Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jenn's Pick: If I Had an Emmys Ballot in 2016...

It’s that time of year again, folks — time for the Emmys to release their nomination ballots and for a bunch of (probably) middle-aged white people on the committee to nominate the same shows we’ve seen nominated hundreds of times before. Can you tell that awards season makes me bitter? The Golden Globes, in the past, have generally been a little bit more progressive than the Emmys are, for whatever reason. But as popular shows begin to wind down, I have hope that nomination committees will start watching more nuanced, varied television than they have in the past.

I watch a lot of television, but sifting through the pages of nominations, I realize how little television I actually do watch. I’m not a fan of Game of Thrones or Homeland or The Walking Dead, all of which accumulate numerous nominations during awards season. But as I’ve expanded my television repertoire to be a little more inclusive, my Emmys dream ballots have become more inclusive too! As I read through the potential nominees, I selected what I would place onto my ballot, if I had the opportunity. As I’ll say throughout the piece, these picks aren’t reflective of what I think will WIN (I will speculate throughout the categories on who I think probably will), but of what I would love to see acknowledged this year. And these are ONLY based on what was submitted in the above nomination ballots (so no Arrow nominations, since they are not present this year apart from writing; no New Girl writing nominations since they're not submitted, etc.).

Since there are dozens of categories, most of which are technical in nature, I’m sticking only to the writing and acting categories for the sake of this post. Ready? Let’s dive in!


  • “Josh Just Happens to Live Here!”, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • “The Opening Night Excitation,” The Big Bang Theory
  • “Chapter Twenty-Three,” Jane the Virgin
  • “Parents,” Master of None
  • “Kimmy Finds Her Mom!”, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Given the success of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I can definitely see the pilot being among the nomination ballot this year. The show, in spite of its small numbers, has gained so much critical acclaim that it’s extremely difficult for committees to ignore Rachel Bloom or this spectacular musical comedy. For as much as everyone gripes about it, The Big Bang Theory still has a few gems among the mire, chief among which is this season’s “The Opening Night Excitation.” It was really well-written, and combined just enough heart with the humor. Even though I don’t watch Jane the Virgin anymore, the season’s premiere was a reminder of what a talented cast and crew the show has, including its writing staff. “Parents,” if I’m honest, is probably going to take this award. If it doesn’t, it really should. Master of None could have submitted all of its episodes and I would have been okay with it (“Nashville” or “Mornings” were also two stellar stand-outs, as well as the finale). And of course, this category would be remiss if it didn’t include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. While I’ve heard mixed reviews of the second season, the finale was definitely one of its strongest episodes.


  • “Nevermore,” The 100
  • “The Writing Room,” The Magicians
  • “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Daredevil
  • “AKA Ladies Night,” Jessica Jones
  • “The Collapse of Nature,” Orphan Black
  • “Run,” Quantico
Yes, I harped on The 100 a lot this season because the writing was pretty awful and nonsensical. But “Nevermore” was a stellar and tense episode of television. “The Writing Room,” similarly was twisty and turvy and the emotional stakes of that episode were so high. I spent the majority of the episode on the edge of my seat, anxious for the heroes to escape. Daredevil and Jessica Jones are two extremely dark series, but both of the episodes above in the ballot are there because they’re incredibly strong and present really complex issues of faith, morality, and abuse in ways that aren’t patronizing or sensationalized. Jessica Jones, in particular, managed to take a harrowing subject matter and use it to empower its characters. Orphan Black is just stellar, and its premiere was no exception. The show’s pacing and tightly-written narrative are always on point. In spite of rocky writing afterward, “Run” was — as a pilot — pretty top-notch for Quantico. It delivered lots of great character-driven moments, and also energy and shock value.


  • Aziz Ansari, Master of None
  • Jake Johnson, New Girl
  • Timothy Omundson, Galavant
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
This category is actually one of the few that I didn’t have enough nominees in my dream ballot. The funny thing is that typically I watch many more comedies than I do dramas. But this year, it seems like comedies have slipped down in my “priority” list, leaving room for a lot of dramas. Nevertheless, there are some actors who deserve recognition for their work. This category is likely going to end up being dominated by Jeffrey Tambor, Don Cheadle, and probably Jim Parsons (deservedly, in his case because he’s done really good work with Sheldon Cooper this year). But I would really love if Aziz Ansari got recognized for his hilarious and consistent performance in Master of None. The show is a quiet comedy in that most of the subject matter feels really normal, but Aziz utterly shines. Could someone — anyone, please? — grant Jake Johnson a nomination for New Girl already? His second season performance was impeccable, and this year he had much more heavy lifting to do, as the anchor of the cast in the midst of Zooey Deschanel’s absence. His scenes with Megan Fox were fantastic. As for Timothy Omundson, I dare you to watch him sing to a lizard and NOT dissolve into a fit of giggles. Omundson has likability and charisma as King Richard, and I’m so glad that the second season of Galavant really focused on how hilarious he can be.


