TV’s Emmys: should-be winners

By Molly Eichel - The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (AP) — Is it that time already? The nominations for the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced July 14. Each year, we remind ourselves that the Emmys don’t matter all that much — but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to see our favorites get an attaboy (or girl) from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Here, we present you with some names we hope Emmy voters didn’t forget to include on their ballots, and we give some props to people and shows for achievements that they don’t make awards for.

Best Drama

Now that “Mad Men” is over, it’s time for Emmy voters to give FX’s “The Americans” all the awards. This is the best show on TV. Period. Seriously, Emmy voters, catch up on this drama about two Russian spies pretending to be an average American couple in 1980s suburbia. It streams on Amazon Prime. You’re welcome.

Best Comedy

Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” was a wonderful treat that perfectly represented two very different issues: dating in the 21st century and the experience of second-generation immigrants. The Netflix comedy was warm and funny. While we’re at it, let’s give a shout-out to Ansari’s real dad, Shoukath Ansari, as a best supporting actor nominee.

Writing for a Comedy Series

Network TV’s death knell has been ringing for a long time, but with one episode, Kenya Barris hearkened back to the Norman Lear glory days of the sitcom. In the episode “Hope,” from the series “black-ish,” creator Barris wrote an episode about police brutality that still managed to be funny. Dre (Anthony Anderson) wants to make sure his children stay “woke,” while Rainbow (the great Tracee Ellis Ross) wants them to stay innocent and have trust in a legal system that may not trust them.

Best Actress, Comedy

Look, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won this category four years in a row for her role as Selena Meyer on HBO’s “Veep,” might as well start writing her acceptance speech. But we implore Emmy voters to give a shout-out to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s” Rachel Bloom. She sings! She dances! She even writes a good portion of the songs on her hilarious CW musical comedy about an accomplished lawyer who moves from New York to West Covina, Calif., ostensibly to follow her summer-camp ex-boyfriend, but really because she’s miserable. Bloom, who already took home a Golden Globe, is totally fearless.

Speaking of comedians who inject some pathos into their performances, let’s not forget Aya Cash of FX’s acidic anti-rom-com “You’re the Worst.” Cash’s character admitted this season that she suffers from depression, and it was a stark, painful portrayal on an otherwise very funny comedy.

Best Actress, Drama

Look, we’re sick of the antihero. Bring on the antiheroine! There are few characters as evil and manipulative as Quinn King, played by Constance Zimmer, on “UnReal,” Lifetime’s behind-the-scenes drama of a “Bachelor”-esque show. Quinn will do terrible things to get what she wants — good television — even if that means ruining the life of her protegee (the equally fantastic Shiri Appleby). But Zimmer also brings a sadness and desperation to Quinn that a lesser performer could not.

Best Actor, Drama

Like Zimmer, Bob Odenkirk took “Breaking Bad’s” Saul Goodman, a character who could have been a one-note sleaze, and imbued him with enough humanity that viewers didn’t want his story to end when Walter White’s did. “Better Call Saul” is must-watch, largely because of Odenkirk’s layered performance.

Best Actor, Comedy

Rob Delaney’s character on the Brit rom-com “Catastrophe” is a doofus. He’s an American who inadvertently started a family while on business in London. In the second season of the show, streaming on Amazon Prime, he spends less time being a fish out of water, and gets to show a range of emotion, from blistered anger to sadness to incredible love for his equally fantastic wife (Sharon Horgan).

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series

FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” will probably clean up in the miniseries acting categories. Sarah Paulson (who redeemed the otherwise demonized Marcia Clark) and Courtney B. Vance (who brought a subtlety to the larger-than-life Johnnie Cochran) have gotten tons of props. But don’t sleep on Sterling K. Brown, who played the complicated role of prosecutor Chris Darden. His performance was filled with a quiet rage that slowly bubbled up into some mesmerizing scenes.

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series

Like “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” there are a lot of acting kudos to go around in the second season of “Fargo” (welcome back to the fold, Kirsten Dunst), but we so loved Jean Smart’s steely grandma/crime boss, Floyd Gerhardt. It was quite the departure for the usually warm Smart, and (spoiler alert!) we wept when her story came to an unceremonious end.

So we’ve told you the people we’d like to see honored come July 14, but there are others who will never get the nod they should. They deserve a shout-out, too, don’t you think?

Best Costumes

We want to raid the costume closet at “Full Frontal” with Samantha Bee. As one of the few women in late-night, Bee had to define herself against the dark suits of her male counterparts. The solution? Dressing her in hip, colorful blazers that make her look feminine and powerful.

Best P.R. Makeover

Can we discuss how Kelly Ripa was royally screwed? Her cohost, Michael Strahan, up and quit “Live with Kelly and Michael,” and Ripa was miffed. Insiders called her a brat and princess, but instead of pretending to play nice, Ripa took a couple days off and came back stronger than ever, saying she deserved the time to regroup and refocus before recommitting to the show that bears her name. How can you not relate to that?

Achievement in Casting

After a lackluster season, Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” had one of its best ever because of who was competing. The drag-queen competition went for quality instead of drama, and the show was better for it. It’s the perfect example of how difficult reality casting can be.

Best Bounce Back

Can you believe that “Grey’s Anatomy” has been on the air for 12 seasons? Believe it or not, this year was the best in years. After the death of Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepard (Patrick Dempsey) in the 11th entry, “Grey’s” gave Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) a break from abject tragedy, and it allowed the show to feel renewed.

By Molly Eichel

The Philadelphia Inquirer