Welcome to The Second Annual Feelies, where we herald our favorites of the television season and seek to right the wrongs of the Emmy Nominations. While there may have been less to quibble with in this year’s nominations (TATIANA FINALLY), the Television Academy still shows an unbearable bias against genre shows, which are showcasing some of the best work on television. There is no such bias here. In fact, the only thing we could be accused of is TOO much bias towards niche shows. What matters to us is not subject material but the EXECUTION of the material and how the actors and shows make us feel.
While we may have determined the nominees, the choice is in YOUR hands. We encourage you to vote with your heart and NOT be like the Emmys and just click on a name because you like the show or the actor. Be discerning. Be passionate about celebrating good work. Be better than the Emmys. We WANT you to struggle choosing a winner. We very much sat cackling wickedly as we thought about asking you to choose between Tatiana Maslany and Hayley Atwell or between John Cho and Chris Messina. That’s the POINT. May the best performances win.
Voting will be open through Friday, August 7th. Vote hard, vote often, campaign for your victor. It’s all in your hands.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE….
**choices of header gifs in no way disclose preferences in each category**
Best Comedy Series
Jane the Virgin
Parks and Recreation
The Mindy Project
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Sage: Broad City continued its gleeful assault on comedy norms in its second season, with the girls – still the most loving, loyal friendship on TV – taking on consignment stores, dog weddings, oral surgery, and (“This is the greatest day of my LIFE.”) pegging. We bid a fond farewell to Parks and Recreation, but not before an inspired look into the future of our dear Pawnee friends. April found her calling, Ron and Leslie finally acknowledged what they mean to each other, and Jean Ralphio (poorly) faked his own death. Meanwhile, on Netflix: Ellie Kemper, whose Office character I always found a little grating, stepped into the role she was born to play on Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s new series, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy had all the wacky set pieces and inexplicable running jokes as 30 Rock, plus a dark and gooey center, a new and unexpected take on the rich and bored Upper East Side trophy wife, and some Peeeenoooo Noiiiiiiiiiiirrrrr.
Kim: The concept looked ridiculous on paper but Jane the Virgin delivered in spades, giving us a hilarious and ridiculous telenovela that had a HUGE heart that grounded it in reality. The circumstances surrounding the characters may be farfetched but the exploration of family dynamics, the bonds between mothers and daughters, and the struggle of pursuing dreams versus adhering to responsibilities made them all relatable. Selfie, as we have often said, was a show too beautiful to live on network television. More than just a modern My Fair Lady, Selfie was about two lonely souls looking for connection in all the wrong places and it was a caustic takedown of our obsession with social media. It’s truly the great tragedy of the TV season. The Mindy Project defied all the critics who worried that Mindy and Danny being in a relationship would kill the show. Its third season seamlessly moved from a yearning romantic comedy to an honest exploration of what it’s like to be in a relationship in your 30’s. TMP didn’t shy away from showcasing Danny and Mindy’s emotional issues that were stumbling blocks towards their happiness. It was often raw and honest and tough to watch (yet never lost its sense of humor)…and that’s what made it great.
Best Drama Series
Masters of Sex
Kim: The arrival of Peter Capaldi completely invigorated Doctor Who. Series 8 saw the Doctor going through an identity crisis, questioning everything about what made him a “good man”. This crisis lent itself to Clara Oswald, free from the “Impossible Girl” device, becoming a fully realized character who brought strength to the Doctor’s weakness. Their journey from the Doctor being unable to tell her apart from Strax to “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” was a thrilling one that kept us glued to our screens every week. We said goodbye to Mad Men in style as we watched Don Draper wander the country aimlessly before a moment of zen helped him realize that he’d like to buy the world a coke. The Flash built on the foundation laid down by big brother Arrow, deftly balancing bad guys of the week with its overarching mythology. While Arrow faltered in its third season, Barry Allen and company hit all the right marks in their debut season, building to a finale that left us positively breathless.
