Unpopcult at the Emmys 2013 Part 6: Outstanding Drama Series

I’m struggling to get excited about this award when the glaring absence of both
Justified and The Good Wife renders the category both incomplete and really annoying, but, per unpopcult tradition, it’s time for a quick once-over of the nominees we do have, before tomorrow’s ceremony’s upon us.

The inclusion of Downton Abbey is still baffling, obviously, but it’s in no danger of winning so let’s move swiftly on. As far as the other nominees are concerned, the only one I really watched this year is Game of Thrones so I’d be delighted if it won but I’d also pass out from the shock: it’s magnificent but it’s not going to happen.

On the dragon-free front, meanwhile, there’s a mini-pandemic of disillusionment with Mad Men – to which I too have succumbed – so it won’t win either.

And I’ve never seen a single minute of House of Cards, but while its nomination may be an important step in the recognition of online tv drama, I think that’s as far as it’ll go in this category this year at least.

Which leaves us with last year’s winner Homeland duking it out with this year’s global obsession Breaking Bad.

Homeland’s second season was far less well-received than its first (I hated what I saw of both of them, FYI) while, by contrast, Breaking Bad’s final season has been the subject of universal, almost hysterical praise across the board. Critic or punter, everybody who watches it seems utterly devoted to it. Do those devotees include Emmy voters? Plenty of them, I’m sure, given the number of Emmys on Bryan Cranston’s mantelpiece. But the voters are creatures of habit as much as anything else and since Homeland won last year, it’s going to be to be hard to beat. I reckon Breaking Bad will manage it, though.

Unpopcult At The Emmys Part 5: Best Comedy

The nominees:

30 Rock

The Big Bang Theory



Modern Family


Girls seems somehow a little less zeitgeisty than last year, when it didn’t win, and Veep probably won’t have enough support. 30 Rock might stand a chance on the back of a triumphant final season. The Big Bang Theory was better this season than last, but so was Modern Family, which is likely to go four-for-four by winning.

The nominee which should win is, of course, Louie, which is not only the best show on this list, but when on top form arguably the best show on TV of any kind. But it isn’t funny enough to be a comedy (although it can be very funny), or serious enough to be a drama (although it can be very serious), and will probably languish in comedy/drama hell like most shows of its type. I’d love to be proved wrong.

Unpopcult At The Emmys 2013 Part 4: Best Supporting Actor

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Adam Driver, Girls

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

Tony Hale, Veep

Ed O’ Neill, Modern Family

Modern Family continues its domination of this category, although interestingly enough defending champion Eric Stonestreet misses out entirely. Every year I say that it’s Ed O’Neill’s turn, although Ty Burrell continues to work minor miracles as Phil. Tony Hale, an actor with a string of superlative performances behind him, might be an interesting outside bet.


Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series:

Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire

Jim Carter, Downtom Abbey

Peter Dinklage, Game Of Thrones

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Oh dear. Five performances I haven’t seen and (the excellent) Mandy Patinkin. I really do need to get around to watching Breaking Bad. Between them Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage have won the last three, so it’s difficult to see past one of them. Paul, probably.


Unpopcult At The Emmys 2013 Part 3: Best Supporting Actress

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

Jane Lynch, Glee

Sofía Vergara, Modern Family

Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Merritt Wever should win, of course, but presumably won’t. Defending champion Julie Bowen is back again with a decent chance of winning; Sofía Vergara is at least as deserving this year, but has been every year, so it’s difficult to see what might change this time round. Jane Krakowski is terrific, and this is Emmy’s final chance to recognise her in 30 Rock. If it isn’t going to be Wever, though, I’d like it to go to Mayim Bialik; Amy Farrah Fowler is a comedy creation for the ages. (You could argue that both Kaley Cuoco and Melissa Rauch might be in here as well, but I’m fed up arguing that Cuoco’s drop-dead brilliant comic timing deserves to be rewarded.)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series:

Morena Baccarin, Homeland

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Well, if Christina Hendricks hasn’t won before now, it would be slightly odd were she to do so now, excellent though she was, given that the consensus seems to be that Mad Men is on the way down. Christine Baranski, nominated for the fourth year running, is in much the same position: why would she win this time? Morena Baccarin is an intriguing, and deserving, newcomer. Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad I haven’t seen. But Maggie Smith won last year, and although I haven’t seen Downton either it’s difficult to see why she wouldn’t win again.

Unpopcult at the Emmys 2013 Part 2: Leading Ladies

First up, a quick word about Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy.

