Emmy Nominees 2012: Biggest Snubs & Surprises

While fan favorite Parks and Rec was overlooked, many newbies -- such as Lena Dunham from Girls -- got some Emmy love

This was a great year in TV. And that made it a bad year to be a good TV show. Just ask The Good Wife, a consistently terrific drama that didn't even get a spot on the 2012 Emmy ballot for outstanding drama series. Why not? Well, there were just too many other good dramas out there. In fact, when the Emmy nominations were read Thursday morning (in part by a PJ-clad Jimmy Kimmel, who'll host the Sept. 23rd ceremony), several high-quality shows and actors were pushed aside for, well, newer high-quality shows and actors. Here's who won and lost the Emmy nomination race…

In the outstanding drama category right now, TV is rich with well-scripted goodness. As usual, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and perennial winner Mad Men earned nods. But other outstanding standbys, like The Good Wife and Dexter, were left off the list to make room for Downton Abbey and Homeland. Fans of the dropped shows have a right to be disappointed. Neither was off of its game. But the new ones were deserving, too. This is the kind of problem that we TV viewers are lucky to have. It's just not so lucky for the two series that won't get Emmy accolades.

The outstanding comedy series saw a similar shakeup. Sure, it wasn't too surprising to see The Office left off the list, considering the uneven season it had after Steve Carell's departure last year. But it was sad to see Parks and Recreation left out. (Leslie Knope and her charmingly weird employees were as lovable as ever.) And Glee fans, who have come to rely on Emmy love, are no doubt crying into their Slurpees. Both shows were dropped to make for new (and deserving) ones like HBO's Veep and Girls. There's no point complaining about Curb Your Enthusiasm's nod, though. That hilarious show has never failed to score a nod, and that's as it should be!

As for the acting categories, the ballots are full of the usual suspects. Steve Buscemi, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall and Bryan Cranston returned to the forefront of the race for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. But while Damien Lewis of Homeland and Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey have deservedly joined them on that list, it was unfortunately at the expense of Hugh Laurie for his final season on House. The ladies were more predictable: By now we're used to seeing Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss and Kathy Bates in the race for outstanding lead actress in a drama series. That Claire Danes of Homeland and Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey would join them this year was kind of a no-brainer.

In the race for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, Jon Cryer (now considered a lead actor on Two and A Half Men) has been added to the list of more obvious choices (and past nominees), like Larry David, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K. and Jim Parsons. And in a surprise nod, Don Cheadle got a spot on the list for Showtime's House of Lies.

In like manner, the outstanding lead actress in a comedy series includes lots of previous nominees (like Tina Fey, Edie Falco and Melissa McCarthy), but has welcomed some new faces, too: Lena Dunham of Girls, Zooey Deschanel for New Girl and Julie Louis-Dreyfus for Veep. Frankly, none of those new additions were all that surprising -- all three women received above-average critical praise -- but it's nice to see Dunham and Louis-Dreyfus in the mix. Neither of their shows earned particularly high ratings for HBO. Their Emmy nods might help a little.

In past years, some have called the Emmy Awards a snooze. But with so many good shows to choose from, the 2012 Emmy Awards should truly be a real horse race. Ironically, it won't include the show that was actually about horse racing: HBO's canceled Luck didn't score a nod in any of the major categories.

Click here to see the full list of Emmy nominations. 

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