Emmy Nominations 2011: The Year's Biggest Snubs and Surprises

It’s Emmy nomination day! By now, we’re sure the TV nerds among you have scoured the nominations, looking for heartening wildcards and frustrating omissions. Of course, we’ve been knee-deep in the wonkery, too. After the jump, we list the nominees in each of the Emmys’ most prominent categories and underline what we feel are this year’s biggest snubs and surprises. Tell us whether you think every single actor on Modern Family deserved a nomination — or complain about something entirely different — in the comments.

Best drama series
Boardwalk Empire
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men

Snubs: Many assumed that FX’s critical darling Justified would get a nod this year. It’s also notable that two new AMC shows — The Killing and The Walking Dead — didn’t merit nominations. Both launched with great premiere episodes and high expectations but deteriorated in quality over the course of the season. (Breaking Bad, meanwhile, wasn’t eligible because its new season won’t start until this weekend.) True Blood, which was up for an Emmy last year, is also absent from the list. Although we love the show, we have to admit that it’s better as trashy fun than award-winning television. We would, however, have liked to see Big Love recognized for finishing up strong and changing the show in response to fans’ criticisms after a few weird seasons. To round out the trifecta of HBO snubs, where is Treme? Just because no one’s watching it doesn’t mean David Simon’s lost his touch.

Surprises: Although HBO’s Game of Thrones has been popular with many viewers and some critics, many doubted the Emmys would consider a fantasy series. It’s a good day for genre-TV geeks.

Best comedy series
Modern Family
30 Rock
The Office
The Big Bang Theory
Parks and Recreation

Snubs: Nurse Jackie is the only continuing series that was nominated in 2010 and not 2011. This seems about right to us — the show gets less interesting the more we watch it. In our opinion, though, the wonderful-but-canceled United States of Tara, which just finished an excellent season, merited consideration. Also, in terms of quirky, nerdy comedies, Community has it all over The Big Bang Theory.

Surprises: There really are no shockers on this list, although considering its declining quality, the Glee nomination seems more obligatory than deserved. Meanwhile, it’s not surprising that critical favorite Parks and Recreation made the cut after last year’s snub, but it sure is nice to see it here.

Drama actress
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mireille Enos, The Killing

Snubs: Two grand dames of TV who made the list last year — Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close — didn’t make the cut in 2011 (in Close’s case, this is probably because of the way Damages‘ seasons have been timed). But the biggest snub is January Jones, who was nominated in 2010 but is replaced this year by her co-star Elisabeth Moss. We think it’s a good swap.

Surprises: Harry’s Law hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention, and for a while there, it seemed doubtful that it would get renewed, but it’s always nice to see the always-fabulous Kathy Bates get the recognition she deserves.

Drama actor
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Snubs: This was a pretty predictable list — everyone who was nominated last year and eligible again in 2011 made it. That being said, William H. Macy got fantastic reviews for his role in Shameless, so his exclusion feels like a snub. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead shutout continues, with no nomination for Andrew Lincoln as frustratingly one-dimensional hero Rick Grimes.

Surprises: None.

Comedy actor
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Louis C.K., Louie
Johnny Galecki, Big Bang Theory

Snubs: Well, maybe the empire of Glee is finally starting to fall — Matthew Morrison, aka the increasingly creepy Mr. Schue, is nowhere to be found among this year’s nominees. All of the other nominations are consistent with last year’s and make good sense — but couldn’t they somehow have found room for Joel McHale?

Surprises: Welcome back, Matt LeBlanc!

Comedy actress
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Laura Linney, The Big C
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly

Snubs: Oh, hell no. Oh, hell no, Emmy voters! You did not just snub Toni Collette in her last year on United States of Tara, in favor of two actresses doing inferior work on inferior shows on the same network (Laura Linney and Edie Falco)! We’re talking about a woman who believably portrays a lady with more personalities than we can count on one hand and who raised the stakes this year with a chilling depiction of Tara’s sadistic, teenage “abuser alter.” We’re just going to say it: there was not a single better performance on TV this year. (Also? Buh-bye to Lea Michele, who made the cut last year but won’t be vying for an Emmy in 2011, thank God.)

Surprises: We have to admit we haven’t been watching Mike & Molly, but we love Melissa McCarthy and are both surprised and pleased to see her among the nominees. Martha Plimpton’s nomination, meanwhile, doesn’t seem undeserved, but with such a strong pool of actresses this year, she wouldn’t have been on our list of predictions.

Supporting drama actor
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age
John Slattery, Mad Men
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Walton Goggins, Justified

Snubs: John Noble, who took home a Critics’ Choice TV Award this year for his work on Fringe, didn’t even score a nomination — although considering that the Emmys seemed to have forgotten about that show’s existence this year, his omission isn’t a huge surprise. More questionable is his fellow Critics’ Choice nominee Michael Pitt’s absence from the list. Boardwalk Empire is certainly on the Emmy radar, and Pitt is among its strongest actors. And, for that matter, where is Michael Shannon?

Surprises: Honestly, nothing on the list seems particularly out of the blue, although it’s notable that The Good Wife managed to score two nods in this category; Alan Cumming was a favorite, so few would have wagered that Josh Charles would also be nominated.