Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Road to the Emmys: Laura's Dream Emmy Ballot [Contributor: Laura Schinner]

While I may still be campaigning for an awards show called “The Laura’s” where I get to pick all the nominees and winners, it hasn’t quite happened yet. So instead, here are my thoughts on who and what should be nominated for Emmys this year, based off of the shows I watch.

Outstanding Comedy Series:
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 
Jane the Virgin
New Girl
Parks and Recreation

With NBCs Thursday night comedy block a thing of the past and many other network comedies declining in quality, I didn’t think there would be many comedies this season that I was excited about. Taking a look at the nomination ballot though, I realized that while there may not be a ton of brilliant comedies anymore, there are still some to look forward to. Brooklyn Nine-Nine had a great sophomore year, with one of the best ensemble casts on television right now bringing in the laughs week after week. They also flawlessly handled the budding romance between Jake and Amy, proving that Mike Schur should really teach a seminar on how to do relationships in comedies. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia continued to impress, somehow managing to produce one of its all-time best episodes, “Charlie Work,” in their tenth season. It was last year that the gang tried desperately to win an award and this year, more than ever, they deserve it.

Jane the Virgin and Selfie were the only two new comedies I watched this season and I truly believe both deserve nominations. No other show is doing what Jane the Virgin is doing, blending comedy, heart, and drama in such an interesting and compelling way. And no other character has made me laugh more this season than Rogelio de la Vega. While Selfie may not have been as successful as Jane the Virgin, they also deserve an Emmy nomination for what they did in their one and only season. Karen Gillan more than proved that she can do comedy and along with John Cho, made me fall in love with a show that should never have been cancelled.

After a less than stellar third season, New Girl came back this year, returning to the quality of their first two seasons. By far the quirkiest comedy on my list, New Girl was consistently hilarious with each member of the cast proving that on any given week, they could carry the show. If I were to pick the one show that I want to win the Outstanding Comedy Series this year, it would be Parks and Recreation. Even on a bad day, this show is ten times better than Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory, though they’ve never been recognized for it. Their farewell season was an absolute masterpiece, something that every show should aspire to be, and it would be a travesty if they weren’t recognized for it.

Outstanding Drama Series:
The Flash
The 100

I’m more of a comedy person than a drama person, but there were two dramas that really impressed me this year. The Flash had a fantastic freshman season, filled with compelling characters and storylines as well as a lot of emotional moments. The writing was on point all season and the cast really impressed me with their comedic and emotional range. The 100 also came out strong this year, not letting up after an impressive first season. There’s no show that does suspense better than The 100, as they constantly kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. Filled with complex moral dilemmas due to the unique situations these characters find themselves in, The 100 tackles these questions with ease and deserves to be recognized for that.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Chris Geere as Jimmy (You’re the Worst)
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation)

It seems like forever ago that You’re the Worst aired new episodes but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a really funny show. The two leads, Chris Geere and Aya Cash, are both extremely talented actors who somehow make you root for their characters despite the fact that they might actually be the worst. Chris plays a selfish, rude, unemotionally available character yet still somehow manages to make him somewhat likable.

I’ll be the first to admit that before Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I wasn’t a big fan of Andy Samberg. His skits in SNL could occasionally be funny but most of the time I found them more obnoxious than anything. He won me over in Brooklyn Nine-Nine though, with his portrayal of Jake Peralta. Jake may at times be childish and immature but at the end of the day, he cares about his friends and his job and Samberg does a fantastic job showing both sides of the character.

Adam Scott, on the other hand, is an actor who I’ve always loved. His deadpan sense of humor combined with the nerdy side of Ben Wyatt that he portrays has made Ben one of my all time favorite male characters. Many have heralded Ben as the perfect man and that is completely because of what Adam brings to the character.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen (Arrow)
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen (The Flash)

In any given episode of Arrow, Stephen Amell has to play so many different versions of Oliver Queen. Whether it’s playboy billionaire, loving brother, ruthless vigilante, brooding hero, or any other role, Amell takes it all in stride, not misstepping once. Through his facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language you can interpret everything that Oliver is feeling but isn’t saying, no matter what version of him he’s ‘playing’ in any particular scene. Even without the flashback wigs, we’d be able to tell what point Oliver is at in his life because of the subtle differences in Amell’s portrayal of the character. This isn’t an easy thing to do and Amell deserves recognition for it.

