From the ''True Blood'' shut-out to ''The Kennedys'' surprise haul, this year's most unexpected nominations

By Lynette Rice and Tanner Stransky
Updated July 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Friday Night Lights

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The Year’s Biggest Oversights

True Blood is a smash with viewers and critics, but the HBO drama still couldn’t snag a slot in the best-drama category, while stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer were ignored in the acting categories. What’s a bloodsucker have to do to get some love from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences? And Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter probably shouldn’t use Twitter to exorcise his demons, but in this case we don’t blame him: His FX show was ignored yet again in the major categories, prompting him to tweet diatribes like ”Best part of not getting an Emmy nod. Now I don’t have to pretend I give a s—.” Yikes. (He later said he was just joking.) Finally, for the third straight year, the Academy passed over Fox’s Fringe — the best sci-fi series to make it in prime time since The X-Files. Shame on you, Emmy.

Network Dramas Struggle

For the first time ever, only one broadcast show (CBS’ The Good Wife) managed to score a nomination in the drama-series category. (Yes, Friday Night Lights is also in the mix, but remember that it originally aired on DirecTV and then reran on NBC.) This is a category that the major networks completely dominated until 1999 — when HBO’s The Sopranos crashed the party — and they’ve been losing ground ever since.

Unexpected Accolades

The Kennedys — that eight-hour miniseries that was first developed by the History channel before it was dumped and picked up by ReelzChannel — earned 10 nominations, including nods for stars Greg Kinnear (as John F.) and Barry Pepper (as Bobby).

Downton Abbey — A Miniseries?

There’s a second season in the works. But the PBS show was still nominated as a miniseries, not a drama. Allow us to explain: When Emmy submissions were made, there weren’t plans for more episodes. ”That was a situation in which the second season was an afterthought once the original miniseries was done,” says John Leverence, the TV Academy’s SVP of awards.

The Curious Case of Cloris Leachman

Why is the Raising Hope star — who appeared in 20 of the series’ 22 episodes from the first season — nominated as a guest actress instead of supporting? Short answer: Because she wanted to be. ”A person can choose to go guest or can choose to go supporting,” says Leverence. In this case, he says the scene-stealer can be considered ”an ongoing guest.”

Better Late Than Never

Granted, it’s about three years too late, but the immensely talented Walton Goggins — who was criminally overlooked for his work on FX’s The Shield — finally got his due as a supporting actor on Justified. Gushes Goggins, ”To be invited to the party in this way? I hope they don’t rescind the invitation.”

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