By: David Allen (@eastwoodmcfly)
Every year despite awarding some exceptional people and work in the television industry, the voting body for the Emmys still overlooks some great work. Here is a list of my top ten Emmy acting injustices (in no particular order).
Jason Alexander as George Costanza in Seinfeld
I probably should start off with the man that inspired this post to begin with. Originally a stage actor, Jason Alexander jumped to the small screen to play Jerry Seinfeld’s frugal best friend George Constanza for 170 episodes. Despite being a “short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man” and “lord of the idiots” George dreamed of one day draping himself in velvet and biting into a block of cheese the size of a car battery.
Alexander meanwhile dreamed of winning an Emmy for his portrayal, but after seven consecutive nominations from 1992 to 1998, yada yada yada, he never won. As a teenager watching Seinfeld I loved Michael Richard’s very physical performance of Kramer however, watching reruns today I am amazed by what Alexander did with what began as a blatant Woody Allen impression. Just like the sea that day my friends, I’m still angry over this injustice.
Steve Carell as Michael Scott in The Office
“Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked, but it's not like this compulsive need to be liked, like my need to be praised.” - Michael Scott
20 years after the Seinfeld finale NBC had another Thursday night hit sitcom and another character that deserved some Emmy love. While originally based on Ricky Gervais’ David Brent from the BBC series, Carell decided not to watch any of Gervais performance in order to make it his own and he did just that!
Despite being the self-proclaimed “world’s best boss” and winner of several Dundie awards, after six nominations and no wins I began screaming “no God! No, God, please no! No! No! NO!” Even during his final chance it was rumored that Alec Baldwin picked a weaker episode submission for himself so Carell could finally win. However, that year Jim Parsons won for a second year in a row. It's a crime that Carell never won for Michael Scott especially since he always left me satisfied and smiling...that's what she said!
Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation
In 2007 NBC asked Greg Daniels to create a spin-off of The Office, which lead to the creation of Parks and Recreation. While many found comparisons between Michael Scott and Leslie Knope (especially during the very rocky first season) Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson took an early life of its own.
While his character has said that “awards are stupid” it is hard to believe that not only has Nick Offerman never won an Emmy for his portrayal of this deadpan and masculine libertarian, but he has also never been nominated either! But don’t cry over this fact! Crying to Ron is only acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.
Hopefully as Parks and Rec enters its final season we can finally give Nick Offerman Emmy love. Wait. I worry what you just heard was: give Offerman an Emmy. What I said was give Nick Offerman all the Emmys you have. Do you understand? If he does finally win come Emmy night this will be me.
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney in 30 Rock
Listen up 5s a 10 is talking! Keeping the channel tuned to NBC there was another injustice for their Thursday night comedy block. No, I’m not talking about the annual cancellation of Community. I’m talking about the lack of a win for the real star of The Girlie Show.
30 Rock was nominated for 103 Emmys and had wins for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin but their co-star Jane Krakowski never received the first initial of her EGOT (she does have a Tony for Nine). Even on the show Krakowski’s character could never catch a break despite the “cah-mah-rah” loving her. Maroney could not even win an award herself despite being in such “hits” like The Rural Juror and Kidnapped By Danger, now available on Sega Genesis. If only we could have bribed the Academy for Krakowski to win at least one of her four Emmy nominations but as her character found out “if they could be bribed, I would have won a Golden Globe for my Lifetime Original Movie, Sister Can You Spare A Breast?
Kaitlin Olson as Deandra Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
By 2017 there will be (at least) 12 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but despite being the second-longest-running live-action comedy in television history, it has only been nominated for two Emmys (both in stunt coordination for a comedy).
If receiving ridicule for being the only female in the gang was not enough, Kaitlin Olson or for that matter Martina Martinez does not have any acting nomination to prove she is good enough to almost be a “featured extra” in M. Night film! While it is sometimes hard to root for these depraved egomaniacs, I would like to see Olson finally attain the recognition she deserves! I mean how awesome would Emmy night be if her acceptance speech was anything like her stand-up!
Martin Sheen as Josiah “Jed” Bartlet in The West Wing
So far this list has focused a lot on the comedy the Television Academy has failed to laugh at. Now it’s time to move into the dramatic performances and where better to start then with the President of the United States!
Originally creator Aaron Sorkin did not intend to feature the President at all but after feeling it would become “hokey” to constantly miss the President, Martin Sheen signed on for four episodes. After seeing Sheen’s dailies as Jed, Sheen became a regular and his take as POTUS lead to this two-term president becoming arguably the most popular fictional president.
Yes, Sheen won a Golden Globe for his portrayal but after six nominations he failed to score an Emmy win. However, Emmy voters did not impeach the show. In their first season the show earned a record nine Emmys and throughout their run the series tied the record for most wins in drama series with four. While co-stars Alan Alda, Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer, and Bradley Whitford all walked home with a statue, Sheen went back to the White House empty-handed.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men
The West Wing is currently tied for drama series wins with Mad Men but they still has two chances to break free and make their own record. Speaking of two more chances let me introduce you to Dick Whi- I mean Don Draper.