If you don’t love Grant Gustin, there might be something wrong with you. There is no one better suited to play Barry Allen than Gustin, as he portrays this somewhat damaged, but somehow still optimistic hero who simply wants to make the world a better place. It’s because of what Gustin brought to this character that we all cried multiple times in the finale, as he struggled with saving his mom but potentially losing his other loved ones in the process.Through the whole season, there’s been something so inherently likable about Barry, that you can’t help but root for him.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Aya Cash as Gretchen (You’re the Worst)
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)

Females are strong as hell and there are a lot of ladies who deserve to be recognized for their amazing work in comedies this past year. Like Chris Geere, Aya Cash manages to make you like a character who on the surface is incredibly selfish and mean. She looks out for herself and can be brutally honest at times, making her an incredibly human character. Because of this, we’re capable of feeling empathy and compassion for her, because she could just as easily be one of us.

There’s no doubt that Ellie Kemper is adorable, something she brings to all of her roles. Her portrayal of the naive, overly trusting, but strong Kimmy Schmidt was no different, as we all instantly fell in love with this character. It’s not easy to make a character who is so naive to the world appear strong and completely in control of her own destiny, but Kemper was able to do this with Kimmy, one of the many reasons why she deserves an Emmy nomination.

Amy Poehler is essentially famous for being nominated for awards but never winning. It makes no sense. There is no actress who deserves an Emmy more than Amy does for her work on Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope is a role model for women everywhere and that’s all thanks to what Poehler brings to the character. For once, I’d like to see her receive all the recognition she deserves for this.

It’s truly incredible what Gina Rodriguez has managed to do with the character of Jane in just one season. This character has been thrown into crazy situation after crazy situation but still manages to remain completely grounded and down to earth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when Jane cries, it is almost impossible to resist crying yourself. It takes a special kind of actress to inspire this kind of a response from an audience but Gina is able to do it every time. There’s no doubt that she is the biggest breakthrough actress of the season and hopefully the nominations will reflect that.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Jaime Camil as Rogelio de la Vega (Jane the Virgin)
Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Joe Lo Truglio as Charles Boyle (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Lamorne Morris as Winston Bishop (New Girl)
Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer (Parks and Recreation)
Jim Rash as Craig Pelton (Community)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series is always the most difficult category to narrow down because there’s so many people deserving of the nomination. This year was no different, as I easily could have had a list of ten or more actors. Jaime Camil was a no brainer for my list, as Rogelio de la Vega was by far my favorite new character of the television season. His giant ego, bromance with Michael, and obsession with hashtags might cross the line to annoying if any other actor was playing him, but with Camil it’s nothing short of hilarious.

Each season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, my favorite character changes based on the storylines and arcs of the characters. This year it was by far Dennis, played by Glenn Howerton. His ability to portray a character who is so narcissistic, deranged, and quite frankly insane, is incredible. Especially because I’m assuming Glenn isn’t anything like Dennis in real life (or at least I’m hoping he isn’t). Dennis had a rough season, his meltdown in the Family Feud episode being a highlight, and I can say without a doubt that there are few actors who can play such a damaged character better than Glenn does.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a true ensemble cast show. That being said, there are a few standouts in that cast, Joe Lo Truglio being one of them. Whether he’s going along with one of Jake’s crazy schemes or waxing poetic about his favorite restaurant, Joe Lo Truglio brings out the best in Charles. Lamorne Morris has also done an incredible job with Winston in this season of New Girl, constantly stealing episodes with his hilarious delivery of one-liners. He doesn’t always have the most material to work with, but anything they give him is sure to be brilliant thanks to what he’s managed to do with the character.

