Tube Talk: Analyzing the 2009 Emmy nominees

As much as TV fans like to complain about how Emmy voters never seem to get anything right, there were several reasons to be happy with the nominees this year. In some cases, it has a lot to do with the addition of a sixth nominee in the major categories.
Without that extra name, would Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss (Peggy) be in the running with the exact same field of actresses from last year? A group that included three of the same actresses of the previous year? Probably not. Nor would Aaron Paul—so good as the junkie/dealer Jesse on Breaking Bad that you’d hardly recognize him as Scott from Big Love—likely be among the Outstanding Supporting Actor nominees in the Drama category. Pushing Daisies’ Kristin Chenoweth (Olive) also squeaked in as a nominee for Supporting Actress in a Comedy.

Another fun surprise was learning that Jack McBrayer earned two Emmy nominations, the first as a comedic supporting actor for his role as Kenneth, the page on 30 Rock, and another producer of one of 30 Rock’s online components, 30 Rock’s Kenneth the Web Page. That was in the somewhat obscure category: Outstanding Special Class-Short Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs. That puts McBrayer in the running against’s Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy; Bruce Springsteen’s Super Bowl Halftime Show;’s The Daily Show: The Daily Show Correspondents on Jon Stewart; and my personal favorite, Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Dr. Horrible star Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the Emmys this year, and is also nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his work on How I Met Your Mother—which itself was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

My FedEx guy will be thrilled to know his favorite show, Family Guy, will be competing against HIMYM for that trophy. Family Guy’s nomination may also be attributable to a sixth slot in that category.

Jon Hamm is a double nominee this year, for his role as Don Draper on Mad Men as well as for his guest stint on 30 Rock. Likewise, Grey’s Anatomy’s Chandra Wilson (Dr. Bailey) is nominated for that performance and as Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Hallmark’s Accidental Friendship.

Tina Fey is a multiple nominee again this year—once again as Lead Actress in a Comedy for playing 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon, as well as a Guest Actress in a Comedy for her notable parody of Sarah Palin. (Incidentally, SNL nabbed 13 nominations, the most any variety program has received in one season—not bad for a show that’s been around three-and-a-half decades.) Fey is also the executive producer of 30 Rock, which is also nominated as an Outstanding Comedy Series.

And, 24 fans, have no fear. Kiefer Sutherland may not have been nominated as Lead Actor in a Drama Series, but he was nominated for playing Jack Bauer in 24: Redemption, last fall’s TV movie that set things up for the series’ long-awaited return.

For a list of nominees, check out The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences consumer-oriented Web site:

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications. Send in your suggestions to

from the July 22-28, 2009, issue

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