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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Predicting the 2014 Emmy Winners: Best Writing



* Beau Willimon "Chapter 14" (House of Cards)
* David Benioff & D.B. Weiss "The Children" (Game of Thrones)
* Moira Walley-Beckett "Ozymandias" (Breaking Bad)
* Nic Pizzolatto "The Secret Fate of All Life" (True Detective)
* Vince Gilligan "Felina" (Breaking Bad)

SURPRISED HE'S NOT NOMINATED: Matthew Weiner "Waterloo" (Mad Men)

SHOULD BE NOMINATED: Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner "The Strategy" (Mad Men)


* This is one of the many categories in which it will be True Detective versus Breaking Bad. We'll start with the former. Nic Pizzolatto wrote all 8 episodes of the mini-series; therefore, he's only eligible to be nominated once in this category. He smartly chose "The Secret Fate of All Life" which is widely considered one of the best television episodes of the past 12 months, and the single best True Detective episode. Throughout the first half of the season, Detectives Hart and Cohle are chasing down Reggie Ledoux. Then 16 minutes into "The Secret Fate of All Fate", the Reggie Ledoux story line is completely dispatched of, and we still have three and a half more episodes to deal with. True Detective becomes a show about a single murder and it turns into a show about how time affects our two main protagonists. Truthfully, this episode is a fantastic piece of writing, but the biggest problem with True Detective as a whole is that the writing is terrible. Let me clarify that statement. The reason True Detective doesn't work as a television show is because it's boring as all hell, and it's boring because of the writing. It aired on Sunday night on HBO starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson so it has the aura of greatness. It should be great. But it's not even close to great because Pizzolatto fails to suck you in and create compelling story lines. I never once cared about what I was watching. But hey, it looked pretty. That's why I object to Pizzolatto's nomination. I'm fine standing alone on this island.

* The other show that has a shot to win this category is Breaking Bad. The conventional wisdom is that Moria Walley-Beckett is the frontrunner to win this category considering "Ozymandias" is the greatest thing since sliced bread; however, my gut tells me that Vince Gilligan is going to win it all. Breaking Bad is Gilligan's brain child, and it just seems odd to honor the AMC drama without honoring Gilligan. After watching "Felina" twice now, I'm still disappointed with how Breaking Bad ended. It wrapped up everything in a tight little bow, and that was very un-Breaking Bad of it. That disappointment is directly attributed to Gilligan. I also realize I'm in the minority on this as well.

* David Benioff & D.B. Weiss has a little bit of the Vince Gilligan thing going them- you can't honor Game of Thrones without honoring the men who created it all. To guarantee their honor, the only writers Game of Thrones made eligible were Benioff & Weiss for the Season 4 finale "The Children". This was especially odd considering the two best episodes this past season were not written by Benioff & Weiss. While "The Children" itself was not an episode that was necessary worthy of this particular nomination, Season 4 of Game of Thrones was just so damn good, that Benioff & Weiss absolutely need to be in this category.

* To continue with the Show Runners Earning Nomination theme, we have Beau Willimon earning a nomination for the only House of Cards episode eligible. If this were 2013, I would be ecstatic about this nomination. However, it's 2014 and the eligible season of House of Cards was terrible. The creative decisions to use the story lines that they did (Raymond Tusk v. Frank Underwood, Doug's obsession with Rachel) do not warrant a nomination. The actual episode Willimon was nominated for, the first episode of Season 2, was pretty good and enjoyable because it was just an extension of Season 1 before the show really went off of the rails, but this is an example where the work as a whole just can't justify the nomination.

WHO WILL WIN: Vince Gilligan "Felina" (Breaking Bad)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Moira Walley-Beckett "Ozymandias" (Breaking Bad)



* Alec Berg "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency" (Silicon Valley)
* Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, & Tony Roche "Special Relationship" (Veep)
* David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik "Episode 305" (Episodes)
* Liz Friedman & Jenji Kohan "I Wasn't Ready" (Orange Is The New Black)
* Louie C.K. "So Did The Fat Lady" (Louie)

SURPRISED THEY'RE NOT NOMINATED: Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow, & Jenni Konner "Beach House" (Girls)

Lena Dunham is normally an Emmy staple. However, in 2014, neither Dunham nor anyone else from the show received a directing or writing nomination and the show itself failed to earn an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination. Season 3 of Girls must suuuuuuuck! 

SHOULD BE NOMINATED: Seth Rogen & Jason Mantzoukas "Rafi & Dirty Randy" (The League)

I know the crude and raucous FX show is never, ever, ever going to earn an Emmy nomination, but my favorite episode of 2013 was the odd and absurd "Rafi & Dirty Randy". Rogen's Dirty Randy and Mantzoukas's Rafi go on a road trip to L.A. to find out who killed their friend. It was an episode that absolutely made no sense to air in the middle of The League last season, but it was an episode that I couldn't help but fall in love with. It might be the single funniest episode of television that I've ever seen. 


* Veep has always been a show that people love; however, it's never gotten any technical nominations before this year. Creator Armando Iannucci and crew finally broke through this year, although it's odd Veep received a writing nomination as its first major technical award considering the show is almost entirely improvised. You would have assumed a directing nomination would have come before a writing nomination. Or at least I would have.

* Here are some things you can talk about regarding Louie C.K. and his FX show at a dinner party even though you've never seen a single episode (and chances are the person you're talking to hasn't seen a single episode either!)

- "Why does Louis C.K. always submit the worst episodes as his Emmy submission episodes?!"
- "Did you see that bit Louis C.K. did on SNL where he said God killed Our Mother?"
- "Louie is unlike anything on television right now. Oh. My. God. It's so good. I started watching it from the beginning, you should too. Don't skip seasons."

* Orange Is The New Black creator Jenji Kohan rightfully received a nomination in this category for writing the pilot episode. The Netflix show is unlike anything on television right now. Oh. My. God. It's so good. I started watching it from the beginning, you should too. Don't skip seasons.

* I seriously don't know a single person, whether they're online TV critics or people in my personal life, who have seen a single episode of the Showtime show Episodes. Yet for some reason, the Emmy voters are big fans of the show as it earned both a writing nomination AND a directing nomination. Kudos to you David Krane & Jeffrey Klarik.

* Silicon Valley is a comedy show with very few jokes in it. It does however star a meek lead character that you want to punch in the face. Unfortunately, that's not an Emmy category, but Outstanding Comedy Writing is and Alec Berg was one of the lucky few to earn one of these nominations for writing the Season 1 finale "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency." While the gag that lent itself to the title is pretty great (the funny background characters wanted to calculate the fastest and most efficient way to jerk off an entire convention full of people), the rest of the episode was just like the show as a whole. "Eh".

WHO WILL WIN: Jenji Kohan & Liz Friedman "I Wasn't Ready" (Orange Is The New Black)





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