Emmys 2011: It's time for term limits on perennial nominees
But just because they're solid choices doesn't mean they should be nominated every year. There are certain people and shows that should be prevented from getting nominated year in and year out, just so others -- like all those snubs we went over after the nominations were announced Thursday -- can get a chance to have their day in the spotlight.
A few ground rules before we unfurl this list, however:
1. The people and shows on this list all have at least one win in their category. We call this the Hugh Laurie Rule; it's not fair to ban Laurie, for example, even though he's been nominated in six out of the last seven years and has never won. It could also be called the Steve Carell Rule for that very reason.
2. Also, for actors, we're not talking about multiple nominations spanning different roles, which could be dubbed the Matt LeBlanc Rule as of Thursday. Once that role ends, the tally goes back to zero.
3.Finally, we're talking about shows and actors that have gotten four or more nominations; three sounds like it's about right, so we'll give them another one for the heck of it. Let's call that the Bryan Cranston Rule (mainly because we want him to get another nomination for "Breaking Bad" next year).
Here are the people and shows whose Emmy nomination plaques should be retired and sent to the rafters:
"30 Rock". It's been nominated for outstanding comedy series every year it's been on the air, and it's won three times*. The show has weakened but remains a high-quality comedy, but it feels the academy is just checking the box next to this show by rote now.
Alec Baldwin. Five nominations for playing Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock" and two wins. Let Joel McHale take the spot next year, Alec. We'll even take your Red Sox-loving buddy John Krasinski.
Tina Fey. Five nominations for playing Liz Lemon, with one win. We love Tina, but she'll collect enough Emmys for writing, hosting "SNL" and whatever else she does to more than make up for this.
"Mad Men". This might be blasphemy to say this, but this year's fourth outstanding drama series nomination should be its last. It's won the last three awards, blocking worthy shows like "Breaking Bad," "Lost" and "The Good Wife," among others. The show might end up having an excellent fifth season, but it's been recognized enough.
Jon Cryer. He's been nominated six times and has won once for playing Alan Harper in "Two and a Half Men." Like we said Thursday, he deserves the nod this year as combat pay for trying to stay above the fray in the Charlie Sheen War of 2011. But six is already two too many on our scale.
"The Office". Six nominations, one win. And the show is not nearly as good as it was when it won outstanding comedy series in 2006.
Mariska Hargitay. Eight nominations and one win for playing Detective Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: SVU." Again, she's worthy, and she elevates herself above the standard "L&O" procedural writing every year. But it's time for her to step aside. She may be making that decision for us, though, as she's reducing her presence on the show this season.
"The Daily Show". Love the show, love Jon Stewart, but eight wins and eleven nominations pretty much spell domination. Having "TDS" bow out might give Stephen Colbert and his cohorts a chance, or at least make room for nominations for Jimmy Kimmel or Craig Ferguson.
*For the record: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of best comedy series Emmys "30 Rock" has won. It has three.