Two former NBC stars, Chris Pratt and Jim Rash, also make my list of dream nominees for supporting actor in a comedy. Over the last year or two, Pratt has become a household name as he’s blown up as a movie star. Before all that though, he stole so many hearts in his portrayal of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation. Immature and childlike, Pratt made Andy one of the most lovable goons on television. He may go by other names, such as Burt Macklin or Johnny Karate, but at the end of the day Andy isn’t afraid to  be himself. For Community, Jim Rash was a light in a season that overall wasn’t that impressive. There’s just something about Rash’s delivery that makes everything funny. While the whole cast can hold their own comedically, it’s Rash who continuously steals scenes through his portrayal of such an eccentric character.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Max Burkholder as Max Braverman (Parenthood)
Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells (The Flash)
Jesse L. Martin as Joe West (The Flash)

I’m going to cheat on this one because technically I haven’t seen the last season of Parenthood yet. I have three more episodes left of season five before I start in on season six but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been incredibly impressed by Max Burkholder’s portrayal of Max Braverman. For such a young actor to be able to play a character with Asperger's so believably is truly amazing. I’m constantly in awe of what Max brings to not only this character, but the show as a whole, and I have no doubt that he was just as good in season six as he is in past seasons.

Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin’s characters both took on the ‘father figure’ role for Barry Allen at different points in the first season of The Flash. For Cavanagh, he spent the start of the season convincing us that his character was a great guy who truly cared about Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and the city as a whole. With the discovery that Wells wasn’t actually Wells, Cavanagh had to do even more with the character, at times showing his true colors while also trying to convince these characters that he still cared about them. Clearly, not an easy task but Cavanagh did it seamlessly. For Martin, most of the season was spent building up his character’s relationships with his daughter, Iris, and his adopted son, Barry. While Joe West didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to Iris, his heart-to-hearts with Barry were some of the best moments of the first season and wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Martin in that role.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate (Parks and Recreation)

Rosa Diaz is a complex character, who on the outside acts as though she doesn’t care about anyone or anything, but who behind that tough exterior is a loyal and caring friend. A lot of what is said by this character is said through facial expressions and subtle hints. Stephanie Beatriz is able to show this with ease, making this character who is so tough seem incredibly vulnerable at times. There’s so many layers to Rosa and Beatriz has done a fantastic job of exploring each layer.

Kaitlin Olson is the only main female cast member in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, acting alongside four hilarious guys. But she more than manages to hold her own among this funny cast through her portrayal of Dee Reynolds. More often than not, Dee is the butt of the joke in It’s Always Sunny, never quite being able to win the respect of the guys. Without them, she’d have a decent shot at living a normal life, but always ends up being pulled into their schemes. Kaitlin does physical comedy incredibly well, whether she’s pretending to be an inflatable waving in the wind or she’s doing a pratfall.

Aubrey Plaza has brought so much to Parks and Recreation through her portrayal of April. This character has perhaps experienced the most growth throughout the seasons, and Aubrey has showed this transition beautifully. Like so many of us, April struggled this season with what she really wanted to do with her life and as someone going through the exact same thing right now, I can say with certainty that Aubrey played it perfectly. The character might be sarcastic and closed off on the outside, but on the inside she really does care about those around her and she has been a fantastic addition to the show.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak (Arrow)
Mae Whitman as Amber Braverman (Parenthood)

This season on Arrow, Felicity had to go through a lot of heartache and despair. One of her best friends died, she went up against her ex-boyfriend, the man she loved refused to be with her, died, came back, and then continued to refuse to be with her. At the same time, she was trying to keep the city safe with the rest of the remaining group. Clearly, a lot going on there. Emily Bett Rickards did a fantastic job showing Felicity’s struggle through all of this. She showed the sadness, the anger, the confusion, and the ever present determination of the character. All through this, she continued to light up our screens each week, not an easy task.

I’m cheating again by putting Mae Whitman on my list. But really, how could I not? She’s managed to make Amber my favorite character on a show full of compelling and complex characters. Her emotional range is more than impressive and her ability to make you connect with her character is top notch. Like most characters on the show, Amber has been through a lot and even though I haven’t seen the last season, I have no doubt that she’ll go through even more before it’s all said and done. Mae can handle anything thrown her way though, and that’s why she  deserves to be nominated for supporting actress in a drama.

So what about you all? Which series and actors/actresses make YOUR ballot? Continue the discussion in the comments below and let Laura know. :)


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