  • Charlie Cox, Daredevil
  • Patrick J. Adams, Suits
  • Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who
  • Jake McDorman, Limitless
  • Jason Ralph, The Magicians
  • Aidan Turner, Poldark
Okay, this is a category that I’m actually very proud of and would love to see actually happen (but know most on here won’t actually get nominations — not with House of Cards and Better Call Saul still in the running, in addition to new shows and sure-to-be nominees like Rami Malek). Charlie Cox is absolutely spectacular as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, and I hope the show gets some recognition this year at the Emmys. Patrick J. Adams really held the cast together this season on Suits. Typically I would write Gabriel Macht into this category and while his performance was also incredible (as was his panic attack storyline), Adams really sold the final stretch of episodes and proved that he was the main character of the show (something I often forget). Though I loathed the writing of this season, Doctor Who’s star, Peter Capaldi, absolutely deserves every recognition possible. It’s clear that he’s playing on a whole different level whenever he steps onto the screen. He is a force to be reckoned with.

In light of its cancellation, I would love to see Jake McDorman nab some sort of honor or award for playing Brian Finch. His strength is that he’s extremely likable, silly, and yet can transition so quickly into drama that it leaves you a little breathless. He was nothing short of spectacular this year on Limitless. Jason Ralph, meanwhile, was such a great lead this year on The Magicians. He managed to make me root for Quentin, even when I didn’t necessarily agree with what he was doing. Jason manages to play Q’s awkwardness very well, too, without it coming across as forced or not genuine. And what can I say about Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark? Aidan’s acting was absolutely phenomenal. He’s very subtle and deliberate in what he does and how he layers Ross Poldark’s emotions so that the audience can see them peel back, layer by layer. Not many actors can sell every emotion they’re given, but Aidan Turner really does.


  • Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Sutton Foster, Younger
  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I really hope that Rachel Bloom takes this (but as long as it’s still on the air, that honor might always go to Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus), because she’s an immensely talented actress who has brought so much life into a character who — in the hands of a lesser actress — could have been a stereotype or a trope. Rachel has made Rebecca Bunch wild and crazy, but also wildly sympathetic. The audience genuinely cares about her, even if at some points in the show she really is both the hero AND the villain. Sutton Foster’s deadpanned humor and her physical comedy are what sold me on her as an actress and they’re what make her so special in Younger. Not only can Sutton deliver jokes with preciseness, but she can also sell those lines with her facial expressions. Even though she was absent for a chunk of the season, Zooey Deschanel absolutely deserves a nomination for “A Chill Day In” alone. It was some of her absolute best work. I loved, too, that we got to see a more vulnerable side to Jessica Day at the end of the season. Of course, Ellie Kemper continues to slay it as the eager, bright Kimmy Schmidt. I liked that we got more substance to Kimmy though this season, and saw her struggle (as well as succeed).


  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Priyanka Chopra, Quantico
  • Eliza Taylor, The 100
  • Krysten Ritter, Jessica Jones
  • Stella Maeve, The Magicians
  • Jennifer Morrison, Once Upon A Time
And now we’re into a category that definitely deserves to just be filled with nominations for Tatiana Maslany. Everyone has already said everything about her that makes her so incredible, so I don’t have anything original to add. Tatiana is incredible. The way that she makes you forget that she’s just ONE woman is mind-blowing. She has tics and quirks and mannerisms for each character, from the way they say lines to the way they stand or sit in a scene. It’s honestly incredible and she deserves all of the awards. This season of Quantico was insane, but Priyanka Chopra’s performance was the most consistent element about it. Her ability to be dry and witty in one scene, and frantic in the next is impressive. She has a confidence that just radiates onscreen. This season of The 100 was rough, but Eliza Taylor gave it everything she had in spite of the erratic storylines. Perhaps it helped that she was the one character who wasn’t brainwashed, but it was never more evident this year that Eliza Taylor has a commanding presence. Whether she’s weeping or angry or quietly pleading, Eliza always knows exactly how to portray Clarke Griffin realistically and honestly.

Krysten Ritter was incredible as Jessica Jones this season. Brash, unapologetic, and yet still deeply hurting, Krysten conveyed so many different facets of Jessica Jones’ personality as well as her strength. I would be shocked if she didn’t get a nomination. Stella Maeve and Jennifer Morrison are great because they elevate whatever they’re in. Stella had a really difficult arc toward the end of the season but acted it totally and completely beautifully. And Jennifer Morrison delivers in spades whatever she is handed on a script. Once Upon A Time might not always be stellar, but Jennifer Morrison is.



