even a little more than halfway through its fifth season, there is scarce doubt that the fantasy series will rank at the top of Emmy ballots. The size, scale, and ambition of the series alone propels it there. And some even say its the series’ best season yet. Of course, there are many vocal detractors no doubt disappointed in the rebuilding of the series after the seismic and extremely bloody Season Four. True, most of the characters in Season Five tend to travel around the Game of Thrones map preparing for their next big battle – the multi-pronged attack on Winterfell. Also, there’s yet another tricky rape storyline that featured the beloved Sansa Stark Bolton, but a similar rape controversy did not sideline the series in Season Four. The creative team will dazzle us as they tend to do with a dramatic battle episode somewhere around episode nine, I suspect. This episode will serve as the chief submission for the series, and any possibility as to its omission from the final seven will be eliminated.

House of Cards is most likely the third safe nominee. The Netflix series premiered in late February to general critical approval, rating a 76 on Metacritic. But critical acclaim has never been the series’ strongest suit as evidenced by its complete shut-out in the recent Critics Choice TV award nominations. Still, its high gloss drama and its recent shift in power toward the House of Cards women make an effective case for inclusion – even if the overall quality was a bit more uneven this season. Emmy voters do love the familiar and no one works a room like Kevin Spacey, so this one stays in the top seven, despite falling a few notches.

No matter your opinion of the show, Downton Abbey will be in the top seven. You can count on that. Since moving from the Outstanding Miniseries or Movie ghetto to the Drama Series headlining category, it has consistently received nominations despite broad acknowledgement in its waning quality. Why is that? Chalk it up to older voters in the Television Academy and a British contingent that coagulates around their own. Still, this year, the series won an unexpected SAG award for its ensemble, providing a show of strength as the series heads toward its final season. It won’t win this year, but it will show up, blocking far more deserving nominees in the process.

I suspect that Emmy voters will pay little attention to the bizarre category shenanigans and rule chicanery that places Netflix’s Orange is the New Black in the Drama Series category after campaigning in the Comedy Series categories last year. The creative team appealed the decision and was denied. Still, it is my personal opinion that the show does belong in the Drama Series categories anyway. The material is dark, heavy, and often tragic. While the modern scenes can be funny, most of the flashbacks deal heavily in heartfelt melodrama (re: Poussey’s military brat love affair, “Crazy Eyes” abandonment by her adoptive parents, Lorna’s “reluctant” fiancee, etc), so the show feels more comfortable in the Drama Series categories. It will be recognized here because it’s hotter than ever, racking up awards from the Producer’s Guild (for Episodic Comedy nonetheless) and the Screen Actor’s Guild (for Ensemble in a Comedy Series and Female Actor). Also, its third season drops during the nomination window, guaranteeing all sorts of publicity and excitement around it.

The final two slots are a little more murky. Fox’s ratings giant Empire feels like a good bet given the attention paid to a number of its successes. Cast primarily with African-American actors, Empire was the rare true breakout TV series, fueled by dozens of op-ed pieces and millions of Tweets, that climbed in the ratings week after week. Additionally, its soundtrack has performed well on the Billboard charts, and it will most likely time its home video release with a high-profile campaign during the voting season. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun. There’s no denying its soapy (re: Dynasty) roots, and people will definitely feel like rewarding it this year before the inevitable escalation in catfights and decline in overall quality take hold. With such a strong year for diversity on television, how can the Emmys ignore Empire?

Finally, the last slot could go to any number of possibilities.

CBS’s The Good Wife has a surprising number of backers on Twitter (not a metric by itself) and still receives a great deal of press for its latest season. Yet, the series itself hasn’t been nominated since 2011 when it became a victim of the surge in award-worthy cable shows. I’m not feeling a resurgence of affection or an “attention must be paid” attitude that would push it beyond its stiffer competition, but it is a possibility. Star Julianna Margulies won an unexpected Dramatic Actress Emmy just last year showing love still exists for the show.

