I stopped hoping/predicting Emmy nominations a long time ago because going down that road inevitably leads to disappointment. But foregoing your hopes and dreams allows for another thing: pleasant surprise. Yes, most of the nominations were easily predicable but more so than usual, this year is shaping up to showcase some very deserving ensembles and individuals. One thing I won’t discuss: the snubs. I fear making that list will result in insanity and depression. Forewarning: since my thoughts range from actual having an observation to just “yay!” this is a mishmash of ideas more so than an actual post. For a better breakdown of exactly how this year is surprisingly positive, check out Tim Goodman’s analysis at The Hollywood Reporter.
Downton Abbey: Having returned for a second season to PBS, it was necessary for DA to move from the miniseries category to the drama series category. It took America a year to catch Downton fever, and I am just a little bummed that it happened on a less than stellar season. Nevertheless, I am happy for it to be included. The show even garnered far more acting noms than expected: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, and Jim Carter were all nominated. The Brits are already laughing at our outdated obsession.
Mad Men: What do I love about the Mad Men noms this year? Well, Jared Harris for one (who replaced John Slattery in this category). I was a huge fan of Lane this season and while I could sit here and work myself into a fit over how much I think Weiner blundered his storyline, Jared Harris was awesome throughout. He devastated me for well over a week. I was happily surprised by the nomination for Ben Feldman as Michael Ginsberg in the Guest Actor category. His scene where he describes himself as a martian to Peggy is one of the standout moments of the season. And semi-related: Jon Hamm was nominated for Don Draper but he was also nominated for Guest Actor in 30 Rock. I know he doesn’t consider himself a comedian but he never ceases to be hilarious in comedies and on SNL. He may not be able to win for Mad Men, but he was definitely a standout on the 30 Rock live episode.
American Horror Story: Due to what can be deemed downright mischievous, FX submitted AHS as a miniseries, arguing that each season is a self-contained anthology (never mind the fact this was decided after it aired). Due to a sparse field of competition, this has allowed AHS to CLEAN UP. I am very excited to see Denis O’Hare recognized in the Supporting Actor category because he’s awesome.
Sherlock: And speaking of strategies, PBS entered “A Scandal in Belgravia” into contention as an TV movie. Huh? It is a single episode in a continuous series that involves the same principal characters but okay. I can’t really complain too much because I may in fact be rooting for Benedict Cumberbatch in the Lead Actor category far more than anyone else at the ceremony. Martin Freeman also got some love in the Supporting Actor category so I can’t argue with the results of this subterfuge.
The Year of the Creator/Actor?
Girls: Not only was it nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, but Lena Dunham got nominations for writing, directing, producing and Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Louie: Louis CK may have missed out on getting his actual show nominated but he successfully got nods for writing, directing and as Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Even more impressive? He now holds the record for most nominations for an individual in a single year (7).
Max Greenfield: I know that Zooey Deschanel also got the nomination, but I have to give it up to Max Greenfield for making New Girl one of the funniest new shows on television this year. The evolution of Schmidt was a great thing to watch throughout the season and I am very glad that it was noticed.
Writing in a Comedy Series: Talk about a category that got it completely right. Girls, Parks and Recreation, Louie, and Community (The “Remedial Chaos Theory” episode!!!) all represented. I can’t wait to see what episode picks up the award but they are all so deserving.
The Hour: I just recently devoured the first season of The Hour and adored it so I am sad to see that the series was ignored (or “miniseries” I should say…er) as well as Dominic West and Ben Whishaw. However, Abi Morgan did get a nomination for Outstanding Writing.
Modern Family: I…don’t get it anymore. I watch it and it often makes me laugh but not everyone on the show needs to be nominated particularly since it wasn’t a very strong season. I would nominate Ty Burrell, that’s all folks. Instead of some of the other adults I would also nominate the kid that plays Luke, Nolan Gould, because he makes me laugh more than most of the cast combined.
Before Girls got mired in controversy (it’s too white, it’s too entitled, etc.), what struck me about the pilot were the aspects of Hannah’s life that so closely mirror my own; in fact, in the world of Girls, Hannah is only ahead of me by one year. She has been out of college for two years, purportedly writing her memoirs but really just stumbling through life with her college friends in New York. She has an internship that quickly disappears when she asks to be paid for her duties. Her parents have just informed her that she is cut off; it is time for her to start paying her own way through life. My year of interning away from home is an obvious, hard-to-ignore parallel. But seeing where the comparisons end is at least encouraging – I do not inhabit the same oblivious, self-important world of Hannah. There are some people you encounter and instinctively know: I would never interact with this person or have the occasion to interact with this person in my normal life. We exist in totally different worlds, which makes the show all the more interesting.
This week’s “The Return,” however, hit the nail on the head; it encapsulates my current life in a running time of 30 minutes. (As usual, standard caveats apply; my life is nowhere near as absurd as Hannah’s). And while it is hard to escape the bubble of “this is so me, it’s scary,” it is interesting to see so many others (in particular, television critics that do not share the same traits: older, male) having the same reaction. And their reactions, coming from a place removed from the space Hannah and I both inhabit, resonate even more with what I have long suspected: it’s over. You really can’t go home again, at least home as it was for your formative years. You no longer belong there and in the end, you no longer want to be there for any extended period of time. Take these two, very illustrative breakdowns of what Hannah experiences in “The Return”:
“Sleeping in your childhood bedroom and having your parents take care of you is always a nice fantasy when you’re in your 20s, but at some point, that fantasy has to end, and you have to get back to the process of playing at being a grown-up. Not everything will fit, and maybe someday you go back to the life you once led. But you have to try. You have to give it that shot.” Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club
“The sleepy, narcotic return to quasi-childhood. The sleeping in and fridge-raiding. The ways tiny things your parents say can set you off (“I said, I wasn’t hungry! You don’t know about me!”–just before said fridge raid). The meeting up with old high school friends and realizing you can’t really be in the same place as before. The evenings in front of the TV; the old room, frozen in time. (Here, with a Goo Goo Dolls poster and late-’90s vintage iMac.)…She’s taking a vacation in her past–the sights, the food, the music.”James Poniewozik at TIME
If you substitute the Goo Goo Dolls poster for a hundred other posters that I refuse to take down then you would have my room. One of the last links to my life of old. The moment that really resonated with me was a shot of Hannah, standing amongst fellow members of the class of 2006, attending a benefit (that she had only just heard of that day) for a missing classmate. I recognize her facial expression; I’ve had it. I enjoy going home and seeing the few friends that I have kept in touch with there. But when it comes to interacting with anyone else from my past in a place I no longer frequent, I feel out of place. It is especially disorienting to be someone that left. There are so many people from high school that just carried on, hanging out with the same people in the same places as if graduation was hardly a blip on their radar.
And thinking back to how I wrote my generic college admissions essay on Garden State and consider it one of my favorite films, I already have an inkling of what the next round of realizations entail (mid-late 20s feelings):
Large: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.
Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Large: You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.
So I will check back in on the final step (of home no longer feeling like home) probably after grad school. Instead, what do I plan to do this summer? Take an extended vacation into my past…because I know it will be one of the last chances I get.