  • Lamorne Morris, New Girl
  • Max Greenfield, New Girl
  • Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin
  • Santino Fontana, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Colin Hanks, Life in Pieces
I always have difficulty with this category, and this year it is even more difficult to narrow the playing field to six men. Between Veep, Modern Family, Saturday Night Live, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I’m doubtful that New Girl will get its due but man, it really needs to. Lamorne Morris was the all-star of this season — he delivered consistency in spades. And Winston had such beautiful character growth too, in his personal and professional life. Lamorne was once an underappreciated and overlooked cast member, but he broke out this season and made New Girl his own. Similarly, co-star Max Greenfield took part of the spotlight with Schmidt and Cece’s wedding. His scenes were hysterical, and “Road Trip” was one of his finest episodes to date. Titus Burgess outdid himself in this season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, by adding depth and layers to Titus (the character). It was wonderful to see him as his eccentric self, but also a bit more grounded in a relationship.

Jaime Camil is perfect and hilarious and Rogelio deserves his own category. You can tell that Jaime really has fun with his character. Apart from his impeccable comedic timing and delivery of one-liners, Jaime’s facial expressions are utter perfection. As pretty much a curmudgeon and straight man on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Santino Fontana still managed to deliver a plethora of laughs (I cannot stop laughing at “I Gave You A UTI”) and also some really great moments of heart. Meanwhile, over on Life in Pieces, Greg is hilarious and that is all thanks to the incredible Colin Hanks and his portrayal of the character. I love Greg so much, you guys. So much.


  • David Tennant, Jessica Jones
  • Jon Bernthal, Daredevil
  • Tate Ellington, Quantico
  • Hale Appleman, The Magicians
  • Jordan Gavaris, Orphan Black
  • Arjun Gupta, The Magicians
  • Jesse L. Martin, The Flash
It’s time to discuss dramatic supporting actors who, quite frankly, are the backbones of their shows. David Tennant delivered such a chilling, terrifying performance in Jessica Jones that I’ll be really surprised if he gets overlooked this year. The same holds true of Jon Bernthal, whose arc was just... beyond words. Jon did an amazing job in portraying the humanity of Frank Castle and the raw anger of The Punisher. That monologue in the graveyard deserves to win — not even nominate, but WIN — him an award. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and powerful, just like his character. Tate Ellington helped Priyanka Chopra held Quantico together this year, and his final episode was just a masterpiece. Tate elevates the material he is given and delivered such consistency in his dramatic acting (and comedic, too) this year. Hale Appleman and Arjun Gupta are so astounding on The Magicians. They’re each broken and jaded in different ways — Hale’s character appears to be very carefree on the surface, but he’s had to do some dark things in order to survive this year. Similarly, the pain that Arjun’s character experienced was unmatched, and I’m excited to see what both do next year.

Jordan Gavaris is the perfect counterpart to all of Tatiana Maslany’s clones on Orphan Black, but what’s incredible is that he also has made a name for himself, too, setting Felix apart as a stand-out character in his own right. I love that we’re getting the chance to explore more of his arc as the show wears on. And even though I stopped watching The Flash half-way through the second season, Jesse L. Martin deserves all of the awards for the emotional work he delivers week in and week out on the show.


  • Zoe Lister-Jones, Life in Pieces
  • Donna Lynne Champlin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Hilary Duff, Younger
  • Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Melissa Rauch, The Big Bang Theory
  • Hannah Simone, New Girl
Just as the supporting actors category was jam-packed, so is the supporting actress category! First of all, if you haven’t watched Life in Pieces yet to experience Zoe Lister-Jones’ deadpanned and sarcastic humor, please do. She’s incredible in how well she delivers lines of dialogue. Honestly, she’s one of my favorite parts of the show and definitely my favorite character. What would Rebecca Bunch be without her mom — er, friend — Paula? Donna Lynne Champlin excels at bringing energy and scheming to a whole new level with Paula. We got to see her eccentricities on full display (often through song) and they were as beautiful as they were funny. Hilary Duff has always been a favorite of mine, and as Kelsey Peters, she delivers snappy lines and funny facial expressions. Hilary has a commanding presence on screen too, which she uses to her advantage by committing to farcical storylines (the dress she had to be cut out of!) and selling them totally. Jane Krakowski is essentially Jenna Maroney in everything she does, and I love that about her. I love how we got a lot more depth this season though to who Jacqueline was and what motivates her. It was fun to see some substance to her silliness. Melissa Rauch is the funniest actress on The Big Bang Theory and never gets appreciated. I adore her, especially this season. Meanwhile, Hannah Simone had what might have been her best and most hilarious year yet, especially during “A Chill Day In” and “The Apartment.” Cece went from just being “Jess’ friend” to a fully-realized, really well-written character. Hannah Simone deserves credit for all she’s done, too.


