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Powered By Dragons, ‘Veep,’ And Beyoncé, HBO Scores Most Emmy Nominations

CREDIT: PRASHANT GUPTA/CRAIG BLANKENHORN/FX/MICHAEL PARMELEE/USA NETWORKS/HBO/ERIC LIEBOWITZ/NETFLIX
CREDIT: PRASHANT GUPTA/CRAIG BLANKENHORN/FX/MICHAEL PARMELEE/USA NETWORKS/HBO/ERIC LIEBOWITZ/NETFLIX

They said this day would never come! They said our sights were set too high!

But on Thursday morning, after years of neglect and oversight — and inexplicable, undying love for mediocre dramas that just look fancy but really are not that good (looking at you, Downton Abbey) — the Emmys deigned to honor the greatest show on television and the performers who make it so: The Americans is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series and its spy stars, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, are nominated for Lead Actor and Lead Actress in a Drama Series, respectively.

Don’t fret, Downton Abbey was nominated, as was Modern Family for Outstanding Comedy Series, as it must be and so it is written, until climate change causes the tides to rise up and drown us all beneath the sea.

But let us not dwell too long on the aforementioned shows that are adored beyond reason, or on the excellence that was snubbed (Constance Wu is a stunner on the A+ Fresh off the Boat, for starters, and House of Cards wishes it could be as thoughtfully dark and twisty as UnREAL, and what about You’re the Worst and Show Me a Hero… but I digress). Overall, the Emmys have offered up a decent mix of highbrow and lowbrow, niche and mainstream, from streaming giants and old school television, which is — it’s hard to explain, but it’s like, imagine a computer, but it just has shows on it, and also commercials, and to make it work you have to spend 18 hours on the phone with seven different Comcast employees.

Let’s break down some highlights:

Not that it takes much, but the Emmy nominees are far more diverse than the Oscar nominees

The year of pointing out the fact that every other awards body — and, by extension, every other entertainment sector — is doing a better job of celebrating the work of performers who aren’t white continues! First came the Tony Awards, a Hamilton-heavy night that saw all four musical acting awards go to performers of color, a Tony first. And now, the Emmys naturally reflect the fact that television is a notably more inclusive on-screen scene than film. Master of None scored a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, as did star and co-creator Aziz Ansari; Black-ish is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series as well, and its leads Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are each nominated for their leading roles.

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‘Master Of None’ Is A MasterpieceThe great love story of Master of None starts, like so many great love stories, with the guy saying, “Oh, fuck, fuck…thinkprogress.orgUnbreakable Kimmy Schimdt, which takes place in a kind of utopian alternate universe where white men make the occasional cameo, is up for Outstanding Comedy Series as well, as are star Ellie Kemper and supporting actor/pinot noir advocate Tituss Burgess, who is up against Keegan-Michael Key (in Key & Peele’s final year of eligibility, sniff, sniff), Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Andre Braugher, Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, Louie Anderson from Baskets, and two gents from Veep, Tony Hale and Matt Walsh.

Over in the drama categories, Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek — born in America to Egyptian parents — is up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (the show is nominated for the biggest award of the night, too). Last year, How to Get Away with Murder star Viola Davis became the first African American to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; she’s nominated again this year, alongside Russell, Empire MVP Taraji P. Henson, cult favorite Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black, Homeland’s Claire Danes, and cheekbone unicorn Robin Wright, star of House of Cards.

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Sees Your Concern About Insensitive Jokes, Raises You ‘Top Five Hitlers…“When you shove your problems down, they’re gonna bust out in weird ways.” That’s what Andrea, an alcoholic therapist…thinkprogress.orgThe Limited Series categories are impressive, too. Half of the nominees for Lead Actor are performers of color: Idris Elba is up for Luther and both Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance are nominated for their turns as O.J. Simpson and Johnnie Cochran in The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. On the women’s side, national treasure Audra McDonald is nominated for her leading role in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill against Kerry Washington, nominated for her portrayal of Anita Hill in Confirmation, as well as Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Sarah Paulson (The People v O.J. Simpson), Lili Taylor and Felicity Huffman (American Crime).

The people are really feeling The People v O.J. Simpson

In case you couldn’t already tell, the delectable, extremely well-done FX miniseries on the trial of the century is the year’s second-most nominated show with 22 nods to its name: It’s up for TV Movie/Limited Series, and cast members Cuba Gooding Jr., Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown, David Schwimmer, John Travolta, and Sarah Paulson, whose performance inspired a re-evaluation of the public’s treatment of Marcia Clark, earned nods as well. The most-nominated show? Dragon-wielding juggernaut Game of Thrones.

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Will Beyoncé attend the Emmys this year?

She could! She’s nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special for Lemonade, which pits her against some wide-ranging and formidable talent, including Chris Rock, who helmed Amy Schumer’s Live at the Apollo, and Thomas Kail, who is nominated for directing Grease Live! and who you may know as the director of an tiny, off-off-off Broadway show called Hamilton. In the Outstanding Variety Special category, it’s Adele versus Beyoncé, as Lemonde is up against Adele Live in New York City, plus Schumer’s Apollo show again, the Kennedy Center Honors, and The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special.

Streaming is the future, but HBO is the present

HBO scored 94 nominations, more than any other network; FX came in second. But Netflix picked up 54 nominations — the biggies went Master of None, House of Cards, and Kimmy Schmidt — a record high for the unofficial sponsor of chill. Amazon earned 16 nominations, also a personal best.

Returning champions will be up against first-time nominees

Veep took home Outstanding Comedy Series last year and will defend its title against first-time nominees black-ish and Master of None, plus Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Game of Thrones, 2015’s Outstanding Drama Series winner, is competing with first-timers Mr. Robot and The Americans, along with Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Homeland, and House of Cards.

Weirdness will (sometimes) be rewarded

Some of the best series of the year went about as dark and strange as you could get: The unhinged, unstable inner life of Elliot on Mr. Robot, the meandering tone-poem that is Better Call Saul, the emotionally gruesome relationships on UnREAL, the murder-comedy that is Fargo, the who-even-knows-anymore of American Horror Story: Hotel. All received at least one nomination. (The Night Manager is also supposed to be weird, right? But you haven’t seen it and neither have I, be honest.)

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‘Mr. Robot’ Finale: It’s All In Your Head. Or Is It?Mr. Robot, USA’s unlikely breakout hit of the summer, aired its finale Wednesday night, a week after it was originally…thinkprogress.org

Despite heaps of critical praise, not a lot of love for on-screen stars of The CW

Though the dazzling, formidable stars of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have scooped up Golden Globes for their performances, neither Gina Rodriguez nor Rachel Bloom was recognized by the Emmys this year, nor were their shows. The only nomination for Jane: Anthony Mendez, Jane’s narrator, for — you guessed it — Outstanding Narrator. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is up for Choreography, Original Music and Lyrics, Original Main Title Theme Music (no surprises there) and Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series. So, nothing you’ll see during the telecast.

If Tom Hiddleston started dating Taylor Swift to up his profile and score Emmy nominations, it worked!

Who among us can hope to truly understand the complex web of feelings that inspire a grown man to swim in the ocean while wearing an “I [Heart] T.S.” tank top, but if the handsome half of Hiddleswift embarked on a high profile relationship tour with America’s top-earning celebrity to woo Emmy voters, he succeeded: Hiddleston is nominated for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in The Night Manager; the series is nominated, too.