‘Girls’ among Emmy newcomers as nominations announced

Updated 7:42 PM EDT, Thu July 19, 2012

Story highlights

HBO leads all networks with 81 Emmy nominations

There were some snubs, including Louis C.K.'s FX series "Louie"

The prize for best drama series looks to be a wide-open race

The HBO comedy "Girls" has divided both critics and viewers

(CNN) —  

When it comes to comedy, the Emmys are making room for “Girls.”

“Girls,” the polarizing HBO comedy about four twentysomething women finding their way in 21st-century New York, received five nods Thursday when the nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced. Among the show’s nominations were picks for best comedy series as well as best actress in a comedy for creator and writer Lena Dunham.

“Girls” joined fellow newcomer “Veep” as well as comedy mainstays “Modern Family” – which led all comedy series with 14 nominations – “30 Rock” (13 nods), “The Big Bang Theory” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” among comedy series nominees. “Family” won the category last year.

Several veteran shows were among the nominees for best drama series, including “Mad Men” – which has won this category four years running – “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones.” PBS’ breakout hit “Downton Abbey,” which was nominated in the miniseries category last year, joined the crew for best drama, as did Showtime’s “Homeland.”

Thanks to the showings of “Thrones,” “Girls,” “Empire” and the movie “Game Change,” HBO led all networks with 81 nominations. “Mad Men” and the FX series “American Horror Story,” which was put in the miniseries category, led all programs with 17 nominations each. “Downton Abbey” and the History Channel’s “Hatfields and McCoys” both earned 16 nods.

CBS led broadcast networks with 60 nominations.

“Girls” has divided both critics and viewers. Some have dismissed the show for its narrow take on New York and young women, noting the lack of African-American characters, its general hip and upscale settings, and Dunham’s willingness to make her audience squirm as she follows characters into both bedroom and bathroom.

The show’s defenders, on the other hand, applaud Dunham for showing her characters in less-than-flattering lights and observe that “Girls” isn’t the first series to take place in a perceived vacuum. Indeed, “Sex and the City” – to which Dunham’s show has been compared – also showed a thin slice of New York through the lives of four women (and much more glamorously, to boot).

The nominations weren’t without their perceived snubs. Despite both critical acclaim and a growing audience, Louis C.K.’s FX series “Louie” didn’t make the cut for comedy series, though the comedian-writer-DIY guy did receive a nod for best actor in a comedy. NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” missed out on best comedy series as well, though star Amy Poehler got a nomination.

NBC’s self-referential sitcom “Community,” a critical darling that was the subject of heated controversy when the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, was forced out as executive producer in May, got just one nomination, for writing.

Marquee: The nominees list

However, there were also some surprises.

Don Cheadle, whose Showtime series “House of Lies” received an uneven reception upon its January premiere, earned a nomination for best actor in a comedy series. “Homeland,” about a CIA agent combating terrorism and her own demons, received plenty of attention, picking up nine nominations, including nods for best drama series and stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.

“It’s an incredible thrill to be nominated our first year out. When we wrote the pilot, we never imagined that the Television Academy would include us in the company of such extraordinary nominees,” “Homeland’s” co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa said in a statement.

And the ageless Betty White (OK, she’s actually 90) was nominated for best reality show host for “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.” (Her comedy series, “Hot in Cleveland,” also got recognition, with two nominations.)

The prize for best drama series, usually considered the night’s capstone, looks to be a wide-open race. Though “Mad Men” has won it four consecutive years, AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” featuring Bryan Cranston’s best actor-nominated performance as a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, is coming off a strong year, and “Downton Abbey” offers a rich and sumptuous take on early 20th-century life. Moreover, “Thrones,” based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling fantasy novels, “Homeland” and “Boardwalk” all have their partisans.

The nominations were announced by Kerry Washington, star of ABC’s “Scandal,” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel, who stepped in for “Parks and Recreation” actor Nick Offerman at the last minute (Offerman suffered travel delays), showed up in pajamas.

“Who are you wearing?” asked Washington impishly.

“This is from the husky baby collection,” Kimmel replied.

The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will take place September 23. The show will air on ABC from Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre.