TV’s Most ExclusiveJoy Luck Club

It’s easy to stay an Emmy nominee—once you manage to get in
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Notwithstanding Netflix’s spectacular entrance this year, the Emmys are much like an exclusive club: They’re hard to get into but once you’re in, you’re in.


Why This Matters
If Emmys don't buy ratings, they do bestow a critical stamp of approval. Networks, drawing from HBO's longtime strategy, use that acclaim to build their brands.

That’s why in most categories, the norm is to see repeat nominees. In what is arguably the Emmy’s most competitive category—Outstanding Drama—five of the six nominees are repeats, with only one new show—Netflix’s House of Cards—managing to break through. House of Cards showed up in a big way this year, grabbing nine nominations, including acting nods for stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

That’s the trend in most categories, with comedy also only allowing in one new nominee—FX’s Louie— and that might be because HBO’s Emmy perennial, Curb Your Enthusiasm, didn’t air last season.

While the TV Academy is likely to discuss expanding the number of nominees in major categories—a la the Oscars with its ten nominees for Best Picture— “there is a certain amount of historic dread of inflating the value of the Emmys by expanding nominees and categories,” says John Leverence, senior VP of awards at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS).

That said, “There are some touted comedies and dramas that didn’t get a lot of love [on nomination morning],” adds Leverence, “but they did earn nominations that will have a significant presence at the telecast.”

Those nominations include Vera Farmiga as best actress in a drama for A&E’s Bates Motel; Matt LeBlanc and Don Cheadle as best actor in a comedy for Showtime’s Episodes and House of Lies, respectively; Connie Britton and Kerry Washington as best actress in a drama for ABC’s Nashville and Scandal, respectively; and Amy Poehler for best actress in a comedy for NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

“Some of the shows that didn’t get traction [in the nominations] aren’t going to dry up and blow away. They will be represented in the room on the 22nd,” says Leverence of the telecast, which will air live on Sept. 22, 2013, from the Nokia Theater in Hollywood on CBS starting at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.


0729 Emmy Net Net chart

Here’s a look at those slight shifts in membership for those clubs.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA

In: Netflix’s House of Cards

Out: HBO’s Boardwalk Empire

Odds: It seems unlikely that Emmy would shower all that love on House of Cards and then just ignore the breakthrough series, but in today’s Golden Age of TVdrama, just being nominated truly is an honor.

Consider the series that didn’t earn nods: CBS’ twice-nominated The Good Wife; FX’s Peabody-winner Justified, its critical favorite Sons of Anarchy and newcomer The Americans; HBO’s two-time nominee Boardwalk Empire; and Showtime’s Dexter. And that only scratches the surface of TV’s dramatic depths.

HBO’s Game of Thrones, nominated for the third time in a row, is this year’s most nominated series with 16. That list includes a third supporting acting nom for Peter Dinklage, who won the Emmy in that category two years ago, only to be supplanted by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul last year. Paul returned to Emmy eligibility in 2012. Emilia Clarke, who plays Queen Daenerys Targaryen with youthful authority, nabbed her first nomination this year as supporting actress in a drama, while the omission of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, was considered a snub by many.

Just because it has the most nominations doesn’t mean that Game of Thrones has it in the bag, however. The smart money is on AMC’s Breaking Bad, which launches the second half of its final season on Aug. 11, and will be in full swing when the Emmys air. Breaking Bad has been nominated four times now but has never won, although star Bryan Cranston has won three times and Paul twice.

Last year’s winner, Homeland, still has to be considered in contention, but most critics felt the show’s second season was not a worthy follow-up to the tour de force that was season one.

Mad Men has won this category four times, but seems to be moving out of the Emmy spotlight after losing last year to Homeland and not earning any writing nominations this year—an omission some critics felt was inexcusable.

With its nine nominations, House of Cards is a definite possibility to upset. PBS’ Downton Abbey—winner in the miniseries category in 2011—will likely have to remain happy with its 12 nominations, including acting nods for Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith (last year’s outstanding supporting actress in a drama winner) and Jim Carter.

OUTSTANDING COMEDY


In: FX’s Louie

Out: HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which didn’t air last season

Odds: The show to beat is ABC’s Modern Family, which has owned this category—and the supporting comedy acting categories—since the show’s first season in 2009-10. This is Modern Family’s fourth nomination in four years, and all of its adult cast members— Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell—are nominated in the supporting actor comedies, except for Eric Stonestreet. Stonestreet won for best supporting actor in a comedy in both 2010 and 2012, making the fact that he wasn’t even nominated this year a big surprise.

If the Academy voted on sheer ratings tonnage, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory would be this category’s winner by a landslide.

Those two broadcast juggernauts are up against four much less viewed entries: HBO’s Girls and Veep, FX’s Louie, and NBC’s 30 Rock, which won this category three times in a row before being supplanted by Modern Family. The show remains Emmy’s most nominated comedy in a single year with 22 nods in 2009.

