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Emmys Rundown: The Good, the Bad, the Gender Disparity

Women and Hollywood By Sara Stewart | Women and Hollywood August 20, 2014 at 11:01AM

Who we're rooting for: Kate McKinnon, Anna Gunn, Alison Tolman, Lizzy Caplan.
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Kate McKinnon as Ann Romney on 'SNL'
Kate McKinnon as Ann Romney on 'SNL'

The Emmy Awards broadcast is Monday – though it might be more appropriate to call it a bro-cast, considering the dearth of female nominations in categories that aren't specifically engineered for them. As Variety pointed out, the writing and directing categories this year feature depressingly few female nominees – hardly a reflection of our gender being the majority of TV viewers on most nights.

One bright spot: producing and writing nominations for Pamela Adlon for Louie. She's one of the best things about the show, and the character she's co-created is one of the most unique, prickly, and human creations on the small screen in recent memory.

As for other ways to feel good about the Emmys: There are some!

First, Kate McKinnon, nominated for Saturday Night Live. Sure, it's generally a disaster of a show, but worth DVR'ing for McKinnon's appearances alone. Her Weekend Update bit as Jesus mural-altering Cecilia Giminez remains my all-time favorite, but she's had plenty of more recent bright spots; I love her Angela Merkel and her Justin Bieber. Here, she spoofs the romantic comedy trope of the clumsy leading lady.


If she pulls off a win, it'll be a real milestone: the show hasn't picked up an Emmy for a cast member (not a guest) since Gilda Radner's 1978 win. She's also the show's first openly gay cast member (check out her Dyke & Fats sketch with Aidy Bryant).

Next up: Kristen Wiig, bizarrely pulling off a nomination for her turn in the Thorn Birds spoof The Spoils of Babylon. And not even in a comedic category, but for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Truly one of the year's weirdest performances and nominations, in a good way.

Anna Gunn for Breaking Bad (Supporting Actress in a Drama). The huge majority of lip service went to Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, but Gunn killed it in a thankless role as Walter White's long-suffering wife and eventual business partner.

Allison Tolman for Fargo (Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie), who has said of her character, "In the age of anti-heroes and Walter White and Tony Soprano, to have a character who is just a decent person is revolutionary in a really bizarre way." Taking over the territory occupied by Frances McDormand in the film, Tolman brought a realism to the character of small-town deputy officer Molly Solverson and held her own against scene-stealers like Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman.

Lizzy Caplan for her portrayal of Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex (Lead Actress in a Drama). It's high time Caplan got some accolades, as she spent so long as an under-the-radar talent before this series. It's also delicious that Johnson's story is enjoying new life in Caplan’s portrayal (though I doubt the sex researcher herself would have watched).

As for the things to feel less good about:

Inside Amy Schumer being nominated for writing but not for Best Variety Series -- while Saturday Night Live stays on that list. Seriously?

Orphan Black failing to score any nominations, despite steady critical acclaim (I know producer Don Mischer has said the Emmys "are not a popular choice award," so I won’t mention its rabid fan base, although those often tend to be indicators of a show doing something right. I also confess to not having started watching it yet, partly because I know I’ll need to binge-watch the whole thing right away when I do.)

The Good Wife being left off the list of Best Drama nominees, despite having possibly its strongest (and certainly most dramatic) season yet.

Elisabeth Moss being left off the list of Best Actress in a Drama nominees for Mad Men. Has her character ever had a better season than this one? Moss is the best thing about that show, and the fact that it's on the Best Drama list while she's left out is an insult.

Mindy Kaling not scoring a nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy, and her show not getting one for Best Comedy -- while The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family continue to hold their slots in the latter. Not a great comment on the taste of the Emmy voters.

Finally: Vera Farmiga not getting a nod for her performance in Bates Motel. Farmiga's a terrific actress who's been giving some freaky life to the origin story behind Psycho, and this would have made one hell of an Emmy reel.

This article is related to: Television, Emmy Awards