Among the nominations surprises and snubs, Netflix has officially arrived as an original TV content provider, and the Emmys have a lot of love for soapy dramas and their lead actresses, but in more than one surprising snub, last year's Emmy winners were not a sure thing to get even a nomination this time around. Check out the list of nominees.
SURPRISE: "The Big Bang Theory" stars Mayim Bialik and Kaley Cuoco
"Blossom" alum Bialik snagged her second consecutive nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series as her Amy Farrah Fowler saw her relationship with boyfriend Sheldon heat up (relatively speaking, of course) last season. But for every Emmy surprise, there is an Emmy snub, and in this case, it's Bialik's "Big Bang" co-star, Kaley Cuoco, who continues to be ignored by Emmy voters, despite a fine season of her own in which her Penny finally started to mature in her relationship with on-again, off-again love Leonard.
SURPRISE: Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, "House of Cards
"It's official: Netflix original programming is considered TV programming, and both Spacey and Wright are being recognized for their performances as hubby and wife in Netflix's first original series, the extremely binge watch-worthy political drama "House of Cards."
SNUB: "The Walking Dead"
He awakened in the hospital, alone, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, he had to kill his best friend, his wife was eaten by a zombie after giving birth to his daughter, he's waged battle against an eye-patched psycho obsessed with destroying him, he's the leader for now dozens of fellow survivors, and he went a little bonkers himself -- understandably -- last season … what exactly must "Walking Dead" star Andrew Lincoln do to get some Emmy recognition around here? And not even a guest star nod for Lennie James, whose return as Morgan in season three's "Clear" was one of the performance highlights of the entire TV season?
SURPRISE: Kerry Washington, "Scandal"
Washington's nomination doesn't come as a surprise because it isn't well-deserved; it is. But to put her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nod into historical perspective: she is only the fifth African-American actress in Emmy history to receive a nomination in this category, and she's the first African-American actress since Cicely Tyson was nominated for "Sweet Justice" at the 1995 Emmys to get a nod in the category. And if Washington wins the statue on September 22, she will become the first African-American actress to win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy. PS -- Debbie Allen ("Fame"), Alfre Woodard ("St. Elsewhere"), and Regina Taylor ("I'll Fly Away") are the three other African-American actresses who've received lead drama actress Emmy nominations.
SNUB: "Duck Dynasty"
Guess the Robertsons will just have to settle for outstanding ratings, big spin-off merchandise sales, and that Christmas album they're recording, because the wildly popular (and, admit it, entertaining) "Duck Dynasty" was again overlooked for an Outstanding Reality Program Emmy nomination.
SNUB: Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"
He won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy last year, and this year, he's not even among the nominees. Perhaps the perpetual swirl of controversy that surrounds the show behind-the-scenes has finally overtaken anything that happens on camera?
SURPRISE: Connie Britton, "Nashville"
This is the third series for which Britton has received an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination (after "Friday Night Lights" and "American Horror Story". First, kudos to Emmy voters for recognizing the leads of two ABC dramas ("Nashville" and "Scandal") that are both quality and just plain fun to watch. Second, we wonder: will Britton get extra credit points for not only acting in her series, but also singing the tunes her country music queen character Rayna Jaymes performs?
SNUB: Zooey Deschanel, "New Girl"
Last year: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nominee for her show's freshman season. This year: nope. The Fox comedy not only lost some of its buzz and critical acclaim in its sophomore season, it also lost more than two million viewers on average, and, as today's nominations prove, some of its Emmy love.
SURPRISE: Scott Bakula, "Behind the Candelabra"
You're still talking about Rob Lowe and that melty face he was sporting as Liberace's well-medicated plastic surgeon in the HBO biopic, right? Lowe's performance was definitely the flashier one, but Emmy voters chose to honor Bakula's more subdued, but still scene-stealing, performance as Bob Black, the man who introduced Liberace to his much younger lover, Scott Thorson, with an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries of a Movie nod. Nominations for lead stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon -- both in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie category -- were a given.