Sage: Agent Carter‘s arrival wasn’t as hyped as that other (and messier) Marvel Television production Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but damn if Tara Butters and her fellow EPs didn’t show their colleagues a little something about storytelling. Carter is equal parts fun and sorrow; Queen Hayley Atwell regularly kicks the asses of full-grown men and trades banter with the real live Jarvis, but she also spent the season putting Steve Rogers to rest in her heart. The whole cast is terrific, but Peggy Carter is a character we need on TV right now. We can’t wait to see her again. After the dismal American version finally took a step off those northern California cliffs, the original and far superior Broadchurch rose like a phoenix. A rumpled, grumpy phoenix. Alec Hardy finally solved the case that haunted him throughout the Latimer investigation, but let’s be honest: Broadchurch 2 is about Hardy and Miller, the Former Detectives Club – now partners by choice. Masters of Sex dug deeper into its fathomless characters in its second season. More impressive guest stars were pulled into the wake churned up by the partners’ research (Keke Palmer, Betsy Brandt, Christian Borle), as Bill and Virginia became more intertwined.
Best Actress in a Comedy
Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley, Selfie
Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler, Broad City
Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Sage: Clearly, we were predisposed to like Amy Pond in anything she’d do after. But then Karen Gillan had to go and pick a nuanced romantic comedy and a stereotype-smashing reforming party girl character, both of which were doomed by their own quality. As Eliza, Gillan was funny, sexy, and vulnerable, and nailed her American accent which, frankly, Scots’ usually mangle. (Sorry, guys. We love you anyway.) It hurts not to be able to co-nominate Ilana Glazer and her co-star Abbi Jacobsen, but such are the rules of the Feelies. On Broad City, Glazer is a bundle of filthy joy, an accidental style icon, and questionable life hero. In other words: yas, kween! Mindy Kaling has always been a phenomenal writer, but her performance leveled up in this past season of The Mindy Project. Dr. L realistically struggled with a potential cross-country move, an unplanned pregnancy, and a shoplifting Staten Island Italian, and she did it all in style.
Kim: Ellie Kemper‘s inherent sunniness makes her makes her a perfect Kimmy Schmidt, a character that in lesser hands would have been a one-note punchline. Bedecked in her signature bright colors, Kimmy is joy personified, but Ellie never lets her fall into caricature and she lets you see the steely edge beneath the innocence. You can’t help but cheer for her. Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope is both a feminist and television ICON and the fact that she only has one Golden Globe to show for it is one of television’s greatest injustices. Leslie doesn’t need your praise…she’s too busy running the country. Gina Rodriguez was the revelation of the TV season and is the giant heart at the center of Jane the Virgin. She can have you rolling on the floor with laughter one minute and then weeping the next. Her performance is achingly honest and I had her marked to WIN the Emmy this season…and then she didn’t even get nominated. Whatever.
Best Actress in a Drama
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Agent Carter
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp, Outlander
Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Doctor Who
Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller, Broadchurch
Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Penny Dreadful
Tatiana Maslany as The Leda Clones, Orphan Black
Kim: As Sage pointed out, Peggy Carter IS the character we need on television right now and Hayley Atwell embodies her so fully you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. She knows her value…anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter. Lizzy Caplan continues to do incredibly nuanced work on Masters of Sex, defying the critics who had labeled her as solely a sardonically comic actress. Her Virginia is a woman torn between traditional duties and her dreams of changing the world with her work. She’s truly ahead of her time. Speaking of characters ahead of their time, Caitriona Balfe imbues Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser with ferocity and gravitas that grounds the fantasy of Outlander in reality. She’s a heroine for the ages, staunchly uncompromising her beliefs to mold into the gender roles of 18th Century Scotland. Olivia Colman‘s Ellie Miller is a wounded animal recovering from the devastation of her family. She masks her pain behind a steely demeanor but is never afraid to let the cracks in her armor show. Series Two is all about Ellie’s journey BACK to the person she was before and Colman brings incredible depth and vulnerability to the role. Never count out DS Miller, people.
Sage: With the character evolution of Clara Oswald came new opportunities to appreciate what Jenna Coleman is doing with the part. She clicked immediately with Peter Capaldi, but let’s not give chemistry all the credit. Clara made some controversial choices this year and Coleman grounded those choices in palpable human emotion. Series 9 is a victory lap well-earned. Penny Dreadful might be too camp for some, but rest assured that former Bond girl Eva Green is doing work on that show. She approaches the haunted Vanessa with such intensity that you don’t know whether to be scared for her or of her. Let’s go with both, just to be safe. But maybe the hardest working woman on television is Orphan Black phenomenon (freak of nature?) Tatiana Maslany. She just keeps on slaying; we’ll never not be flabbergasted by how fully she possesses so many completely rounded characters. And season 3 brought us a new Leda (and an immediate fan favorite): the perceptive and sweet nail technician Krystal.