AMC’s Better Call Saul could ride some of that residual Breaking Bad good will into the nominee’s circle. The ratings have been very strong for the freshman series, and, more importantly, the quality of the series has been uniformly good (if not consistently great). The producers should be very careful in making their Emmy submission selections and choose one of the episodes that deftly bridges the gap between both series, proving Saul can stand on its own outside of the Bad shadow. If one of our seven major predictions falls out, then this is probably the series most likely to advance.

FX’s The Americans third season was beloved by all who saw it for its dramatically pungent story lines and brilliant acting. Trouble is: not many people saw it, and the degree of difficulty is very high for a series that has yet to receive major Emmy recognition going into its third season. ADTV loves the show, and we continue to advocate for its greatness. Yet, we can’t ignore the signs and the history. Sad to say, if it hasn’t happened yet, then it ain’t gonna happen now.

Homeland became the butt of jokes in its third season with its wildly unfocused (putting it mildly) storytelling and unbelievable plot twists (even for this show which often dabbles in unbelievability), and its Emmy fortunes suffered accordingly, losing the Drama Series slot for the first time in its short life after winning Drama Series in its freshman season – breaking the Mad Men winning streak, mind you. However, Season Four has been widely received as a vast improvement in quality, restoring a little of that Season One magic by jettisoning extraneous plot lines and unnecessary characterizations and refocusing on the political intrigue that attracted viewers and Emmy voters in the first place. Plus, there could be some goodwill toward the series after its beloved supporting actor James Rebhorn passed away, a fact that the series acknowledged within the plot. I’m not predicting it to make it into the final seven yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did – it won an unexpected DGA award this year.

JustifiedOutlander. BloodlineBoardwalk EmpireThe FallPenny DreadfulBates MotelSons of AnarchyDaredevilThe KnickBroadchurchThe LeftoversManhattanRectifyOrphan BlackMasters of Sex. All of these series offer compelling arguments as to why they could be threats to the final seven, yet most of them have equally compelling detractions. Genre pieces. Extreme violence. Lack of buzz. Unreliable quality. Difficult to sit through. Any of these reasons could knock most of these series out, but you cannot count them completely out of the overall conversation, even if it is unlikely that any of these series – which all have passionate supporters in their various corners – will actually make it into the final Emmy conversation.

No, the final slot – and, admittedly, the weakest slot in the bunch – goes to Showtime’s drama The Affair, a series I have consistently advocated for since it premiered last October to critical acclaim (an 85 on Metacritic). After it won two unexpected Golden Globes for Drama Series and Drama Actress (Ruth Wilson), it seemed a slam dunk for a nomination. Then, SAG gave it a big goose egg. As did the recent Critic’s Choice TV award nominations. Given its fall berth, it may be too “out of sight, out of mind” for Emmy voters. As I could be completely alone (sitting right here on a shaky tree branch with the peeps in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – a dubious tree branch companion to say the least) in my adoration of the show, I’m completely prepared to be 100 percent wrong about going with this show in my predictions. And I’m completely prepared for the comments and Tweets telling me how wrong I will be. Still, after recently re-watching some of the series for a piece I wrote on Maura Tierney, I cannot deny how extremely great the show is. Let’s hope the Emmy voters see it my way. Suck it, haters.

So, that makes my predicted nominees as follows (in alphabetical order):

  • The Affair
  • Downton Abbey
  • Empire
  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men
  • Orange is the New Black

Where do you think I’ve gone wrong? What shows am I discounting or under representing? Feel free to comment below and share your predictions.

Showtime’s The Affair is, at its core, a character drama masquerading as a mystery. Sure, the device of the “he said / she said” gimmick helps propels the story and ultimately becomes a through-line into the narrative, but the heart of the series – its most valuable asset – lines within its carefully constructed characters. The heartbroken waitress who opens herself to an affair to cope with the loss of a child. The struggling author disappointed in his adult life. And the wife coping with an unravelling family and the loss of her husband, the rock upon which she relied.

