2011 Emmy Nominations: Who's In, Who's Out?

  • Publish Date: July 14, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

Cable still rules

Shows with Most Nominations
1 Mildred Pierce (HBO) 21 noms
2 Mad Men (AMC) 19 noms
3 Boardwalk Empire (HBO) 18 noms
4 Modern Family (ABC) 17 noms
5 Saturday Night Live (NBC) 16 noms

Hollywood managed to take a break from its preparations for the rapidly approaching Carmageddon early Thursday morning to witness a slightly less catastrophic event: the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' announcement of the nominees for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

Leading the pack as it does every year was HBO, with a total of 104 nominations, up from 2010's industry-leading 101. About a fifth of those 104 nominations came from the network's miniseries adaptation of James M. Cain's book Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, which led all shows with 21 total nominations, though first-year drama series Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones also earned double-digit nomination totals.

The leading nominee among regular series was AMC's Mad Men, which set a series high with 19 nominations this year. Second-year sitcom Modern Family was the top nominee among broadcast network shows, adding 17 nominations to the 14 it collected last year.

It wasn't a terrific year for the broadcast networks in general however; they combined for just 178 nominations this year (not including PBS), compared to 214 the year before. CBS was the leading broadcast network with 50 nominations, followed by NBC (46) and Fox (42); last year's top network, ABC, dropped from 63 to 40 nominations (thanks in no small part to the loss of Lost). And while in 2010 the networks saw first-year shows like The Good Wife and Modern Family scored multiple major Emmy nominations, there were no similar first-year wonders this year. Among this year's freshman broadcast series, only CBS's Mike & Molly, NBC's Harry's Law, and Fox's Raising Hope even registered with Emmy voters, and each of those programs earned just two nominations.

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   The Office NBC
Glee Fox   Parks and Recreation * NBC
Modern Family ABC   30 Rock NBC

* First-time nominee

As expected, critic favorite Parks and Recreation and CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory join four returning nominees in the comedy category. Out are Curb Your Enthusiasm (which did not air last year) and Showtime's Nurse Jackie. Anyone hoping for the emergence of Community and Louie in this category will be disappointed, though the latter show picked up several nominations in other categories.

Outstanding Drama Series
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Boardwalk Empire * HBO   Game of Thrones * HBO
Dexter Showtime   The Good Wife CBS
Friday Night Lights * NBC   Mad Men AMC

* First-time nominee

There are no real surprises here, but that doesn't mean there isn't any good news for fans of quality television. Not only did HBO's fantasy epic Game of Thrones score a best drama series nomination (one of 13 total nominations for the first-year program), but so did—finally—DirecTV/NBC's Friday Night Lights, in its fifth and final season. Another HBO newcomer, the Martin Scorsese-produced Boardwalk Empire, also landed in this category (for one of its 18 nominations), as did three returning nominees, including AMC's Mad Men (which upped its nomination total to 19 this year after scoring 17 last year). Only True Blood among last year's six nominees failed to repeat this year; two additional 2010 nominees (Breaking Bad and Lost) did not air this year. Fan favorite The Walking Dead also failed to register with voters. And despite widespread critical acclaim for its second season, FX's Justified could not secure a nomination here, though it did pick up some nominations in the acting categories, unlike HBO's equally lauded Treme, which was shut out completely.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
The Colbert Report Comedy Central   Late Night With Jimmy Fallon * NBC
Conan * tbs   Real Time With Bill Maher HBO
The Daily Show Comedy Central   Saturday Night Live NBC

The name of his show may be different, but Conan O'Brien still finds his late night talk show scoring a nomination in this category; while this year, the honor goes to his first-year TBS series Conan, last year, his version of The Tonight Show scored a nomination. A more surprising—though certainly deserving—newcomer here is Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, which is nominated for the first time in this category in its third season. All other nominees are the same as last year, including The Daily Show, which has won the award in eight consecutive years. Saturday Night Live's nomination, by the way, is just one of 16 this year for that show, pushing its all-time record total for a single show to 142 nominations.