Best Actor in a Comedy
John Cho as Henry Higgs, Selfie
Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, Community
Chris Messina as Danny Castellano, The Mindy Project
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Parks and Recreation
Kim: Either we need to start watching more comedies or the Men need to start upping their game to match their female counterparts because we had a hard time filling this category. Ah well, quality over quantity, we always say. Joel McHale was always the rock of Community, never getting enough credit for the nuance he brought to Jeff Winger. Jeff’s journey to reconciling the person he thought he should be with the person he actually WAS was a frustrating but ultimately satisfying one. Joel deftly balanced the absurdity of Greendale with the emotional heft of Jeff’s fears of abandonment and not living up to his own expectations. It’s a masterclass in comic acting. Reigning Most Handsome Young Man John Cho was a revelation in Selfie, crafting a character that is held back by his own neuroses and refusal to think outside the box. Henry is as much of a mess as Eliza is and Cho imbued him with wit that belied his true vulnerability. It doesn’t hurt that he did it all wearing natty three-piece suits either.
Sage: Chris Messina is one of those actors like fellow Feelies nominee Nick Offerman; they are both so consistently thankful for the characters that they get to play (and their lady bosses, swoon) and unconcerned about the lack of award recognition coming their way. That “for the love of the game” mentality is what makes Danny Castellano and Messina’s performance the kind of sitcom benchmarks that will be remembered years after his contemporaries’ Emmy acceptance speeches have been forgotten. The Brooklyn Nine-Nine is inhabited by a strong and complementary ensemble; still, it’s great to see Andy Samberg grow into a reliable lead. Detective Peralta lost none of his boyish glee this year, but he did gain a little more respect from his Captain and maybe the Type-A girl of his dreams. Remember how Parks and Recreation used to exist without Adam Scott? It’s all been value added since Mean Ben and Chris Traeger rolled into town on a budget-slashing mission. And Ben Wyatt was the dreamy and exasperated nerd we needed, right up to the very end.
Best Actor in a Drama
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, Doctor Who
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, The Flash
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Mad Men
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, Outlander
Michael Sheen as Bill Masters, Masters of Sex
David Tennant as Alec Hardy, Broadchurch
Sage: Outlander is the Thinking Woman’s bodice-ripper and Jamie Fraser, despite being a 17th century Scotsman, is a 21st century romantic hero. In the second half of the series’ first season, Sam Heughan‘s duties went beyond smiling pretty, wooing Clare, and wearing the hell out of a kilt. As Jamie underwent a trauma so savage that I see it when I close my eyes, Heughan went places as an actor that brought much-needed meaning to that brutality. Bill Masters, meanwhile, is a more conflicting leading man. Michael Sheen doesn’t shrink away from Bill’s most self-serving and gutless moments, but always makes sure that the character’s brilliance shines through. We root for him, in spite of everything. David Tennant is an unrepentant goofball IRL, but easily tapped into his cantankerous Scottish roots to create D.I. Alec Hardy. Like we said above, it’s the give-and-take between Tennant and Olivia Colman that made Broadchurch 2 rise above its wonky plot.
Kim: The Flash rests entirely on Barry Allen’s shoulders and from the very first episode, Grant Gustin proved that he was up to the challenge. He plays Barry with warmth and joy which is so refreshing in a landscape where every Superhero is tormented by their “burden” and “responsibility” to help others. And then he’ll cry and make you want to wrap your arms around him and take this beautiful puppy’s pain away. PRECIOUS CHINA DOLL. From the moment he emerged from the TARDIS in “Deep Breath”, Peter Capaldi WAS The Doctor and made the role fully his own. Twelve is not always easy to love. He’s cranky and abrasive and has no patience for pudding brains. But at the same time, you can’t help but love him, and that’s ALL due to Capaldi’s performance. In Don Draper, Jon Hamm created a character for the ages. It’s an incredibly subtle performance and one that feels truly LIVED IN. Most of what Don is happens beneath the surface and you can see the wheels clicking in his brain with one withering glance. Perhaps the lack of fireworks is why he’s never won that elusive Emmy (YOU HAVE ONE MORE CHANCE GUYS)? Nevertheless, it’s a performance that will live on as one of the most iconic of all time.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Carol Kane as Lillian Kaushtupper, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Andrea Navedo as Xiomara Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate Dwyer, Parks and Recreation
Sage: Almost all of Aidy Bryant‘s SNL characters share a cheerful persistence. It makes every one of them as endearing as she is hilarious. You may not want to hang out with all of them, but you’d feel really bad about it. Jane Krakowski, so wonderful as the manic and fame-possessed Jenna on 30 Rock, took the imperiousness of that character and softened her (just a tad) on Kimmy Schmidt. The kinship between Jacqueline and Kimmy, both freed women, was one of the pleasant surprises of the series. April Ludgate always felt more deeply than she’d prefer anyone to know. In Parks’ final season, April decided once and for all who she wanted to be. Aubrey Plaza nailed the difficult job of hanging on to the weird twistiness of Andy Dwyer’s bride while also showing distinctly how each of her Pawnee colleagues rubbed off on her.
