2012 Emmy Nominations Announced

  • Publish Date: July 19, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 10 user comments

Horror scares up 17 nominations

Shows with Most Nominations
1 American Horror Story (FX) 17 noms
  Mad Men (AMC) 17 noms
3 Downton Abbey (PBS) 16 noms
  Hatfields & McCoys (History) 16 noms
5 Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO) 15 noms

Early Thursday morning, Jimmy Kimmel and Kerry Washington teamed to announce the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards. Leading all nominees with 17 apiece were a pair of shows, one expected (AMC's critical hit Mad Men), and one surprising (FX's first-year thriller American Horror Story, which had the advantage of qualifiying in the less-competitive miniseries/movie categories).

Downton Abbey took the opposite approach, moving to the drama category for the first time after dominating the miniseries category in 2011, and it paid off in a big way; the PBS series earned 16 nominations, five more than it collected last year. That show's biggest challenger (other than Mad Men) looks likely to be AMC's other terrific drama, Breaking Bad, which collected 13 nominations. Meanwhile, the most-honored primetime series on the commercial broadcast networks was once again ABC's Modern Family, though it received "only" 14 nominations this year, down from 17 in 2011.

As it is every year, HBO was the leading overall recipient of Emmy nominations, with 81 (down from 104 last year). CBS, once again the leader among broadcast networks, was in second place with 60, while PBS (58), NBC (51), and ABC (48) rounded out the top five. Among cable networks, AMC (34 nominations), FX (26), and Showtime (22) also had strong years.

Listed below are this year's nominees in every major category.

The nominations: Best series and specials

Outstanding Comedy Series
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
The Big Bang Theory CBS   Modern Family ABC
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO   30 Rock NBC
Girls * HBO   Veep * HBO

* First-time nominee

No, there's no Louie (a disappointment, but not a surprise), there's no Community (at least in this timeline), and there also is no Parks and Recreation, which actually is a bit surprising, since that show was nominated last year. (Also missing are Glee and The Office, but neither of those seemed Emmy-worthy this season.) Instead, the outstanding comedy category becomes yet another field dominated by HBO, with two of its newcomers—the critically acclaimed Girls and the entertaining Veep—the only two first-time nominees in the category. HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, now a seven-time nominee, returns after a year off (since the Larry David vehicle did not air in the previous eligibility period), while the three broadcast contenders are all returnees from last year. The latter group includes Modern Family, which has two consecutive wins in this category.

Speaking of Louis CK, by the way, the comedian did earn acting, writing and directing nominations for his eponymous show, and four more nominations for his FX stand-up special; his seven total nominations this year were a single-year record for an individual. Still, that doesn't quite make up for the ommission of Louie from the outstanding comedy series field.

Outstanding Drama Series
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Boardwalk Empire HBO   Game of Thrones HBO
Breaking Bad AMC   Homeland * Showtime
Downton Abbey ** PBS   Mad Men AMC

* First-time nominee
** First-time nominee in this category

Downton Abbey was classified as a miniseries for its first "season"—a category that it won handily—making it a newcomer in the drama field, where it better belongs (since there was nothing "mini" about it). And what a field it is, featuring many of TV's most critically acclaimed shows, including AMC's Breaking Bad (nominated for its third consecutive season, though it still somehow couldn't secure any writing nominations) and Showtime's Homeland, last season's highest-scoring freshman series. (The latter series earned nine nominations overall, placing it second only to American Horror Story among new series.) But this has been Mad Men's category in recent years, and the 1960s-era drama will be going for its fifth straight win in September.

You'll notice one important thing missing from the above list: any broadcast network show. Last year's sole broadcast nominee The Good Wife did not repeat this year, making this the first time in history that the category has lacked an entry from a commercial broadcast network.

