"Game of Thrones" got more love than "Breaking Bad," and more surprises from the Emmy noms

Laverne Cox is nominated, but "Girls" and "The Good Wife" aren't! Here's everything that shocked us this morning

Published July 10, 2014 1:20PM (EDT)

Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones"                 (HBO/Macall B. Polay)
Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones" (HBO/Macall B. Polay)

This morning's newly announced nominees for the Emmy Awards are, as is the case every year, more notable for what didn't get included. Most controversial so far is the exclusion of "The Good Wife" in the best drama category following the show's resurgent fifth season; other TV fans are dismayed by the exclusion of "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany, who plays a panoply of very distinct clones on the BBC America show. (Both of these problems could have been solved were the TV academy to break its addiction to "Downton Abbey," but don't hold your breath.)

Here are a few of the morning's other big stories:

"Downton Abbey" really is still huge for some viewers: The critical heat is way, way off the PBS serial, but don't tell Emmy voters that -- they gave the show a surprising best drama nomination, as well as fully five of its cast members, from Dockery to guest star Paul Giamatti. Once a show gets into an Emmy groove and once voters get accustomed to checking the box, it's evidently hard to dislodge. Which brings us to ...

The fall of "Homeland." Showtime's spy drama won the best drama trophy just two years ago, and is now nowhere to be found in the field. (The other nominees, besides "Downton," are "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards," "Mad Men" and "True Detective.") "Homeland" is also absent from the best writing and directing categories (it won writing last year). The question for Showtime has to be whether a post-Brody reboot of the show can bring it back to acclaim, though surely best actress nominee Claire Danes will be nominated until Carrie Mathison self-immolates. Another show that fared surprisingly poorly was ...

"Girls." Though cast members Lena Dunham and Adam Driver both got repeat acting nominations, the show is absent from the best comedy, writing and directing categories. Best comedy was perhaps a more competitive field than anyone realized, with popular newcomer "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" left out in the cold too. "Modern Family," the four-time champ, is still with us in the best comedy field, though, as are "Louie," "The Big Bang Theory," "Orange Is the New Black," "Veep" and, in what may be the surprise of the morning, "Silicon Valley." (Did it take what had historically been "Girls'" nomination as the youngest and hippest show in the field?) But there's one other curiosity in the best comedy field ...

"Orange Is the New Black" is a comedy? It's hardly new that awards ceremonies honor you the way you choose to be honored; just ask any of the "supporting actors" who are constantly on-screen in Oscar movies. But this year pushed the idea of genre to its limits, with the dramedy "Orange Is the New Black" doing well in comedy categories, the is-it-a-miniseries? "True Detective" ending up in the best drama field, and the fourth season of actual TV drama "Treme" getting counted as a miniseries. Maybe it doesn't matter, especially in the case of "OITNB": the show's five nominated performers, including Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne, surely aren't paying much attention to genre distinctions.

But can it beat "Modern Family"? This year's best comedy field seems as well-positioned as any in the past five years to unseat "Modern Family," the studiously unhip perpetual winner. Some heat seems to be off the ABC sitcom's fastball, as the likes of Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara got passed over for acting nominations and the show wasn't nominated for its writing for the third year in a row. At some point, "Modern Family" must lose. But there's no clear-cut front-runner in the comedy field -- a genre with several much-talked-about, little-watched vote-splitters, and a genre so comparatively muddled and diffuse that Ricky Gervais found his way to a best actor nomination for the maligned "Derek."

And can anything beat "Breaking Bad"? The 500-pound gorilla of this category and the defending champ, "Breaking Bad" arguably shouldn't be here, or shouldn't have been last year -- it could end up with the rare distinction of winning two best drama Emmys for a single season airing over two years. But that's a technicality! "Mad Men" being here at all is frankly a bit of a surprise, given the degree of heat that show has shed as it moves to a low-key ending. And "House of Cards" fell off wildly in quality in Season 2 as the novelty wore off. "True Detective" feels like the cool kids' choice -- especially with the near-certainty of a best actor win for Matthew McConaughey -- but watch out for "Game of Thrones."

The HBO series, at the very height of its popularity right now, picked up the most nominations of any series, with 19; those includes ones that are fairly surprising, like Lena Headey's best supporting actress nomination. (She's great at Cersei, but she feels a bit out-of-place alongside Maggie Smith and Christine Baranski.) "Breaking Bad" will have been off the air for 11 months by the time the Emmys roll around in August -- and that's enough time, perhaps, for a new king of drama to assert itself.

By Daniel D'Addario

MORE FROM Daniel D'Addario