‘Breaking Bad,’ Netflix hit it big with WGA nominations

Senior Television Writer
12.05.13 30 Comments


This was, as I’ve written about several times – and will be writing a lot more in the coming weeks as we publish various Best of 2013 lists – an insanely good, and deep, year for scripted television. “Breaking Bad” went out with an amazing final season. Netflix entered the original scripted series game. So did Sundance, and History, and others. There’s so much good TV right now that any kind of Top 10 list, or set of awards nominations – like today’s announcement of the Writers Guild of America TV nominees for 2013 – will inevitably omit an awful lot of great material, and will lean on the specific preferences of the individuals or groups making the picks. I’m going to be curious to see the results for our second annual HitFix TV Critics Poll (here’s last year’s), which will be published later this month, and I’m also interested to see how the Golden Globes and the various Hollywood guilds like the WGA (all of whom attach their TV awards to their movie ones) pick and choose among all the possibilities.

I’ve got the full WGA list at the bottom of this post, but let’s start with some specific observations:

* Series-wise, “Breaking Bad” was the big winner, nominated for drama series and landing 3 of the 6 nominations for individual drama episodes. I’m somewhat shocked that Moira Walley-Beckett’s script for “Ozymandias” – the best hour of TV of the year, by far – wasn’t nominated, but I also can’t impeach the three episodes that were chosen (“Buried,” “Confessions” and “Granite State”).

* Network/provider-wise, the big winner was Netflix, which won the gamble on submitting “Orange Is the New Black” as a comedy, and as a result wound up with five nominations between “Orange” and “House of Cards.”

* The WGA voters still like “Homeland” as a series, if not enough to nominate an individual episode. Then again, no “Mad Men” individual nominations, either – not even for one of the scripts that didn’t have Matthew Weiner’s name on it. No “Game of Thrones” whatsoever. (UPDATE: As a reader reminded me, a submissions mix-up made “GoT” ineligible for a series nomination, but it’s individual episodes still qualified, and “The Rains of Castamere” would have seemed like a favorite to be nominated.)

* In some ways, the new series category is the most interesting one, given that “Breaking Bad” is likely to win anything it’s eligible for, and given the metric tonnage of great new shows debuting this year. Of the five nominees, I really like “The Americans,” “Masters of Sex” and “Orange,” was lukewarm on “Cards” and didn’t think much of “Ray Donovan.” Probably too much to hope a lower-profile show like “Rectify” (or even “Orphan Black”) could have wound up here.

* The WGA, like the Emmy writing nominees, treated the “30 Rock” finale as two separate episodes, and only the first half (not co-written by Tina Fey, and not featuring Lutz’s Blimpies revenge plan) was nominated.

* “Futurama” goes out strong with three of the six nominations for animated episode writing.

* The WGA tries to adapt to the changing world with the Short Form New Media category, whose nominees include two episodes of the funny web series “Husbands.”

Anyway, here are the nominees. Express your delight and/or indignation in the comments.


Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC

The Good Wife, Written by Meredith Averill, Leonard Dick, Keith Eisner, Jacqueline Hoyt, Ted Humphrey, Michelle King, Robert King, Erica Shelton Kodish, Matthew Montoya, J.C. Nolan, Luke Schelhaas, Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Craig Turk, Julie Wolfe; CBS

Homeland, Written by Henry Bromell, William E. Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Barbara Hall, Patrick Harbinson, Chip Johannessen, Meredith Stiehm, Charlotte Stoudt, James Yoshimura; Showtime

House of Cards, Written by Kate Barnow, Rick Cleveland, Sam R. Forman, Gina Gionfriddo, Keith Huff, Sarah Treem, Beau Willimon; Netflix

Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Semi Chellas, Jason Grote, Jonathan Igla, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Janet Leahy, Erin Levy, Michael Saltzman, Tom Smuts, Matthew Weiner, Carly Wray; AMC


