Though we’ve already submitted our (unofficial) Emmy nominations ballot, the conclusion of voting today means it’s time for one last plea for our personal favorites for the TV Academy’s procrastinators. We asked Paste staffers and TV contributors to choose one (and in some cases two) potential nominee whose name they really, really want to hear read on nominations morning (July 12). Here are the eight entries on Paste’s 2018 wish list. Come through, Emmys!
By the time Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers’ group portrait of the dawn of the digital age concludes its final act — a four-episode coda of such profound emotional resonance that I struggled to do it justice — cable’s most underappreciated drama emerges as one of its most poignant, a treatment of connections broken and (re-) made over the course of a distant decade. Halt and Catch Fire has always been, as Joe (Lee Pace) proclaims in the pilot episode, about “the thing that gets us to the thing,” but it’s the series’ final season, set amid the scramble to build the Internet’s dominant search engine, that draws the point most elegantly. Through video games, coding assignments, nascent ideas tied to the web’s wide reach, Halt and Catch Fire suggests, Joe and Gordon (Scoot McNairy) and Donna (Kerry Bishé) and Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) complete the circuits of affection at the heart of all human endeavor, and so discover life’s “one constant”: “It’s you. It’s us,” as Donna says in the series’ sublime finale. “The project gets us to the people.” And so it did.
If that’s not worth a whole heap of Emmy nominations, most especially for the four members of the main cast and Outstanding Drama Series, I don’t know what is. —Matt Brennan (Photo: Bob Mahoney/AMC)
I think The Middle should be nominated for every Emmy category it qualifies for. For nine seasons, it was one of the most consistently funny, smart and poignant shows on TV. With its series finale airing last month, this is the last time it can be nominated. The comedy never created the buzz of quirky shows like Veep or Silicon Valley. It didn’t push the envelope like Atlanta and since it has never been nominated before, it can’t coast to yet another nomination like Modern Family. The Middle understood and celebrated the family unit like few shows do. And the cast is one of the best on TV. Its series finale will be remembered as one of the best series finales ever. I say every year that Eden Sher’s name should be preceded by the phrase “Emmy winner” or at least “Emmy nominee.” This is Emmy voters’ last chance, and I hope they take it. —Amy Amatangelo (Photo: ABC)
Category: Outstanding Lead Actor (Comedy Series)
Look it’s great that there’s so much TV on right now. It’s the golden age of television. It’s peak TV. But here’s the problem: Stuff gets missed. Good stuff. Excellent stuff. It’s not like before, when, say, the Television Academy ignored Buffy the Vampire Slayer because of its title or the network it was on. Now shows are ignored because voters have most likely never even seen or heard about them. A show on You Tube Premium continuing a teen movie from 1984 doesn’t scream “Emmy-worthy.” But let me tell you, it is. Cobra Kai is easily one of the best series of 2018 and Zabka is flat-out phenomenal. His Johnny Lawrence is a man stuck in the past, traumatized by a high school defeat he let define him. He’s funny and heart-breaking, often all at the same time. He gives viewers insight into why Johnny is the way he is without ever making excuses for his hard-to-love alter ego. Zabka’s nuanced take on a character he hasn’t played in decades creates the hero (anti-hero?) for every middle-aged person out there who no longer wants his past to define his future. If Cobra Kai had aired on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, we would all be waxing on and on about it. —Amy Amatangelo (Photo: YouTube Premium)
Category: Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
This isn’t an unconventional pick, but you have to be out of your mind not to recognize Murai’s complete dominance over TV’s aesthetic form in the second season of FX’s Atlanta. Murai inflected his stylized horror-comedy with itchy realism at every turn, making his every episode one to remember. When I say the only TV director worth mentioning in the same breath as Murai is David Lynch, I’m damning both with the kind of false equivalency that’s only possible when genius overshadows all else. I’m like a caveman that’s looking at Bluetooth speakers and a smoke machine and categorizing them both as simply “magic.” —Jacob Oller (Photo: Curtis Baker/FX)
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actress (Drama Series)
Boniadi’s role as Clare in creator Justin Marks’ espionage drama could easily be a gimmick: Never underestimate the double agent posing as an unassuming housewife. But the Homeland alum brings a level of nervousness and conviction to the role that’s not unlike Keri Russell’s stoic and loyal Elizabeth Jennings on FX’s The Americans. You want to hate her because she’s an assassin out to take down all we hold dear. But you also kind of feel bad for her and want her to persevere. Never is this more clear than in Boniadi’s work in the series’ game-changing seventh episode. There, we see just how far Clare’s dedication to the cause will go thanks to a particular kind of homicide. But we also find the one thing that seems to compromise her: motherhood. —Whitney Friedlander (Photo: Starz)
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Gina Rodriguez is unquestionably the heart of Jane the Virgin and absolutely deserves every possible nomination she qualifies for (not least in recognition of the fact that she is using her budgeted 2018 Emmy FYC money to fully fund a disadvantaged Latinx student’s Princeton education), but when it comes to the telenovela’s funny bone, Jaime Camil’s full-spectrum portrayal of Jane’s diva father, Rogelio de la Vega, is, as the kids are too cool to say anymore, everything. From the moment he appeared as a winking bus-ad daydream in the first season, he has not only stolen the show comedically, but has also established a model of confidently sensitive masculinity that is as critical as it is novel to see portrayed anywhere on television, let alone by a Latino man. That Rogelio has evolved so satisfyingly as character, and has taken up such a permanent place in all our hearts, comes down entirely to Camil’s passionate, fully game performance. Sure, Rogelio got the 2013 Paloma Award (suck it, Esteban!), but Camil has yet to be celebrated as universally as he deserves. GIVE THIS MAN AN EMMY, ALREADY. —Alexis Gunderson (Photo: Paul Sarkis/The CW)
Category: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
As a series that thrives on the unassailable chemistry of its entire comedic ensemble, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is pretty much screwed when it comes to the acting categories of any awards show that would have them—if it didn’t feel utterly impossible to pick one actor out of the pack as the strongest, it would certainly feel unfair. But this last season’s arc featuring laconic precinct badass Rosa Diaz coming out as bisexual to both the 9-9 and her family shot Stephanie Beatriz straight to the top. Portraying a Rosa Diaz-version of her own personal story as a bisexual fighting for visibility and acceptance, Beatriz made the arc moving but not maudlin, with an undercurrent of stolid 9-9-specific humor throughout. What an absolute gift we have been given not just in this show, but in this human being. Emmys: Take note. —Alexis Gunderson (Photo: Fox)
Category: Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie
There’s no clearer indication on TV that Emmy voters don’t bother watching most cable series than the fact that AMC’s Into the Badlands has never managed a single Emmy nomination for Stunt Coordination in the course of three seasons, despite stunts being quite literally the main attraction of the show. Each episode is presenting fight scene choreography and stuntwork that rivals the best you’d find in Hong Kong action cinema, with pulpy visual panache that can’t be rivaled. Note to voters: “Because my dad watches it” is not a great rationale for again nominating The Blacklist or Lethal Weapon in this slot when AMC is three seasons into presenting what may be the best choreographed fight scenes in the history of the medium. It’s time to recognize the mastery of the art form that is going on here. —Jim Vorel (Photo: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)