Founder / Editor


Associate Editor


Assistant Editor











2009 Emmy Nominations: What They Missed, What They Got Right
July 16, 2009  | By David Bianculli
The always conservative voters behind the Emmy nominations have welcomed some deserving first-timers this year, including Jim Parsons of CBS's The Big Bang Theory and Elisabeth Moss of AMC's Mad Men. But today's nominations also snubbed a LOT of deserving artists and programs...

simpsons2-1.jpgThis good news and bad news approach is typical of the Emmys, but this year the good and bad seemed to arrive simultaneously. Fox's Family Guy became the first animated series to compete in the Outstanding Comedy Series category since The Flintstones. Good news for fans of that series, I guess, but what a slap in the face for Fox's The Simpsons, which should have been considered in the same category for, oh, the past two decades.

AMC's Breaking Bad getting nominated for the first time as Outstanding Drama Series? That's well-deserved, as was star Bryan Cranston's win last year. And Aaron Paul getting nominated in the supporting category? That's a win-win. No bad news here.


But the DirecTV-NBC series Friday Night Lights got a single nomination, and the fabulous leading players, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, were ignored. So was the work of Michael Chiklis and Walton Goggins in the final season of FX's The Shield, James Spader's work on the final season of ABC's Boston Legal, Denis Leary's powerful work on FX's Rescue Me, and Damian Lewis' great work in NBC's underappreciated Life. Kiefer Sutherland was snubbed in the best series actor category for Fox's 24, but was nominated, for the same Jack Bauer role, in the movies and miniseries category.

The ranks of the drama and comedy series categories were swelled to admit seven nominees each, making room for such newly honored contenders as HBO's Flight of the Conchords and AMC's Breaking Bad. But HBO's True Blood was snubbed, as were Rescue Me, The Shield, ABC's Pushing Daisies, and others.


NBC's 30 Rock set a record for most nominations by a series in a single year (22 nods). And in guest actor spots, Alan Alda has a chance for a new Emmy for his role as Jack's dad on 30 Rock, and Michael J. Fox has a shot for his role on Rescue Me. I'd like them both to win -- but I'd also like to see Justin Timberlake take home a statuette for his work as a guest star on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

One thing the nominations do point out this year: Amid all the horrid junk on TV this year, there also was a lot worth celebrating. The seven drama series in contention, for example, all are worth watching: HBO's Big Love, Breaking Bad, FX's Damages, Showtime's Dexter, Fox's House, ABC's Lost and Mad Men. TV Worth Watching, every one...




Danny said:


Donald Sutherland was snubbed in the best series actor category for Fox's 24,........ Should be Kiefer
(You're right! I'll correct instantly. Thanks! -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 10:44 AM

ceolaf said:


I understand why that was your first reaction to the nominations, and I agree with many of snubs you mentions. However, I suggest that every time you mention someone/something being left out, you write which one(s) should not have been nominated. I mean, I love Pushing Daisies almost as much as you, but there are not an infinite number of nominations available. (For the record, I think it was better than How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy and Flight of the Conchords).

More importantly, and in support of one of your major themes here on the blog, you might have begun with noting the number of cable nominees.

Among the best drama nominees, only two of seven are from broadcast channels. Both of them are five years old, and the other five nominees are all cable and all three years old or younger. Where are the great new dramas? Well, they're on cable. AMC, FX, HBO and Showtimes. That's four different cable networks with nominee, and just two broadcast networks. NBC and CBS -- with their massive budgets and schedules -- couldn't field a single one of the best seven dramas on TV between them? This is not about a broadcast network's difficulty with filling out a schedule with quality shows, but just about finding one or two. No structural excuses there.

They do better with the comedy nominees, getting four out of seven. They have three of the five reality show competition nominees and were shut out of the Reality Show Program category. Shut. Out.

So, what do they dominate? Nothing. What do they do well with? 30 minute comedies and reality competitions. Aren't those the cheapest genres to produce (Seinfeld and Friends in their later years excepted)? That's where we see the broadcast networks' best work?

That's pathetic. Is there really anything in Mad Men to keep it off network TV? Violence, profanity or sexual content? I don't think so. Clearly, it is possible to do high quality programming without HBOing programs up.

If only they wanted to.

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 12:01 PM

Sarah said:

I am so happy for Jim Parsons and Simon Baker.I too would like Alan Alda and Michael J Fox to win but JT is my favorite SNL host. The best thing about the nominees this year-for me at least- was seeing Kevin Kline, Kevin Bacon and Taking Chance because T accidently found Cyrano de Bergerac and I took a chance on Taking Chance after I read about it here.

I also like Phil Keoghan for best reality host mainly because we don't have to wait until the commercial to hear him say who won. The Daily Show and Colbert Report are always good and with Indecision 2008 hopefully a shoe in again. And then there is Kyra Sedgwick who has deserved to win each year and hasn't, do the voters forget that that accent is not hers.

The one snub for me is that Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency only got one but not for its two leads who are soooo good.

Looking forward to NPH hosting and the official start to the fall season!

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 12:21 PM

Evelyn said:

I honestly can't believe that The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency was almost completely ignored, especially in the acting, directing, music, writing and even main title design (how could you miss that amazing artwork?). The episode, "The Boy With The African Heart" was truly the best television I've seen in the past five years, much less this past year. It's so sad to see such quality television in so many different categories overlooked.

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 12:50 PM

Ed Quigley said:

As I previously emailed David in a rather annoyed state, it is getting to the point of absurd that Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler continue to be overlooked by the Emmys. I have had limited exposure to The Mentalist but I do enjoy Simon Baker. Still his inclusion over Kyle Chandler is frankly embarrassing. And Mariska Hargitay over Connie Britton, I don't even know where to begin.

I was also a little disappointed Battlestar Galactica in its farewell season was not recognized.

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 1:04 PM

djr said:

Justin Timberlake has converted me. He is hilarious on SNL and should have his own talk show or variety hour a la sonny and cher, or smothers bros. Very funny in skits, making fun of himself,etc. Best guest host since Alex Baldwin.

David J.

(Couldn't agree more. And I think Neil Patrick Harris is second in line, and a lot more likely to take the job... -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 16, 2009 4:37 PM
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 Name (required)
 Email (required) (will not be published)
Type in the verification word shown on the image.