The 59th Primetime Emmys, the night that brims with long speeches, big egos, and teeny dresses, will air this Sunday. With the perennial Emmy winner, The Sopranos, taking its final bow this year, there just might be some elbow room for others on the platform.
As always, the story of who didn’t get nominated in meaningful categories is almost as big as the story of who did. SciFi’s excellent Battlestar Galactica should have received a nod for Outstanding Drama Series, though it didn’t. Friday Night Lights, the rich and complex drama built around high-school football in Texas, warranted more nominations. These two shows are better in every way than nominees Boston Legal and Grey’s Anatomy, which both received attention that may be unmerited.
But we go to the Emmys with the nominees we have, not the nominees we wish we had.
Here are the people and shows that, in a just world, would walk away with a statue Sunday night.
Tina Fey of 30 Rock stands to win Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her depiction of Liz Lemon, the clumsy, star-crossed cat-herder of a late-night comedy show. Smart, funny Tina Fey has proven that there is life after Saturday Night Live, at least for someone with her talent. Other contenders for the award are Felicity Huffman for Desperate Housewives, Julie Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine, America Ferrera for Ugly Betty, and Mary-Louise Parker for Weeds.
Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer deserves to win Lead Actress in a Drama Series. As southern talkin’, ding-dong eatin’, red lipstick wearin’ Brenda Johnson, Sedgwick’s character gives the vibe that she is at the same time just like someone you know, and someone you don’t want to see across the interrogation table. She’s up against Sally Field for Brothers and Sisters, Mariska Hargitay for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Partricia Arquette for Medium, Minnie Driver for The Riches, and Edie Falco for The Sopranos.
Though his politics are inane and his parenting reprehensible, Alec Baldwin is a comedic genius in the role of Jack Donaghy, the meddling network executive of 30 Rock. He should take home the Emmy. My problem is that now I’m conflicted as to whether I want him to fulfill his promise to move away from the U.S., though maybe he could still do the show from France. Also nominated in the category are Ricky Gervais for Extras, Tony Shalhoub for Monk, Steve Carell for The Office, and Charlie Sheen for Two and a Half Men.
The character of Dr. House, a drug-addicted, sour, mean man, who, in spite of his self-proclaimed hatred for humanity obsessively tries to save his patients, remains one of the most intriguing subjects of a medical drama. Hugh Laurie deserves the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his very sensitive treatment of a very insensitive character in House. The other contenders are James Spader for Boston Legal, Denis Leary for Rescue Me, James Gandolfini for The Sopranos, and Kiefer Sutherland for 24.
My two top choices for Outstanding Comedy Series are both required viewing on a Thursday night: The Office and 30 Rock. The Office follows the story of a group of everyday people tied together by the one bond that doesn’t break: the need for a paycheck. Steve Carrel stars as Michael, an over-eager, tact-challenged middle manager. 30 Rock, about a late night TV show, has fresh, crisp writing which results in storylines like Jack’s off-camera affair with Condoleeza Rice, Liz’s dalliance with the last pager salesman in New York, and Jack’s engagement to a snooty girl with “avian bone disease” who can’t be touched. It’s a hard decision, but I’m going to say 30 Rock deserves the win. I am, however, more passionate about my “Anything But Two And A Half Men” stance. The two contenders elaborated above can have it out, as long as Two and a Half Men never gets in the ring. The remaining nominees are: Entourage and Ugly Betty.
Heroes, without a doubt, deserves to win Outstanding Drama Series. The gripping story of average people who discovered superpowers within themselves, Heroes was the best show on television last season. Mr. Bennet’s (Jack Coleman) evolution from nefarious hero hunter to self-sacrificing father kept us on the edge of our seat. Nathan’s (Adrian Pasdar) struggle between his desire for power and his sense of justice kept us guessing. Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) and Hiro’s (Masi Oka) unswerving dedication to the good and saving others inspired us. Let’s not forget Skylar (Zachary Quinto), who cut open skulls of heroes to absorb their powers. Finally, it came down, as superhero sagas so often do, to a choice between good and evil for each character, both in the external world and in the internal heart. The other nominees are Boston Legal, Grey’s Anatomy, House, and The Sopranos.
— Rebecca Cusey is a writer in Washington, D.C.