Best Moments on TV of 2017... So Far

On July 13, the 69th Emmy Award nominations were announced. The winners will be read during the telecast on CBS on September 17. The majority of the nominations went to HBO, Netflix and FX.

For those networks, it was all about the movie stars that they got. HBO had Anthony Hopkins in Westworld, Robert De Niro in The Wizard of Lies and Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies. Apparently, lies are a big theme this year.

FX had Ewan McGregor in Fargo, as well as Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in Feud: Bette and Joan. Netflix had Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards, John Lithgow in The Crown and even Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie.

Netflix proved though you don't need movie stars or many celebrities in order to have a hit show. Stranger Things was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Three of its actors were recognized, including David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown and Shannon Purser. All three of those names might be new to you. Despite Harbour having been in numerous films, this will be his first, real breakthrough.

One big story is the nominations for This Is Us, the hit family drama on NBC. It brings Sterling K. Brown back to the party after his win last year for American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson. It also brings Milo Ventimiglia who is nominated for the first time. Ventimiglia is no stranger to the Emmys. He was there ten years ago for the 59th Emmys when his series Heroes was up for Outstanding Drama Series in its freshman year. Finally, there's Chrissy Metz in her first nomination as well, but she was presumably there two years ago for the 67th Emmys when her series American Horror Story: Freak Show was up for Outstanding Limited Series.

Some other notable nominations include Riz Ahmed who is a double nominee. He's in two different categories for two different shows. He's up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy. He's the lead in HBO's The Night Of and he's a guest on HBO's Girls, which had its final season.

It's not uncommon for a person to be nominated multiple times for the same program like Aziz Ansari who is up for acting and writing Master of None or Ryan Murphy who is up for writing, directing and even doing the main title design for Feud: Bette and Joan. Others this year who have multiple nominations for the same work are Ava DuVernay for 13th, RuPaul Charles for RuPaul's Drag Race, W. Kamau Bell for United Shades of America, Ezra Edelman for O.J.: Made in America and Fisher Stevens for Bright Lights.

It's always interesting when someone gets noticed for different works in the same year like Ahmed and Ewan McGregor who was the lead in the third season of Fargo but also was the narrator for Wild Scotland, a National Geographic series that I believe is a renamed BBC series called Highlands: Scotland's Wild Heart. Others this year who have multiple nominations but for different works include Ron Howard for The Beatles: Eight Days a Week and Genius, another series on National Geographic. There's also Alec Baldwin for his role as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live and for hosting the ABC series Match Game.

All this said, I think it would be awkward to be nominated twice in the same category. Such is the case though for Liev Schreiber who is technically a triple nominee. Schreiber is up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for his role in Ray Donovan. He's also listed twice in the category for Outstanding Narrator, the first time for HBO's Muhammad Ali: Only One and the second time for HBO's UConn: The March to Madness. Apparently, Schreiber likes narrating sports.

Schreiber is nominated opposite himself. Yet, he's not alone. Rickey Minor is also nominated opposite himself in Outstanding Music Direction. The first is for CBS' Stayin' Alive: A Tribute to The Music of the Bee Gees and the second is ABC's Taking the Stage: African-American Music and Stories That Changed America. Sasha Alpert is up against herself in Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program for Project Runway and Born This Way, a show about people with down syndrome. Mandy Moore, not to be confused with Mandy Moore on This Is Us, is up against herself in the category of Outstanding Choreography for both Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. Finally, Mindy Sterling, not to be confused with Mindy Kaling, is up against herself in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Series.

In case you didn't know what "Short Form" means, it's basically the Emmys trying to recognize things on the Internet. Sorting through the vast amount on YouTube, Vimeo, Crackle and other platforms seems like a difficult task, but one nomination that's appreciated is Honest Trailers on YouTube. Each episode of that series is a really hilarious take-down of a major Hollywood film.

One last notable nomination is Carrie Fisher's posthumous nod for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for her role in Hulu's Catastrophe. This is along side the HBO documentary Bright Lights about Carrie Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds who died December 28, 2016, a day after her daughter. Oscar-winner Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom got two Emmy nominations for Bright Lights, the first for Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program and the other for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.

In terms of snubs though, the one that truly bothers me is Netflix's Dear White People. Justin Simien's adaptation of his own independent film into ten, half-hour episodes was nothing short of brilliant. It was at its heart a powerful and interesting range of character stories set at college, but, despite its title, it ended up being probably the best satire of black culture since The Boondocks and In Living Color before that. Not only did it spoof the TV series Scandal but also Jean-Luc Godard. It's at times Rashomon and at other times Bowling for Columbine. It's also very funny with a Thane Lockwood running gag that had me cracking up. It is one of the best TV shows of 2017.

Best Moments on TV of 2017

Hasan Minhaj hosts White House Correspondents' Dinner (April 29) - CSPAN
Jimmy Kimmel Reveals His Son's Birth & Heart Disease (May 1) - ABC
Best Picture Mix-up at 89th Oscars (Feb. 26) - ABC
David Harbour and Taraji P. Henson Speeches at 23rd SAG Awards (Jan. 29) - TNT
Drop the Mic w/ Riz Ahmed on The Late Late Show with James Corden (April 17) - CBS

Best Comedy or Drama Series

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (Netflix) 
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: SEASON 5 (Netflix)
UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT: SEASON 3 (Netflix)
THE GOOD FIGHT (CBS)
AMERICAN CRIME: SEASON 3 (ABC)
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER: SEASON 3 (ABC)
BATES MOTEL: SEASON 5 (A&E)
QUEEN SUGAR: SEASON 2 (OWN)
SHADES OF BLUE: SEASON 2 (NBC)
SCANDAL: SEASON 6 (ABC)
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW: SEASON 2 (CW)
DIVORCE (2016) (HBO)
TRIAL & ERROR (NBC)

Best TV Movie / Special

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (HBO)
IMPERIAL DREAMS (Netflix)
SAND CASTLE (Netflix)
OH, HELLO ON BROADWAY (Netflix)
TREVOR NOAH: AFRAID OF THE DARK (Netflix)
SARAH SILVERMAN: A SPECK OF DUST (Netflix)
MIKE BIRBIGLIA: THANK GOD FOR JOKES (Netflix)
HASAN MINHAJ: HOMECOMING KING (Netflix)

Best Individual Episode

THIS IS US - "Moonshadow" (March 14)
SENSE8: SEASON 2 - "What Family Actually Means" (May 5)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: SEASON 42 - "Aziz Ansari / Big Sean" (Jan. 21)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: SEASON 42 - "Kristen Stewart / Alessia Cara" (Feb. 4)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: SEASON 42 - "Dwayne Johnson / Katy Perry" (May 20)

Best Individual Performance

Roger Guenveur Smith - RODNEY KING
Robin Wright in HOUSE OF CARDS: SEASON 5
Sissy Spacek - BLOODLINE: SEASON 3
Russell Tovey - QUANTICO - "FallenOracle"
Jake Johnson - WIN IT ALL

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