Dave on Demand: Emmy nominations a freak show

Sarah Paulson portrays Lana Winters in "American Horror Story: Asylum." Paulson was nominated for an Emmy Award for best supporting actress in a mini-series or movie. The show got 17 nominations.
Sarah Paulson portrays Lana Winters in "American Horror Story: Asylum." Paulson was nominated for an Emmy Award for best supporting actress in a mini-series or movie. The show got 17 nominations. (PRASHANT GUPTA / FX)
Posted: July 21, 2013

It's that time of year again when everyone reacts with dismay to the inequities of the Emmy nominations. Your TV favorite didn't get any recognition? Welcome to the world's least exclusive club. Out of the medium's 25 most popular shows this year, exactly two, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, got any meaningful nominations.

But I think the reason people get so exercised about the arbitrariness of the selections is that they don't understand how the process works. The common misconception is that an informed panel of industry experts makes the evaluations after careful consideration.

In fact, the Emmy nominees are determined by a retired waitress from Wilkes-Barre flipping through expired copies of TV Guide with a highlighter.

Admittedly, this wasn't her best year. The field is an absolute freak show.

The most-nominated series in all of television? American Horror Story: Asylum with 17.

This was a chamber of horrors built around Bloody Face, a hellish fiend. Bloody Face is clearly patterned on Leatherface, the butcher in all those Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. If memory serves, none of the Chainsaw slaughterfests ever led the pack at the Oscars.

Of course, American Horror Story has figured out a way to game the Emmy system, by entering itself in the less-competitive mini-series categories. This despite the fact that its season consisted of 13 episodes. Downton Abbey was classified as a regular series with only eight installments.

Another chilling creature is nominated for what is generally considered the academy's most prestigious award. Al Pacino is in the running for outstanding actor in a mini-series or movie for Phil Spector. Most deranged maybe, but not most noteworthy.

The only thing scarier on TV this year than Pacino putting on the Spector frightwig was the scene in Behind the Candelabra when Michael Douglas took off the towering Liberace wig.

If the television academy is determined to make this the Year of the Monster, why snub James Purefoy of The Following and Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen? Yes, they were demonic, but at least they were deserving.

Broguish enthusiasm. One thing the Emmys has accomplished this year is to legitimize Internet programming with its warm embrace of House of Cards on Netflix.

So let me draw your attention to a couple of Irish-flavored online series that are well worth your while.

Moone Boy is an absolutely charming comedy on Hulu, set in 1989 and starring Chris O'Dowd as the imaginary adult friend of a hapless 12-year-old boy in County Roscommon. It's 10 times funnier than Family Tree, the O'Dowd comedy that was just shown on HBO.

Gillian Anderson stars as an Irish detective inspector shipped to Belfast to hunt a painstaking serial killer in The Fall, an intense and adult series on Netflix. Bonus: It costars Archie Panjabi, the intoxicating Kalinda on The Good Wife, as a coroner.

Dubious leverage. This week's season debut of Suits on USA contained a curiously lazy bit of writing. The show's alpha-shark attorney, Harvey (Gabriel Macht), was renegotiating the contract for NBA star Deron Williams.

He went to the Nets' front office, lying to the team's general manager that rival owner Mark Cuban is willing to triple Williams' salary just out of spite.

"He doesn't hate me," the Nets' executive says of Cuban.

"He does now," says Harvey in what he later admits is a blind bluff. "He knows about that thing from last May."

Hey, you try to rob $300 million from somebody in Brooklyn, you're going to have to be more specific.

Emmy Nominations

Here is a list of Emmy Award nominations in major categories for the award show Sept. 22. A complete list is available at www.emmys.com:

Drama Series:Breaking Bad, AMC; Downton Abbey, PBS; Game of Thrones, HBO; Homeland, Showtime; House of Cards, Netflix; Mad Men, AMC.

Comedy Series:The Big Bang Theory, CBS; Girls, HBO; Louie, FX Networks; Modern Family, ABC; 30 Rock, NBC; Veep, HBO.

Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie:American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks; Behind the Candelabra, HBO; The Bible, HISTORY; Phil Spector, HBO; Political Animals, USA; Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel.

Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey, PBS; Damian Lewis, Homeland, Showtime; Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, Netflix; Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC; Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom, HBO.

Actress, Drama Series: Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel, A&E; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey, PBS; Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime; Robin Wright, House of Cards, Netflix; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men, AMC; Connie Britton, Nashville, ABC; Kerry Washington, Scandal, ABC.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire, HBO; Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad, AMC; Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, AMC; Jim Carter, Downton Abbey, PBS; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones, HBO; Mandy Patinkin, Homeland, Showtime.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad, AMC; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey, PBS; Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones, HBO; Christine Baranski, The Good Wife, CBS; Morena Baccarin, Homeland, Showtime; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men, AMC.

Actor, Comedy Series: Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, Netflix; Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS; Matt LeBlanc, Episodes, Showtime; Don Cheadle, House of Lies, Showtime; Louis C.K., Louie, FX Networks; Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC.

Actress, Comedy Series: Laura Dern, Enlightened, HBO; Lena Dunham, Girls, HBO; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie, Showtime; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, NBC; Tina Fey, 30 Rock, NBC; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Adam Driver, Girls, HBO; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family, ABC; Ed O'Neill, Modern Family, ABC; Ty Burrell, Modern Family, ABC; Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live, NBC; Tony Hale, Veep, HBO.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory, CBS; Jane Lynch, Glee, FOX; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family, ABC; Julie Bowen, Modern Family, ABC; Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie, Showtime; Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock, NBC; Anna Chlumsky, Veep, HBO.

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, HBO; Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra, HBO; Toby Jones, The Girl, HBO; Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade's End, HBO; Al Pacino, Phil Spector, HBO.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks; Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter, Showtime; Helen Mirren, Phil Spector, HBO; Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals, USA; Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks; Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks; Scott Bakula, Behind the Candelabra, HBO; John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter, Showtime; Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks; Imelda Staunton, The Girl, HBO; Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals, USA; Charlotte Rampling, Restless, Sundance Channel; Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias, Lifetime.

Reality Program:Antiques Roadshow, PBS; Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Food Network; MythBusters, Discovery Channel; Shark Tank, ABC; Undercover Boss, CBS.

Reality-Competition Program:The Amazing Race, CBS; Dancing With the Stars, ABC; Project Runway, Lifetime; So You Think You Can Dance, FOX; Top Chef, Bravo; The Voice, NBC.

Variety Series:The Colbert Report, Comedy Central; The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central; Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC; Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, NBC; Real Time With Bill Maher, HBO; Saturday Night Live, NBC.

Children's Program:Good Luck Charlie, Disney Channel; iCarly, Nickelodeon; Nick News With Linda Ellerbee - Forgotten But Not Gone: Kids, HIV & AIDS, Nickelodeon; The Weight of the Nation for Kids: Quiz Ed!, HBO; A YoungArts Masterclass, HBO.


Contact David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, read his blog at www.inquirer.com/daveondemand or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_TV.

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