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On HBO   Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden HBO
Carrie Fisher In Wishful Drinking HBO   The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway HBO
The Kennedy Center Honors CBS      
Outstanding Miniseries or Made For Television Movie
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Cinema Verite HBO   Mildred Pierce HBO
Downton Abbey PBS   The Pillars of the Earth Starz
The Kennedys ReelzChannel   Too Big to Fail HBO

Traditionally two separate categories, the awards for best movie and best miniseries have been consolidated this year for the first time, due to a lack of miniseries entrants in recent years. One of those entrants this year is HBO's five-part depression-era miniseries Mildred Pierce, which topped all programs in 2011 with 21 nominations, much as the network's The Pacific led all programs last year. The most surprising nominee here is The Kennedys, a miniseries that was rejected by several networks (including History, its original home), before eventually landing on the little-known ReelzChannel.

Outstanding Reality Program
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
Antiques Roadshow PBS   Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List Bravo
Deadliest Catch Discovery   MythBusters Discovery
Hoarders A&E   Undercover Boss CBS

Deadliest Catch and Hoarders are this year's new nominees, while last year's winner, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, failed to score a nomination this year. Discovery's Dirty Jobs is the other 2010 nominee not to return this year.

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

Last year's five nominees (including last year's surprise winner Top Chef and seven-time winner The Amazing Race) return, joined by a sixth entrant, Fox's So You Think You Can Dance.

Outstanding Animated Program
Nominee Network   Nominee Network
The Cleveland Show FOX   The Simpsons FOX
Futurama Comedy Central   South Park Comedy Central
Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III Cartoon Network      

Frequent winners The Simpsons and South Park are the only returning nominees, while the reborn Futurama has five previous nominations (and one win) in the category, though none since 2004—when the series still aired on Fox. Last year's winner, Disney Prep & Landing, was not nominated.

The nominations: Acting and hosting

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Alec Baldwin 30 Rock   Johnny Galecki The Big Bang Theory
Steve Carell The Office   Matt LeBlanc Episodes
Louis C.K. Louie   Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory

Baldwin, Carell, and Parsons are returning nominees, and though Parsons won the award in 2010, Carell will be a huge sentimental favorite to take home this year's trophy for his final season as Office boss Michael Scott. Parsons' Big Bang Theory co-star, Johnny Galecki, and the excellent Louis C.K. received their first-ever Emmy nominations (C.K. received four in total this year, for both his eponymous show and for a stand-up special), while Matt LeBlanc was a three-time nominee for Friends from 2002-04. Three 2010 nominees failed to get nominations this year, but of that group, only Glee's Matthew Morrison was eligible this year. And some experts had predicted the emergence of Community's Joel McHale or Parks and Recreation's Rob Lowe in this category this year; Galecki's nomination, especially, comes as a bit of a surprise.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Edie Falco Nurse Jackie   Melissa McCarthy Mike & Molly
Tina Fey 30 Rock   Martha Plimpton Raising Hope
Laura Linney The Big C   Amy Poehler Parks and Recreation

As was the case for comedy actors, the actress category is evenly split between returnees and newcomers. Falling in the former category are Edie Falco (last year's winner), Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. Laura Linney, a new nominee for Showtime's first-year series The Big C, is a three-time Emmy winner, and was expected to wind up here. The surprises are Martha Plimpton, who previously was nominated as a Law & Order SVU guest star in 2002, and Mike & Molly's Melissa McCarthy, who received her first-ever Emmy nomination. Their inclusion this year means that 2010 nominees Lea Michele (Glee) and Toni Collette (United States of Tara) were left empty-handed in 2011.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Ty Burrell Modern Family   Jesse Tyler Ferguson Modern Family
Chris Colfer Glee   Ed O'Neill Modern Family
Jon Cryer Two and a Half Men   Eric Stonestreet Modern Family

The supporting actor category is virtually unchanged from last year, with Modern Family's Ed O'Neill—surprisingly, a first-time nominee—replacing How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris. (Sadly, Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman was neglected again.) Will all those Modern Family nominees cancel each other out, allowing Cryer or Colfer to eke out a victory? That didn't happen last year, when Stonestreet won.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Julie Bowen Modern Family   Sofia Vergara Modern Family
Jane Lynch Glee   Betty White Hot in Cleveland
Jane Krakowski 30 Rock   Kristen Wiig Saturday Night Live

