Things I Loved This Year: Women Dominate Prestige Dramas

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: on three of the best “prestige” dramas, women rule the roost.

Alison.jpg

Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot are as driven by their respective leading men as shows can be, a fact the titles make abundantly clear. The Americans has a dual focus on its central couple. But on new seasons of each this year, the MVPs were the women.

Nothing against Bob Odenkirk or his character Saul Goodman, a slippery con man who’s constantly caught between good intentions and material desires. Nothing against Rami Malek, who brings aching vulnerability and disaffected sensitivity to the role of Elliott Alderson, a hacker struggling with mental illness and revolutionary impulses. And nothing against Matthew Rhys, who deserves far more than the one Emmy nomination he secured this year for the shape-shifting masterstrokes on display as Philip Jennings, the KGB operative who always has going straight deep in the back of his mind.

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Five Quick Reactions to the 2014 Emmy Nominations

Emmy Nomis

After an entire TV season of speculation, the 2014 Primetime Emmy nominations were finally announced at the ungodly hour of 5:30am Pacific Thursday morning. (Perks of being on the East coast: waking up was no big deal!) As usual, the nominations provoked a mixture of reactions: surprise, resignation, disapproval, even bitterness. As Alan Sepinwall put it in his pessimistic but reasoned analysis, the television business is evolving too quickly for the Emmys to keep up, especially given that the TV Academy has a history of being slow to adjust to major changes in the industry. With a higher volume and wider array of TV shows than ever before, some quality shows are always going to get left behind. But when the Emmys continue to make apologies for shows that they previously loved, it’s worth wondering how long these awards can stay relevant.

Below, here are five of my thoughts about the nominations list. For more on the list’s weirder surprises, here’s my USA Today article from Thursday. For my dream ballots, click here and here.

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Call Me Emmy 2014: Series and Lead Performances

Matthew McConaughey

Presenting the second half of my mock ballot for tomorrow’s Emmy nominations. I’m looking forward to seeing the majority of my hopes crushed in favor of mediocre or unsurprising choices. But that’s the game Emmy fans play. Check out the first part of my ballot for my thoughts on the supporting categories.

Without further ado, the nominations are…

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Call Me Emmy: The Best in Supporting Performances

Dean Norris

The 68th annual Emmy nominations will be announced at 8:30am Eastern/5:30 Pacific this Thursday, July 10. As I did last year, I’ll be formulating my own ballots in this space in the days leading up to the big announcement.

A few caveats:

1. (Copied from my 2013 Call Me Emmy posts) I’m not paid to watch television. I can only watch what I have time to watch, so I can’t nominate undoubtedly high-quality shows like Game of Thrones, Scandal, The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, Shameless, Girls and Veep, just to name a few. In other cases, I can’t nominate a particular show because I haven’t seen the current season, as with Homeland, Downton Abbey and Modern Family.

2. Boiling down a remarkable season of television into just twenty-four commendable supporting performances is a fool’s errand. I’ve done my best to choose my favorites, but if you ask me tomorrow, I might choose slightly different groups. These awards, as much as they have weight in the industry, don’t dictate my tastes, and they should exist primarily to shine a spotlight on the best that television has to offer in a given year.

Without any further ado, the nominees…

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Up Front at the Upfronts: Fox

Brooklyn Nine Nine

This week in New York City, the four broadcast networks are unveiling their fall schedules, complete with renewals, cancellations and pickups. Though a volley of announcements earlier this week robbed the announcements of much of their suspense, and the very idea of a fixed schedule is irrelevant to a large percentage of the TV viewing public, these announcements remain interesting as the last vestiges of an outmoded business model.

Fox is up second. Click here for the network’s fall schedule with HitFix TV reporter Daniel Fienberg’s analysis. Notable points:

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Golden Globes 2014: Who Will Win…and Who Should

Amy Tin

Just for fun, here are my predictions for tomorrow night’s Golden Globe awards, presented without comment. Let’s see how many I get right, based almost entirely on speculation. Bonus: my preferences in every category except the ones in which I’ve seen none of the nominees.

Best Picture, Drama: 12 Years a Slave
My pick: 12 Years a Slave

Best Actress, Drama: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
My pick: Cate Blanchett

Best Actor, Drama: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
My pick: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

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The M&M Report, Episode 15: The Year’s Best Television

Orange is the New Black

Listen to Episode 15 here.

Happy New Year! 2014 promises to be an exciting year, but Devin and I decided to look back before we look ahead. On this week’s episode of The M&M Report, we talked about an amazing year in television. We looked back at six of our favorite shows, debated the merits of binge-watching, discussed the first-world problem of “too much TV” and gave thanks for this TV Golden Age we’re living in.

Keep in mind that we weren’t listing our favorite shows of the year – for instance, I didn’t even talk about Breaking Bad, the show of the year by many standards. Rather, we offered some suggestions of really good shows that we enjoyed and we think you might too.

Tune in to find out which show Devin’s mom abandoned, why Mark likes shows about interesting communities that seem to exist even when the cameras aren’t watching, and what happened to Devin’s plan to binge-watch the entirety of Breaking Bad over winter break.

Devin and I are really exciting to keep the podcast alive in the new year, and we hope you’ll take the journey with us. Thanks for listening!

(In addition to this podcast, you can find my thoughts on the year in television here, here and here.)

Stay tuned for the time breakdown:

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