Vince Gilligan has made a seamless Emmy transition. A year after his hit AMC drama Breaking Bad ended its run with back-to-back best drama series Emmy wins, prequel series Better Call Saul, which Gilligan created with Peter Gould, picked up right where Breaking Bad left off. This morning it logged seven Emmy nominations in its awards debut, including drama series, lead actor Bob Odenkirk and supporting actor Jonathan Banks — both alums from the original series reprising their roles.
While the TV Academy had a warm welcome for one breakout freshman drama, it gave a cold shoulder to another: blockbuster Fox newcomer Empire, which was snubbed in the top category. With The Good Wife again left out of best drama series contention, this marks the fourth consecutive year with no commercial broadcast series in the top drama category.
Returning to the best drama series race are last year’s contenders Game Of Thrones, once again the most nominated program with 24 noms, up from 19 last year; Downton Abbey; House Of Cards; and Mad Men. AMC’s first original drama, four-time Emmy winner Mad Men, completed its run with an eighth best series nom, one for each year the period drama has been on the air. Its tally ticked up to 11 nominations, up from eight last year.
Better Call Saul filled the best drama series vacancy left by Breaking Bad. In a wider field as the TV Academy expanded the top drama and comedy series categories to seven nominees, former Emmy winner Homeland made a comeback with a creatively stronger Season 4 after getting snubbed last year. The seventh slot went to Orange Is The New Black, which made an OK transition to the drama side after its petition to be considered a comedy was denied. The show’s overall tally got dinged — it went down from 12 last year to four — but the Netflix show did snag a best series nom.
While three other hourlong dramedies — Jane The Virgin, Shameless and Glee — were allowed into the comedy race, no hourlong series made the cut in the best comedy category, with the snub for well-received CW freshman Jane The Virgin considered a surprise. Also surprisingly, the expanded seven-slot best comedy series category features no multi-camera series, with the biggest comedy on television, The Big Bang Theory, left out for the first time in five years, and lauded sophomore Mom yet to crack the category.
This marks only the second time a traditional multi-camera format is not represented in the best comedy series category; it happened for the first time in 2010. The all-single-camera comedy field includes five-time winner Modern Family, looking to make history with a record sixth win; departed Parks And Recreation; newcomers Transparent and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the latter from the Emmy-winning 30 Rock team of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock; and last year’s nominees Louie, Silicon Valley and Veep.
With NBC developing and ordering Kimmy Schmidt but not getting it on the air, with the completed series moving to Netflix, 2015 ties last year for the fewest broadcast entries ever (two: Modern Family, Parks & Rec) in the top comedy series category, which only four years ago featured an all-broadcast field. With the complete drama shutout, 2015 also ties 2014 for the fewest total combined best series nominations (two) for ad-supported broadcast shows in history. Modern Family saw its tally shrink to a series-low six nominations, including its fewest acting nominations ever — two, for previous winners Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen — and no writing or directing nomination for the first time.
While broadcast TV lost the battle for Emmy dominance to cable years ago, 2015 also is the year when the streaming services overtook the U.S. broadcast networks as Netflix and Amazon combined to score four best drama/comedy series nominations, a high mark for digital platforms.
Just like Netflix did two years ago, Amazon made a splashy Emmy debut, shooting up from zero nominations last year to 12, powered by Transparent‘s 11 mentions. Transparent tied AMC’s Mad Men and Netflix House Of Cards as the second-most-nominated series behind GOT. HBO again was the most nominated network with 126 noms, up from last year’s 99 and the most in more than a decade.
While freshman broadcast series struck out in the top categories, they fared better in the lead acting fields, with Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson and How To Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis nominated for best drama actress and Black-ish‘s Anthony Anderson and The Last Man On Earth‘s Will Forte for best comedy actor.
