Emmys 2017: Paste's Nominations Wish List

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Emmys 2017: <i>Paste</i>'s Nominations Wish List

We’ve filed our (unofficial) ballot. We’ve handicapped The Crown’s chances, spoken with multiple winner Jill Soloway, and defended the Emmy contenders of network TV. Now, with nominations voting set to close Monday, Paste offers one last plea to TV Academy members For Your Consideration: Fifteen dream nominees, each one selected by a staffer or TV contributor, from writers and actors to reality-show hosts and series themselves. These are the names and titles—some strong contenders, others from left of left field—we’re hoping to hear when the Emmy nominations are announced July 13. Fingers crossed.

Comedy Bang! Bang!
Category: Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

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In only its third year as a category, Outstanding Variety Sketch Series is one of the tightest races at the Emmys. After 110 episodes, Comedy Bang! Bang! ended its run as one of the weirdest and funniest sketch series on TV with a surprisingly touching conclusion. For five seasons, CBB featured a phenomenal cast and excellent writing team that maintained the show’s throughout—and the final season provided some of its best moments, from the introduction of “Weird Al” Yankovic as bandleader, an odd spinoff starring Haley Joel Osment’s Slow Joey and a jam-packed conclusion. To the very end of its run, Comedy Bang! Bang! and host/creator Scott Aukerman continuously pushed the envelope with increasingly strange ideas, becoming one of the best sketch series of the decade. Ross Bonaime

Carrie Coon, The Leftovers
Category: Outstanding Lead Actress (Drama Series)


Approaching three years since the revelation of “Guest,” Carrie Coon may not quite be a household name, but she’s no longer flying under the radar. The credit for that, with due respect to Fargo’s Gloria Burgle, goes to one of the most remarkable meetings of performer and character I’ve seen since I began covering television, the darkly funny, frequently playful, awfully sexy, ferociously intelligent, utterly heartbreaking, and ultimately breathtaking Nora Durst. Cycling through all of these modes and plenty more, Coon manages to suggest both an unimaginable specific—the loss of one’s entire family in an inexplicable cosmic event—and a potent universal—the work of grief, or something like it—in such startling terms that Nora emerges as the beating heart of The Leftovers, hardened and softened by the series’ cataclysms in equal measure. If I may court hyperbole a moment, to say she deserves the Emmy this year is an understatement: Coon’s counts, for me, among the two or three finest dramatic turns in the recent history of the medium. Matt Brennan

Ryan Devlin, Are You the One?
Category: Outstanding Host For a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

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Are You the One? relies on the suspension of disbelief harder than almost any other reality show on TV, whether audiences are given the pseudo-futuristic technology or the secretive personality analysis the matchmaking show is premised upon. They’d all crash and burn without a host earnestly putting it out there each and every episode. One that chastises his cast, encourages true love, and finally snaps under their moronic pressure in one beautifully profane Season Five moment. Ryan Devlin is that host, the best on TV. Jacob Oller

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Category: Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

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In a world where every piece of national news feels like a slow chipping away of our sanity, we need shows like Full Frontal to keep us informed and keep us angry. The show’s rapidly paced explorations of the week’s events are as deeply informed as they are funny, with an unapologetically feminist bent that serves as an unspoken “Fuck you” to the powers that be and to the revolving door of straight white male late-night hosts. Beyond Bee’s fiery invective, the writers use field pieces and filmed segments to highlight lesser-known but massively important issues—like their brilliant piece contrasting how a trust-funded white kid was able to shake off a non-violent drug arrest but a black working-class gent was put through hell, or their thrilling recounting of a Georgia lawmaker forced to game the system to ensure that a backlog of rape kits were tested and analyzed. Until we get more shows like it, let’s loudly celebrate Full Frontal while it’s here. Robert Ham

Chris Gethard, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
Category: Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special

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The Emmys have not had a fantastic track record in the Variety Special category (most recently passing over Lemonade for a Carpool Karaoke special), but since the category’s reinstatement in 2009, the “Writing for a Variety Special” nominees have been getting a little more hip. Not only would a nomination for Chris Gethard’s moving one-man show be deserved, it would be an incredibly satisfying feather in the cap of his breakout year, and a legitimizing seal of approval for Off-Broadway comedy shows in general. Gethard himself would probably admit that he’s led a career that has defied mainstream recognition in favor of cult appeal, but if there’s anyone who can turn an Emmy nomination into a punk rock move, it’s him. Graham Techler

Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel
Category: Outstanding Lead Actor (Drama Series)

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A&E’s foray into original scripted drama didn’t last terribly long, but the network knocked it out of the park with its flagship series Bates Motel. Vera Farmiga got a lot of the acclaim for her manic turn as Norma Bates, and rightfully so, but young Freddie Highmore positively stole the show over the last two seasons. Highmore’s take on Norman Bates followed the teenager’s descent into full-fledged insanity as bodies piled up and the future Psycho finally came face to face with his darker instincts and the killer inside. It could’ve easily gotten silly, but Highmore grounded Norman’s journey in a way that made for some of the most compelling drama on television. Trent Moore

Into the Badlands
Category: Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie

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Through two seasons, there have been absolutely no fight scenes on TV with more impressively conceived and executed choreography and stunt work than Into the Badlands, but the series has been completely snubbed thus far in favor of competitors with higher profiles, such as the admittedly great Daredevil, or head-scratching network series, such as The Blacklist. Bringing the very best in Hong Kong-inspired action to the small screen, Into the Badlands paints a beautiful tapestry of blood, blades and flying fists of kung fu in a way that basic cable has never seen and may never see again. If it can’t score an Outstanding Stunt Coordination nomination, then this entire category needs to be considered a sham, because voters aren’t even trying to consider the best available options. Jim Vorel

Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actress (Comedy Series)


Even if she weren’t an EGOT/living legend. Even if I hadn’t adored her since I first saw her fiery dance moves in West Side Story. Even if I had never heard the name Rita Moreno, I would still love and admire her take on family matriarch Lydia Riera. As the surprisingly open-minded grandmother, Moreno simultaneously embraces and transcends stereotype. She holds nothing back in an enthusiastic, energetic performance that celebrates life and family. I literally smile every time I think of Lydia. Let’s make her a triple EGOT in 2017. Amy Amatangelo

Emmy Rossum, Shameless
Category: Outstanding Lead Actress (Comedy Series)

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For all of the absurdity that has happened on Shameless—see pretty much everything they make William H. Macy do—this long-running Showtime dramedy has a lot of heart. And, not dissimilar from how society treats the actual scrappy, working-class citizens the series depicts, it’s too frequently ignored by Emmy voters. This has particularly been the case with Emmy Rossum and her role as de facto matriarch Fiona Gallagher. Fiona is street-smart enough to know that she has to hussle, and that people are going to get hurt in her quest for survival, but the pain she feels in doing so—say, when she has to send an elderly woman to assisted living against her will—is deeply empathetic, making her one of the most three-dimensional characters on TV. Whitney Friedlander

Melanie Scrofano, Wynonna Earp
Category: Outstanding Lead Actress (Drama Series)

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Syfy’s Wynonna Earp was one of 2016’s best shows for a number of reasons. From the sharp writing and unique creative vision to the show’s progressive themes—and the fact that it let its queer characters, you know, actually live and have a meaningful relationship—the series, from Lost Girl producer Emily Andras, immediately stood out in a crowded TV landscape. At the heart of the show’s appeal is Melanie Scrofano, who plays the heir to the Earp name. Scrofano has a knack for delivering the show’s funny, biting dialogue with all the charisma of a swaggering genre film star. She understands Wynonna as cool and sexy, for sure, but it’s her ability to be vulnerable that makes the performance so noteworthy. Scrofano’s performance imbues Wynonna Earp with all the existential angst that comes with carrying the weight of a legendary name while fighting for what little good is left in this world. Kyle Fowle

Eden Sher, The Middle
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actress (Comedy Series)

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We’re not quite sure what’s more unjust: That the show which has quietly become TV’s most relatable, amusing and heartwarming portrayal of working-class family life has just a solitary Emmy nomination to its name, or that it received it for Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series. Although every single member of the cast deserves recognition, it’s The Middle’s middle child who’s impressed the most throughout the series’ eight ever-improving seasons. On other sitcoms (cough, Modern Family, cough), the impossibly optimistic Sue Heck would be little more than a nerdy caricature. But The Middle’s writers have allowed Orson’s leading ‘wrestlerette’ to blossom into a smart, savvy and mature young woman while still retaining her adorkable spirit. And Sher’s endearing, often touching performance has made this coming-of-age all the more believable. 2015 may have been the Year of Sue, but 2017 should be the long-awaited Year of Sher. Jon O’Brien

Speechless
Category: Outstanding Comedy Series

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ABC’s Speechless is one of the most important series on TV today. Not only is it a consistently hilarious show about a family overcoming challenges; those challenges are both unique and relatable. Its exploration of disability is poignant and sharp, from criticizing how people treat those in wheelchairs to considering questions of disabled independence. In my 28 years on this planet, I’ve never watched a show in which I felt my life was represented—until Speechless. Everyone in the cast is genuine and comical. If anything, watch this to realize just how uncomfortable you get around someone in a wheelchair. Kristen Lopez

Sweet/Vicious
Category: Outstanding Drama Series


In a culture that continues to conspire against victims of sexual assault at every level, Sweet/Vicious had so much more riding on its execution than entertainment. Cast the wrong actors; write the wrong jokes; hit the wrong balance between wry and biting on something this ambitious, and it not only falls flat, but also risks hobbling a realm of activism that is already monstrously delicate. Thankfully, Emily Levitan and Jenn Kaytin Robinson—along with their cast of stellar, hilarious talents who have universally taken to moonlighting as compassionate advocates for the survivors whose stories they’re championing—struck the perfect balance, managing to pull off the most audaciously cathartic comedy in a long time. We may never get the renewal our pop/IRL culture needs, but in an even 10% more just world, the Sweet/Vicious team would at least get this Emmy. Alexis Gunderson

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (“Episode 1”)
Category: Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

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“Do I have a massive asshole?” In a just world, that line alone would net Waller-Bridge, who also stars as the eponymous Fleabag, an Emmy nomination for her writing. Uttered not even five minutes into Fleabag’s first episode, it perfectly captures the fourth-wall-breaking conceit of this raunchy comedy, as well as the near-pathological self-involvement of the prickly protagonist at its heart. Of course, the genius of Waller-Bridge’s writing is the way it’s constantly surprising you, eventually threading Fleabag’s punch line-ready sexual exploits with empathetically drawn scenes about depression, suicide and addiction, all without losing its sense of humor. Manuel Betancourt

Zach Woods, Silicon Valley
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actor (Comedy Series)

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Woods has been the MVP of Silicon Valley for a while now, stealing nearly every scene in which he appears. But the reason he deserves an Emmy nomination this season is the sheer range he’s exhibited. No longer is he confined to politely uttering nonchalant absurdities about his messed-up past and obscure historical references, and that’s for the best—Jared’s history as a meek character makes his departures from that norm all the funnier. Among his best moments: Ed Chambers’ all-too-brief existence, the scream, and “You dick!” And yet, through it all, Woods somehow maintains an earnest enough demeanor for Jared to serve as a credible moral voice. Zach Blumenfeld

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