SNUB: Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"
He won the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy last year, and this year, he's not even among the nominees. Did Emmy voters grow tired of giving four of the six spots in the supporting comedy actor category to the "Modern Family" crew, or are we maybe not the only ones who think the show, in general, and several of the characters have started to feel a little stale?
SURPRISE: Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel"
"Up in the Air" Oscar nominee Farmiga gets her first Emmy nomination -- in the super competitive Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category -- for her role as Norman Bates' mama in A&E's original series/contemporary "Psycho" prequel. Previous entries in the "Psycho" universe have been all about Norman, Norman, Norman, but Farmiga's performance as the complicated Norma proves that little Norman Bates came by his neurosis honestly.
SNUB: Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Hall has been an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nominee for "Dexter" every year since 2008, but was snubbed by the Emmy folks this year. To be fair, season seven was all about Jennifer Carpenter's Deb, and scene-stealing turns by guest star baddies Yvonne Strahovski and Ray Stevenson.
SURPRISE: Laura Dern, "Enlightened"
Critical acclaim and a Golden Globe win for Dern couldn't propel HBO comedy "Enlightened" to a third season, but fans of the series --- the small, but very devoted bunch that they are -- can take heart in the actress racking up her fifth Emmy nomination (and her first in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category) for the show's second and final season.
SNUB: "Sons of Anarchy" and "Justified"
We know Emmy voters get FX, since "American Horror Story: Asylum" is this year's most-nominated show … so how to explain the snubbing of "Sons of Anarchy" and "Justified," two of the finest dramas on cable? "SOA's" rich fifth season was deserving of series and individual nods, from leads Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal to supporting cast Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Maggie Siff, and Jimmy Smits, and guest star Harold Perrineau. Ditto the fourth season of "Justified," which deserves nominations for writing (best dialogue on TV), lead and supporting actor (Timothy Olyphant and Walt Goggins have the best frienemy bromance in primetime), and guest stars, which, this season, included Jim Beaver as the central figure in the Drew Thompson mystery and scene-stealing turns from Patton Oswalt, Ron Eldard, and Mike O'Malley. Oh, and Walt Goggins' guest star performance as Venus Van Damme on "SOA" … another sad snub.
SURPRISE: Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"
In fairness, the "Friends" alum's nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for "Episodes" (his second for the show) should only come as a surprise if you've never watched "Episodes." The Showtime comedy finds Matt LeBlanc playing an exaggerated version of Matt LeBlanc, post-"Friends," and it's easily the best performance of his career.
SNUB: Jeff Probst, "Survivor"
Probst won the Outstanding Host For a Reality or Reality Competition Program Emmy for four years in a row, but last year, and now this year, wasn't among the nominees in the category. And "Survivor," as a series, has never won the Outstanding Reality Competition Program Emmy, and hasn't even been nominated for the award since 2006. We get it … 26 seasons in, the show has lost a lot of its luster, but season 26 last winter was one of the series' strongest in recent years, and Probst, who's also an executive producer on the show, still makes that hosting gig look effortless.
SNUB: Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
It's a testament to just how deep that drama actor bench is in TV land that the always fantastic Steve Buscemi is MIA on the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nominee list for the first time in the three-season run of "Boardwalk Empire."
Fans were tickled when the Oscar winner joined the cast in season three, sweeping into Downton as Martha Levinson, Cora's outspoken mama. Emmy voters, apparently, were not quite as excited about the performance.
SNUB: Tatiana Maslany, "Orphan Black"
Sci-fi, drama, action, comedy … Maslany does it all in BBC America's addictive "Orphan Black," in which the actress portrays half a dozen characters, all clones, but each with distinctive appearances and personalities. How many different characters does a girl need to convincingly and compellingly play to earn an Emmy nod?
SNUB: Monica Potter, "Parenthood"
"Parenthood" continues to be overlooked as a series, and sadly, despite her Kristina's brave battle with breast cancer in season four, Potter does, too.
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- Mayim Bialik