The Emmy nominations , bringing with them some surprises and some old groaner bores. Imperfect institution as they are, the Emmys have felt in recent years like they're at least doing some work to repair its reputation after years of doing boneheaded things like not nominating The Wire in more than one category, once. Shows like Louie and Enlightened, small, innovative, unconventional, and staggeringly smart series, are getting nominated for top awards, a welcome change from the years of Boston Legal. But that doesn't mean that the Academy isn't getting anything wrong. They certainly are. There's just more right to balance it out.
While we can't know the exact motivations behind their votes, somehow Academy members have started to pay attention to smaller, trickier stuff. Maybe the chorus of critics, online and off, has finally become loud enough to demand attention. Maybe the screener process works better. Maybe there's just not as much boring sh-t on TV anymore. Whatever the reason, we're seeing a more diverse array of shows, of surprising nominees. Laura Dern scored a nomination for Enlightened, a terrific and tiny show that HBO gave up on after two marvelous seasons. While the show deserves all the accolades, a nod to Dern is at least an honorary acknowledgment of all the good work the series did. Adam Driver, offbeat and potentially off-putting as he is, was nominated for his intense, completely committed performance on Girls. He's nominated alongside three of the four chuckleheads from Modern Family (no love for past winner Eric Stonestreet this year), which means the category isn't changing too rapidly, but hey, he's there, isn't he? Enough voters recognized his oddball appeal to get him into a category with a bunch of stuffy old sitcomers. That's progress!