The Newsroom

EMMY NOMINATIONS!!

Emmy nominations are out!! So... that means it's time for me to post all of my predictions! I won't bother writing out a whole introduction. You know what the Emmys are. If you're new to me and you're just joining from Telemazing, then you should know that some of my predictions will have analysis underneath and some won't. Also I'm mostly just doing the biggest awards (series, lead and supporting actor and actress, all in both comedy and drama), and a select few other categories that just interest me. So. Yeah. Let's do this!

Things in Bold Italics are the Categories
Things in normal text are regular nominees.
Things in italics are my winner predictions.
*Things with an asterisk are series/people I don't think will win because of industry politics or some other reason, but are good enough that they should.

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black

I feel like this one is pretty obvious. It was Mad Men's last season, and the Emmys love giving awards to shows as they're on their way out. It's all about examining a Complicated White Male (which the old, white, male Emmy voters love) in the sixties and seventies (which the old, white, male Emmy voters miss). Add that to the fact that the finale was a huge television event that is still discussed so it's pretty present in the average culturally educated mind, and it makes Mad Men a pretty clear choice to win.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Louie
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep

Similar to Mad Men winning Best Drama, this is Parks and Rec's last chance, especially since it has never won for Best Comedy! It's also a show that's all about love and friendship while still having something to say about politics and domestic and foreign policy, and the Emmys love a show that has an opinion on something outside of its own overall plot arc. Besides, it's a show that just has tons and tons of heart. I think that Veep and Louie are also excellent series, Modern Family has won pretty much every year for the past several years, and Transparent is straight up a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka, Jill Soloway). But Transparent, Louis, and Veep will be back again next year, Modern Family has had it's due, and now it's time for Parks and Rec to get the recognition it deserves. (And if you've also read Yes Please, by Amy Poehler, then you'll understand why I really want her to get her pudding.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Better Call Saul - Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill
Bloodline - Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn
House of Cards - Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood
Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper
The Newsroom - Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy
Ray Donovan - Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Did you know that Jon Hamm has never won an Emmy for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men, even though it's a career making, and beyond that, iconic performance?
If you've read any of my analyses in this post before this, you already understand why I don't think that'll be the case anymore after September 20th.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Empire - Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon
Homeland - Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
House of Cards - Robin Wright as Claire Underwood
How to Get Away with Murder - Viola Davis as Annalise Keating
Mad Men - Elizabeth Moss as Peggy Olson
Orphan Black - Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosmia, Helena, Rachel, and Krystal

Does this really need analysis? The pretentious elite (of which I fully admit that I am a member) that make up the Emmy voters (of which I fully admit that I am not) have finally discovered Orphan Black, and now Tatiana Maslany is going to get her dues.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
black-ish - Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson
Episodes - Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc
House of Lies - Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan
The Last Man on Earth - Will Forte as Phil Miller
Louie - Louis C.K. as Louie
Shameless - William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher
Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman

Between how Transparent just cleaned up at the Golden Globes earlier this year, and the fact that the show is literally just a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka Jill Soloway), while it may not win Best Comedy, it can certainly give this award to Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Maura with grace and humanity, and not a shred of the self-righteousness that comes with an actor who is trying to Make a Point instead of tell a story.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
*The Comeback - Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish
*Grace and Frankie - Lily Tomlin as Frankie
*Inside Amy Schumer - Amy Schumer as Amy
*Nurse Jackie - Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton
Parks and Recreation - Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
*Veep - Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

Guys, this one was actually really, really difficult. Literally any of these women could win, and I would totally understand it, and there would be a part of me that agrees with it. I actually came really close to choosing Edie Falco to win this one as Nurse Jackie is also ending and it's one of those comedies that is really more of a dramady than a comedy. But... she's also won the award for this role already (not to mention previous wins for The Sopranos) and I really think this is the time for Parks and Rec. But really. This is such an over-the-top strong category this year with each of these actresses turning in strong, heartfelt, moving, and hilarious performances. This pick was really, really difficult.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Better Call Saul - Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantrout
Bloodline - Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn
Downton Abbey - Jim Carter as Mr. Carson
*Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
The Good Wife - Alan Cumming as Eli Gold
House of Cards - Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper

Alan Cumming has been consistently nominated for this role. And this year The Good Wife got mostly snubbed. And the Emmys don't really have love for high fantasy. Alan Cumming has been pretty present in the culturally conscious mind after his run with Cabaret earlier this year, and then co-hosting the Tonys with Kristen Chenoweth. There's no one in this category I'm especially excited about, aside from Peter Dinklage (who would really be winning more for his performance last season than this one; he was excellent this season, but he just shone last year in the trial and the finale especially) so... it's pretty much just that it's Alan Cummings' time.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Downton Abbey - Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates
*Game of Thrones - Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Game of Thrones - Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
The Good Wife - Christine Baranski as Diane Lockheart
Mad Men - Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

I know I just said that the Emmys doesn't usually have love for the Emmys, but dude, Cersei's walk of shame. That's the kind of scene that'll be shown in Lena Headey's lifetime achievement awards. I also want you to believe me when I say that it hurts me physically to not be putting an asterisk next to Emilia Clarke's name because she is my khaleesi but for this specific season there are other performances that are stronger than hers. Not to say that hers isn't wonderful and strong. Just that there are others that are stronger.
And yet you'll notice that my choice to win wasn't either of those two, but Uzo Aduba. And there are two reasons for that. First and foremost, because she deserves it. Her Crazy Eyes is touching and heartfelt and painful to watch because it's so personal, real, and you can't help but feel for her. I want to make it clear that this is the primary reason. Because she's really good. Also because the other reason is you'll notice how all of my other picks so far have been white people. I genuinely do believe that I picked the actors who had the best performances in their categories, but especially since this one is a pretty tight race, I think the Emmys will want to avoid the bad press that the Oscars got from having a whitewashed list of winners and make sure to have at least a little diversity there.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt
Girls - Adam Driver as Adam Sackler
Key & Peele - Keegan-Michael Key as Various Characters
Modern Family - Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon
Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh

The pretentious intellectuals who vote for the Emmys love Veep. And Tony Hale is an alumnus of the acting school I currently attend. (Yay The Barrow Group!) But... I couldn't give you a real reason I chose him over any other actor here. There are pretty much an even number of reasons why each actor here would or wouldn't win. Andre Braugher is excellent, but the show overall is more about laughs than getting deep at any point about people and the human condition. (And I say that as a huge, huge fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.) Adam Driver is having an excellent, public spotlight-y kind of a year, but nobody is really talking about Girls, specifically. Keegan-Michael Key does really intelligent, interesting sketches on Key & Peele, but sketch performers almost never win outside of a variety series category. The Emmys usually love on Modern Family, but maybe people are just too sick of it winning everything for it to win anything this year. Tituss Burgess has created a colorful, complete character in Titus Andromedon, but not necessarily a complex one. I just... can't think of a reason Tony Hale  wouldn't win. So... he's my pick to win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory - Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler
Getting On - Niecy Nash as Denise "Didi" Ortley
Modern Family - Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
Mom - Allison Janney as Bonnie
Saturday Night Live - Kate McKinnon as Various Characters
Transparent - Gaby Hoffmann as Ali Pfefferman
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees
Veep - Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer

Transparent. Is. A. Gift. To. Us. All. From. The. TV. Gods. (Aka Jill Soloway).
Don't get me wrong, I love Allison Janney in anything and everything she chooses to do. Same goes for Kate McKinnon. And Jane Krakowski never won an Emmy for Jenna Maloney on 30 Rock, so I think she should get one for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Next season. But right now. Transparent is a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka Jill Soloway).

...This, by the way, is the point where I'm just going to go and bring up a few select categories that particularly interest me for whatever reason. Just so you know.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
*Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Portlandia
Saturday Night Live

So the asterisk this time doesn't mean that I think Drunk History should win over Inside Amy Schumer... it's really more my way of calling attention to what an awesome series it is, especially if you're a fellow history nerd.
But I think this is really where the fact that Amy Schumer is this year's "it" girl is super gonna come in clutch. You know, that and the fact that the show has been insightful, clever, and feminist as well as funny.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
The Comedians - Mel Brooks as Mel Brooks
Inside Amy Schumer - Paul Giamatti as Juror #10
Saturday Night Live - Bill Hader as Host
Saturday Night Live - Louis C.K. as Host
Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Jon Hamm as Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne

Well, by this point you already know that Transparent is a gift to us all et cetera. But I also want to throw out there that watching Bradley Whitford in anything is just an incredible lesson in acting. So watching Bradley Whitford in Transparent... guys, he's incredible. I wanted to stay away from opinions in my analyses because saying that actor in a particular role is "good" or "bad" is subjective and almost never helpful to true understanding of a someone's position. So I will also say that his portrayal of Marcy is subtle, funny, eye-opening, and heartbreaking. Even as we watch his scenes from Maura's (Jeffrey Tambor) point of view, he slowly brings the audience along to experiencing his world through his eyes as well. It's big and bright and exciting and quiet and intellectual and new. And guys, he's wonderful.