  • Olivia Taylor Dudley, The Magicians
  • Yasmine Al Massri, Quantico
  • Lindsey Morgan, The 100
  • Sarah Rafferty, Suits
  • Rachael Taylor, Jessica Jones
  • Deborah Ann Woll, Daredevil
  • Elodie Yung, Daredevil
This category was really difficult to narrow down, so check out all of the amazing characters! Olivia Taylor Dudley shone this year as Alice and she literally became the hero of the story in the end. Alice’s awkwardness is only matched by her intelligence. She has been a literal lifesaver to the team, but I also love that Olivia portrays Alice’s vulnerabilities just as strongly as she portrays her strengths. Yasmine Al Massri played two different characters on Quantico this year and did an amazing job distinguishing between those two. It is amazing how she gave both Nimah and Raina separate identities, ways of saying words, and personalities. Raina is such a sweet, gentle character and Nimah is a bit tougher and rebellious. I love Yasmine’s performance as both. Lindsey Morgan absolutely sold “Nevermore,” and has been an amazing light in such a dark season of The 100. Raven Reyes is an amazing character and Lindsey keeps finding more compelling ways to convey that. Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen is the heart of Suits. This season wasn’t really Donna-focused, but Sarah brought out her A-game when it came to scenes between Harvey and Donna. She plays her character with such honesty and power that is magnetic.

Rachael Taylor was an utter joy to watch in Jessica Jones. As Trish, she was the woman who seemed like she would be a side character in Jessica’s narrative, but Trish kicked serious butt and Rachael managed to take a character who could have been one-dimensional and turn her into such an amazingly fierce woman. Trish was no one’s partner — she was a leading lady in all of the right ways. Finally, Deborah Ann Woll and Elodie Yung really slayed it on this season of Daredevil. (Marvel and these amazing women, am I right?) Karen Page absolutely and firmly takes charge of her own narrative and destiny this season, and Deborah conveys the way that Karen is both an extremely empathetic character toward others, but is also bold and strong. Her softness is not portrayed as weakness and is the very thing that draws others toward her. Elektra is amazing. There are so many words to describe and define her, but “resilient” is probably the best one. Elodie really understands how deeply pained Elektra is, while also conveying how stubborn and fiery she is, too. Both are heroes on Daredevil.

What would your dream Emmy ballot consist of, based on what is submitted this year? Hit up the comments below and let me know!


  1. Even finding that the Golden Globe tries to be a little more progressive, it still fails dramatically, Lady Gaga winning proves that, and despite Emmy fail (almost every year) in comedy (Community anyone?), I think in drama they can be a little more consistent, though it has its errors in every year (never got over the lack of nomination for Hannibal and The Wire), but there’s a reason why Mad Men and Breaking Bad always won.
    I like your list shows a variety.
    It been a while that watch a comedy show, but despite some people find questionable the second season of Jane, the Virgin, I like a lot, and Gina Rodriguez is an excellent actress who at least should be nominate.
    For Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama, Peter Capaldi should be nominate. period, he made a sensational job, but Wagner Moura (Narcos) made the most difficult role of all, he managed (without writing help) bring a humanization to Pablo Escobar and showed all the complexity of a brutal ,historical and controversial figure.
    I don’t care what happens, David Tennant have to win this category, for me there only one better person this year, Ben Mendelsohn as Dan in Bloodline (but I don’t know if the first season of Bloodline account)

  2. While you've got some good picks here, it appears that you watch about 15 to 20 shows and think they all deserve nominations. That's somewhat ironic considering you accuse traditional Emmy voters of doing basically the same thing, albeit with a different group of shows. You're missing major talent on shows such as The Americans, You're the Worst, The Goldbergs, Fear the Walking Dead, Humans, Fresh Off the Boat, black-ish, Broad City, Better Call Saul, Mr. Robot, Vikings, Bates Motel, Underground, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and more.

    And I'm not sure why you lumped The Walking Dead in with shows "which accumulate numerous nominations during awards season." The Walking Dead actors have received exactly zero nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG awards over the years. And the Walking Dead writers don't have any Emmy noms either.

    1. While I appreciate your comment, I think you missed the point of this post. At the start of it, I didn't claim that I watched all the good television there is. The reason you don't see major talent from the TV shows you listed? Because I do not watch any of those shows. A fact that I actually noted at the beginning of the piece. This isn't meant to be an all-encompassing ballot. In fact, I know there is talent I've failed to recognize. The point is that the talent on this ballot that is deserving is -- more often than not -- the talent that goes overlooked by the Emmys and other major awards shows. I can't nominate something I've never seen, so yeah there are a lot of great shows missing from my dream ballot. If I watched television for a living, maybe I would have some of those listed.

      But thanks for the comment.