TV Critic Tom Gliatto
July 18, 2013 12:30 PM

The best news out of Thursday’s Emmy Awards nominations is that newlywed Kerry Washington is up for best actress for Scandal.

I was worried that the ABC melodrama – about a beautiful political fixer with conflicted romantic feelings for a handsome, emotionally disturbed president – wouldn’t be considered serious enough to merit attention.

Actually, now that I’ve written that out, I can see why the show might not be considered serious. It’s ridiculous. And, in fact, it was shut out of the other top categories. (Although Dan Bucatinsky got a guest-actor nod.)

But I’d rather have seen Scandal up for best drama than Showtime’s Homeland, which had a panicked, often ludicrous second season that couldn’t be camouflaged by good performances by Claire Danes and Damien Lewis (both nominated, again).

Game Changer

The big news, however, are the nine nominations for Netflix’s imposing new series House of Cards, which depicts Washington, D.C., as a town of cool, polite surfaces and seething inner ambition – sort of like a glass-top coffee table with a bunch of snakes coiled beneath it. Nominees Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are both terrific as the show’s dangerously savvy power couple.

Netflix began to introduce digitally distributed original series only this year, and has quickly followed up Cards with the resuscitated comedy classic Arrested Development (which nabbed Jason Bateman an acting nomination), Hemlock Grove and the new Orange Is the New Black.

This could be a game changer at the Emmys, where the networks are shrinking away like witches repeatedly doused by water. Sorry, Julianna Margulies, star of CBS’s The Good Wife. Sorry, Kevin Bacon, star of Fox’s The Following.

RELATED: Aaron Paul: Emmy Nod Is ‘Unreal’ & More Reactions to the 2013 Nominations

Got It Wrong

And where the glasnost is FX’s The Americans? A tense combination of domestic American drama and Soviet espionage intrigue that can cause a fine jitteriness in a viewer, this superb new thriller earned a guest-actress nomination for Margo Martindale, but nothing for leads Matthew Rhys or the exceptional Keri Russell, whose flinty misery and remote pathos as a suburban wife/spy should redefine her career.

HBO’s Girls and its creator/star, Lena Dunham, do not deserve to be up for best comedy and actress, not after that stridently unpleasant second season. (The “ear swab” episode!) Why not smart, adorable Mindy Kaling from Fox’s The Mindy Project?

At least on her show she has a good job.

Maggie Smith, two-time winner and yet again a nominee for Downton Abbey, should probably just be moved into her own separate category complete with sleeping compartment and kitchenette.

Keri Russell in The Americans

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