Before Rick Grimes and Walter White, Don Draper and Mad Men led to the success of both AMC and a career breakthrough for Jon Hamm. Hamm used memories of his father to portray the somewhat arrogant yet suave advertising pitchman. Hamm has proved season after season of how well he can portray someone who looks like he has everything, only to really have a dark history inside.
Not only has Jon Hamm been nominated for each of Mad Men’s seven seasons but Mad Men has received 105 overall Emmy nominations without any actor for the show scoring a win! But don’t cry Jon! Hopefully with category rival Bryan Cranston out of the running for next year’s final season, Jon Hamm will gain some recognition for this iconic character. Emmy voters it is time to “shut the door, have a seat” and vote for Hamm in 2015! P.S. While you are there can you please finally nominate Vincent Kartheiser?! He could really use the break…
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House in House
Much like Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie often lost the Emmy for drama actor to someone like Bryan Cranston. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes and played by English actor Laurie, Dr. Gregory House was probably the one doctor you wanted to have. No, not for his narcissism or curmudgeonly ways, but for how brilliant he was diagnosing/not diagnosing you with lupus.
Despite two Golden Globe and Screen Actor Guild awards, Laurie had just as a hard time beating his Vicodin addiction as he did of beating his competitors the six times he was nominated. Not only was his portrayal iconic and lead the show to eight seasons and four drama series nominations, but Laurie was once named by Guinness World Records as the most watched leading man on television. Just like how it was never lupus, it was never in the cards for Hugh Laure to win an Emmy.
Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls
While I could write about how much I have heard from my podcast co-host about how Lauren Graham (and the rest of the Parenthood team) deserves some Emmy recognition, I’ll focus just on Graham’s role of Lorelai Gilmore for this spot.
Many may look down on a show that premiered on the WB, but for those who watched the seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls many would argue at how well Graham showed off her ability to shift between the show’s comedic and dramatic elements. In a town filled with colorful characters her natural and subtle work earned her a Golden Globe nomination (and two Teen Choice Awards).
Perhaps when Parenthood concludes their final season this upcoming television year we could see a nomination for her history of work.
Tatiana Maslany as Various in Orphan Black
I have yet to start Orphan Black (if only there was a way to clone myself so I could have more time). I however, like most of the Internet, heard the cries of many fans about the annual snub for Tatiana Maslany.
Maslany plays several identical people and while many actors can barely play one three-dimensional character, she is playing multiple characters in the same scene with herself. Even with a Golden Globe nomination and two wins at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Maslany, like the BBC series, is Emmy-empty handed. To put things in perspective Hawaii Five-0, Last Man Standing, The Originals and 2 Broke Girls have more Emmy nominations this year than both Maslany and Orphan Black. Good job Television Academy!
Honorable Mentions: The Casts of Arrested Development & Six Feet Under
When compiling this list I tried to focus on individual achievement in television but when you look back at some of the ensembles you begin scratching your head too. While I could go at lengths about the mistakes Emmy voters made with Happy Endings, The Wire, Hannibal, etc. I picked two of the biggest offenders.
Now the story of a show with 25 Emmy nominations and the one category it failed to ever win one in…it’s Arrested Development! Despite rightfully earning six awards including one for comedy series, none of the Bluths ever received a frozen Emmy statue, dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts. Even though the show won an Emmy for casting and creating this ensemble, the individual actors never won! This includes Jason Bateman’s straight man performance as Michael, Will Arnett as the magician/honey entrepreneur Gob or David Cross as the struggling actor and “straight man” Tobias.
Although it’s sad to think Jim Parsons already has (at least) three for yelling “bazinga” there is however a bright spot for the Bluth family. Even though many found Tony Hale’s Buster “odd and alienating” he disregarded the publicists advice to stay out of the spotlight. As for everybody else, the Television Academy made a huge mistake.
I’m currently working my way through Six Feet Under, the HBO drama series that followed the members of a different family; The Fisher’s. For five seasons the show received critical acclaim and 44 Emmy nominations including three for drama series.
Many of this success can be attributed in part to the outstanding cast including Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, and Rachel Griffiths. While the ensemble won 2 SAG awards and two Emmys for drama series casting, the main group never received an Emmy win (Patricia Clarkson was the only acting winner in guest actress).
The worst Six Feet Under mistake the Television Academy made was for Peter Krause. While he was nominated for season three, the very emotional (and NSFW) season finale “I’m Sorry, I’m Lost” was ineligible because it aired the day after Emmy eligibility. Under these old rules this episode could not be submitted for consideration. To make matters worse since that was the only episode during that year’s period the episode was unable to compete at all. Since then he has yet to score a nod for his work on Parenthood with other Emmy snub Lauren Graham.
Do you agree with this list? Is there anybody I have forgotten? Comment below with your picks and/or tweet them to me @eastwoodmcfly.