The Television Academy shook things up on Thursday (July 10) morning with nominations for the 66th Emmy Awards, nods that included a lot of fresh blood, but still simultaneously found a way to be perplexingly stuck in predictable Emmy ruts.
It was a morning that saw big Emmy breakthroughs for "Orange Is The New Black," "Fargo" and "Silicon Valley," but saw limitations to the expected comeback for "The Good Wife," as Emmy voters continued to keep the faith with "Downton Abbey."
With an impressive 19 nominations, "Game of Thrones" was this year's leading nominee.
In addition to a Drama Series nomination, "Game of Thrones" picked up nods for Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Diana Rigg, plus a writing nomination for showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and a directing nod for Neil Marshall.
Facing off against "Game of Thrones" will be "Mad Men," which avoided some of the predicted attrition, "House of Cards," "Downton Abbey" and predicted frontrunners "Breaking Bad" and "True Detective."
Yes, that means snubbed shows include "Good Wife," "The Americans," "Hannibal" and many more.
HBO's decision to position "True Detective" in the Drama category paid off with 12 nominations, including predicted writing and directing nominations and nods for both leading men, though supporting actress Michelle Monaghan failed to earn a nomination.
"True Detective" leads Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are going against Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, multiple winner Bryan Cranston and last year's winner Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom."
On the Lead Actress in a Drama side, two-time defending champion Claire Danes of "Homeland" is going against Kerry Washington, Robin Wright, Michelle Dockery, returning-from-the-outside Julianna Margulies and newcomer Lizzy Caplan of "Masters of Sex." ["Masters of Sex" picked up five nominations in its first year, including well-deserved guest acting nods for Beau Bridges and Allison Janney.]
While the expected "Good Wife" comeback didn't fully materialize, Christine Baranski still leads the Supporting Actress in a Drama field along with Headey, "Downton" favorites Joanne Froggatt and Maggie Smith, Christina Hendricks and Anna Gunn.
On the Drama Supporting Actor side, Gunn's co-star Aaron Paul goes against Dinklage, Josh Charles, Mandy Patinkin, Jim Carter and "Ray Donovan" co-star Jon Voight, who may be a newcomer to this category, but surely isn't really a "newcomer."
There were surprises aplenty on the Comedy side, where new entries "Orange Is The New Black" and "Silicon Valley" made the Outstanding Comedy Series field against "The Big Bang Theory," "Louie," "Veep" and perennial winner "Modern Family."
It was a huge morning for "Orange Is The New Black," which picked up 12 nominations, with particular domination in the Guest Actress in a Comedy category, where Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne were all wildly deserving nominees.
"Orange" star Taylor Schilling is up for Lead Actress in a Comedy against returning favorites Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, Edie Falco, Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Also snagging an "Orange" acting nod was Supporting Actress in a Comedy nominee Kate Mulgrew, who finds herself up against Julie Bowen, Mayim Bialik, Anna Chlumsky and fellow category newbies Allison Janney for "Mom" and Kate McKinnon for "Saturday Night Live."
Going backwards to Lead Actor in a Comedy, where nobody from "Orange Is The New Black" was eligible, Netflix was still able to snag a surprise nomination for "Derek" star Ricky Gervais, who goes against frequent winner Jim Parsons (also nominated for "Normal Heart"), Emmy juggernaut Louis C.K. (also nominated for writing, directing and his "SNL" hosting appearance) and Showtime leading men Matt LeBlanc, Don Cheadle and William H. Macy.
[Macy was the major beneficiary of Showtime's move to swap "Shameless" to the Comedy category, as Joan Cusack earned her obligatory nomination and the series also picked up a stunt coordination nomination for some reason.]
On the Supporting Actor in a Comedy front, you have last year's winner Tony Hale, regular nominees Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell, returning nominee Adam Driver, minor surprise Fred Armisen and newcomer (again, not really a "newcomer") Andre Braugher, one of the few bright spots on a disappointing morning for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
With 18 nominations, "Fargo" is the leading play on the Movie/Miniseries side.
In the Outstanding Miniseries category, "Fargo" will face off against "American Horror Story: Coven," "Bonnie & Clyde," "Luther," "The White Queen" and "Treme," which benefitted from eligibility strangeness to pick up four nominations for its shortened final season.
Big "Fargo" nominees" include Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman (also nominated for "Sherlock"), Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks, as well as creator/writer Noah Hawley.
And stay tuned for Alan Sepinwall's analysis.