That wife, Helen Solloway, is marvelously lived-in by previous Emmy nominee Maura Tierney (E.R.). If justice prevails on Emmy nomination morning, then she will be rewarded again with a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

The beginning of The Affair centers mostly on the central embroiled pair: Noah Solloway (Dominic West) and Alison Bailey (Ruth Wilson). Tierney spends the first three-quarters of the show drifting in and out of his storyline, serving the part of the dutiful wife and mother at their summer in Montauk. The wealthy daughter of a celebrated novelist, Helen always appears to have settled for Noah – at least that’s what he believes – but you’re always aware that through all of the child, parent, and job stress she deeply loves him. So, when Noah begins the affair with Alison, the audience is somewhat torn. Helen isn’t a shrew. She isn’t a bitch. She’ isn’t a saint either. She’s a real woman in the real world. And that is, perhaps, too much for Noah to absorb.

Once they leave the island, the audience believes Noah has escaped detection. After a panic attack thought to be a heart attack shakes him, Noah confesses his infidelity to Helen. When Noah says the words “I had a fling,” Tierney’s face registers each and every arrow that hits her heart. You could watch the scene in slow-mo and pinpoint the exact moment she loses her faith and love in him and in life itself. You think, for a while, that the uptight, extremely waspy Helen will overlook the incident, much as her mother had for a lifetime. Yet, at home, Tierney gradually unravels, building the confrontation scene from a one of incredulity (Noah tries to make the affair about his damaged ego and his self-induced shortcomings)  to one of seething woman-scored rage (later, when she discovers a tell-tale pair of panties in his dresser drawer).

The part of the cheated-upon wife has been written many times in all forms of art, yet Tierney expertly renders the soul of the woman. Even after things appear at its bleakest, she remains hopeful. She is torn. She is disappointed. She is hurt. Yet, she fights for him in the end. And ultimately loses, we discover. While West and particularly Wilson are both excellent in the series, Tierney’s performance is the drama’s quiet anchor, and, when all is said and done, you’re left wondering if Noah made a huge mistake in turning her away.

Confession: I hated Kristen Schaal’s character Hazel on 30 Rock. So much so that I pretty much tuned out that season (and the last one for that matter). Her character was grating, conniving, and just didn’t fit in with the cast.

The funny thing is that one could use the same description to describe Schaal’s character Carol on The Last Man on Earth, except somehow it just works. Maybe because it’s just a better role for the comedienne, showcasing her strength in timing and vulnerability as an actress.

As Carol, Schaal plays the foil to Phil (Will Forte) in the opening episodes of TLMOE, the first woman he meets (and subsequently marries) after two years of solitude. She’s nagging, pushy, and manages to make Phil’s life a living hell.

But yet she also makes him a better person and gets him to grow up a little in spite of his hoarder’s-delight-of-a-house and toilet pool. You hate her and how un-fun she can be (who wouldn’t want to run through all of the stop signs and disobey traffic rules in the apocalypse?), but oftentimes, you know she’s right (after all, they did end up nearly killing January Jones’ Melissa when they failed to come to a complete stop).

The Last Man on Earth is a little TV anomaly. How does a comedy about the apocalypse manage to be funny and maintain an audience (it’s a surprise hit of the spring season)? Part of the answer may lie in star and producer Will Forte and his comedic risks, but this Last Woman on Earth is just as crucial to keeping the whole thing going.

As Mary Steenburgen said in the “Tandyman Can” episode, after Carol bagged the new hottie on the block, “To Carol. Lucky b-word.”

One thing’s for sure. Critics love them some FX.

The network is all over the list of Critics Choice nominations, from best Drama Series (The Americans, Justified) to Comedy (surprise appearance from You’re the Worst) to acting categories (Walton Goggins—twice!—for Sons of Anarchy and Justified ).

Still, HBO lead the day with 27 nominations with Olive Kitteridge tying FX’s Justified for most nominations with five apiece.

Biggest Surprises

Aden Young for Rectify. I recently argued that if anyone would get any kind of awards love, it would be Young, and it looks like critics feel the same, as that was the show’s sole nomination (although Abigail Spencer received a Best Supporting Actress nomination back in 2013).

Carrie Coons and Christopher Eccleston for The Leftovers. It looks like some masochists are watching that show.

