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Emmy Nominations 2012: The Year’s Biggest Snubs and Surprises

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences promised us Nick Offerman, but readers, they did not deliver. Due to an East Coast weather apocalypse that you might have heard something about, Offerman couldn’t make it to host this year’s Emmy nominations announcements. Instead, Jimmy Kimmel showed up in pajamas to share the stage with Scandal star Kerry Washington. But despite our disappointment, we still paid close attention to who got nominated, who didn’t, and the ongoing travesty of the Emmys pretending that Community doesn’t exist. The list of major nominations, as well as our thoughts on 2012’s snubs and surprises, are after the jump.

Best drama series:
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
Mad Men

Snubs: The small but vocal Justified fan base will be annoyed to see that show ignored for yet another year. Meanwhile, Dexter — which many weren’t happy with last season — and The Good Wife both got nods in 2011 but were pushed off the list by newcomers Downton Abbey (which competed in the miniseries category last year) and Homeland. In the latter’s case especially, this seems like a good trade. Finally, after a second season that restored many viewers’ faith in The Walking Dead, it’s notable that the show is still only racking up technical award nominations.

Surprises: There really aren’t any. Homeland has gotten such huge buzz that it would have been shocking if it didn’t get a nomination. And even though not everyone was thrilled with Downton Abbey‘s second season, it’s become such a staple of Quality Television that it was basically guaranteed recognition, too.

Best comedy series:
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Girls
Modern Family
30 Rock
Veep

Snubs: Ugh. Yuck. We live in a world with Community, Parks and Recreation, and Louie — and these are the shows that get nominated? We don’t dislike any of them — OK, we’re not fans of The Big Bang Theory at all — but how about a nod for the excellent Bored to Death in its final season (despite the fact that it accidentally ended on kind of a gross bummer note)? Where is Laura Dern and Mike White’s painfully perceptive Enlightened? Meanwhile, what we won’t complain about is the lack of love for Glee and The Office, both of which were nominated last year but are now well past their prime.

Surprises: It may not be surprising to see 30 Rock honored instead of Community and Parks and Rec, despite the fact that both of its Thursday night neighbors had far stronger seasons than Tina Fey’s show, which seems to be running out of material — but it is irritating. Curb Your Enthusiasm, likewise, is a great series whose most recent season was far from its best. What’s really unexpected, though, is that HBO’s two new female-fronted comedies both got nominations. We would have guessed that only Veep would be up for an Emmy, considering its heavy-hitting cast and producers. But apparently Girls isn’t too young and hip to impress the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. So, seriously, we’re only going to ask one more time, what is it exactly that’s keeping these people from recognizing Community?

Drama actress:
Glenn Close, Damages
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Claire Danes, Homeland
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Snubs: Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU) and Mireille Enos (The Killing) both made the list last year but not in 2012. In Enos’ case, it seems like she’s being unfairly punished for how bad her show has become, which is sad because her performance has always been great.

Surprises: Again, it isn’t exactly a surprise, but it sure is nice to see the wonderful British actress Michelle Dockery appreciated for her beautifully nuanced portrayal of Lady Mary on Downton Abbey.

Drama actor:
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Snubs: Wow. The Justified people really are going to be mad this year, huh? Although he was nominated last year, Timothy Olyphant is nowhere to be found in 2012. Even more noteworthy, though, is Hugh Laurie’s absence from the list, considering that he’s been nominated for the past six years of House and the show just wrapped up its final season this spring.

Surprises: The closest thing to a surprise here is the Academy’s recognition of Damian Lewis, who is excellent as a rescued POW in Homeland, but whose strong performance was overshadowed by all the gushing over Claire Danes’ portrayal of a CIA agent with bipolar disorder.

Comedy actress:
Lena Dunham, Girls
Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Snubs: OK, so maybe Enlightened isn’t doing it for the Academy. But no one can deny that Laura Dern’s performance on the show is one of the very best on TV right now. It’s also disappointing to see Krysten Ritter passed over, when she’s created such a weird, maddening yet charming con artist character on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Meanwhile, in news that upsets us far less, it looks like 2 Broke Girls couldn’t even scare up a nomination for Kat Dennings, who is generally excellent but totally wasted on that show. And finally, Laura Linney (The Big C) and Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope) both made the list in 2011 but not in 2012.

Surprises: In what looks like a silent acknowledgment of the much-discussed explosion of new, women-led comedies this past season, the Academy has seen fit to nominate seven — rather than the usual six — lead actresses. Beyond that, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an Emmy lifer, so of course she’s represented (also, her performance on Veep just got better and better as the season progressed, and she totally deserves it). We may not have jumped on the Zooey Deschanel bandwagon, but she was obviously a lock. Really, the only big surprise is that Lena Dunham has been honored for her portrayal of Hannah Horvath, in addition to her writing and directing.

Comedy actor:
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis CK, Louie
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men

Snubs: Last year, Johnny Galecki joined his Big Bang Theory co-star on this list, but not in 2012. And the initial enthusiasm for Episodes, which earned Matt LeBlanc both an Emmy nod and a Golden Globes win last year, seems to have faded. Um, does it do any good to remind the world that Joel McHale has never, ever been nominated for his performance on Community? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Surprises: Seriously? We are still pretending Two and a Half Men is an excellent showcase for anyone’s talent? Listen, we’ve got nothing against Duckie, but he’s not doing his best work on the zombie Ashton Kutcher version of a show that was never good. But hey, at least Louis CK is getting the recognition in the actor category that his entire show should be getting.