TV: SAG Award nominees mix newcomers like ‘Transparent’ with old favorites ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Homeland’

‘Downton Abbey’

“Downton Abbey” is one of the TV productions to dominate the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

(Nick Briggs / PBS)

Old favorites including “Downton Abbey," "Homeland” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” dominated the television nominees for the 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards, announced Wednesday.

For performance by an ensemble in a drama series, the members of SAG nominated last year’s winner, “Downton Abbey” (PBS), along with “Homeland” (Showtime), “Mad Men” (AMC), “Game of Thrones” (HBO) and “House of Cards” (Netflix). “Mad Men,” which is returning to the category after a two-year absence, is the only series that was not nominated last year.

The comedy ensemble category, expanded to six nominees because of a tie, included two notable newcomers, Amazon’s transgender dramedy “Transparent” and Comedy Central’s recently wrapped sketch-comedy series “Key & Peele.”  The remainder of the nominees are returning to the category. They include last year’s winner, “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), which now competes at the Emmys as a drama, as well as "The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), “Veep” (HBO) and “Modern Family” (ABC).

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There were several fresh faces in the male actor in a drama series category. Rami Malek, star of the USA hacker thriller “Mr. Robot,” and Bob Odenkirk, as the title character of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul,” both scored nods. They join repeat nominees Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones” and Jon Hamm for " Mad Men,” as well as last year’s winner Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards." 

For female actor in a drama series, SAG opted for last year’s winner, Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”), as well as tried-and-true favorites Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) and Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”). 

Another newcomer, Ellie Kemper, earned a nomination for female actor in a comedy series for her performance in Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” She is joined by defending champ Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) and returning nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”), Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”) and Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”). 

In addition to the ensemble nod, “Transparent” scored a nomination for actor (and Emmy winner) Jeffrey Tambor. He is the only new entrant in a field that also includes Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Louis C.K. (“Louie”), William H. Macy (“Shameless”) and Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”).


Historically themed projects dominated the miniseries and television movie categories. The nominees for performance by a male actor in a miniseries or television movie include Ben Kingsley for “Tut” (Spike), Ray Liotta for “Texas Rising"(History) and Mark Rylance for “Wolf Hall” (PBS). The category also included two nominees in non-historical programming: Idris Elba for BBC America’s “Luther” and Bill Murray for Netflix’s holiday special " A Very Murray Christmas.”

The distaff side was dominated by the female-oriented Lifetime network.  The nominees included Nicole Kidman for “Grace of Monaco," Christina Ricci for  “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles” and Susan Sarandon, “The Secret life of Marilyn Monroe,” all three of which aired on Lifetime. Rounding out the field are Queen Latifah for “Bessie” (HBO) and Kristen Wiig for “The Spoils Before Dying” (IFC).

As usual, there were some surprising oversights. Fox’s smash hit “Empire” failed to score any nominations, either for its ensemble or for leads Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard.  Oscar Isaac’s widely praised performance in the HBO miniseries "Show Me A Hero” was similarly overlooked. 

The Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on TBS and TNT on Jan. 30.

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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