Outstanding Variety Series
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
The Colbert Report Comedy Central   Late Night with Jimmy Fallon NBC
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Comedy Central   Real Time with Bill Maher HBO
Jimmy Kimmel Live * ABC   Saturday Night Live NBC

* First-time nominee

It's mainly the same slate as last year, with Jimmy Kimmel's talk show replacing Conan O'Brien's. The Daily Show was last year's winner, as it was for the eight previous years as well. Can you say "ten-peat"?

Outstanding Variety Special
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute To America's Golden Girl NBC   Mel Brooks And Dick Cavett Together Again HBO
Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker Bravo   Tony Bennett: Duets II PBS
The Kennedy Center Honors CBS      
Outstanding Miniseries or Made For Television Movie
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
American Horror Story FX   Hemingway & Gellhorn HBO
Game Change HBO   Luther HBO
Hatfields & McCoys History   Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia PBS

Once again, the Academy has used this category as a chance to play the game "Which of these things doesn't belong?", though, this time, there are perhaps legitimate excuses to include ongoing series like Luther and American Horror Story in this category, since the former's most recent season was certainly on the mini side (at just four episodes), and the latter, though it will return next season, will do so with an entirely different premise, setting, and characters. (British import Sherlock is another ongoing "series," though it really is just a collection of stand-alone movies, and indeed was nominated this year for just a single one of those films.) HBO's two entries are the only two traditional made-for-TV movies in the group, while the hit Hatfields & McCoys is the only conventional miniseries nominated.

Outstanding Reality Program
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Antiques Roadshow PBS   Shark Tank ABC
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution ABC   Undercover Boss CBS
MythBusters Discovery   Who Do You Think You Are? NBC

Deadliest Catch (which won last year) and Hoarders are out (as is Kathy Griffin's defunct My Life on the D-List); Food Revolution, Shark Tank, and Who Do You Think You Are are in.

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
The Amazing Race CBS   So You Think You Can Dance FOX
Dancing With The Stars ABC   Top Chef Bravo
Project Runway Lifetime   The Voice NBC

Previous nominee American Idol failed to earn a nomination this year; adding insult to injury, NBC's competitor The Voice earned a nomination in its place. The Amazing Race has won the category eight of the last nine years (including last year), with Top Chef the only other winner of this relatively new award.

Outstanding Animated Program
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
American Dad! FOX   The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole Nick
Bob's Burgers FOX   The Simpsons FOX
Futurama Comedy Central      

American Dad replaces The Cleveland Show as the Seth MacFarlane representative in the category, while South Park failed to earn a nomination this year. Futurama collected the trophy last year. Note that the deserving Adventure Time is in the short-format category rather than here.

The nominations: Acting and hosting

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Alec Baldwin 30 Rock   Jon Cryer Two and a Half Men
Don Cheadle House of Lies   Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm
Louis C.K. Louie   Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory

Last year's surprise winner Jim Parsons leads a group of nominees that looks familiar, though Parsons' co-star Johnny Galecki, nominated last year, did not receive another nomination this year; nor did Episodes star Matt LeBlanc. (Now-departed Office star Steve Carell was also nominated last year.) After sitting out a year, Larry David earned his fifth acting nomination for Curb, while Jon Cryer took advantage of Charlie Sheen's departure to move up to the lead actor category from the supporting actor field, where he had been nominated in the six previous years (winning once). Even an apparent Emmy newcomer like Don Cheadle, star of Showtime's first-year comedy House of Lies, has four previous nominations to his name (for guest star and movie/miniseries work, though his most recent previous nomination was in 2003).