Supporting actress is another stable category, with Betty White the one newcomer here; she replaces Holland Taylor, a nominee last year for Two and a Half Men. It is White's 17th career nomination. Lynch won the category last year, and she'll be hosting the Emmy ceremony this year.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire   Jon Hamm Mad Men
Kyle Chandler Friday Night Lights   Hugh Laurie House
Michael C. Hall Dexter   Timothy Olyphant Justified

We can guarantee that there will be a first-time winner in this category this year. Bryan Cranston's streak of three consecutive Emmy victories has come to an end, but only because Breaking Bad debuted too late this year to qualify for this year's awards. His absence opens up a spot for either Hall (0 for 4 previous nominations), Hamm (0 for 5), or Laurie (0 for 6) to finally get the trophy that has eluded him so far. (Our money's on Hamm.) The newcomers in the category are Boardwalk Empire star Steve Buscemi (three previous Emmy nominations, no wins) and first-time nominee Timothy Olyphant.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Kathy Bates Harry's Law   Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: SVU
Connie Britton Friday Night Lights   Julianna Margulies The Good Wife
Mireille Enos The Killing   Elisabeth Moss Mad Men

AMC's first-year drama The Killing may have had its problems, but star Mireille Enos certainly wasn't one of them, and her unexpected nomination is the first of her career. Other newcomers in the category include Kathy Bates (her ninth career nomination) and Elisabeth Moss, who last year was nominated in the supporting category instead. Their additions mean that there is one surprising omission: frequent nominee Kyra Sedgwick, who won the Emmy last year for The Closer. (The other non-returnees are Glenn Close, whose Damages didn't debut in time to qualify for this year's awards, and Mad Men's January Jones, who had a reduced role last season.)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Andre Braugher Men of a Certain Age   Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones
Josh Charles The Good Wife   Walton Goggins Justified
Alan Cumming The Good Wife   John Slattery Mad Men

Since most of last year's nominees in this category were on shows that didn't air this year (including winner Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad), the supporting actor race features a number of new faces this year, with no clear frontrunner. Andre Braugher and John Slattery are the sole returnees; they're joined by well-deserved nominations for the likes of Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage and Justified's Walton Goggins, each receiving their first career nominations (though Goggins should have been nominated much earlier for his work on The Shield). Josh Charles is also a first-time nominee, while his Good Wife co-star Alan Cumming has a previous nomination.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Christine Baranski The Good Wife   Margo Martindale Justified
Michelle Forbes The Killing   Kelly Macdonald Boardwalk Empire
Christina Hendricks Mad Men   Archie Panjabi The Good Wife

Baranski, Hendricks, and Panjabi (last year's winner) are returning nominees. Margo Martindale's first career nomination is a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, coming for her memorable season-long co-starring role as Mags Bennett on Justified. The other newcomers in the category are Michelle Forbes (another first-timer) and Boardwalk Empire's Kelly Macdonald. Burn Notice's Sharon Gless, a nominee last year, could not repeat that feat this year.

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Idris Elba Luther   Greg Kinnear The Kennedys
Laurence Fishburne Thurgood   Barry Pepper The Kennedys
William Hurt Too Big to Fail   Edgar Ramirez Carlos

Emmy voters clearly liked The Kennedys miniseries, giving it another two nominations here. A pair of HBO movies brought Laurence Fishburne and William Hurt their fifth and second career Emmy nominations, respectively, while the remaining two slots went to programs that barely qualify as "miniseries." Though the French miniseries Carlos was released as a (very long) theatrical film in the United States, it also aired on the Sundance Channel, making its star, Edgar Ramirez, eligible for an Emmy. And while we consider the BBC's crime drama Luther more series than miniseries (it's just short, as most British series are), its inclusion here means that its star, Idris Elba, can finally get an Emmy nomination; Elba was never nominated for his performance as Stringer Bell on HBO's The Wire. (It was a good morning for Elba, who also landed a guest-starring nomination this year for an appearance on The Big C.)

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Taraji P. Henson Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story   Elizabeth McGovern Downton Abbey
Diane Lane Cinema Verite   Kate Winslet Mildred Pierce
Jean Marsh Upstairs Downstairs      

Kate Winslet's nomination for the title role in HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce was as close to a sure thing as you'll find at this year's Emmys. Taraji P. Henson, nominated for the Lifetime movie Taken From Me, and Elizabeth McGovern, for Masterpiece Classic miniseries Downton Abbey, are first-time nominees.