Kim: Carol Kane is a comedy LEGEND and her presence elevates every scene. Could anyone else pull off the daffy landlady with this much aplomb? I don’t think so. It’s GENIUS casting. Kate McKinnon continues to be the MVP of Saturday Night Live as she pulls off anything that’s thrown at her with ease. I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of her and the best thing that could have ever happened to her is Hillary Clinton running for President. Andrea Navedo brings a heart-crushing vulnerability to the flighty Xiomara that is beautifully realized. Xo may be a hot mess, but she’s a hot mess with a giant heart and a fierce love for her daughter and you just root for her to get her shit together.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris, Mad Men
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Eve Myles as Claire Ripley, Broadchurch
Billie Piper as Lily Frankenstein, Penny Dreadful
Darby Stanchfield as Abby Whelen, Scandal
Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Parenthood
Kim: I still haven’t forgiven Maggie Smith (because obviously SHE did it) for winning Christina Hendricks’ Emmy for season four of Mad Men. Joan’s journey has always been incredibly fascinating to me as she struggled to be seen for more than her bombshell looks and yearned for a partner who would truly see her as an equal. Joanie had a rough go of it in the final season, as she dealt with sexual harassment and gender discrimination (the scene where she threatened to bring a lawsuit down on McCann Erickson left me hooting and hollering on my couch) and a partner that tried to force her into a pre-determined box. Hendricks brought a slowly simmering RAGE to her performance and few things were as satisfying as learning that Joan started her OWN firm named Holloway-Harris. Like Peggy Carter, she knows her value and won’t let any man demean it. Mae Whitman was always the big beating heart of Parenthood and ultimately, the show felt like it was about Amber’s journey to adulthood and finding her place in the world. Amber’s unexpected pregnancy could have been a very trite storyline, but handled it with a grace and maturity that few of her peers would have been able to do. The only word that can truly describe Eve Myles‘ performance on Broadchurch is PRIMAL. The enigmatic Claire is like a trapped animal, doing whatever she needs to do to survive. When she lets loose…everyone step back, lest you be destroyed in her wake.
Sage: Like the other Peggy on this list, Miss Olson will go down in history as a fictional feminist hero. We’ll miss the humanity that Elisabeth Moss imbued in SCDP’s rising star, whether she was pulverizing the glass ceiling, offering Don the workplace soulmate he sorely needed, unleashing her pettiness on her secretary, or (my heart) discovering that somewhere along the way she fell in love with lovely, bearded Stan. Billie Piper has an inherent sweetness that brings light to rest upon all the darkness in the world, so my god, how fun was it to see her totally unleash in Penny Dreadful this season? As Brona Croft, all Billie really got to do was cough and look stricken; with great fanfare, Lily Frankenstein joined the ranks of the show’s monsters, brought every man in her midst to her knees, and looked friggin’ fabulous while doing so. Because of the rift between Abby and Olivia this year, we had a chance to witness Darby Stanchfield out on her own, doing her thing. Red has always been one of my favorites, because she’s Olivia’s voice of reason and this season, she was the only White Hat in Fitz’s administration. A scorching feminist monologue is never wasted on her and the pairing of her and Leo, the slimeball you just can’t help but really like, was a nice balm for the scorned Abby/David shippers.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Andre Braugher as Capt. Ray Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Jaime Camil as Rogelio de la Vega, Jane the Virgin
Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
Adam Pally as Peter Prentice, The Mindy Project
Jim Rash as Dean Craig Pelton, Community
Kim: Twenty years from now, people will look back on Nick Offerman‘s Ron Swanson and declare every awards body invalid for not recognizing the greatness of his performance. Ron probably cares more than ANYONE in Pawnee (yes, even more than Leslie) but does his very best to hide his feelings behind a mask of gruffness. I don’t know how anyone can watch “Leslie and Ron” and NOT toss all the awards at him. Jaime Camil‘s Rogelio de la Vega made me nearly fall off the elliptical with laughter on a regular basis. What a character and what a fully embodied performance! Rogelio is selfish and vain and considers himself the center of the universe…yet you can’t help but love him instantly because beneath the vanity is a heart of gold. Jim Rash has always been the unsung hero of Community and he rose to the occasion when his role was expanded as more and more original cast members left (sob). What distinguishes his performance is his ability to FULLY commit to whatever is thrown his way, be it the physical performance in the virtual reality episode or the poignant exploration into the Dean’s sexual identity. AND JESUS WEPT.
