Best Drama Series
Winner - Breaking Bad
Runners Up - Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Parenthood
Commentary - Every year that I do the television awards, picking the winners seems to get a bit harder, particularly in the drama categories, where cable channels (and a few broadcast ones) have created compelling dramas. So this year, in a close call I decided to go for the last season of the incredible Breaking Bad. Not only was this season, like its previous ones, utterly compelling (and I can't wait to see how it ends), but it was simply the icing on the cake of one of the best television dramas of all time. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and the entire cast were simply out of this world, the drama was fierce, unrelenting, and entertaining as hell, and its end will leave a huge void in primetime drama programming that may never be filled.
Best Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory
Runners Up - Bunheads, Modern Family, Louie
Commentary - Go ahead and grab your pitchforks and torches, because yes, I am a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory, and yes I think that as the show has aged, added new characters, and developed those characters, it has also gotten better with time. This season featured some great storylines that really showcased the chemistry and talent of its cast. Furthermore, while some may label me a populist, no one can deny that The Big Bang Theory is not just a sitcom or a television show, but it is a pop culture phenomenon that has exploded and continues to rise in ratings, fans, and awards attention with each passing year. But I could not leave this category without also recoginizing one of the best comedies on television: 30 Rock. Sadly, the show has left us, but for seven seasons, Tina, Alec, Jane, and the whole cast made us laugh out loud with intelligent humor that will be sorely missed.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Bryan Cranston "Breaking Bad"
Runners Up - Jeff Daniels "The Newsroom"
Commentary - The whole cast of Breaking Bad seems to top themselves with each new season, but the heart and soul, and the biggest reason it has been such a success is because of Bryan Cranston. His mix of evil and humanity, and his ever-evolving character has been one of the most facsinating stories to watch on television in the last decade. This season, he once again stepped his game up and proved why he keeps getting nominated, and winning Emmys for this incredible role.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Kerry Washington "Scandal"
Runners Up - Vera Farmiga "Bate's Motel" and Keri Russell "The Americans"
Commentary - Let's face it, Scandal is not one of those classy, high-minded dramas like Downton Abbey, Homeland, or Mad Men (all of which are fantastic by the way), but instead, the mind of Shonda Rhimes has brought us one of the most addictively entertaining, and yes sometimes ridiculous and trashy, shows on television. Rhimes also made the brilliant decision to cast the under-appreciated and talented Kerry Washington. The show got off to a slow start, but in this second season it has exploded onto the scene, and a lot of credit goes to Washington's portrayal of Olivia Pope. She is fierce, yet vulernable, and no matter what crazy shenanigans Pope and her team face, Washington is simply stunning, creative, and classy week in and week out.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Jake Johnson "New Girl"
Runners Up - Alec Baldwin "30 Rock", Louis C.K. "Louie", and Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory"
Commentary - One of the best moves in this year's Emmy race was bumping Jake Johnson into the lead slot for New Girl. While I think that the Jess/Nick love story has taken some of the quirk out of New Girl, I also think that it has added so much heart to the show that I am willing to go along for the ride. I personally thought that Jake Johnson's Nick was one-note last year, but the writers have given him a plethora of juicy storylines this season, and Johnson has handled them with ease and a lot of heart and humor, proving that he is one of the best leading comedy actors on television today.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Sutton Foster "Bunheads" and Tina Fey "30 Rock"
Runners Up - Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Veep" and Amy Poehler "Parks & Recreation"
Commentary - Sorry for the ties, but get over it. First and foremost, I cannot let 30 Rock end without giving Tina Fey at least one of my awards. She has proven herself to be one of the funniest comedians on television, and her Liz Lemon will go down in pop culture as one of the greatest television characters of all time. Apparently she is going to return to us soon on television, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it cannot come soon enough. But I also wanted to take a moment to honor the performance of Sutton Foster in Bunheads. The show may still be in limbo about renewal, which is a true shame, because it was a huge breath of fresh air this past year on cable television, and proved again why Amy Sherman-Palladino should have a television show. A lot of credit goes to the talented Sutton Foster. I was worried about the transition to television from Broadway, and about the obvious comparisons to Lorelei Gilmore. But Foster was able to break out of those stereotypes and make Michelle her own, while remaining heartfelt, hilarious, and unique along the way.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau “Game of Thrones” and Larry Hagman "Dallas"
Runners Up - Michael Cudlitz "Southland"
Commentary - Ok so another tie, shoot me. A really close race, but in the end the really winner this year was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who proved that he really can do more than be an ass on Game of Thrones. In A Storm of Swords, Jaime is finally given a real storyline, and Coster-Waldau stepped up to the plate, proving his critics wrong by tackling these juicy storylines with ferocity and focus. He simply knocked it out of the park. But I am also a sentimental fool, and I wanted to take the time to honor another scene-stealer who unfortunately has left us. In the original, and in the reboot, Larry Hagman stole every scene he was in, and chewed through his soap opera storylines with ease as J.R. on Dallas. His death has had a tremendous impact on the show, but it was his life, and his great performance for all these years that will be remembered no matter how long Dallas runs this time. Now that is a true testament to the power off Larry Hagman, and his irreplaceable J.R.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Monica Potter "Parenthood"
Runners Up - Christine Baranski "The Good Wife" and Elizabeth McGovern "Downton Abbey"
Commentary - As many of you know, I think Parenthood is one of the mot underrated, and best television dramas currently on the air. I will admit though that there were some storylines this season I felt were not as sharp as previous seasons. But anyone who watched the show this season should have been complete engrossed by Christina's battle with cancer. That is because of the surprisingly wonderful talents of Monica Potter. She was utterly convincing, devastatingly emotional, and incredible human this entire season, and she made me cry, made my jaw drop, and caused me to be glued to my screen week after week. An incredible performance, and a standout among one of the best casts on television.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Simon Helberg "The Big Bang Theory"
Runners Up - Tony Hale "Veep/Arrested Development" and Eric Stonestreet "Modern Family"
Commentary - For many years, I thought that Howard Wolowitz was the most obnoxious character on television, despite the obvious talents of the actor portraying him. But in the last season, with his marriage to Bernadette blossoming, and his astronaut tour of space, the writers have finally found the perfect balance for Howard, and I am really starting to appreciate his character, and I think that he along with another character (see below), have become part of the important glue that is holding the gang together. While I am finally starting to like Howard, I have always appreciated the talents of Simon Helberg who is incredibly funny, but can also nail the dramatic moments. This season, he has finally gotten a chance to shine, and the results have been terrific.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Kaley Cuoco "The Big Bang Theory"
Runners Up - Kelly Bishop "Bunheads" and Eden Sher "The Middle"
Commentary - The other character that holds the gang of The Big Bang Theory together is, and has always been Penny. For years now, Kaley Cuoco has been the glue of the show, and her effervescence, humor, and sarcasm are not only laugh out loud funny, but she has always been the perfect foil to our group of geeks. This season, she may have received less screen time, but she has made it all count, and continues to develop her character and make us all laugh. I think that it was about damn time she got recognized.
Best TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - American Horror Story: Asylum
Runners Up - Behind the Candelabra and Political Animals
Commentary - I was kind of disappointed by Behind the Candelabra. Douglas and Damon were fantastic, but I think that the hype behind the project clouded my view. That being said, it was still pretty good, as was the underrated White House themed Political Animals. But this year, Ryan Murphy and his team topped themselves with their new chapter in the American Horror Story anthology entitled Asylum. It was crazy, creepy, shocking, and wonderfully entertaining. It kept you guessing week to week, and it featured one of the finest casts on television.
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Michael Douglas "Behind the Candelabara"
Runners Up - Matt Damon "Behind the Candelabra"
Commentary - The reason, I think, that Behind the Candelabra worked (although not as well as I would have hoped) was because of the lead performances of Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (especially since most of the supporting performances were weak at best). Of the two, the clear winner for me was Douglas. His embodiment of Liberace, and his lavishness were a spectacle to behold, and it was nice to see such a talented actor take a rish and challenge himself. And the final result was worth the risk.
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Elisabeth Moss "Top of the Lake"
Runners Up - Jessica Lange "American Horror Story: Asylum" and Sigourney Weaver "Political Animals" Commentary - I love Jessica Lange, and while she was great on this years entry of American Horror Story, I think that the real MVP of the season was one of her co-stars (see below). Sigourney Weaver also held her own in Political Animals as a Hilary Clinton-esque figure that must traverse a tricky Washington world. But this year, one of the best actresses working on TV out did herself. Elisabeth Moss may have been underused this season on Mad Men, but she was fantastic in Sundance's Top of the Lake. She matched the excellent writing and directing with ease, and she managed to balance emotional vulnerability with gritty dramatic acting brilliantly.
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - (TIE) James Cromwell "American Horror Story: Asylum" and James Wolk "Political Animals"
Runners Up - Evan Peters "American Horror Story: Asylum" and Peter Mullan "Top of the Lake"
Commentary - The first one is obvious. As the devious doctor (who ends up not being so bad), James Cromwell was scary as hell, and a towering presence in Asylum (and not just because he was so tall). But the other one might suprise some people. James Wolk, who plays the stable older son Douglas, may not have had the baitiest role in Political Animals, and in fact up until the last episode where he has an affair with Carla Gugino's Susan, he really avoids the vices of many of his family members. But I think that Wolk brought a sense of warmth to his role, a sense of duty, and I firmly believe that the whole miniseries would have been a disaster if he had not been at its heart.
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Sarah Paulson "American Horror Story: Asylum"
Runners Up - Lily Rabe "American Horror Story: Asylum" or Ellen Burstyn "Political Animals"
Commentary - Jessica Lange is always great, but this season, the real MVP of American Horror Story was the fantastic Sarah Paulson. As an investigative reporter who is pulled into the insane world of the asylum, only to be helped in her escape by the Bloody Face killer, Paulson had a lot of meaty material, and she simply nailed it with emotion, ferocity, and a balls-out approach that matched well with the insanity of the twisting storyline.
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Dylan Baker "The Good Wife"
Runners Up - Jimmy Smits "Sons of Anarchy" and Matthew Perry "The Good Wife"
Commentary - In my first ever attempt to pick my favorite guest performances, I am (mostly) sticking with recurring characters that constantly bring their A-game. For now four seasons, Dylan Baker's creepy, psychotic, yet kind of likeable Colin Sweeney has provided a plethora of great storylines for The Good Wife. This year's storyline (one of his storylines this season) involving his new girl, and her shenanigans in court to try to coax the truth out of him was brilliantly done, and even when he is forced into a corner, Dylan Baker brutally, yet with a deadly smile on his face, manages to wiggle out of every tough spot. He has created a memorable and delightfully psychotic television character.
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Carrie Preston "The Good Wife"
Runners Up - Stockard Channing "The Good Wife"
Commentary - I get kind of gitty every time I see that Carrie Preston is going to be in an episode of The Good Wife. Her character Elsbeth, has now appeared in nine episodes over four seasons, and every time she has, this season being no exception, she steals every scene that she is in. Her goofy, quirky outer appearce, that masks a tiger and a hell of a good lawyer underneath provides The Good Wife with energy, entertainment, and a lot of surprising humor as well. That is because Carrie Preston has done such a magnificent job creatings an awesome recurring character.
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Bob Newhart "The Big Bang Theory"
Runners Up - David Lynch "Louie" and Rob Reiner "New Girl"
Commentary - In his long television career, Bob Newhart has never won an Emmy award. Let me repeat that: Bob Newhart has never won an Emmy Award. It is hard to believe, but this year he will probably have another shot at glory, and by God he deserves it. He plays an aging science television personality whose lifelessness after all these years has a huge impact on Sheldon, who considers him a hero. He doesn't deliver his lines at rapid speed, but his droll delivery and inside jokes, make his performance a guest spot worth remembering.
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Elaine Stritch "30 Rock"
Runners Up - Melissa McCarthy "Saturday Night Live"
Commentary - Elaine Stritch has been a recurring character on 30 Rock since season 1, and everytime she appears as Jack's mother, she blazes on the screen with that smart mouth and wicked sense of humor that has made Stritch such a force of nature in comedy for decades. This season, as in every season, her episode was the one that I looked most forward to, and she nailed it as always. It will be sad next season knowing I won't get to see her strut her stuff again.
Best Animated Program
Winner - Archer
Runners Up - The Simpsons and Family Guy
Commentary - For the second year in a row, I am going with my current favorite animated show on the air. I still love my Family Guy, The Simpsons, and South Park, but all of them have kind of hit a plateau. In contrast, each and every week Archer manages to surprise me, make me literally laugh out loud until I am crying, and always leaves me wanting more. Plus, the voice performances of Jessica Walter, H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, and the best of the bunch Amber Nash as Pam are spot on, and they make you forget that you are only hearing them.