Tag Archives: Homeland

Responding to the 2014 Emmy nominees

So, the Emmy nominees for this season have quite literally just finished being announced. I haven’t gotten around to checking much by way of a response from Twitter beyond all of the bitter Orphan Black fans voicing their outrage; posting pictures of themselves giving the finger to their laptops (which are showing the nominee announcement stream) and texts from my brother, the best of which has to be “NO GOOD WIFE IN SERIES, FUCK THAT.” Which is indeed rather accurate. (should I, like use the stars – * – to censor the swearing? I dunno, do people swear on blog posts?)

In that traditional awards season fashion of getting to work on the post-mortem analysis before the body is cold, I figure I’ll get to work on my responses and some analysis of the nominees. Be warned; there will be quite a bit of subjectivity from here on out.

Outstanding Drama Series
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
“True Detective” (HBO)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)

I think the real surprise here is the continued presence of Downton Abbey; I’d have thought that with strong freshman shows like Masters of Sex, and the stellar form that The Good Wife was on this year, that something would have toppled it. On the topic of The Good Wife, I can’t help but be shocked – and personally appalled – at its omission from the category. It would’ve been nice to see Masters of Sex here too, but that was always something of an outside pick.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom” (HBO)
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Matthew McConaughey, “True Detective” (HBO)
Woody Harrelson, “True Detective” (HBO)

If I were to predict this category, the only person on this list that I wouldn’t have chosen would Daniels; I mean, I appreciate that his being the returning winner is a factor, and he was solid in the second season, but it became more ensemble focused and he really didn’t get material to tear into like last year. Drama actor really is a two horse race though; ever since True Detective moved to Drama Series it became one; Cranston on McConaughey? My money is on McConaughey, and he’s my personal pick too.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Claire Danes, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
Kerry Washington, “Scandal” (ABC)
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex” (Showtime)

Quite a lot of this is, I suppose, business as usual between Danes, Dockery and Wright (with House of Cards getting an increased amount of love this year, although quite why that is continues to baffle me.) and, perhaps to the surprise of some – myself included – the return of Kerry Washington, who I just thought appeared based on Scandal‘s hype last year; I may need to get around to watching it at some point. On the more interesting end of the spectrum are Caplan, and Margulies returning, both of which absolutely thrill me, they’re both wonderful and it’s great to see their work recognised.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland” (Showtime)
Josh Charles, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

Jon Voight? Really? I tried Ray Donovan; I watched four episodes, five at the most and just thought it was a cheap West Coast attempt at being The Sopranos. How it managed to get here baffles me when the likes of John Slattery and Matt Czuchry are left by the wayside. And again, Downton Abbey’s ability to hang on to award nominations borders on the miraculous. In terms of Breaking Bad, nobody is surprised that Aaron Paul got in, but the omission of Dean Norris (the better of the two supporting actors the show produced that year) can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouth. Also, Josh Charles got in, and really, that’s all that matters.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men” (AMC)
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey” (PBS)

So, here we have a mix of an “old guard” of sorts, actresses like Baranski and Hendricks and Maggie Smith who have been getting nominated for pretty much the entirety of their shows runs, returning winner Anna Gunn (who, for my money, doesn’t have the tape to win this year, even if my love for ‘Rabid Dog’ is well known) and the “rape as drama” contingent of Froggatt and Heady. It feels like it could be quite an open race, unless the Academy just tick the box for Breaking Bad if just for the fact it continues to exist. I can’t really complain about this list because of my love for Mad Men and The Good Wife and Skyler as a character, but it would’ve been nice to see Kiernan Shipka, who had her strongest season yet as Sally Draper – and a slew of one liners to boot – sneak in.

Outstanding Comedy Series

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
“Louie” (FX)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Veep” (HBO)
“Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)

The new blood is what’s interesting here. I mean, I am trying to watch Orange is the New Black – just as it’s trying me – but I find it deathly dull, I must admit. I’m thrilled that Silicon Valley got in, but frankly, the Academy really needed to step up its game in relation to some of the strong freshman shows; I mean, Silicon Valley is one of them, sure, but the lack of love for Brooklyn Nine Nine and Broad City can’t help but leave me feeling a little bitter.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies” (Showtime)
Louis C.K., “Louie” (FX)
William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
Ricky Gervais, “Derek” (Netflix)

Much of the categories in general seem to be as expected with the odd surprise, although sometimes the surprises are the people that stay, as in the case of Matt LeBlanc. I couldn’t finish Episodes this year, I just didn’t think it was good and I thought it was LeBlanc’s weakest year. The appearance of Gervais irks me if just because I don’t like him as a comedian and Derek, for my money, looks pretty awful. William H. Macy, an actor I adore in a show I unfortunately haven’t seen, on the other hand, is nice to see, and it’s pretty clear that Shameless switching categories was good for its award chances.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly” (CBS)
Taylor Schilling, “Orange is the New Black”

This is pretty much how I would have predicted the category, but without McCarthy, probably with Shameless’ Emmy Rosum or something instead. Again, I can’t help but be a bit indifferent about Schilling, given I’m not really a fan of her show. If I were a betting man, I’d say JLD wins again for Veep, but I’m a dreamer, so I’m hoping Dunham or Falco can win.