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Zooey Deschanel New Girl   Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep
Lena Dunham Girls   Melissa McCarthy Mike & Molly
Edie Falco Nurse Jackie   Amy Poehler Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey 30 Rock      

Zooey Deschanel is indeed the new girl in this category, but so is—also quite literally—Lena Dunham, who also earned nominations for directing and writing for her new HBO series Girls. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also returns to the field with her 13th career nomination, across three different shows; she previously won once for Seinfeld and once for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Helping to make room for all these newcomers (though the Academy still expanded the field to seven contenders) are Raising Hope's Martha Plimpton and The Big C's Laura Linney, the two actresses from last year's slate not earning nominations this year. Melissa McCarthy was the surprise winner here last year, with Edie Falco winning the year prior to that. In other words, predict this category at your own risk. (In a perfect world, Amy Poehler would get her first win in seven tries, but the Emmys are far from perfect.)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Ty Burrell Modern Family   Max Greenfield New Girl
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Modern Family   Bill Hader Saturday Night Live
Ed O'Neill Modern Family   Eric Stonestreet Modern Family

Only Glee's Chris Colfer is missing from last year's group (though, again, Jon Cryer was shifted to the lead actor category); the newcomers here, joining the Modern Family foursome, are New Girl's Max Greenfield and—in a surprise—SNL's Bill Hader; the former is a first-time nominee, while Hader is going for his second win in three tries, though his previous Emmy nominations (and win) were as a producer on South Park. Ty Burrell won the trophy last year, with co-star Eric Stonestreet the victor the year prior.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Mayim Bialik The Big Bang Theory   Sofia Vergara Modern Family
Julie Bowen Modern Family   Merritt Wever Nurse Jackie
Kathryn Joosten Desperate Housewives   Kristen Wiig Saturday Night Live

Gone are Betty White, Jane Krakowski, and Jane Lynch (who won here for Glee just two years ago); replacing them are two first-timers: Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory and the terrific Merritt Wever of Showtime's Nurse Jackie. The other semi-surprise here is a nomiation for the late Kathryn Joosten, who died last month at the age of 72; though she was not nominated last year, she has two previous wins for her role on Desperate Housewives, but those (as well as a third nomination) were in the guest actress category rather than here. Modern Family's Julie Bowen was last year's winner.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Hugh Bonneville Downton Abbey   Michael C. Hall Dexter
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire   Jon Hamm Mad Men
Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad   Damian Lewis Homeland

We can now guarantee that Hugh Laurie will never win an Emmy for House; the actor wasn't even nominated in the show's final season. Joining Laurie on the sidelines this year are Justified's Timothy Olyphant and Kyle Chandler of the now-departed Friday Night Lights. (The latter actor was last year's winner in this category.) Replacing that trio are two first-time Emmy nominees: Damian Lewis, who delivered a knockout performance during the first season of Homeland, and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville. Oh, and there's also Bryan Cranston, whose Breaking Bad was not part of last year's Emmys because of a scheduling change. Craston was the winner in Bad's three previous seasons, and given that the series got even better last year, it would be an upset if he didn't win again.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Kathy Bates Harry's Law   Michelle Dockery Downton Abbey
Glenn Close Damages   Julianna Margulies The Good Wife
Claire Danes Homeland   Elisabeth Moss Mad Men

Who's out? Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton (though you can find her in the miniseries category), The Killing's Mireille Enos, and Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay. In are Claire Danes (Homeland), first-time nominee Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey's Lady Mary Crawley), and Damages star Glenn Close, who was absent last year only because her show aired outside of the eligibility period. Julianna Margulies was the winner here last year, though Danes also has an Emmy victory on her resume (for the movie Temple Grandin).

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Jim Carter Downton Abbey   Giancarlo Esposito Breaking Bad
Brendan Coyle Downton Abbey   Jared Harris Mad Men
Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones   Aaron Paul Breaking Bad

Finally, some new faces. The excellent Peter Dinklage—last year's deserving winner in this category—is the only returning nominee. Other familiar names like Justified's Walton Goggins and Mad Men's John Slattery were crowded out by the shift of Downton Abbey from the miniseries category and the return of Breaking Bad. And it is the latter show that poses the biggest threat to Dinklage's chances of repeating; Aaron Paul won in this category two years ago, while Giancarlo Esposito turned in one of last season's most memorable performances. Esposito and Harris are first-time Emmy nominees, by the way, as are the two Abbey actors.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Christine Baranski The Good Wife   Christina Hendricks Mad Men
Joanne Froggatt Downton Abbey   Archie Panjabi The Good Wife
Anna Gunn Breaking Bad   Maggie Smith Downton Abbey

