Shock! Emmy nominations look almost legit. Almost. Some things never change. That's what they say about the Emmy Awards.
Notoriously slow to react to changes in television – which changes rapidly these days – and famously devoted to the same shows and actors, year after year, the Emmys usually give new and emphatic meaning to the word "stagnant."
Always, it's the snubs that are more interesting than the nominated series and performances. Like the Academy Awards, the Emmys suffer from the influence of older voters who fail to keep up. This year, there were rumours that many old Emmy voters had trouble figuring out how to stream some nominated shows.
Turns out, it's all untrue now. That's all so mid-2000s. The 2015 Emmy Award nominations, announced Wednesday morning in Los Angeles are, at first glance, shockingly up-to-date. Transparent, a series that streamed only on Amazon Prime in the U.S., got multiple nominations. Mind you, the Golden Globes got there first in acknowledging Transparent. But, in an amazing twist given the usual, limited range of view of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters, even Canadian Tatiana Maslany got a nomination for Orphan Black.
Overall, HBO leads the nomination pack with 126 nominations. Netflix has 34, AMC 24, FX has 38, Showtime has 18 and, amazingly, Amazon has 12 nominations. In terms of single series or movies getting multiple nominations, Game of Thrones leads with 24. It's followed by FX's American Horror Story with 19, HBO's lovely Olive Kitteridge has 13, the HBO movie Bessie (about blues singer Bessie Smith) has 12 and Mad Men, Transparent and Netflix's House of Cards have 11 each.
There are still Emmy signals that shows which have long since lost their sizzle and quality are overrated. And there are stunning snubs – FX's The Americans, a series of great nuance and psychological depth, is essentially shut out.
In the prestige Outstanding Drama series category, it's Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, Mad Men and Orange is the New Black. Putting Downton in the category is ludicrous. It's as cheesy as all get-out and nominated because it's English cheese. House of Cards doesn't belong either. Nice to see Better Call Saul get recognition. It was a slow-burner that became truly great in late episodes and broke away from what spawned it, Breaking Bad.
Given that this will be the last year to honour Mad Men, the series is very likely to win. And that's fine – a fitting endorsement of its stunning, sustained quality through its entire history, right up to the unforgettable finale.
In the category that at last honours Maslany, Lead Actress in a Drama, the other nominees are Claire Danes for Homeland, Viola Davis for How To Get Away With Murder, Taraji P. Henson for Fox's Empire, Elisabeth Moss for Mad Men and Robin Wright for House of Cards. Fascinating category. While some might see Maslany as utterly deserving for playing multiple roles on multiple seasons of Orphan Black, this could well be a battle between Moss, for her work as Peggy on Mad Men, and Henson for being the incredible, indelible Cookie on the hip-hop drama Empire. It would be a shocker if Henson wins it, but a much-applauded shocker.
In Outstanding Comedy the list is Louie, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Silicon Valley, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Veep. Evidence of Emmy stagnation is there in the continuing inclusion of ABC's Modern Family, which has faded in quality. FX's Louie is deeply deserving, as is HBO's Veep. It would be a surprise if the Emmy went to Netflix's Kimmy Schmidt after only one batch of episodes. There's an outside chance that, in a year in which transgender issues have risen to the surface in the entertainment industry, Transparent wins. It should.
The full list of Emmy nominations is very long. As always, the snubs are bizarre – what about HBO's The Leftovers? But what's truly bizarre is that the list looks almost up-to-date with the vast amount of great TV, and legitimate.