It was a solid year for diversity with two black actors nominated in both the best actress in a drama series category (Henson, Davis) and best actor in a comedy series (Anderson, Don Cheadle for House Of Lies). Several other minority performers — Empire‘s Terrence Howard, previous nominee Kerry Washington of Scandal, Jane The Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez and Fresh Off The Boat‘s Constance Wu — also had been considered strong contenders.
The biggest surprise in the crowded best actress in a drama series category was the omission of The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies, a two-time Emmy winner for the CBS legal drama, including last year. One of last year’s biggest snubs, the overlooking of Tatiana Maslany, has been corrected, with the Orphan Black leading lady landing her first Emmy nomination alongside returning nominees Robin Wright of House Of Cards, Claire Danes of Homeland and Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men.
The Newsroom never reached the critical heights of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, ending its three-season run without a best series nomination. But its star Jeff Daniels nabbed a third consecutive nomination following his surprise 2013 win. He is joined by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm, who earned his eighth consecutive nomination. He (as well the rest of the Mad Men cast) is still looking for a first Emmy victory. Last year, he became the actor with most nominations (seven) not to have won an Emmy. If the eighth time does not prove to be the charm, Hamm has a second chance this year with a guest-starring nomination on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Four years after winning an Emmy for the final season of Friday Night Lights, Kyle Chandler is back in contention in the lead drama actor category for Netflix’s freshman Bloodline, which didn’t make the cut for best series but landed two acting noms — for Chandler and breakout supporting actor Ben Mendelsohn. Chandler and Daniels are facing fellow former nominee Kevin Spacey of House Of Cards as well as Odenkirk and Ray Donovan‘s Liev Schreiber, scoring his first Emmy nomination for the Showtime drama.
The lead actor in a comedy series race was blown wide open with one of the most shocking snubs, of The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons — who had been nominated the last six years, winning four times. This means that we will have a first-time winner in the category, which features newbies Anderson, Forte and Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Tambor of Transparent as well as returning nominees Cheadle, Matt LeBlanc of Episodes and William H. Macy of Shameless.
Nine years after scoring her first lead actress in a comedy series nomination for The Comeback, LeBlanc’s former Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow nabbed a second nomination in the category for the second installment of the cult HBO series. The stars of two departing series, Nurse Jackie‘s Edie Falco and Parks & Recreation‘s Amy Poehler, are making a final showing (for now). This is Falco’s sixth nomination for Nurse Jackie — she won in 2010 — 13th Emmy nomination overall and 12th in the lead actress category (comedy or drama), tying Angela Lansbury as the most nominated lead actress series performer. Rounding out the category is comedy’s new it girl, Amy Schumer of Inside Amy Schumer; veteran Lily Tomlin of Grace And Frankie; and front-runner Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Veep, who is looking to extend her streak to four consecutive wins.
Elsewhere, HBO’s offbeat comedy Getting On scored its first Emmy nomination in the supporting actress category for co-star Niecy Nash.
Several actors pulled off double nominations, Hamm for Mad Men and Kimmy Schmidt, Allison Janney for Mom and Masters of Sex (she won for both last year), and Louis C.K. for Louie and for hosting Saturday Night Live. The multi-hyphenated Louis C.K. again landed a slew of noms (six), including for writing and directing, with Kimmy Schmidt co-creator Tina Fey also getting noms for guest starring on the Netflix comedy as well as co-writing the SNL 40th Anniversary special and the Golden Globes.
The split of the best variety series category into talk and sketch helped sketch series such as Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele and Drunk History and IFC’s Portlandia to land best series noms alongside stalwart Saturday Night Live. But on the talk side, HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher did not get a best series nom for the first time in a decade. A newcomer, HBO’s Last Week Tonight With Jon Oliver, and departing veteran, Late Show With David Letterman, which had not been nominated in the category in six years, joined returning nominees, back-to-back winner The Colbert Report, in its final Emmy hurrah; The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, which is heading into a host changeover; Jimmy Kimmel Live; and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The reality-competition series category continues to be frozen in time, with the same nominees year after year: The Amazing Race, Dancing With The Stars, Project Runway, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice.