The 2012 PajEmmys: Our Picks for TV's Big Night
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The 2012 PajEmmys: Our Picks for TV's Big Night

By Sarah Carlson | TV Reviews | September 21, 2012 | Comments ()


Criticizing the Emmy Awards is easy. The nominations are never perfect -- great shows and actors always are overlooked -- and while the voters aren't as bad as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is with The Golden Globes, the ceremony can still feel like a popularity contest with the latest fads taking home prizes. Yet while the nominations this year have flaws -- I'm looking at you, Best Comedy category -- there is plenty to celebrate, not just at the Emmys, which air Sunday on ABC, but in TV land in general.
Cable continues to dominate, especially in the drama categories, and rightfully so. Earlier this year, the one-two punch of "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men" on Sundays was enough to give heart problems to any fan of tightly plotted, beautifully executed drama. To think that the "Blackwater" episode of "GoT" aired right before "Mad Men's" "The Other Woman," giving viewers an epic battle (led by the fabulous Peter Dinklage) followed by a devastating look at a single mother's (the also fabulous Christina Hendricks) choices for survival. The next week? Jared Harris, as Lane, shocked us all on "Men's" "Commissions and Fees" and "GoT" concluded its season with "Valar Morghulis." Thankfully, the excellent "Boardwalk Empire," "Homeland," "Justified" and "Breaking Bad" were more spread out to save viewers from total emotional exhaustion. Most films these days don't hold a candle to what is gracing the small screen. The Best Comedy love is less grand with its omission of two of the strongest comedies around, "Parks and Recreation" and "Community," as well as a nom for Nick Offerman on "Parks." The inclusion of "Girls" and "Veep," however, gives me hope that Emmy voters are mostly paying attention when it comes to recognizing quality in comedy. Both series had solid, smart premiere seasons.
I asked Dustin and Joanna to play along, and below we've offered our picks for the big winners Sunday night. Mind you, these picks generally favor who/what we think should win, not necessarily who/what will win. Because who the hell knows what goes through Emmy voters' minds as they cast their ballots? The biggest race is between "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," and as you can see, Dustin and Joanna are in the former's camp while I'm rooting for the latter. "Mad Men" has won Best Drama four times, each year it has been nominated, and "Breaking Bad" was out of contention in 2011 because of its break in scheduling. Both are excellent, but I'll say this: "Breaking Bad" can take home Drama if Jon Hamm will finally get his due in Best Actor. Part of me, however, is wondering if "Homeland" won't prove to be the dark horse of the evening. 

We'll start with a few of our own categories:

Biggest Nomination Slight:
Dustin's pick: Michael Pitt, Best Supporting Actor -- Drama, "Boardwalk Empire"
Joanna's pick: Walton Goggins, Best Supporting Actor -- Drama, "Justified." It's really, really hard to argue with the nominees in the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama category.  Except for maybe all the dudes from "Downton Abbey."  Oh yeah, even my beloved Bates.  The protracted, sloppy melodrama of Season Two does not deserve the love we gave Season One.  But the man who definitely deserves all the love we can spare is Walton Goggins for his extraordinary work on "Justified."  Though Boyd Crowder took a bit of a back seat this past year, Goggins brought his A-game to every speech, every smirk and every upended shock of hair.  So, yeah, to overlook this performance is a crime.  But something tells me Boyd isn't sweating it. 
Sarah's pick: Michael Pitt, Best Supporting Actor -- Drama, "Boardwalk Empire." The rise and fall of Jimmy Darmody was at the heart of "Boardwalk's" second season, and Pitt was perfect as the tortured gangster who made one too many bad choices. Just as Michael Shannon should have been nominated for his brilliant work in Season One, this was Pitt's year to receive credit for delivering a moving performance.

