Emmys leave too much quality TV out in the cold

08/22/2014 7:01 AM

08/25/2014 4:00 PM

Monday night, in a parallel universe, Keri Russell will win an Emmy for “The Americans,” narrowly beating Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black.”

Top drama honors will go to “The Good Wife,” that rarest of quality network legal dramas, while Hugh Dancy’s best actor win will drive more viewers to “Hannibal.”

But back in our dimension, TV’s most predictable shows will add trophies to their overstuffed cases. It pays to be the comfortable choice. (Awards air 7 p.m. Monday on NBC.)

A few years back, when “The Dark Knight” didn’t get a spot among the five nominees for best picture, the Oscars changed the rules to allow for up to 10 nominees. Essentially they said, “We will nominate however many best picture candidates we want to, thank you very much.”

It’s time for the Emmys to do the same.

If “The Big Bang Theory” somehow deserves a nod every year, why not spread the love? Why not reward shows that actually took a little risk?

It’s not just that TV is so much better, even though it is. It’s not that it has surpassed movies as the great American storytelling form, which it has.

It’s that there’s just so much TV out there. And so much of what is out there is good.

The tipping point has been Netflix’s powerful coming-out party. With online outlets contributing content such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” the ballroom just can’t hold everyone who deserves an invitation.

Worthy work, snubbed by Emmy

Drama series

“The Americans,” “Hannibal,” “The Good Wife,” “Masters of Sex”

Comedy series

“Archer,” “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Mindy Project,” “Shameless”

Actor, drama

Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”), Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex”), Freddie Highmore (“Bates Motel”), James Spader (“The Blacklist”)

Actress, drama

Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”)

Supporting actress, drama

Annet Mahendru (“The Americans”), Bellamy Young (“Scandal”), Hayden Panettiere (“Nashville”), Paula Malcomson (“Ray Donovan”)

Supporting actor, drama

Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”), Bob Odenkirk (“Breaking Bad”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”), Charles Dance (“Game of Thrones”), Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”)

Actor, comedy

Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Chris Messina (“The Mindy Project”)

Actress, comedy

Mindy Kaling (“The Mindy Project”), Emmy Rossum (“Shameless”)

Supporting actress, comedy

Zosia Mamet (“Girls”), Cheryl Hines (“Suburgatory”)

Supporting actor, comedy

T.J. Miller (“Silicon Valley”), Danny Pudi (“Community”)

The winners are anybody’s guess, but here are our picks

Comedy series

With class, race, sexism and transgender issues rolled into a darkly funny package, “Orange Is the New Black” makes people feel really good about themselves while watching it. Sorry, “Modern Family.”

Actress, comedy

Every episode of “Veep” is a 30-minute deluge of cringe-worthy, side-splitting wrongness, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus more than earned a repeat win. Selina Meyer for president!

Actor, comedy

Awards shows love socially challenged characters, which is why Jim Parsons will probably win again for “The Big Bang Theory.” But in “Derek,” a British Netflix comedy, Ricky Gervais plays an autistic, vulnerable nursing home caregiver with enough finesse that he could upset Parsons’ perpetual-motion joke machine.

Supporting actor, comedy

On Fox’s otherwise ignored “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Andre Braugher’s stern Capt. Holt balances out Andy Samberg’s hijinks and steals the spotlight every time.

Supporting actress, comedy

Allison Janney’s unhinged, menopausal matriarch Bonnie brightens CBS’ mostly-meh “Mom.” Janney just might stroll off with two statues if her guest turn on “Masters of Sex” wins as expected.

Drama series

“Breaking Bad” deserves the win for its last half season, which managed to end its ode to menacing masculinity on the perfect note. It’s probably the last show to retain such a loyal viewership during an overly long break between seasons.

Actress, drama

Julianna Margulies anchored “The Good Wife” for 22 episodes. Alicia’s guilt-ridden response to the show’s shocking death might not have been as bone-chilling as Robin Wright’s Machiavellian moves in “House of Cards,” but it was just as powerful.

Actor, drama

After his Oscar win, Matthew McConaughey’s victory lap for “True Detective” seems inevitable, unless he splits the vote, “Thelma and Louise” style, with co-star Woody Harrelson, giving Bryan Cranston another well-deserved statue for “Breaking Bad.”

Supporting actor, drama

“Game of Thrones’” Peter Dinklage might squeak out a win based on one speech, that trial-stopping “I wish I was the monster you think I am” monologue. If he doesn’t, he can demand a trial by combat with the other likely winner, Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad.” Josh Charles is a dark horse for getting shot on “The Good Wife,” though.

Supporting actress, drama

Oddsmakers have Anna Gunn repeating her win for “Breaking Bad,” but Christine Baranski killed it this season when Diane finally broke down on “The Good Wife.” It’s her fifth nomination for the role, and it feels like her year.

Miniseries

Riddle me this, Emmy rules: If the 10-part “Fargo” was a miniseries, how was the eight-part “True Detective” a regular old drama series? That’s a loophole worth fixing. But with “Detective” opting to compete with traditional series, FX’s bloody good tale of murder in Minnesota should be a lock.

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