Eva Green for Penny Dreadful. She stands no chance at the Emmys, but it was thrilling to see her recognized for dominating the first season of Showtime’s gothic horror series.

Final season Parenthood acting nominations for Mae Whitman and Craig T. Nelson.

So who was snubbed?

Netflix’s House of Cards was completely shut out of the nominations. Not even stars Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright received bids. This is kind of shocking.

Netflix’s other big early 2015 show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt only picked up a Best Supporting Actor Comedy nomination for Tituss Burgess. It failed to get a Best Comedy nom, as did Ms. Schmidt herself, Ellie Kemper.

Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey missed out for Best Supporting Actor Drama. This will not be repeated at the Emmys.

No Mad Men. At all. Which means it won’t be nominated during its last season.

Parks and Recreation is also missing. Even Amy Poehler. And we just don’t like that at all.

The awards ceremony will be held May 31 and broadcast live starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on A&E.

 

Best Drama Series
The Americans
Empire
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Homeland
Justified
Orange is the New Black

 

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Aden Young, Rectify
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Charlie Hunnam, Sons of Anarchy
Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Timothy Olyphant, Justified

 

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Eva Green, Penny Dreadful
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Keri Russell, The Americans
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Christopher Eccleston, The Leftovers
Craig T. Nelson, Parenthood
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Walton Goggins, Justified

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Joelle Carter, Justified
Katheryn Winnick, Vikings
Lorraine Toussaint, Orange is the New Black
Mae Whitman, Parenthood

 

Guest Performer in a Drama Series
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away with Murder
Julianne Nicholson, Masters of Sex
Linda Lavin, The Good Wife
Lois Smith, The Americans
Sam Elliott, Justified
Walton Goggins, Sons of Anarchy

 

Best Comedy Series
Broad City
Jane the Virgin
Mom
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Veep
You’re the Worst

 

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Blackish
Chris Messina, The Mindy Project
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth

 

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Constance Wu, Fresh Off the Boat
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Ilana Glazer, Broad City
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Adam Driver, Girls
Cameron Monaghan, Shameless
Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin
T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley
Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Allison Janney, Mom
Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia
Eden Sher, The Middle
Judith Light, Transparent
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Melanie Lynskey, Togetherness

 

Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series
Becky Ann Baker, Girls
Bradley Whitford, Transparent
Josh Charles, Inside Amy Schumer
Laurie Metcalf, The Big Bang Theory
Peter Gallagher, Togetherness
Susie Essman, Broad City

 

Best Movie Made for Television
Bessie
Killing Jesus
Nightingale
A Poet in New York
Stockholm, Pennsylvania

 

Best Limited Series
24: Live Another Day
American Crime
The Book of Negroes
The Honorable Woman
Olive Kitteridge
Wolf Hall

 

Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
James Nesbitt, The Missing
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Live Another Day
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Michael Gambon, The Casual Vacancy
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge

 

Best Actress in a Movie or Limited Series
Aunjanue Ellis, The Book of Negroes
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Queen Latifah, Bessie

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Limited Series
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Cory Michael Smith, Olive Kitteridge
Elvis Nolasco, American Crime
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Jason Isaacs, Stockholm, Pennsylvania
Jonathan Pryce, Wolf Hall

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Limited Series
Claire Foy, Wolf Hall
Cynthia Nixon, Stockholm, Pennsylvania
Janet McTeer, The Honorable Woman
Khandi Alexander, Bessie
Mo’Nique, Bessie
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show

 

Best Reality Series
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Deadliest Catch
Married at First Sight
MythBusters
Shark Tank
Undercover Boss

 

Best Reality Competition Series
The Amazing Race
America’s Got Talent
Dancing With the Stars
Face Off
MasterChef Junior
The Voice

 

Best Reality Show Host
Anthony Bourdain, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
James Lipton, Inside the Actors Studio
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars

 

Best Animated Series
Archer
Bob’s Burgers
Gravity Falls
The Simpsons
South Park
Star Wars: Rebels

 

Best Talk Show
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Graham Norton Show
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Late Show with James Corden
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

 

One of the funniest shows you’re not watching is the fish out of Evian comedy Schitt’s Creek. Anchored by a strong quintet of actors, Creek focuses on a video store magnate (played by Eugene Levy) who must move his vapid family to the country after they lose all of their money. While comedy fans will instantly recognize Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliot, most of the episodes are stolen by Daniel Levy, the co-creator of Schitt’s who plays perpetually disgusted son David.

