Katey's pick: Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Nominated for: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Breaking Bad boasts two nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series this year, but given that Aaron Paul has won twice and will be eligible to win one more time, the clear pick is Jonathan Banks. A TV veteran-- he was on The Waltons!--Banks stealthily emerged as the righteous heart of Breaking Bad as smoothly as his character, Mike Ehrmantraut, might sneak up on a target. Introduced to us in Season 2 as a fixer and hit man, Mike was a heartless tough guy who initially represented the ruthlessness of Gus Fring's criminal empire. At the end of Season 3 he is poised to kill both Walt and Jesse, but when Walt outsmarts him-- not for the last time-- he grows into a much more interesting character, serving as a mentor to Jesse and a worthy foil for Walt, who is growing more and more dangerous under Gus's employ. Banks is nominated for an Emmy for Season 5, in which he reluctantly teamed up with Walt and Jesse, executed a series of tricky schemes and complex lies, and both doted on and said goodbye to his beloved granddaughter when he realized Walt was too unpredictable to stand by. His final episode, "Say My Name," is a masterclass of restraint and quiet, old-fashioned toughness, proof that even a show this inventive needs a stoic rock at its center. No more half-measures; give Banks the Emmy he deserves.
Kelly's pick: Netflix
Nominated for: Multiple series.
Netflix proved itself a contender this year with a whopping 14 Emmy nominations, putting itself in line with the likes of AMC (15) and FX (11). Most of the nominations were for House of Cards, but it was also nominated twice for Hemlock Grove and once for Arrested Development, which is a strong indication that not only has the Academy taken notice of Netflix, but that the streaming video service's original programming is being seen as quality material and worthy of big awards.
I liked House of Cards, and I think it's one of Netflix's more promising original programs, but I'm less invested in that particular series winning as I am in seeing Netflix receive the credit it deserves, not only for the quality and originality of their programming, but for the way they've approached their selection process, giving straight-to-series orders for their shows and then unveiling them a season at a time. Netflix is a game changer for the industry and as a satisfied subscriber who appreciates the way they're handling their programming, I'd love to see the service receive a pile of Emmys for their efforts. They've won two so far from the Creative Arts Emmy Awards (both for House of Cards). And there are a handful of nominations that could turn to wins this Sunday night, including Outstanding Drama Series for House of Cards, and Lead Actor in a Comedy for Arrested Development's Jason Bateman.
Mack's pick: Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Nominated for: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Norma Bates is a terrible mother. She’s impulsive. She’s selfish. She’s moody. She’s possessive. In short, she’s the type of woman who raises a serial killer, but rather than being as showy about her inadequacies as possible, actress Vera Farmiga keeps her decidedly grounded. She might not be mentally stable, per say, but she is the type of woman we all know. She’s not so detached from reality she’s a raving lunatic, and that key difference allows viewers to watch Bates Motel with a bit of real empathy for her.
Norman Bates is the character from the world of Psycho we’re all most familiar with, but it’s Norma who really holds this project together. Her personality dominates everyone she comes into contact with, and her fears and eccentricities really set the entire tone. Actor Freddie Highmore is wonderful, but without Farmiga’s erratic and brilliant hand, none of it would work nearly as well as it does. Through Norma, the show’s restrained, relatable, yet batshit crazy voice is created.
With all due respect to the other ladies nominated in her category, Farmiga deserves to win the Emmy this weekend. She deserves it not for her best moments on screen but for the ones she stayed away from. She deserves it for not going full mental and detaching her character from reality. She deserves it for not drawing attention to herself, and I truly hope voters reward her for it.