Loss That Would Cause Us The Most Pain:
Dustin's pick: "Breaking Bad," Best Drama
Joanna's pick: Amy Poehler, Best Actress -- Comedy, "Parks and Recreation." In Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler has created one of the most enduring and endearing female comedic roles in decades. She's been nominated a staggering nine times (including nominations for her work on "SNL") and never won.  Never. Won.  As much as I love Melissa McCarthy, I was ready to burn the store down when she won last year.  If Poehler loses again this year, I'll be crushed.  Her work on "Parks and Recreation" last year was such a rare blend of comedy and pathos and, given her recent personal troubles, I'm of the opinion that they should rain Emmy gold down on her platinum head.  
Sarah's pick: Amy Poehler, Best Actress -- Comedy, "Parks and Recreation." I'm with Joanna. I'm glad to see Lena Dunham and Julia Louis Dreyfus getting some love, but Poehler deserves to wear the beauty pageant crown this time. She's pitch-perfect on "Parks" and is one of the funniest women around.

And now for the real ones:

Best Drama

"Boardwalk Empire"

"Breaking Bad"

"Downton Abbey"

"Mad Men"


"Game of Thrones"

Dustin's pick: "Breaking Bad"
Joanna's pick: "Breaking Bad"
Sarah's pick: "Mad Men"

Best Actor -- Drama

Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire" 

Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" 

Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" 

Damien Lewis, "Homeland" 

Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" 

Timothy Olyphant, "Justified" 

Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"

Dustin's pick: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" 
Joanna's pick: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Sarah's pick: Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" 

Best Supporting Actor -- Drama

Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" 

Giancarlo Esposito, "Breaking Bad"

Jared Harris, "Mad Men"

Brendan Coye, "Downton Abbey"

Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey"

Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Dustin's pick: Giancarlo Esposito, "Breaking Bad"
Joanna's pick: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"
Sarah's pick: Jared Harris, "Mad Men"

Best Supporting Actress -- Drama

Archie Punjabi, "The Good Wife"

Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"

Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"

Joanne Froggat, "Downton Abbey"

Christina Hendrix, "Mad Men"

Christine Baranski, "Good Wife"

Dustin's pick: Archie Punjabi, "The Good Wife"
Joanna's pick: Archie Punjabi, "The Good Wife"
Sarah's pick: Christina Hendrix, "Mad Men"

Best Actress -- Drama

Claire Danes, "Homeland" 

Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"

Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men" 

Kathy Bates, "Harry's Law"

Glenn Close, "Damages"

Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abby"

Dustin's pick: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"
Joanna's pick: Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Sarah's pick: Claire Danes, "Homeland"

Best Comedy


"Modern Family" 

"30 Rock" 


"The Big Bang Theory" 

"Curb Your Enthusiasm"

Dustin's pick: "Girls" 
Joanna's pick: "Girls"
Sarah's pick: "Girls"

Best Actress -- Comedy

Tina Fey, "30 Rock"

Lena Dunham, "Girls" 

Zooey Deschanel, "New Girl"

Julia Louis Dreyfus, "Veep" 

Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" 

Melissa McCarthy, "Mike and Molly"

Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"

Dustin's pick: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" 
Joanna's pick: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" 
Sarah's pick: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" 

Best Actor -- Comedy

Don Cheadle, "House of Lies" 

Louis C.K., "Louie" 

Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"

Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

Jim Parsons, "Big Bang Theory"

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Dustin's pick: Louis C.K., "Louie" 
Joanna's pick: Louis C.K., "Louie" 
Sarah's pick: Louis C.K., "Louie" 

Best Supporting Actress -- Comedy

Miayim Balik, "Big Bang Theory"

Meritt Weaver, "Nurse Jackie"

Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"

Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"

Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"

Kathryn Joosten, "Desperate Housewives"

Dustin's pick: Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"
Joanna's pick: Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"
Sarah's pick: Meritt Weaver, "Nurse Jackie"

Best Supporting Actor -- Comedy

Max Greenfield, "New Girl" 

Bill Hader, "Saturday NIght Live"

Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family"

Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"

Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"

Dustin's pick: Bill Hader, "Saturday Night Live"
Joanna's pick: Max Greenfield, "New Girl"
Sarah's pick: Max Greenfield, "New Girl"

Best Television Movie or Miniseries


"Heminway and Gelhorn"

"American Horror Story"


"Hatfields & McCoys"

"Game Change"

Dustin's pick: "Sherlock"
Joanna's pick: "Sherlock"
Sarah's pick: "Sherlock"

Lead Actress -- TV Movie or Miniseries

Julianne Moore, "Game Change"

Nicole Kidman, "Hemingway and Gelhorn"

Connie Britton, "American Horror Story"

Ashley Judd, "Missing"

Emma Thompson, "The Song of Lunch"

Dustin's pick: Connie Britton, "American Horror Story"
Joanna's pick: Connie Britton, "American Horror Story"
Sarah's pick: Julianne Moore, "Game Change"

Lead Actor -- TV Movie or Miniseries

Woody Harrelson, "Game Change"

Clive Owen, "Hemingway and Gelhorn"

Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock"

Idris Elba, "Luther"

Kevin Costner, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Bill Paxton, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Dustin's pick: Idris Elba, "Luther"
Joanna's pick: Idris Elba, "Luther"
Sarah's pick: Benedict Cumberbatch, "Sherlock"

Supporting Actress -- TV Movie or Miniseries

Sarah Paulson, "Game Change"

Francis Conroy, "American Horror Story"

Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"

Judy Davis, "Page Eight"

Mare Winningham, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Dustin's pick: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"
Joanna's pick: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"
Sarah's pick: Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"

Supporting Actor -- TV Movie or Miniseries

Ed Harris, "Game Change"

Dennis O'Hare, "American Horror Story"

David Straitharn, "Hemingway and Gelhorn"

Martin Freeman, "Sherlock"

Tom Berenger, "Hatfields & McCoys"

Dustin's pick: Martin Freeman, "Sherlock"
Joanna's pick: Martin Freeman, "Sherlock"
Sarah's pick: Martin Freeman, "Sherlock"

Variety Show

"The Daily Show"

"The Colbert Report"

"Real Time with Bill Maher"

"Saturday Night Live"

"Jimmy Kimmel Live"

"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"

Dustin's pick: "The Daily Show"
Joanna's pick: "The Daily Show"
Sarah's pick: "The Daily Show"

Reality Competition

"So You Think You Can Dance"

"The Amazing Race"

"Dancing with the Stars"

"Top Chef"

"Project Runway"

"The Voice"

Dustin's pick: NOBODY
Joanna's pick: Nada!
Sarah's pick: "Project Runway"

Reality Competition -- Host

Cat Deely, "So You Think You Can Dance"

Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race"

Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol"

Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers"

Tom Berengon, "Dancing with the Stars"

Dustin's pick: NO ONE
Joanna's pick: Refuses to answer.
Sarah's pick: Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers"

Best Animated Series


"The Simpsons"

"American Dad"

"Bob's Burgers"

"The Penguins of Madagascar"

Dustin's pick: "Bob's Burgers"
Joanna's pick: "Bob's Burgers"
Sarah's pick: "Futurama"

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Lbeees

    Parks & Rec or nothing! FTW!

  • JQ

    I've tried really hard to like Bob's Burgers, but it's just too disconcerting hearing Archer's voice in Bob's body.

  • beartato

    Guys. It's Archie Panjabi.

  • Clancys_Daddy

    That is one long list of critically over hyped television.

  • Jennface

    Oh fuck me running! Michael Pitt was screwed. I hope Justified has a great season next year because Olyphant deserves it. As does Walton Goggins, although he should have won it for the first season. Mad Men is boring and seems to just be going through the motions now. Roger and Mehgan's Mother are the only interesting characters. Peter Dinklage is wonderful she won last year. The whole categories and nominating process is screwed up. I stopped watching a long time ago. I only watch the pre-show to see who is wearing what, then I just wait for the news the next morning. It's just like the Oscars, it's a popularity contest.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I looooove Justified, but I am feeling like they have been writing our beloved Deputy Marshal flatter and flatter. If he gets any more one-dimensional he'll slip between the floorboards of those 'ol Kentucky homes.

  • llp

    Christina Hendrix? Also, Game of Thrones should win ALL of the awards, each and every one.

  • celery

    There are a whole bunch of aspects of GoT that deserve nods: Dinklage, Maisie WIlliams, Jack Gleeson, and above all the costumers/set/designers/whoever else is in charge of making that universe so fully realized and detail-rich.

  • I really don't give much of a shit this year, what with Parks and Rec not nominated and Amy Poehler having no chance of winning, because Emmy voters are fucked up. As long as Modern Family doesn't win Best Comedy I'll be fine.

    And Jim Parsons or Jon Cryer.

    I think it's way more about who I don't want winning than anyone I'm rooting for.

    And the whole Modern Family thing is sixty kinds of fucking bullshit, specially in the Supporting Actor category. It's insulting.

  • Koala is not a bear

    Some questions for the Pajibans:
    * Who is John Cryer f*cking to receive these inexplicable nominations?
    * Where THE HELL is "Archer" in the list of best animated series? "The Simpsons"?!! In which universe since the eighth series?
    * Who cannot marvel at the ability of Colbert to bring incisive political commentary every day (without assistance from "special correspondents") via a manufactured persona? Maybe it's an appreciation that will only come with time?

  • alwaysanswerb

    I rarely bust out the 'elitist' card, with this being Pajiba and all (I KNOW WHAT I'M HERE FOR) but are you guys so seriously so cool that you can't acknowledge the reality categories? I'm not saying you need to watch all of these shows to give them a fair shake, but some of these nominees really aren't that bad, and in some cases they're actually good. Top Chef is damn interesting, and on occasion, informative and educational. I'm particularly surprised that Dustin -- someone who admits to enjoying 'dance porn' films, at least in as much as he appreciates the dancing -- can't get the same kind of occasional enjoyment out of So You Think You Can Dance. There is some seriously compelling and beautiful work presented on that show amidst the reality cheese that conjures the same kind of emotion that a great drama can. And yeah, Cat Deeley is damn good at her job. She's head and shoulders above other reality show hosts; if you don't think that kind of position is one that requires much talent, watch her again and see if you don't agree that she brings something extra to the job.

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    Cat is phenomenal! I love her! And there have been some truly good routines on the show this season.

  • MissAmynae

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I love you guys dearly, but show Cat and the bad-ass workhorses on SYTYCD some love. And Top Chef kicks well-seasoned ass.

  • I'd give you more upvotes if I could.


    I agree with Sarah, Meritt Weaver was really excellent this last season of Nurse Jackie. She's always been my favourite character but this year she has had more of an impact than before. A very well deserved nomination.

  • AudioSuede

    I'm surprised more outrage isn't ringing out for leaving Louie of the Comedy Series category. The Duckling episodes alone are worthy of a whole goddamned awards show.

  • jiffeylube

    I just watched the Duckling episodes today and was blown away. I absolutely agree.

  • Ted Zancha

    If Louis CK loses to Jim Parsons I will destroy the universe.

  • dizzylucy

    I will help you. Seems like a big job.

  • Ted Zancha

    Lucy and Ted Destroy the Universe sounds like a song or something. Someone should make theme music and we can end it all.

  • llp

    You should hire Cat Deely to host.

  • PDamian

    I'd love to see Damien Lewis win for Homeland. I've had a bit of a crush on him ever since Forsyte Saga, and he was awesome in Band of Brothers. Homeland is riveting, and he's the best thing in it. There's a delightful, charming interview of him in today's NYT in which he discusses meeting Pres. Obama and Warren Buffet and "making suggestions" about energy policy:

  • Guest

    Asking me to choose between Benedict Cumberbatch/“Sherlock” and Idris Elba/ “Luther”
 is giving me a Sophie's Choice. In other news, hoping Glenn Close gets to take it home. Still reeling

  • F. Robert

    I enjoy Bob's Burgers as much as any 20-year-old stoner should, but American Dad has been on another planet the past few seasons.

  • AudioSuede

    American Dad is arguably the best example of a show that took two or three seasons to get good, then it got really really good. I still like Bob's Burgers more (how the eff was Archer not nominated?!), but they're both better than they get credit for.