30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Luke Del Tredici, Tina Fey, Lang Fisher, Matt Hubbard, Colleen McGuinness, Sam Means, Dylan Morgan, Nina Pedrad, Josh Siegal, Tracey Wigfield; NBC

Modern Family, Written by Paul Corrigan, Bianca Douglas, Megan Ganz, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O”Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Audra Sielaff, Emily Spivey, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC

Parks and Recreation, Written by Megan Amram, Donick Cary, Greg Daniels, Nate DiMeo, Emma Fletcher, Rachna Fruchbom, Daniel J. Goor, Norm Hiscock, Matt Hubbard, Dave King, Greg Levine, Joe Mande, Sam Means, Aisha Muharrar, Matt Murray, Amy Poehler, Alexandra Rushfield, Michael Schur, Jen Statsky, Harris Wittels, Alan Yang; NBC

Orange Is the New Black, Written by Liz Friedman, Sian Heder, Tara Herrmann, Sara Hess, Nick Jones, Jenji Kohan, Gary Lennon, Lauren Morelli, Marco Ramirez; Netflix

Veep, Written by Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO


The Americans, Written by Michael Batistick, Joshua Brand, Joel Fields, Melissa James Gibson, Sneha Koorse, Joe Weisberg, Bradford Winters; FX

House of Cards, Written by Kate Barnow, Rick Cleveland, Sam R. Forman, Gina Gionfriddo, Keith Huff, Sarah Treem, Beau Willimon; Netflix

Masters of Sex, Written by Michelle Ashford, Tyler Bensinger, Michael Cunningham, Lyn Greene, Richard Levine, Amy Lippman, Sam Shaw, Noelle Valdivia; Showtime

Orange Is the New Black, Written by Liz Friedman, Sian Heder, Tara Herrmann, Sara Hess, Nick Jones, Jenji Kohan, Gary Lennon, Lauren Morelli, Marco Ramirez; Netflix

Ray Donovan, Written by Ann Biderman, Sean Conway, David Hollander, Brett Johnson, Ron Nyswaner; Showtime


“Buried” (Breaking Bad), Written by Thomas Schnauz; AMC

“Confessions” (Breaking Bad), Written by Gennifer Hutchison; AMC

“Episode 101” (House of Cards), Teleplay by Beau Willimon; Netflix

“Granite State” (Breaking Bad), Written by Peter Gould; AMC

“Hitting the Fan” (The Good Wife), Written by Robert King &Michelle King; CBS

“Pilot” (Masters of Sex), Written by Michelle Ashford; Showtime


“Career Day” (Modern Family), Written by Paul Corrigan &Brad Walsh; ABC

“Farm Strong” (Modern Family), Written by Elaine Ko; ABC

“Hogcock!” (30 Rock), Written by Jack Burditt &Robert Carlock; NBC

“Lesbian Request Denied” (Orange Is the New Black), Written by Sian Heder; Netflix

“Leslie and Ben” (Parks and Recreation), Written by Michael Schur &Alan Yang; NBC

“Pilot” (Orange Is the New Black), Teleplay by Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan; Netflix


Killing Kennedy, Written by Kelly Masterson, Based on the book by Bill O”Reilly & Martin Dugard; National Geographic

Muhammad Ali”s Greatest Fight, Written by Shawn Slovo, Based on the book by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace; HBO


“Episode 4: The Collected Sylvia” (Sylvia Plath: Girl Detective), Written by Mike Simses; sylviaplathgirldetective.com

“Episode 8” (Lauren, Season 2), Written by Jay Rodan; youtube.com/wigs

“I Do Over Part 1” (Husbands), Written by Bradley C. Bell &Jane Espenson; cwseed.com

“I Do Over Part 2” (Husbands), Written by Bradley C. Bell &Jane Espenson; cwseed.com


“A Test Before Trying” (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen; Fox

“Game of Tones” (Futurama), Written by Michael Rowe; Comedy Central

“Hardly Kirk-ing” (The Simpsons), Written by Tom Gammill &Max Pross; Fox

“Murder on the Planet Express” (Futurama), Written by Lew Morton; Comedy Central

“Saturday Morning Fun Pit” (Futurama), Written by Patric M. Verrone; Comedy Central

