The nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmys were unveiled Thursday morning, giving every fan and critic a chance to pick through the list with arched eyebrows, pursed lips, and the occasional bright smile. The Emmy Awards themselves will be held on Sept. 23. In the meantime, here are some of the shows and actors that have people scratching their heads, nodding in approval, or slapping their foreheads:
1. Network TV
"To a greater degree than ever before," says Brian Stelter at The New York Times, the Emmys "are recognizing cable programming to the exclusion of broadcast." The only non-cable show nominated for best drama was Downton Abbey, a British import broadcast on PBS. This is the first time ever that NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox were all frozen out of the category.
I'm "super-pissed" about the NBC comedy being passed over, again, says Michael Ausiello at TV Line. And "Jon Cryer getting nominated for Two and a Half Men over Community's Joel McHale"? Ridiculous. Yeah, "what's going on here?" says CarterMatt.com. You'd think the series that won the Critics' Choice Television Award for outstanding comedy would get a little love from the Emmys, too.
3. American Idol
For the first time in its long reign, Idol got the cold shoulder in the best reality competition category. That's a shocker, even though this was Idol's "least-watched season of its decade-long run," says Celebuzz. But "what's even more eye-opening is what did" make the cut: NBC's The Voice, Idol's arch-rival. That's enough to "dim the light coming off of Ryan Seacrest's teeth."
4. Parks and Recreation
Lots of great comedies got shafted this year — The New Girl, Happy Endings, Glee — but "perhaps the greatest outcry came from Parks and Recreation's snub," says the Connecticut Post. At least Amy Poehler got a lead-actress nod, but come on, "what's it going to take for this show and its cast to get the recognition they deserve?"
5. Hugh Laurie
The House star was passed over for best lead actor in a drama in his long-running series' final season. Like Steve Carrell in The Office, says the Connecticut Post, Laurie sadly joins "the club of actors that never won awards for the iconic lead characters they portrayed."
1. Jimmy Kimmel Live
Kimmel's late night-night show nabbed its first nomination and kicked Conan out of the outstanding variety series category, perhaps not coincidentally, "in the year that Jimmy Kimmel happens to be host of the awards telecast," says Mike Hale at The New York Times. "Not that it matters in a category that The Daily Show With Jon Stewart has won nine years running." Kimmel, announcing the nominations in his pajamas, quipped, "So should I give a speech now?"
2. Betty White
We all love White, but her nod for best reality competition has us "scratching our heads," says CarterMatt.com. "By nominating her as a host for Betty White's Off Their Rockers, the Emmys are slowly nearing their goal of nominating Betty for every category humanly possible."
3. Don Cheadle
"In the six outstanding-series and lead performance categories, only one nomination struck me as truly unexpected," says Hale at The New York Times: "Cheadle's for lead actor in a drama series for Showtime's underwhelming House of Lies." I guess "TV's love for movie stars" wins again, says Backstage's Riley.
4. Jared Harris
"The big shocker" in the best supporting actor category is that "perennial nominee John Slattery, who had probably his best season yet on Mad Men, was passed over in favor of his co-star Jared Harris," who plays Lane Pryce, says Backstage's Riley. Maybe it's because it's Harris' last season on the show. No, it's about time some other Mad Men male than Slattery gets recognized, says CarterMatt.com. We think "it's lovely to see Harris included this year."
5. Jon Cryer
Ashton Kutcher is supposed to be the star of Two and a Half Men, but Cryer stole the best actor nomination, working his way up from best supporting actor. "Perhaps this is just goodwill for putting up with Charlie Sheen all those years," says Backstage's Riley.
Once again, the premium cable channel "picked up far more nominations than any other programmer, with 81, down from 104 last year," says Stelter in The New York Times. Showtime, HBO's closest cable competitor, picked up 22 nominations.
2. Mad Men
AMC's critically acclaimed series garnered 17 nominations, tying FX's American Horror Story, but it's Mad Men's best drama nomination that could push the show into the history books: If it takes its fifth consecutive award in the category, Mad Men beats its four-consecutive-win rivals The West Wing, L.A. Law, and Hill Street Blues. "To act like that possibility hasn't crossed our minds is crazy," show creator Matthew Weiner tells The New York Times.
3. Modern Family
The dominance of the ABC sitcom is "the least surprising fact" from this year's Emmys, says the Connecticut Post. An impressive 14 nominations and most of its cast nabbing best supporting actor nominations — "at this point, shouldn't the show just have its own category?" Certainly, nobody can "argue with the incredible dominance of the men from Modern Family," says David Wiegand at the San Francisco Chronicle. "At the same time, it begs the question of whether any other men are doing nomination-worthy work in current sitcoms."