  • dizzylucy

    If this was an old school video store, I'd be hanging in the Joanna's Picks section.

    I'm still smarting from the omission of Justified (but yay for Jeremy Davies) and Parks & Rec in the show categories.
    Amy Poehler NEEDS to win - forget how much she makes me laugh (a lot), but when Leslie finally got to vote for herself, she actually made me cry.

  • BadgerisAlex

    Kristen Wigg on Saturday Night Live is terrible.
    Kristen Wigg in movies is actually enjoyable

  • Also, "So You Think You Can Dance" deserves the win over "Project Runway." Last year's PR was a joke. So was the year before that, really. But SYTYCD consistently brings the goods. Where else can you see a stunning ballet piece on major network television?

  • space_oddity

    Seriously. Project Runway this season is the best in a few years, but since this is based on the LAAAAAAME last season that represented the height of producer manipulation of results, it shouldn't get anything.

    I still get mad about Anya winning.

  • Jezzer

    "Veep" > "Girls."

  • Lbeees


  • Rocabarra

    I was just scrolling down to the comment section to state this exactly.

  • Jezzer

    My actual original thought was, "My GOD, Pajiba, stop licking Lena Dunham's asshole," but I thought this would go over better just a tad.

  • No love for Cat Deeley? You make me sad.

  • llphilli

    I haven't even watched that show in the last few years, and I want her to win.

  • Javier

    It pains me that series like Parks & Rec, Community and Happy Endings might go (more so with the last 2) the way of It's Always Sunny, terrific comedies that never get nominated...and in the poor probability that they do the chances of winning are even slim.

    In that regard, it baffles me that shows like Girls (and in the past the like of Desperate Housewives) get nominated for the comedy categories. Don't get me wrong, I like Girls but for me 'dramedies' if that's what it can be considered feel out of place in laugh out loud genre that holds the shows I mentioned above

  • kirbyjay

    I agree. Edie Falco winning best actress in a comedy? Smirked a few times, don't remember ever laughing.

  • So, in other words, Justified needs to move from best drama to best movie or miniseries where it would actually stand a chance against the likes of American Horror Story or Hemingway and Gelhorn... or is 13 episodes the magic number?

  • BWeaves

    I don't get how Watson is considered a supporting role to Sherlock. The whole point of the stories is that Watson is writing them, and they are from Watson's point of view, which makes Watson a lead role, and at least equal to Sherlock's role. A supporting role is Lastrade or Mrs. Hudson, or Moriarty, or that chick in the lab whose name I can't remember.

  • AudioSuede

    Am I the only one that thinks Moriarty was the best part of Sherlock? That guy plays such an epic and unique villain.

  • He's awesome. As is Irene Adler. Great casting, writing.

  • I agree that Freeman's Watson is a very big part of what elevates this Sherlock to such rarefied heights and he literally does lead role work. I remember when I first saw the first episode and his work in that opening 15 minutes was extraordinary at drawing you into real drama before any case even starts or we can build any real concern about Sherlock himself.

    Not surprising, though, and gives the show a chance for another win, which is certainly deserves.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Sorry. Luther is superior to Sherlock. You want an emotional distress? Watch six episodes of Luther in a row and then try to drag your shattered and gloopy body off of the floor.

  • Zuffle

    Agreed. Luther is as miserable and soul-wringing as the best drama should be, and itmdoesn't get better in terms of character-based shit. Aliiiice!

  • AudioSuede

    I totally agree on the first seasons of each, but the second seasons reversed a bit; the second season of Luther lacked a lot of the punch of the first season with a slightly less terrifying big bad. Still great, though.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    On scale from 1 to Sam Gamgee in the Grey Havens scene, how painful would it be for you if Zooey Deschanel wins over Amy Poehler?

  • Three_nineteen

    Sam Gamgee after Shelob stings Frodo.

  • Pants-are-a-must


  • Maguita NYC

    Bite your tongue!!! It would be very hard to get over indeed.

  • e jerry powell

    I see how you are. You all just want the sexing with Idris Elba. How transparent.

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