Laura Dern for Enlightenment seems a bit unlikely and the discomfort/backlash around Girls‘ second-season won’t help Lena Dunham either.  So it’s Amy Poehler for Parks and Rec, right?  Finally?  Fourth-time lucky? (Or sixth, if you count her SNL noms.)

But Julia-Louis Dreyfus won last year for Veep and previous winners Tina Fey – for the final season of 30 Rock – and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) are both wildly popular with the Emmy pack, even if their shows are on their last legs, so they’re all equally likely winners. Which means Amy Poehler may well end up being the new Jon Hamm and never win ever.  Hurrumph!

Onto Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama then, and the main reason why I’m so annoyed with the Emmys this year.  A category with 7 – SEVEN – actresses in it and no room for the majestic Julianna Margulies from The Good Wife?  As far as I’m concerned, that means the best performance hasn’t even been nominated, which renders the question of who will win moot.

But apparently somebody’s got to.  I’m sure they’re both excellent, but I very much doubt it’ll be Vera Farmiga from Bates Motel or Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey. The former because of the distinct lack of buzz around the show and the latter because it’s DOWNTON.  ABBEY.

I can’t see House of Cards’s Robyn Wright taking the prize on the night, either – not for any reason other than I just don’t think she will – so, if we discount those three, we’re left with the battle of the the network queens vs the cable darlings as Connie Britton and Kerry Washington slug it out with Claire Danes and Elisabeth Moss.  And each other.

Much as I adore Connie Britton – and I do, the woman is amazing – I’m not convinced she’s going to win. I really like Nashville and she is fantastic in it, but the show is no Friday Night Lights and the material isn’t quite the showcase it should be.  I know it’s unfair to compare the writing around Rayna James with the writing around Tami Taylor, but I suspect I won’t be the only one doing it, so I don’t think the trophy’s going to be hers.

Will Claire Danes will make it two wins in a row? Her  performance in Homeland is very big, very animated – the polar opposite of Julianna Margulies’s cool, restrained style in TGW, but yes, I know, I need to get over that – and very popular but is Homeland old news now?  Mad Men’s Moss (also nominated in the movie/mini-series category for the bizarre Top of the Lake) is a regular nominee and in with a fighting shot since, despite Mad Men’s noticeable dip, Peggy Olson’s star seems to be soaring.  Kerry Washington from Scandal however has that increasingly rare combo of a ratings juggernaut of a show (I don’t like Scandal but millions upon millions of people seem to LOVE it) and a ton of praise for her own work in it – hers is the most watched and probably most accessible performance of the lot and that could swing it.  I think she might just walk away with it.

Unpopcult at the Emmys 2013 Part 1: Leading Men

Brace yourselves, everyone: it’s time to begin our annual Emmy-fest.

As usual, the plan is for us to dissect the main categories in a slightly crazed and unashamedly biased fashion over the next wee while, although I may well be even grumpier about it than usual this year. Too many shows I don’t watch, too many nominations I don’t agree with and too many egregious omissions….

In fairness, though the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama nominees are probably the least baffling of the bunch this time around, except for the repeated and glaring omission of Justified’s Timothy Olyphant and the (second-time!) inclusion of Hugh Bonneville for Downton Abbey. Let me just summarise what I said last year on this: DOES. NOT. COMPUTE.

It’s difficult for me to get overly excited about the other nominees in the category though, since they compute all too well. To the extent that – whisper it – I’m a bit bored with the whole business. Once again, Jon Hamm is nominated for Mad Men, and once again, he won’t win. Not that he’s not excellent – I have post-season 5 fatigue and haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this year’s Mad Men yet, but Jon Hamm’s always excellent. However, his time for winning passed long ago and, even if it hadn’t, there are far too many other competing factors this year ensuring he won’t get a look-in.

First of those factors is of course Damian Lewis, nominated again for Homeland after his surprise win last year. But while Homeland is still (to me, anyway) inexplicably well-regarded, there’s been a lot more grumbling this year about its flaws and a lot less mystery about Brody’s character’s motivations. Which may well mean a return to the winner’s podium for three-time winner Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad because unpopcult may be ambivalent about it but Emmy voters LOVE Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad.

I don’t know if they love his competition quite as much. Yes, Jeff Daniels from The Newsroom and Kevin Spacey from House of Cards are proper, big-time movie stars and proper, big-time movie stars always get nominated. But – as Jon Hamm knows all too well – come Emmy Night, always getting nominated means nothing at all.