Outstanding Main Title Design
American Horror Story: Freak Show
Bosch
Halt and Catch Fire
******Manhattan
Marvel's Daredevil
Olive Kitteridge

I haven't seen all of these series, and so I haven't seen their opening titles. I haven't picked a winner here because I'm just straight up not qualified to pick a winner among all these shows I haven't seen. In fact, you might even say that I've only seen one out of the six shows listed here. I just really like Manhattan and wanted to point out the one category in which it was nominated for an Emmy.

Okay, this blog post took me literally three hours to write up. I nearly did it last night after I got home at one in the morning from seeing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl before realizing what a dumb idea that would be. (That movie, incidentally, totally wrecked me in the best possible way.) So now I'm just gonna stop.

But what do you think? Do you agree with me?? Why???

(Guys, I'm really excited about the Emmys.)

West Wing Binge Watch 2k15 - "No. No 'however.' Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it." - President Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing S1E17

You know, there were a lot of things I wanted to write about in this blog post. I wanted to write about the Critics' Choice Awards, the SAG Awards, what it means to be a member of the actors union. I wanted to write about this acting class I've been taking at The Barrow Group, how good it is, and the importance of training and, more importantly, training correctly. I wanted to write about British TV and British actors and how they're taking over in the US; as anyone who knows me is aware, I absolutely love talking about British stuff. There is a whole myriad of things I could've discussed here today.

But I can't do any of it. Why? Because I started watching The West Wing on Netflix, and it's all I can think about.

You guys it's so good. The Netflix blurb about it claims that it was ranked the 7th best drama of all time. Now, I don't know when those rankings came out, and as I firmly believe we are living in a golden age of television, I think there are some series that could give it some serious competition. I'm looking at you, Breaking Bad. But the idea that it is at least very highly ranked and well regarded is something that I am absolutely on board with.

The thing that's particularly interesting in watching it is seeing not just the differences between the late 90's-early 00's and now, but the similarities! Our dealings with China. How ravaged African nations are by AIDS, and the extent to which Americans lump all of them together into just "Africa." Education. Gay rights. Healthcare. It's almost depressing that these issues don't go away... but it's handy because it means the series isn't too dated! The risk with watching anything more than five or so years old is that sometimes the issues just aren't a problem anymore, or something that was normal then seems strange to someone watching now. But I'm not experiencing that at all with The West Wing! Maybe I'm older than I feel I am, and I remember these things being issues so well that it just seems current to me... but I'd much rather think of it as the series just holding up well and not being dated.

Of course, don't get me wrong, the differences are worth looking at, too! There's one in particular that I'd like to point out: An episode I was watching last night had Josh Lyman arguing with a congressman about a bill that placed another ban on gay marriage. One of the points that the congressman brought up was that the majority of the population was against gay marriage. Only fifteen years ago, polls said that the majority of Americans thought that LGBTQ+ people shouldn't be allowed to get married. Now 36 states have legal same-sex marriage, and later this year the Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not it's constitutional on a federal level. It's just amazing to me how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time.

Beyond any of that, though, it's good television. It's dramatic, it made me yell at my television/computer screen, it's funny, the characters are complex, and, naturally, the writing feels effortless. Characters speak in incomplete sentences, they cut each other off, they say stupid things, sometimes they don't, and storylines are woven together, in and around each other, to keep episodes flowing together while not having to bother with a massive, overarching season or series plot. It's Aaron Sorkin at his best.

I suppose that's just it for me. The West Wing is everything The Newsroom could have been. It's a little bit sad when put that way, but it's true. And it just makes me love The West Wing that much more.

And I have more than five and a half seasons left of it!

Before I finish this post, I'd like to throw in just a few more observations that I've made about the series from the less-than-a-season-and-a-half I've seen so far that are far less intellectual and analytical but, I think, still deserve to be said:

  • The level to which I identify with Donna Moss is extraordinary. I would say that I want to be her when I grow up but... aside from what happened to make her join up with Bartlet and, more specifically, Josh, I pretty much already am her. And I love her. I'm not even jealous of Janel Moloney for getting to play her because she's just perfect.
  • I think Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford is really attractive? Like...?? I did not expect this. My type is usually tall, blonde, and British, with sharp, prominent cheekbones. And occasionally that type can be broken - my attraction to Sam Seaborn/Rob Lowe is not really a surprise because have you seen Rob Lowe - but...??? Granted, his personality is right up my alley. Someone who is a massive jerk but still a good guy when it comes to the stuff that matters will get me every time. But man, I did not expect this. I didn't even realize it until more than halfway through the first season. And now I want to give him the biggest hug, like, all the time. It's weird. But very, very present.
  • Toby when he's doing the right thing and being a good guy is the most awkwardly adorable thing. Also, I love having a Jewish guy there, especially since his Judaism is a significant part of who he is. Not all of who he is. Not even most of who he is. But a significant part.
  • I so deeply appreciate how Sorkin allows Republican characters to make excellent points. He really never did that in Newsroom (and, no matter what he said, Will McAvoy was not a Republican) and I do like how the major characters reflect the views that I personally hold. But it's so rare now, even in real life, to see a Republican articulately arguing his/her point of view that it's not only refreshing to see it here but has occasionally genuinely made me think about my own political beliefs and why I believe them.
  • All of the actors on this show are very much actors' actors. And the writer is a writers' writer. And I can feel myself getting better both as an actress as well as a writer just from watching this show. It's wonderful.

"I have a blog?" - The Newsroom, "We Just Decided To" (S1E1)

Or: Why I Love The Newsroom and You Should Too

Guys, The Newsroom is back for it's third and final season, and I need to tell you all why, despite how unrealistic it is, and how it treats its women, I love it so much.

And don't get me wrong. It's incredibly unrealistic. It's all about a team of newsmen and women who decide to do a nightly newscast that's the news the way it should be done, as opposed to a newscast that's sensational and driven by ratings. Even when their ratings go down (which they do - the show doesn't shy away from the fact that people don't want to watch the news) they decide to hold fast, and in the end, that's what makes them strong.

And it does treat its women pretty badly. They are all, of course, very intelligent and beyond competent professionally, but leave the professional world and each and every one of them is a ditz who can't handle her personal life. This is pretty standard for showrunner Aaron Sorkin, and it irritates me beyond belief.

But. You guys. Like I said, this show is created and written by Aaron Sorkin, and it has all the good, and the bad, that comes with that. (For those of you to whom the name sounds familar but you can't quite place it: Aaron Sorkin was also the person behind Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The West Wing, and The Social Network, among others!) The bad: I mentioned how Sorkin deals with women. Also, it's incredibly liberal, trying to masquerade as moderate (although whether that's because it's actually liberal or because conservatives refuse to compromise leading anything that isn't conservative to seem super liberal is up for debate), and it puts forth all of it's arguments about politics and the way the country should be run in such a way that it insists that you must be an ignoramus if you don't agree.

That being said, sometimes it is pretty hard to disagree with the scenes in this show. Sorkin has a gift for cutting right through the bullshit to the heart of whichever problem he chooses to deal with, and then taking that heart out and presenting it for all to see. The opening scene of The Newsroom has been passed around, so you may have seen it before, but it's still incredibly, incredibly effective.

But, despite that, he also has created a beautifully idealistic show. As Mackenzie McHale, one of our leading ladies, is fond of saying, it insists that "we can do better!" And I love that mindset. The idea that no, we're not perfect. But if we work at it, we can be not just what we want to be, but what we should be. We can be the kind of people who do what's right because it's the right thing to do. The kind of people who choose to be informed. The kind of people who can make a difference in the world.

And watching the characters of The Newsroom either be or become that makes it difficult for viewers to not want to be or become that themselves. And anything that makes people care more is pretty amazing to me!

In the spirit of fairness and full disclosure, I usually watch this show with my mother, and she doesn't love it quite as much as I do. She says that I'm somewhat blinded by how attractive John Gallagher Jr. and Thomas Sadoski are. I say that she's ignoring just how pretty Dev Patel, Alison Pill, and Olivia Munn are as well when she says that. But I would be lying if I said I didn't have a crush on any of them/their characters. (For the record, if you know their characters, that one is Don Keefer, as played by Thomas Sadoski. Something about guys who are moral jerks and aren't unwilling to challenge you but also support you at the same time just gets me, man.) But I sure hope that doesn't completely nullify everything I have to say about the show as well! The fact that they're all very, very attractive doesn't change the way Sorkin writes women. But I thought I'd throw it out there. This show has a beautiful cast.

I suppose this was necessarily a pretty vague blog post, mainly because I wanted to keep it spoiler free. But if any of you would like to discuss anything about The Newsroom, from the series overall to the most recent episode (having to relive the Boston Bombings was awful, but I so appreciate how they always handle news events, especially ones like that, in the classiest possible way), please go ahead and comment! And I'm just going to issue a blanket *spoiler alert* for the entire comments section, in case anyone has anything they'd like to say!

I'm Will McAvoy. Good night.