David might be the most normal of the Rose clan, but he remains completely out of touch with the real world. Unlike his socialite sister, Alexis (Annie Murphy), David seems more aware of his family’s newfound situation. He immediately strikes up a weird relationship with Stevie, the droll front desk clerk of the motel that they are staying in, and it’s evident that his upbringing hasn’t allowed him to move beyond an immature sibling bond with anyone his age.

David’s pretentiousness paired with his reality checks make him a joy to watch. Early in the season, Stevie suggests that he sells some of his one-of-a-kind clothes to make some extra money. When he goes to the local thrift shop with a bag overflowing with ridiculous couture, he is insulted by the clerk’s assessment that they can’t sell any of his items. “This is French suede with Vulcanized leather instep, okay? You’ve lost my trust and my business!” he barks as he storms out.

His relationships with both Alexis and Stevie are blissfully immature. In the pilot episode, he tells his sister that she needs to sleep in the twin bed closest to the door, because if someone breaks in, he doesn’t want to be the one who gets murdered. Stevie’s lack of sympathy for the Rose’s situation is a great counterpoint to the family’s silliness. David’s shallowness clashes marvelously with her, and, in one of the best episodes, she takes him on a turkey shoot. When he’s asked if he’s ever held a gun before, he replies, “Yes, but Elton’s wasn’t this heavy which makes me think his was a toy.” After he shoots a turkey in the neck and watches it die, David’s horror is replaced when he sees his mother’s new haircut.

One of the great things about Levy is that he always seems to be teetering on the boiling point. His brow seems constantly furrowed, and his bushy eyebrows dancing on the top of his head. If David’s perfectly coiffed hair got messed up, I’m sure he would burn Schitt’s Creek to the ground. His mother, played by the brilliant O’Hara, is beautifully off the rails and Murphy’s Alexis is delightfully vapid. Levy has a harder job. He’s the most likable of the Rose clan, and despite his bitchiness (“You smell very flammable right now” he tells a drunk Stevie in one episode), he grounds a lot of the humor.

You simply want to spend more time with him even if that means helping him fold his wardrobe of black sweaters.

In prepping to sit down with Veep‘s Reid Scott, I’d assembled a series of questions based on the relatively small footprint his character Dan Egan has had in Season Four’s first two episodes. After last week’s game-changing episode “Data,” I tossed all of my work out the window. Gladly. Scott’s performance as now-former Presidential staffer has always been best informed when Dan Egan is dealt a blow to his massive Alpha Male ego. The episode, which saw Dan become the scapegoat for a widespread privacy scandal in President Selina Meyer’s administration, provided Scott some of the juiciest material he’s ever had on the Emmy-winning HBO comedy. He simply knocked it out of the park.

Now that Dan is on the ropes and floundering for that next opportunity, perhaps it’s time the Emmys took notice of Scott’s tremendous skill as a comic actor. Scott’s range through the episode ran from manic highs at saddling nemesis Jonah Ryan (Tim Simons) with bumbling aide Richard (Sam Richardson) to desperate lows, melting down alone in his car. Scott’s performance in “Data” was even better than Dan’s Season Three stress-induced mental breakdown.

What can we expect from Dan Egan moving forward, and how has the cast reacted to the recently announced departure of Veep show runner Armando Iannucci? I chatted with Scott about these topics and more, including his favorites in the upcoming Emmy race.

 

I ran across this quote in Vulture by [exiting Veep show runner] Armando Iannucci about Dan Egan. He was asked to pick a character from [Veep] and determine which reality show he/she would be best suited for. He responded with ‘I’d like to see Dan Egan, who thinks of himself as an ambitious and natural leader, see himself whither and sweat in the jungle in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.’ How accurate do you think that is for Dan?

