When this year's Emmy Award nominations were announced two months ago, it was the usual bunch of shoo-ins, gasps and apparent snubs, with an impressive haul of British names in there to boot.
So, in a nutshell, what did we learn about our current preoccupations with the small screen from the names that came out of the envelopes, and what does it all mean for Sunday evening's ceremony?
- That it would be downright cruel if Jon Hamm left the auditorium this year without an Emmy in his deserving hand, if not two. He has been nominated a staggering 11 times now - including seven times for ‘Mad Men’, three times for ’30 Rock’ - but is yet to score a single win. Despite his era-defining turn as Don Draper, he’s had the bad luck so far to come up against the perennial favourite Bryan Cranston for ‘Breaking Bad’, a fine Damian Lewis for ‘Homeland’ and even a surprise victor Jeff Daniels for ‘The Newsroom’. This year, he’s got Kevin Spacey, Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber and Daniels once again in his sights, but it’s the last chance the voters will get to thank him for raising the bar forever when it comes to sad smoking, suit-wearing in all weathers and suave self-loathing. And with his scene-stealing turn in Kimmy Schmidt given a Guest Star nod, too, he could just make it a matching pair. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
- That 'Game of Thrones' really is the behemoth HBO believes it to be, with a staggering 24 nominations this year. With even the President enquiring after the fate of Jon Snow and A-listers queueing up for the honour of guest-starring, ie. being sworn at by Peter Dinklage and possibly slain by Brienne of Tarth, this medieval juggernaut shows no sign of stopping. One thing, though - IS there a plan for when the show catches up with the books? No pressure, GRR Martin…
- That we could get depressed every time we read of yet another inequality in Hollywood, whether it’s salaries, suggested audition outfits or mind-boggling age differences between romantic leads… or we could just sit back and marvel at the current crop of talent being celebrated in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Edie Falco, Lisa Kudrow, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, three-time winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the uber-mother, Lily Tomlin. Add to this Tina Fey’s call out in the Guest category, and it’s clear, there are some clever, funny women up front and centre.
- That the long love affair with Jim Parsons seems to be over. The 'The Big Bang Theory' actor, the highest paid on US television, has won four times in total but failed to get even a nod this year for his geeky role, leaving the door open for nominees including Golden Globe winners Matt LeBlanc and Jeffrey Tambor.
- That the cigarette paper between streaming services and linear TV has all but evaporated. Amazon’s Golden Globe winner 'Transparent' has earned 11 nominations, including for Jeffrey Tambor and in the comedy series category. Meanwhile, 'House of Cards' and 'Orange is the New Black' are both doing the business for Netflix, and now there’s a newcomer on the comedy block with 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'.
- That the wheels of diversity turn slowly, but they do turn with black stars Viola Davis and Taraji P Henson both up for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series ('How to Get Away With Murder' and 'Empire' respectively). In less favourable news for ‘Empire’, both lead actor Terrence Howard and the show itself missed out.
- That overseas telly people obviously can’t get it out of their heads that we’ve given up on the servants, doublet and hose over on this small isle. While love for 'Downton Abbey’ has almost vanished here at home, it still scoops up the plaudits abroad, with nods for Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Jim Carter and the show as a whole. More understandably, both Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis have been recognised for their sterling work in ‘Wolfe Hall’.
- That, even after he’s thoroughly lampooned them in his own awards hosting stints, Ricky Gervais can do no wrong in America, collecting his 22nd Emmy nomination, this time for ‘Derek’. Yes, you read that right - 22nd nomination.
The Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out on Sunday 20 September. Click here for the full list of top nominations...