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Paul Giamatti Too Big to Fail   Tom Wilkinson The Kennedys
Brian F. O'Byrne Mildred Pierce   James Woods Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce Mildred Pierce      
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Eileen Atkins Upstairs Downstairs   Mare Winningham Mildred Pierce
Melissa Leo Mildred Pierce   Evan Rachel Wood Mildred Pierce
Maggie Smith Downton Abbey      
Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Will Arnett 30 Rock   Zach Galifianakis Saturday Night Live
Matt Damon 30 Rock   Nathan Lane Modern Family
Idris Elba The Big C   Justin Timberlake Saturday Night Live

Galifianakis and Timberlake were nominated for their SNL hosting duties, while Arnett was also nominated for this same guest role last year.

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Elizabeth Banks 30 Rock   Dot-Marie Jones Glee
Kristin Chenoweth Glee   Cloris Leachman Raising Hope
Tina Fey Saturday Night Live   Gwyneth Paltrow Glee

Banks and Paltrow are first-time Emmy nominees this year, while it is Leachman's 22nd career nomination.

Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Beau Bridges Brothers & Sisters   Michael J. Fox The Good Wife
Jeremy Davies Justified   Paul McCrane Harry's Law
Bruce Dern Big Love   Robert Morse Mad Men

Morse and Bridges were nominated here last year, though Bridges' nomination was for a different show (The Closer). It is Fox's 12th career Emmy nomination, and he won in this same category two years ago for Rescue Me.

Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Cara Buono Mad Men   Randee Heller Mad Men
Joan Cusack Shameless   Mary McDonnell The Closer
Loretta Devine Grey's Anatomy   Julia Stiles Dexter

Mary McDonnell's guest appearance as Capt. Sharon Raydor on The Closer was so successful that a spin-off series (Major Crimes) revolving around her character is now in development. And Mad Men fans might be happy to see first-timer Randee Heller on the list; she's a nominee for her performance as the late Miss Blankenship.

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Nominee Show   Nominee Show
Tom Bergeron Dancing with the Stars   Jeff Probst Survivor
Cat Deeley So You Think You Can Dance   Ryan Seacrest American Idol
Phil Keoghan The Amazing Race      

Probst has won the award every year in which it has been handed out. Deeley is this year's new addition, replacing Project Runway's Heidi Klum.

More Emmy coverage

To get a full list of the 2011 nominees—including all of the many technical, directing, and writing categories not listed above—visit the official Emmy website. As we get closer to the ceremony, which will be hosted by Glee's Jane Lynch and air live on Fox on Sunday, September 18, we'll determine the expected winners in the major categories by sampling a variety of experts and give you a chance to make your own predictions.

What are TV critics and pundits saying about the nominations? Here is some early analysis:

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

Comments (4)

  • AtTheMovies  

    Overall, I was somewhat happy with the nominations. In don't watch any of the Drama series, so I cannot judge those. As for Comedy, my 3 favorite shows, 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks and Rec all got best comedy nominations. Lead Actress was pretty solid, hoping for a well deserved win for Poehler. Lead Actor was great, but didn't like the 2 nominations for Big Bang, hoped Rob Lowe would be nominated. Supporting Actor was complete bull **** 4 nominations for Modern Family, really? The show is OK, not great. 2 of the four nominations should have gone to Nick Offerman, and Chris Pratt. Supporting Actress, also too much Modern Family. Only one nomination there would have been good, the other going to Rashida Jones or Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Rec. I hate Glee, but cannot deny that Jane Lynch deserves a nomination. Besides what I said, the Emmy nominations were pretty good.

  • whit  

    Seconded, glad to see the cast of Justified getting some recognition.

  • JackD  

    Still cant understand the definition of "supporting actor/actress". Do you really believe that Josh Charles and Christine Baranski of The Good Wife are supporting actors and not stars of the show?...or is CBS just trying to up the number of nominees for their shows? Also, I would like to know what the Television academy has against David Simon. They ignored The Wire and are doing the same with Treme.....

  • MarcDoyle  

    Nothing for Sons of Anarchy or RedEye? Disappointing. Glad to see some love for Justified.

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