Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Emmy contenders, newbies and Outlander competition.

15 Emmy virgins who deserve 2015 awards love 

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Empire, Outlander and Gina Rodriguez are all 2015 Emmy Awards contenders
TV shows' eligibility for consideration at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards ended on May 31, which means everything that had a chance to get a nomination already aired. That's why June 1 seems like the perfect day to start talking about the shows and actors most deserving of recognition.

While the old favorites like "Modern Family" and "Game of Thrones" will likely still get nominated, Zap2it wants to shine a light on the newcomers who captivated audiences over the past year. Drama or comedy, supporting actor or lead, these 15 Emmy virgins are all at the top of our "Nominate These Now!" list.

(There are technically two exceptions to the "virgins" qualification: "The Walking Dead" has been nominated, but only for technical Emmys, and Amy Schumer has been nominated as a writer but not an actress. Since this article calls for them in main categories, they're still being considered "virgins.")

Emmy nomination voting begins on June 15, and 2015 nominees will be announced on July 16 (the awards show itself airs on Sept. 20). Until then, here's who we're crossing our fingers for, in no particular order.

1. 'Empire' 
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Drama Series 

"Empire" is hands down the biggest network hit of the 2014-15 TV season, and for good reason. It's well-written, well-acted and shines a light into a world audiences don't typically get to see on television. Emmy alum Taraji P. Henson seems like a shoo-in for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, but it would be a travesty if the show itself didn't land a well-deserved Outstanding Drama Series nod. 

2. Viola Davis 
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series 

Leading a freshman drama is a lot of pressure for any actor, but Viola Davis reminds you of the powerhouse she is with her work on "How to Get Away with Murder." Annalise Keating is a continuously evolving enigma that keeps viewers pulled in. Davis is a two time Oscar nominee but has never taken home the gold. As potentially the only actress in Hollywood that could keep a show centered primarily on one murder for its entire freshman season thriving, she deserves the Emmy appreciation. 

3. Matt Czuchry 
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series 

Matt Czuchry has always been a solid supporting actor on "The Good Wife," but in Season 6 he really came to the forefront when his character, Cary Agos, was framed for aiding and abetting the top drug dealer in Chicago. His stint in prison let Czuchry's talent shine. While the Emmys have given CBS drama a lot of love over the years, hopefully his performance will get some recognition as well. 
4. Samira Wiley
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series 

In Season 2 of "Orange Is the New Black," Samira Wiley took Poussey from being a sassy wise-cracker to a fleshed out, heartbreaking fan favorite. Poussey's struggle to stop her best friend Taystee (Danielle Brooks) from going to the dark side allowed Wiley to exercise her tremendous range from rage and sadness to the sweet relief of reunion. As Zap2it pointed out in December, she was the unsung hero of the sophomore season and deserves the Emmy love. 

5. 'Outlander'
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Drama Series 

It's hard to pick just one Emmy nomination  "Outlander" most deserves. While there are strong arguments to be made to get Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies awards love (and they rightly should), it's the actual TV show that gives them the ground from which they can give great performances. "Outlander" is the  most fearless show on TV, and it needs to be recognized for that.

6. Ruth Wilson
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series 

After both Ruth Wilson and "The Affair" won Golden Globes, it's hard to imagine the TV Academy ignoring them at the Emmys. Still, it's worth noting that Wilson was phenomenal as Alison Bailey on the show and should get the Emmy Award nomination she somehow hasn't landed throughout her TV career.

7. Freddie Highmore
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series 

Vera Farmiga snagged her first Emmy nomination in 2013 for "Bates Motel," but this is a two-lead show. After Freddie Highmore's phenomenal performance as Norman Bates in Season 3 of the A&E series, it's about time the TV Academy gave him his due.

8. Bellamy Young
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series  
"Scandal" is no stranger to Emmy acting nominations, but where's the love for Bellamy Young? She's become the show's secret weapon over the past few seasons, which explains why her character Mellie keeps getting increasingly pivotal roles. It's about time she gets some appreciation.

9. 'The Walking Dead'

Nomination deserved: Outstanding Drama Series

"The Walking Dead" is heading into Season 6 and is the most popular show in cable TV history, yet still somehow hasn't gotten the awards recognition it deserves. The AMC drama constantly challenges itself and its audience with new settings, new conflicts and new horrors, and manages to get better with each passing year. It's hard to argue that genre shows are being ignored because "Game of Thrones" at the very least gets nominated every year, and it's time to elevate "The Walking Dead" to that category.

10. Amy Schumer
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series 
"Inside Amy Schumer" is an Emmy vet after being nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 2014, but it's about time Amy Schumer got the acting credit she deserves. The show broke through the pop culture bubble in 2015 and that thanks rides on Schumer's shoulders. There's a reason her name is in the series' title.

11. Rick Hoffman
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series 
Rick Hoffman has been a scene-stealing asset on  "Suits" since Season 2, yet in Season 4 Hoffman brought Louis Litt to a whole new level. Viewers were shown that Hoffman isn't just a great supporting player, but a vital part of the show's drama as Louis went from the firm's disgrace to black-mailing name partner. USA as a whole has been lacking in Emmy acknowledgment, but Hoffman's achievement in making Louis essential to what makes "Suits" work deserves to be recognized.

12. Tracee Ellis Ross
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

When people talk about women in comedy they are quick to throw out names like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but Tracee Ellis Ross' work on "Black-ish" this season deserves equal praise. She went toe-to-toe with comedic heavyweight Anthony Anderson and stole many scenes with her quick wit and brilliant physical comedy. As the mom of the family she's often the voice of reason, but Ross doesn't let that stop her for going for the knockout punchlines.

13. 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Variety Series

No variety show dominated the pop culture conversation more than the debut season of HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." Taking the comedy news angle that "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" perfected and combining it with investigative journalism created a refreshing take on the events of the world that might actually make a difference.

14. Gina Rodriguez
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series  
There's a reason Gina Rodriguez took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series Comedy before the first run of "Jane the Virgin" concluded: She is the heart and soul of The CW's critically acclaimed new show. Pretty much every actor across all levels (and the series itself) deserve Emmy recognition, but if only one "Jane" nomination is given, let it be to Rodriguez.

15. Constance Wu
Nomination deserved: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Is Constance Wu the female lead on  "Fresh Off the Boat," or a supporting cast member? The argument could be made for either (technically Hudson Yang is the lead, right?) and it will be up to ABC to figure out how they're going to try to leverage her for Emmy consideration. But consideration she should get, because Wu manages to steal every scene she's in and ground the series in a way necessary for it to have the pop culture resonance it's managed. Supporting Actress or otherwise, Wu demands attention.

Additional contributions by Megan Vick and Andrea Reiher

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