Jeff Daniels is superb, but The Newsroom (the only one of these programmes I have properly watched this season) is too divisive a show to garner the necessary love for his character: even those of us who like it spend a lot of time yelling abuse at it, so I can’t see him overcoming that and winning. Kevin Spacey, though, is an interesting one, since he’s riding the wave of another big factor this year – the rise of Netflix.

Me, I like watching tv a single episode at a time. I’m not a box-set binger – I find double-bills hard to cope with, for pity’s sake. But I seem to be behind the times on that front, as the Netflix model of online tv series “dumping” where you can watch the whole series at once is definitely gaining traction. House of Cards, their first original drama series (if you can call a remake of a British show I watched over 20 years ago “original”) is at the forefront of that tv revolution and, surprisingly, with 9 nominations across various categories, the usually set-in-their-ways Emmys seem to be embracing it wholeheartedly. Enough for Spacey to take the crown? Hmmm. Maybe. But my gut says it’ll be Cranston again.

My gut is fairly silent on the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy category, though, and my interest is minimal since Parks and Recreation doesn’t feature. A quick once-over of this year’s contenders, however, reveals a big bunch of repeat nominees: Louis CK for Louie, Don Cheadle for House of Lies and previous winners Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory and Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock all lost out to last year’s winner Jon Cryer for the frankly appalling Two and a Half Men. But Jon Cryer’s not nominated this time around and Matt Le Blanc is now back in the running with Episodes as well (bumping Larry David). Will 30 Rock’s final season give Alec Baldwin enough momentum to get his statuette back? Or will Jason Bateman take it for Netflix’s other big splash, the resurrection of Arrested Development? Your guess will be infinitely better than mine so comment away….

The Emmys 2012: Really?!?


The full list of winners – including unpopcult favourites Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, Jeremy Davies and Martha Plimpton – is here, there’s plenty of commentary on the results including here and here, and everyone’s checking out the frocks here, there and everywhere.  This post is really more about ME.

Here’s the thing.  Mad Men setting a new record for shut-outs by not winning any of the 17 (!) Emmys it was nominated for is a shock, and a shame, but it doesn’t bother me all that much, in and of itself.  Don’t get me wrong; I think Mad Men deserved some recognition for acting or writing or its gorgeous styling, but season 5 was very uneven and the focus on Megan rendered it far less interesting and profound than previous years.  I can see why the Emmy voters looked elsewhere when handing out the plaudits. 

Also, I know how much of a following it has, but I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of Breaking Bad – which didn’t appeal to me  – so I’m not troubled by it not winning Best Drama or Bryan Cranston losing his Lead Actor crown, excellent though I have no doubt he is – after all, he has won it three times already (unlike perennial runner-up Jon Hamm).  

And, while I’d have preferred Christine Baranski to win Supporting Actress in a Drama because the woman is amazing in The Good Wife and I love love love Diane, I know that tv awards people love love love nothing more than a grand old Dame with a posh English accent, so Maggie Smith winning Downton Abbey’s only major award I can  understand if not jump for joy about. 

All of that, then: not awesome, but ok.  Not ok?  Homeland.


I really, really did not like Homeland.  But that’s irrelevant, obviously: there are plenty of things I don’t like which I can see great merit in nonetheless.  Like Breaking Bad.  Or vegetables.  More to the point, then, I can’t see what’s supposed to be so brilliant about Homeland that it beat out everything else.  Exciting, yes, entertaining, fine, but brilliant?  Over-cooked, over-rated, over-pleased with itself thriller fare of the type which has been done better before and will probably be done better later – is this really the best drama of the past year?  REALLY?!?! 

What am I missing?

Whatever it is, the Emmy voters lapped it up, giving the show this year’s Outstanding Drama Series award, Claire Danes Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama and – the big upset of the night – Damian Lewis Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. 

Regardless of how I might feel about the show, then, a lot of people do think it’s fantastic.  Fair enough.  My not understanding why may well be entirely down to me, rather than any flaws in the programme itself.  No problem.  I still really, really do not like Homeland.  So I’m just going to deal with it by re-imagining last night completely.  Emmys 2012: The Do-Over.   Justified and The Good Wife were nominated.  The Good Wife or Game of Thrones won.  Julianna Margulies took home the Lead Actress prize for the second year in a row.  Timothy Olyphant was not only nominated but won Lead Actor and that was great, because – in my head – Mad Men will return to form next season and Jon Hamm will finally get his Outstanding Actor statuette in 2013, and everything will turn out just fine.  As for what really happened last night?  La la la la la….. not listening…..

*PS – If you want to investigate for yourself what all the fuss is about, More 4 is re-running season 1 of Homeland every night (including weekends) from tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 11.05pm, pending season 2 starting in October.