“Yolo” (The Simpsons), Written by Michael Nobori; Fox


The Colbert Report, Writers: Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Bobby Mort, Meredith Scardino, Max Werner; Comedy Central

Conan, Writers: Jose Arroyo, Andres du Bouchet, Scott Chernoff, Deon Cole, Josh Comers, Dan Cronin, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Laurie Kilmartin, Rob Kutner, Todd Levin, Conan O’Brien, Matt O’Brien, Jesse Popp, Andy Richter, Brian Stack, Mike Sweeney; TBS

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Head Writer: Tim Carvell; Writers: Rory Albanese, Steve Bodow, Travon Free, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Matt Koff, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Lauren Sarver, Jon Stewart; Comedy Central

Jimmy Kimmel Live, Writers: Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Gary Greenberg, Josh Holloway, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Bess Kalb, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Loveness, Molly McNearney, Bryan Paulk, Danny Ricker, Rick Rosner; ABC

Portlandia, Writers: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley; IFC

Saturday Night Live, Head Writers: Seth Meyers, Colin Jost; Writers: James Anderson, Alex Baze, Neil Casey, James Downey, Steve Higgins, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Joe Kelly, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Mike O”Brien, Josh Patten, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker; NBC Universal


Blake Shelton”s Not So Family Christmas, Head Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts; Writers: Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders; NBC


Jeopardy!, Written by John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC


Days of Our Lives, Written by Lorraine Broderick, David Cherrill, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Christopher Dunn, Janet Iacobuzio, David A. Levinson, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Melissa Salmons, Christopher J. Whitesell; NBC

General Hospital, Written by Michelle Altman, Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, Suzanne Flynn, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Daniel James O”Connor, Jean Passanante, Elizabeth Page, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Chris Van Etten; ABC

The Young and the Restless, Associate Head Writers: Shelly Altman, Tracey Thomson; Written by Amanda Beall, Jeff Beldner, Brent Boyd, Susan Dansby, Janice Ferri Esser, Jay Gibson, Beth Milstein, Lisa Seidman, Natalie Minardi Slater, Anne Schoettle, Linda Schreiber, Teresa Zimmerman; CBS


“influANTces” (A.N.T. Farm), Written by Vincent Brown; Nickelodeon

“The Haunted Cave” (Spooksville), Written by Jim Krieg; Hub Network

“Simon Says” (Sesame Street), Written by Christine Ferraro; PBS


“Cliffhanger” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk &Mike Wiser; PBS

“Egypt in Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria &Martin Smith; PBS


“The Abolitionists” (American Experience), Written by Rob Rapley; PBS

“The Choice 2012” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk; PBS

“Episode 1” (The Dust Bowl), Written by Dayton Duncan; PBS

“Silicon Valley” (American Experience), Telescript by Randall MacLowry andMichelle Ferrari; Story by Randall MacLowry; PBS


“The Election of Pope Francis” (CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley), Written by Jerry Cipriano, Joe Clines and Scott Pelley; CBS

“The Fall of Lance Armstrong” (60 Minutes), Written by Michael Radutzky, Michael Rey, Oriana Zill de Granados; CBS

“The Inauguration of the President” (CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley), Written by Jerry Cipriano and Joe Clines; CBS

“Tragedy at Newtown” Special Edition (ABC World News with Diane Sawyer), Written by Lisa Ferri and Matt Negrin; ABC


“Lethal Medicine” (60 Minutes), Written by Michael Rey, Oriana Zill de Granados, Michael Radutzky; CBS

“Throwback Thursday – Happy Birthday, Michael Jackson” (ABC World News Now), Written by Matt Nelko; ABC

“Vinyl Revival” (CBS News), Written by Polly Leider; CBS

(*Editor Note: There were no nominees in Long Form – Original, Short Form New Media – Adapted, or Children”s – Long Form or Special awards categories this year.)

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