Emmy Nominations: PEOPLE TV Critic's Take

09/22/2012 at 06:40 PM EDT

Emmy Nominations: PEOPLE TV Critic's Take
Lena Dunham on Girls (left) and Elizabeth McGovern on Downton Abbey
HBO; PBS
If you ask why I am crying, it's because Madeleine Stowe, star of ABC's Revenge, is not among the Emmy nominees. In fact, I am crying just as she would: My eyes are ringed with big, ready-to-drop tears of wrath and sorrow.

Otherwise, the latest batch of nominees is pretty satisfying.

It's great to see Lena Dunham and her fantastic HBO comedy Girls up for best actress and show. (But nothing for the supporting cast?) Dunham, who plays a smart, funny, self-absorbed young writer, is running against her comic antithesis: Zooey Deschanel of FOX's New Girl, on which she plays (and plays very well) a cupcake.

Throw in Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a seasoned comic actress doing her best work ever on the profane Veep (also on HBO), and you have what's probably the most interesting race in this year's competition.





Most Deserved
• Everything for Showtime's Homeland and AMC's Breaking Bad and Mad Men. I would have even nominated Mad Men's January Jones for her performance as the character now known (regrettably) as "Fat Betty." Maybe I'll just sneak a little unofficial trophy into her swag bag.
• And everything for the freewheeling, crazy, brave American Horror Story on FX. Because it's an anthology show, it landed in the movie/miniseries category. This creates an odd race – it's pitted against the heavily bearded Hatfields & McCoys, among others – but it yielded a nomination bonanza, including actress (Connie Britton) and supporting actress (Jessica Lange).

Least Deserved
Nicole Kidman in HBO's Hemingway & Gelhorn (also nominated) gave a performance of immense but empty skill in a movie that took longer to watch than The Old Man and the Sea takes to read.
• Michael C. Hall's performance as the serial-killer in Dexter can't be faulted, really, but the character has become, after many seasons, impossible to play in a plausible manner. Why reward a joke? Sometimes the show feels like an exceptionally bloody Scooby-Doo.



Most Annoying
• PBS's Downton Abbey, classified now as a drama instead of a Masterpiece miniseries, has invaded all the major categories. I wouldn't mind except that the second season was so inferior to the first. All those fancy, fretful people jostling with the likes of Mad Men's Don Draper and The Good Wife's Alicia Florrick! And you know Brendan Coyle (grave, kind Mr. Bates) will win supporting actor, beating out Giancarlo Esposito's neat, nasty turn on Breaking Bad. You just know it!

Overlooked:
• Madeleine Stowe. Please re-read opening paragraph.
• Why isn't FX's Louie up for best comedy, given that acting nominee Louie C.K. is never off camera?
• Dustin Hoffman, star of HBO's horsetrack drama Luck, really should be up for best actor for giving a performance of great precision and compressed emotion. But horses died, the show died – we got nothing here now, unfortunately, but dead horses. I guess no one wants to be reminded of that while wearing red carpet attire.

Follow PEOPLE TV critic Tom Gliatto on Twitter.

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