The Killing's Michelle Forbes, Justified's Margo Martindale, and Kelly Macdonald of Boardwalk Empire are the names missing from this group (though it would have been awfully hard for some of them to repeat). Instead, you'll find Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt (she plays Anna) and Maggie Smith and Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn (a first-time nominee) joining Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and the two Good Wife co-stars. Since Martindale was the winner last year, the field is theoretically wide open, though Panjabi took home the Emmy two years ago and Smith won for the same role (but in the miniseries category) last year. And what Emmy voters are going to deny Smith the chance to make another acceptance speech?

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Kevin Costner Hatfields & McCoys   Woody Harrelson Game Change
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia   Clive Owen Hemingway & Gellhorn
Idris Elba Luther   Bill Paxton Hatfields & McCoys

Elba is a return nominee for Luther, though he did not win the trophy last year, while Woody Harrelson has six prior nominations (and one win), all for Cheers and its spinoff, Frasier (where Harrelson was nominated as a guest star). Costner, Paxton, and Owen, meanwhile, are receiving Emmy nominations for the first time. But in a field of mostly film stars, we'd give the trophy to Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch, another first-time nominee.

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Connie Britton American Horror Story   Julianne Moore Game Change
Ashley Judd Missing   Emma Thompson The Song Of Lunch
Nicole Kidman Hemingway & Gellhorn      

We're pretty sure that ABC never intended for Missing to be a "mini" series, but Judd is no doubt happy to have her second career nominiaton, even if she earned it by way of cancelation. Britton is now a three-time nominee, though Kidman and Moore are new to the Emmy game (and also look likely to be the two favorites in the category). The only previous Emmy winner in the bunch is Emma Thompson, nominated for what sounds like a Sesame Street segment but is actually an episode of Masterpiece.

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Tom Berenger Hatfields & McCoys   Denis O'Hare American Horror Story
Martin Freeman Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia   David Strathairn Hemingway & Gellhorn
Ed Harris Game Change      
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Frances Conroy American Horror Story   Sarah Paulson Game Change
Judy Davis Page Eight   Mare Winningham Hatfields & McCoys
Jessica Lange American Horror Story      

Well, American Horror Story should have no problem lining up guest stars for its second season. The first-time nominees in the two supporting categories are Denis O'Hare, Sarah Paulson, and one-time Office [UK] star (and future Hobbit) Martin Freeman.

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Will Arnett 30 Rock   Michael J. Fox Curb Your Enthusiasm
Bobby Cannavale Nurse Jackie   Jon Hamm 30 Rock
Jimmy Fallon Saturdy Night Live   Greg Kinnear Modern Family

It seems odd that Cannavale is in this category; while the other actors here had just—in some cases—a few minutes of screen time (or, at most, a single episode), the Nurse Jackie actor played a major role in the past season of that series, appearing in every episode. However, the guest acting categories seem to be an excuse to nominate the same actors multiple times. Case in point: Jon Hamm (also nominated for starring in Mad Men), Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife), ...

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Elizabeth Banks 30 Rock   Dot-Marie Jones Glee
Kathy Bates Two and a Half Men   Melissa McCarthy Saturday Night Live
Margaret Cho 30 Rock   Maya Rudolph Saturday Night Live

... Kathy Bates (Harry's Law), and Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly). Meanwhile, Maya Rudolph couldn't get a nomination when she was actually starring on SNL, but she finally gets one for returning as host.

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Dylan Baker The Good Wife   Michael J. Fox The Good Wife
Jeremy Davies Justified   Mark Margolis Breaking Bad
Ben Feldman Mad Men   Jason Ritter Parenthood

Both Davies and Fox were nominated for the exact same roles last year, though neither won. If the name of Breaking Bad guest star Mark Margolis doesn't ring a bell, he plays Tio Salamanca.

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Joan Cusack Shameless   Martha Plimpton The Good Wife
Loretta Devine Grey's Anatomy   Jean Smart Harry's Law
Julia Ormond Mad Men   Uma Thurman Smash

Plimpton's nomination is perhaps a consolation prize for failing to earn one for Raising Hope. Thurman is a first-time Emmy nominee; the other actresses have earned nominations in the past, and Devine, Smart, and Ormond each have at least one Emmy at home. In fact, Devine's win came last year for the same role; that would make her a front-runner for this year's award.

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Tom Bergeron Dancing with the Stars   Ryan Seacrest American Idol
Cat Deeley So You Think You Can Dance   Betty White Betty White's Off Their Rockers
Phil Keoghan The Amazing Race      

"Newcomer" Betty White replaces Jeff Probst of Survivor, who won last year yet somehow couldn't get a nomination this year despite saying "Survivors, ready!" as convincingly as ever.

More Emmy coverage

For the complete roster of 2012 nominees, including the many technical, directing, and writing categories not listed above, visit the official Emmy website. In the final week leading up to the actual ceremony, which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and air live on ABC on Sunday, September 23rd, we'll return with a rundown of expert predictions in each major category; prior to that, you'll have an opportunity to make your own predictions in our annual Emmy poll.

What are industry observers saying about this year's nominations? Here is some early analysis:

What do you think of the nominations? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (10)

  • FacingDrama  

    What about Kelsey Grammer's brilliant performance in BOSS?

  • Alienware  

    I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw those animation nominees. Both because none of them does really deserve to be there but mainly because Archer ISN'T there!

  • evergreenOldboy  

    I finished Breaking Bad season 4 on netflix just a few days ago, and I just couldn't believe how good it was. Interestingly, I only started watching it because I had a huge Game of Thrones hangover and needed a serious fix. Funny how that stuff works out.

    The toughest category is Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for sure, I have to admit I haven't yet seen any of Mad Men, and none of Downton Abby this season, but I think that pretty much between Peter Dinklage and Aaron Paul. I haven't decided which one was better, but I am rooting for Peter because this is his first.

    Also, the Louie omission from Best Comedy Series was a bummer. I am avoiding hyperboles in strike of it actually. Go ahead and laugh at me for doing it, I know I am.

  • lovettg  

    I can't believe Cote de Pablo was not nominated for best supporting actress for her role in NCIS. It's a crime.

  • dlistblogger  

    Saying Scandal should have replaced Breaking Bad is like saying Two and a Half Men should have replaced Girls

  • karajax  

    American Horror story was awesome! Last season there was time literally I had to watch it with the light on. I love that show. The Walking Dead couldnt hold water to that show.

    I think overall I am secure about the nominations with the EXCEPTION of one: ABC's Scandal. What a show! Although, it was mid-season show and it was slated for only about 6 episodes, but, wow what a real ride! I would have much rather seen ABC's Scandal in the drama section above Downtown Abby or Breaking Bad. Do others agree that Scandal shouldve gotten a nod?

  • jerrycurlan  

    The Walking Dead didn't deserve any nomiantions. 90 percent of this last season bored me to tears. The last episode was good, but that's about it. Such a let down from season one. On the other hand, American Horror Story was inventive as hell, and I can't wait to see what Season 2 brings. And Breaking Bad? What can I say? Best show on TV yet again. 5th season is off to a great start.

  • JRath  

    Hoping that Breaking Bad wins every category it is in. After season 4's awesomeness it certainly deserves it.

  • LamontRaymond  

    Outstanding Drama Series is one tough category - but if we're honest with ourselves, there's only one real choice there - Breaking Bad.

  • StonedMagician  

    American Horror Story receives 17 nominations, but The Walking Dead gets none? What the hell is this?

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