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, “Girls” (HBO)
Jessie Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Fred Armisen, “Portlandia” (IFC)
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Tony Hale, “Veep” (HBO)
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)

Here we see the gradual disappearance of Modern Family in acting categories, which is interesting for the fact that it was so strong this year, and the people that disappeared are interesting; I always considered Jessie Tyler Ferguson to be perpetually the most vulnerable of the men in the cast. Really though, the one thing that, for me, overshadows everything else in this category is the presence of Andre Braugher, who was superb in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and it’s great to see him get in, if just because it means that the exceptional cast has one representative.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family” (ABC)
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep” (HBO)
Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Kate Mulgrew, “Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

Only looking at this now do I notice that Merritt Wever didn’t get in, but again, we see the gradual decline of Modern Family, with Vergara – finally – dropping off, given she’s the weakest member of the show’s ensemble I’m surprised she hung on for as long as she did. Other than that, there’s Janney, who I’m thrilled about (and she also got in for Guest Actress – Drama for her turn in Masters of Sex) and Kate Mulgrew, who I’m indifferent about.

 

The writing/direction tapes don’t seem available yet, but I’ll respond to them as I see them, and post my personal ballot later down the line. In terms of guest acting, I didn’t pay too much attention to them, but it was nice to see Dylan Baker get in again, and of course, my indifference rose in magnitude after a slew of OitNB actresses got in to guest for comedy.

 

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Is This the Death of the Anti-Hero?

Between the season three finale of Homeland and the final episode of Breaking Bad, TV dramas seem to be letting their anti-heroes drop like flies. And since, many moons ago when the Sopranos began what we like to call the TV revolution with the psychological depth it gave to all of it’s characters, but particularly the anti-hero that is at the heart of the show, conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano. And so, now that the anti-heroes that have began to show what it is that makes the TV revolution what it is are being killed off, the real question becomes, what’s next?

I think that the next natural step in the TV revolution – if we’re still calling it that – is for the focus to become even more centred on female characters. From The Sopranos onwards, women have been integral to this new wave of TV drama, from Carmela Soprano and Dr. Melfi to Ruth and Claire Fisher in Six Feet Under, they’ve always been there and they’ve always been important, but they’ve always been a step or so away from the spotlight. Even in Homeland, which very much revolves around Carrie, much of the dramatic action – and more questionable decisions based around the writing of the show and characterisation of Carrie – has been linked to Brody. Of course, that’s not the case based on where Homeland left off at the end of it’s most recent season, and, as important as Saul is, he is and will in theory remain to be a supporting role rather than stepping into the story’s centre with Carrie.

This female focus, this idea of a female character either leading the show alone or along with a male character, appears to be a little more common over the last few years, between female led legal dramas like Damages and The Good Wife, and the twin-lead dynamic that lies at the very heart of Masters of Sex, the idea of the anti-hero as we knew it, which is to say a conflicted, morally questionable man balancing multiple lives like Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan and Nicholas Brody, appears to be changing. I suppose it’s something like the shift in the focus of tragic drama, between the great men of Shakespeare, kings like Lear and Richard, to the women of Jacobean tragedies, the eponymous Duchess of Malfi, or Beatrice in The Changeling. It seems like a natural progression now for women to take centre stage.

And this impacts much of the dynamic that lies at the heart of the conflicts that these characters have; where the men perhaps lead double lives (William Masters does, for instance), there’s something about the women that is more about the elements of themselves that they see in and want or don’t want to hand over to others, like Elizabeth’s relationship with her daughter in The Americans or elements of herself that Patty sees in Ellen in Damages. Here it’s more a case of mirroring than doubling that’s important. However, it is worth noting that, much like Masters, her cohort in the sex study that drives the first season of Masters of Sex, Virginia is also leading a double life of sorts, balancing work and home life, particularly once her relationship with Masters gets, to put it mildly, complicated. This seems effective in that it not only allows Virginia’s character to develop, but in relation to the notion of anti-heroes, in her sharing plots that tended to be given to male characters, we see both the way in which female leads are sharing the spotlight with their male co-stars, in doing so it also shows the ways in which anti-heroes and TV dramas more generally are shaking off the old stories and dynamics. Along with this, since the anti-heroes of yore have begun to die off, there is a tonal difference in the shows, especially, it seems, the ones that have female characters near or at their core. Masters of Sex, for instance, which could very much be the show that ushers in a new wave of characterisations, isn’t afraid to actually have jokes, to lighten the mood of it’s subject matter, it doesn’t seem compelled to be crushingly bleak or perpetually morose simply because it’s a TV drama in the 21st century.

Of course, it’s worth noting that, in spite of the passing of Walter White and Sergeant Brody, the anti-hero isn’t officially “dead” by any means; Ray Donovan seems to be trying with all of it’s might to essentially be a West Coast version of The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones has more pessimistic, morally conflicted men than you can shake a stick at, but it’s not just the shows that are starting that seem to be impacting the landscape of TV (with Masters of Sex starting it’s second season in a few months), but also the ones that are ending. Of course, Breaking Bad finished recently, next season spells the end for both Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, and of course Homeland needs to restructure itself in the wake of the events in ‘The Star,’ so it seems that more than anything, it seems that there is a fast approaching void that will need to be filled, and it seems that, rather than simply rehashing the same old tropes that have been used in varying shades for the last fifteen years, the things that carry the banner as these shows take their final bow seem to be taking the form of an entirely different beast.

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