Emmys morning after: Was 'Boardwalk Empire' snubbed?

Everyone seems to be upset about the Emmys last night. And it's not just because of the bizarre inclusion of the singing Emmytones.

It's what's being perceived as a big diss for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." After winning a slew of technical awards at the unaired Schemmys, many had predicted the 1920s period drama could eke out a Nucky Thompson-esque underdog win.

Not so much. Yes, Martin Scorsese rightfully won for directing the visually stunning, movie-quality pilot episode. But I'm not surprised the show failed to take home some of the major acting awards and lost in the outstanding drama race.

"Boardwalk Empire" is a fine show. It's not superb. The acting is wonderful, but it doesn't knock your socks off as HBO clearly wants it to. I did "Boardwalk Empire" Season 1 recaps last year for b, and while I loved the first Scorsese-stamped first episode, I can honestly say the show never lived up to its initial promise.

Sure, it had some wonderful moments. I loved Kelly Macdonald's inner turmoil, Michael Pitt's love-hate relationship with Steve Buscemi and, especially Michael Shannon and Jack Huston's tortured, exquisite performances. It's a shame Pitt, Shannon and Huston's performances weren't nominated, since they're arguably the best thing about the show.

"Boardwalk Empire" simply doesn't always click the way "The Sopranos" or "Mad Men" or "Friday Night Lights" do. It's not that the Academy doesn't like it; they clearly like it enough to nominate it in several major drama categories in its first season. But it's clear they don't love it.

And I personally have never met someone who LOVES "Boardwalk Empire." I've never met someone who rushes home to watch it or feel like they MUST discuss what Nucky did last night. On the other hand, you feel like "Mad Men" elicits those kind of reactions and following. So did "The Sopranos" and "The West Wing," and those shows famously duked it out for best drama honors 10 years ago.

I feel like the nominations for "Boardwalk" were more than enough reward for a show that, while lush and inventive and often daring, hasn't quite found a steady voice. Season 2, premiering Sept. 25, will be a test of the show's longevity. 

But for now, "Boardwalk" losing last night seemed like one of the few things the Emmys actually got right. I mean, any show that wastes the talent of Michael K. Williams has some serious issues. 

Jordan Bartel is assistant editor at b. Email him at or follow him on Twitter, @jordanbartel