I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment on Armando’s part just because, while Dan is not necessarily a celebrity, he certainly thinks of himself as one, and he has the ego to kind of go along with that. And as we’ve seen in the show, one of the fun things about Dan is watching him squirm constantly because he always thinks he has the answer, and he always thinks he’s more important than everyone else around him. To see him get close to his goal and eventually sort of fall flat on his face… Yeah, I think that’s probably pretty fair. A pretty good call.

 

Where do you get your inspiration for Dan? Is that something from your experience? Did you know someone like Dan or is it just all there on the page for you?

It’s a little bit of both. We’ve actually gotten some incredible access for research purposes in D.C. because of the popularity of the show in Washington. So, I’ve gotten to interview a ton of staffers that would be sort of similar to Dan, some lobbyists, some D.C. movers and shakers. He’s a bit of caricature based on them. I also have a very good friend who has been in and around politics at a very, very high level for a very long time. In fact, when I actually got the job I asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking a look at this and sent him the pilot script to read. He wrote me back and said, ‘Oh, shit. You’re playing me.’

He’s been great just because he’s sort of out of that particular game that Dan is in at the moment… He’s been sort of guiding me in where this kind of guy comes from, what this guy does on a daily basis, who he thinks of himself as, what his goals are, where you’ll find this guy eating, where you’ll find him drinking… [Dan’s] really an amalgamation of people, and I like to see the guy succeed and then subsequently fail. I think that’s interesting because given that A-type, Alpha male that he aspires to be… there’s nothing worse than seeing those guys succeed so I kind of like tripping him up whenever I can.

 

That’s interesting because it seemed like he was on this upward trajectory in Season One and Season Two. Then in Season Three, he became the [Presidential] campaign manager until he had a complete mental breakdown. There was a scene in the hospital after the panic attack where it seems there’s a mixture on Dan’s face of simultaneously being horrified that he’d lost the job and totally relieved.

Absolutely. That’s totally what I was going for. It’s sort of the first time ever where he’s realized that he’s not going to survive this, and I think he can’t quit. I don’t think he knows the meaning of the word quit. But I think he was secretly relieved to be relieved of his position.

 

There’s an interesting parallel here to last week’s episode where he was the scapegoat to the privacy scandal. The episode closes with Dan scrambling for friends and contacts in his car, and nobody’s returning his call, nobody’s answering, and the one person that does hangs up on him. He’s definitely more desperate this time. He doesn’t necessarily have any idea where he’s going, and he clearly doesn’t have the same sense of relief as before.

Oh, no absolutely not. You know, when he had his breakdown, the Veep was just the Veep, and now that she’s the President, everyone’s stock has risen, his as well. And then to fall from that position – to really get pushed out – amidst a controversy… There’s a very short life for politicos under that circumstance. You only have so many avenues you can pursue, and there’s a rapidly closing window as to your viability, as to your importance, as to your connections. So he’s panicking. It’s different than just the sort of ‘Oh my god, I couldn’t handle this job.’ He was actually really good at his job or getting good at his job. He was wielding some power finally, and to get pushed out because someone needed to be the face of the fall… It’s desperate times for Dan for sure.

 

So were you in touch with your friend that’s involved in politics after that episode?

Yeah, he dug it. He had something similar. He wasn’t pushed out of an office, but a politician he was working for sort of went [bust]. Not really amidst a scandal, but for other reasons. He really kind of quickly found himself having to tread water and seeing where he was going to land. He somehow landed upward, but he absolutely said that moment of sheer panic – where Dan is about 31 at this point – at 31 is your career over? Especially when you’re the face of a scandal at the White House no less. You’re sort of toxic for a while. He said that absolutely was perfectly legit. I keep needling for how I’m doing, and he tells me how hard it is to watch me being him.

 

Without giving any spoilers, what can we expect from Dan now that he’s jobless in Season Four?