Sage: Andre Braugher keeps on taking the straight man role to new heights as the Nine-Nine’s
babysitter captain Ray Holt. Highlights of this year included all his scenes with guest star Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer? Foof!”) as the only person who’s ever made him lose his cool and that tearful finale scene where Holt finally let the curtain of professional distance between him and his beloved employee-children drop. Adam Pally filled The Mindy Project role that so many had failed to before him: Peter Prentice was Mindy’s best friend. We’ll miss watching Peter go on his own concurrent journey of self-improvement, learning nicknames of his previously unmentioned frat brothers (Pubes, Queef), and rooting for him to drop Lauren and finally find a girl who truly appreciates all the things about him that we do. A familiar face to 30 Rock fans (“DF’Wine. Please DF’Rink responsibly.”), Tituss Burgess became a star literally overnight as Kimmy Schmidt’s struggling actor roommate Titus Andromedon. (“With no career, no agent…and just the one sock.”) His shrieking genius can’t accurately be described in words, so I’ll let this do the talking.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
James D’Arcy as Lee Ashworth, Broadchurch AND as Edwin Jarvis, Agent Carter
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins, Orphan Black
Jesse L. Martin as Joe West, The Flash
Kyle MacLachlan as Calvin Zabo, Agents of SHIELD
Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein, Penny Dreadful
Carlos Valdez as Cisco Ramon, The Flash
Sage: Calvin Zabo was introduced to SHIELD as a standard-issue, mad scientist bad guy, and Kyle McLachlan threw his whole demented weight into it. Then Calvin was revealed to be a pawn, and a father desperate to regain his family. And he leaned even further into that. We’ll say it: SHIELD can just be boring at times. But never ever when Kyle McLachlan is on-screen. As Victor Frankenstein, Harry Treadaway brings the bone-deep loneliness to the misguided doctor. You just want to scoop him up into a soothing hug and then put him to bed until those dark circles fade away. And, in a cast of beautiful and precious cinnamon rolls, Carlos Valdez may be the sweetest and most worthy of protection of all. Cisco isn’t just the lab guy, and he’s not just the comic relief. (Though we’ll take a dozen more takes of him geeking out over meeting the Black Canary, thank you.) No, Valdez’s shining moment this season (and for sure the episode he submitted to the Television Academy) was the scene where he uncovered Harrison’s true identity and knew immediately that knowledge was a death sentence. Those tears! In Felicity’s words, “I thought Central City was supposed to be the fun one.”
Kim: It was a total mindfuck to see James D’Arcy juggling two incredibly different roles this season. On Broadchurch, he was frightening (yet incredibly sexy) as the menacing Lee Ashworth. On Agent Carter, he was bumbling yet suave as Peggy’s Guy Friday Jarvis (a delightful gender role flip). The roles were obviously INCREDIBLY different, yet D’Arcy embodied them both fully. Dude’s just showing off, really. While Orphan Black is clearly the Tatiana show (with good reason), Jordan Gavaris doesn’t get nearly enough credit for how good HE is. Orphan Black would not WORK without Felix around to pull his seestras back to reality. Between putting on a “Straight Boy” persona to get information out of Krystal to literally busting down doors, Gavaris brought Felix to a new level this season without losing the characteristics that made us love him so much in the first place. As Joe West, Jesse L. Martin brings SOUL to The Flash. He is Barry’s confidante, father-figure, and conscience and he does it all with a warmth that pours forth from the screen. I dare you to watch the “I need my Barry Allen” scene without tearing up.
And those are your nominees. Vote with your heart, dear readers. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!