You can now read 10 articles a month for free. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

2012 Emmy nomination predictions

Lena Dunham of “Girls,” second from right, is among TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s favorites for Emmy nominations for comedy actress.

MARK SELINGER/HBO (LEFT); FX

Lena Dunham of “Girls,” second from right, is among TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s favorites for Emmy nominations for comedy actress.

True story. This year there are too many good shows and performances. My annual attempt to honor TV’s best with fantasy Emmy nominations has become an exercise in frustration. How to fit only six nominees in each category?

A few excellent new shows that arrived during the eligibility period (June 1, 2011-May 31, 2012) are responsible for the overcrowding, including “Girls,” “Homeland,” and “Enlightened.” And “Downton Abbey” is now competing in the series and not the miniseries categories.

Continue reading below

Of course, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences still might screw it up on Thursday when they announce the nominations. The academy is famous for perseverating on the likes of Jon Cryer and Mariska Hargitay and “Glee.”

COMEDY

Should: “Modern Family,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Louie,” “Girls,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Community”

Wish There Were Room: “Enlightened,” “Happy Endings,” “Veep,” “Wilfred,” “30 Rock,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Continue reading it below

Enough Already: “Glee,” “The Office”

I would be hard pressed to choose between “Girls” and “Louie,” both of which have expanded the sitcom genre. And then “Nurse Jackie” had its best season so far. And “Parks and Recreation” did, too. And “Community” continues to be TV’s best experiment. There are a number of best-comedy scenarios that would make me happy, none ending with “ee.”

ACTOR, COMEDY

Should: Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Jim Parsons, Jason Gann, Joel McHale, Chris Lilley

Wish There Were Room: Warwick Davis

Enough Already: Johnny Galecki, Steve Carell, Larry David

Interestingly, this is the one category that has the fewest obvious contenders. Most of the best comedies right now are led by women or by ensembles. I do hope voters take a look at Gann, whose man-dog in “Wilfred” is both snide and innocent. My strongest support goes to Louis C.K., as a sweetly passive man who comes alive on stage.

ACTRESS, COMEDY

Should: Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Edie Falco, Laura Dern, Tina Fey

Wish There Were Room: Laura Linney

Enough Already: Zooey Deschanel, Lea Michele

Dunham gave the kind of brave, unflattering performance on “Girls” that just may change the way women are portrayed in TV comedy. Dern was funny and moving on “Enlightenment,” and Louis-Dreyfus once again proved her adaptability and greatness on “Veep.” Oh, and I know the cute Deschanel hasn’t been nominated yet, but I hate that voters might automatically embrace her. She needs to work on her “New Girl” character.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY

Should: Ty Burrell, Nick Offerman, Adam Pally, Adam Driver, Max Greenfield, Ed O’Neill

Wish There Were Room: Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Aziz Ansari, Danny Pudi

Enough Already: Jon Cryer, Chris Colfer, Neil Patrick Harris, Rainn Wilson

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Driver in “Girls.” He took a twisted character, fleshed him out, and made him unique. Pally is gonzo excellence on “Happy Endings,” and Greenfield is the true star of “New Girl,” with his curiously endearing Schmidt.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS,

COMEDY

Should: Kristen Wiig, Jane Krakowski, Eliza Coupe, Casey Wilson, Merritt Wever, Alison Brie

Wish There Were Room: Aubrey Plaza, Maya Rudolph, Busy Phillips, Sofia Vergara

Enough Already: Jane Lynch, Julie Bowen

“Happy Endings” has grown into an addictive treat, not least of all thanks to Wilson and Coupe. Brie is wonderfully game on “Community.” Wiig had a strong final season on “Saturday Night Live,” and Wever is the self-conscious heart of “Nurse Jackie.”

DRAMA

Should: “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Homeland,” “Shameless,” “Justified,” “Game of Thrones”

Wish There Were Room: “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Southland,” “Treme”

Enough Already: “Dexter”

Wow. There’s a lot of top-notch drama here. I still don’t understand the voters’ aversion to “Shameless”; it deserves a nod for portraying the triumph of family in the face of poverty and addiction. “Homeland” was riveting, as was “Breaking Bad.”

ACTOR, DRAMA

Should: Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy, Jon Hamm, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Hugh Laurie

Wish There Were Room: Ray Romano, Steve Buscemi, Kelsey Grammer

Enough Already: Michael C. Hall

Part of me wants Laurie to finally get the statue for his years of dazzling work on “House.” But Lewis was a revelation on “Homeland,” and Macy went for broke on “Shameless.” There’s no denying the power of Cranston on “Breaking Bad,” but three Emmys may be enough. Maybe.

ACTRESS, DRAMA

Should: Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss, Emmy Rossum, Jessica Pare, Michelle Dockery

Wish There Were Room: Kyra Sedgwick

Enough Already: Glenn Close, Mariska Hargitay, Kathy Bates

Danes. Holy color-coded timeline! She exceeded my greatest expectations on “Homeland.” But I do hope Dockery gets love for her compromised Mary on “Downton Abbey.” Moss was perfect on “Mad Men” as she brought Peggy along her arc from passive girl to cynical businesswoman, and Pare was charming and indomitable. As a sister mothering her siblings on “Shameless,” Rossum was poignant.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA

Should: Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Pitt, Dean Norris, Jared Harris

Wish There Were Room: John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Neal McDonough, Joel Kinnaman, Jeremy Allen White, Wendell Pierce, Jeremy Davies, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, Brendan Coyle, Mandy Patinkin

Enough Already: Walton Goggins, Alan Cumming

This category is bursting at the seams, and in a less crowded year, the likes of Coyle (Bates in “Downton”) would be a shoo-in. Norris had his best season on “Breaking Bad,” as the wounded Hank moved closer to discovering Walt’s secret. Pitt was unforgettable, as “Boardwalk Empire” revealed his relationship with his mother. And Harris was affecting on “Mad Men” as a guy oppressed by his own decorum. Goggins: I loved him on “The Shield,” but still can’t make sense of his “Justified” character.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA

Should: Kelly Macdonald, Maggie Smith, Madeleine Stowe, Penelope Wilton, Anna Gunn, Jessica Lange

Wish There Were Room: Christina Hendricks, Melissa Leo, Khandi Alexander, Lena Headey, Archie Panjabi

Enough Already: Michelle Forbes, Christine Baranski, Rose Byrne

Who is Wilton? She was on “Downton” as Matthew’s mother, who was taken down a few notches this season. She and the superb Smith had a fun volley. Stowe was a kick on “Revenge,” as was Lange on “American Horror Story.” But my strongest support goes to Gunn, who has brought so much intensity to “Breaking Bad.”

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.
Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week