Well, he flounders for a bit, which I felt, was really fun… to take the Black Knight and tarnish him a little bit. That’s always sort of fun. But Dan goes on to not necessarily bigger and better things, but he ends up finding a gig that is so well suited to his skill set that it’s disgusting.

 

Ha. Does he become an agent?

[Laughs] You’ll see. I don’t want to give it away.

 

I was relieved to see some of the original cast coming back into prominence. Watching the beginning of Season Four at the presidency level, there are so many new characters. There’s only so much you can fit within a half-hour show, and there are a lot of great actors on the show. I was glad to see the focus shifting on Dan for a little bit.

Oh, thank you. Yeah, one of the things we like about the world that we’ve created in this show is it does keep expanding. To your point, it can get sort of confusing at times – there’s so many new storylines, trajectories, to keep straight, but I think it really gives the show a certain air of authenticity because to keep the entire world of D.C. limited to our seven main cast members becomes a little disingenuous. There’s so many people coming in and coming out [in reality]. This is a fun season because the world got bigger, but we were still able to get back to the roots of the main characters.

 

So what happens now between Dan and Jonah?

[Laughs] Oh god. Well, now that Jonah has this great new sidekick in Sam Richardson’s character, the three of them – again without giving away too much – sort of embark on a little journey together, and it’s some of my favorite stuff. I’ve always loved the back and forth between Dan and Jonah, and Tim Simons and I have a blast playing that stuff too. Now that Sam Richardson [aide Richard] has come on the scene, it makes this little idiot triumvirate and becomes that much more entertaining. Veep won’t ever really edge into slapstick comedy – they try not to go broad with it – but if there were some of that classic Three Stooges sort of comedy, it lives in those three. It’s really fun. It sort of rekindled and renewed the Jonah / Dan relationship for Tim and me this season by adding [Richard].

 

Picking up on something you just said about the tone of this show – not a broad comedy, very specific and very specific to Armando Iannuci’s style – now that he’s leaving as show runner, what are your thoughts on a future with David Mandel?

We’re really excited about David. Obviously, we were saddened that Armando’s going to be leaving us, but we totally get it. He’s been absolutely crushing political comedy for almost two decades now. It’s really remarkable. I think he’s set a tone for the show and a high bar for the show, and I honestly don’t think there’s anyone better suited to take over from Armando than someone like David just because he understands this type of comedy. Granted, he hasn’t worked necessarily in the British comedy sphere as much as Armando, but his work with Julia in Seinfeld and then on a show like Curb Your Enthusiasm… You know Seinfeld could both be broad and sometimes very specific, but Curb is a very solid example of an American translation of that [British] style of comedy. It’s a testament to him having run that kind of show.

We all sat down with David at Julia’s house a couple of weeks ago to say ‘Hi’ and get to know him and discuss ideas for the future. I think he’s right on point. I think what he’s going to bring to the show in terms of a new, fresh outsider perspective to the world we’ve already created is just going to juice it up that much more. He’s a political junkie like the rest of us. He’s so smart and so funny. He’s also just a big fan of the show too, so I think he’s really keen on not changing the show but just sort of dialing up the color on it a little bit by getting some new blood in there. So we’re really happy to have him.

 

So, before I let you go, tell me what’s on your DVR? What kind of TV shows are you a fan of now that we’re headed into Emmy season?

Oh man. Game of Thrones, obviously. Love that one. Vikings is a big guilty pleasure for me. It’s just a fun show. We love The Americans – my wife and I – and I’m still not sure why it doesn’t get the Emmy love that we think it deserves because I think it’s some of the best dramatic acting on television. I think Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are just stellar. Last Man on Earth I think is hysterical. I think Will Forte is doing something really, really special in terms of comedy, and I think he’s going to be a hard guy to beat, at least in my book, for [Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series]. I think he’s just absolutely out of this world fun.

 

Veep continues airing new episodes Sundays on HBO at 10:30pm EST through June 14. Current episodes are available through HBONow and HBOGo. Old episodes are available on iTunes, steaming on Amazon Prime, and through DVD on Netflix as well as HBO outlets.

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