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA

In: Kevin Spacey, Netflix’s House of Cards; Jeff Daniels, HBO’s The Newsroom

Out: Michael C. Hall, Showtime’s Dexter; Steve Buscemi, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire

Odds: The easy pick in this category is Bryan Cranston, who already has three trophies on his mantle for playing Breaking Bad’s cancer-stricken chemistry teacher/ power-crazed meth lord Walter White. Cranston lost last year to Homeland’s Damian Lewis, and anytime there’s an incumbent in the race, he or she can’t be counted out.

If someone is going to upset Cranston, however, it’s likely to be Spacey, the star and creative force behind Netflix’s upstart House of Cards.

Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, who has been nominated six times now, will likely once again smile graciously from his seat at Hollywood’s Nokia Theater. In that case, Hamm will be in good company, with Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels also remaining seated nearby.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA


In: Bates Motel’s Vera Farmiga; House of Cards’ Robin Wright; Nashville’s Connie Britton; Scandal’s Kerry Washington

Out:The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies; Damages’ Glenn Close (Damages ended its run on DirecTV last September.)

Odds: This is the major category that saw the most change, with four new entries and only three holdovers— last year’s winner, Homeland’s Claire Danes, Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, a double nominee this year with a best actress nomination in a miniseries for Sundance’s Top of the Lake as well.

This category also boasts seven nominations this year, instead of the typical six, due to a tie for sixth place.

Danes, who won her first Emmy in 2010 for her title portrayal of Temple Grandin in the HBO docu-movie, has a good shot at winning again. However, with so many new entries in the category, it’s up for grabs.

Washington is an acclaimed actress, costarring in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained opposite Jamie Foxx in 2012. Scandal became a surprise hit— especially when it came to social media—for ABC in season two.

Nashville’s Britton is an Academy favorite with four prior nominations: two for her portrayal of Tami Taylor on NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights, FX’s American Horror Story and now ABC’s Nashville.

Wright shone in House of Cards as the ice-cold, ambitious wife of Spacey’s Rep. Francis Underwood.

Moss—while clearly deserving, considering her two nominations this year—will likely be passed over again, considering Mad Men’s failure to win any single acting awards over its six-year history. It’s a similar story for Downton’s Michelle Dockery, although the British actress has managed to turn snobbish heiress Lady Mary into a fan favorite over Downton’s three seasons.

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY

In:Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman; Episodes’ Matt LeBlanc

Out: Two and a Half Men’s Jon Cryer; Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David

Odds:
For Arrested Development’s loyal fans, the only just result of this category would be a win for Jason Bateman, who, much like the character he plays, is the hub around which everyone spins in Netflix’s 15-episode revival of the series.

Overall, this category is wide open with last year’s surprise winner, Cryer, not even in the running. Big Bang’s Jim Parsons and 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin are the vets here, with both having won twice before. Louis C.K. is the critics’ choice, having won an Emmy last year for writing Louie, which this year was nominated best comedy series for the first time. Louis C.K., like Girls’ Lena Dunham, writes, produces and stars in his series.

Both Episodes’ LeBlanc and House of Lies’ Cheadle shine in roles that combine comedy with plenty of edge—LeBlanc, like Curb’s David, playing the character of “Matt LeBlanc” in Showtime’s show about a show, and Cheadle as a sleazy management consultant.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

In:Enlightened’s Laura Dern

Out: Mike & Molly’s Melissa McCarthy, New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel

Odds: Two of this category’s biggest stars—McCarthy and Deschanel—didn’t make it in this year, and three of the six nominees have won before: 30 Rock’s Tina Fey, Nurse Jackie’s Edie Falco and last year’s winner, Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Most critics expect Louis-Dreyfus—who plays the terrifically dumb yet brutally ambitious vice president of the United States Selina Meyer—to get the hardware this year.

Fey, who wrapped up 30 Rock’s seventh and final season last year, is a seven-time nominee in this category, and one-time winner in 2008. Fey could take home the statue in recognition of 30 Rock’s run. Falco, who won for Nurse Jackie in 2010, humorously stated on the podium that she “wasn’t even funny.”

Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler is a fan favorite who also has written and produced several episodes of the show. This is her fourth nomination for the role.

Girls’ Lena Dunham is back with her second nomination, but the young filmmaker is probably more heralded for her writing, directing and producing at such a young age (27) than for her acting, although her comedic performance is fearless and frequently naked.

Dern, who won the Golden Globe for this role in 2012, is a dark horse, considering that Enlightened’s ratings were low enough to keep HBO from renewing it.

OUTSTANDING MOVIE/MINISERIES

No ins or outs here, since these programs are one-offs by nature.

Odds: FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum again scored a category-leading 17 nominations, making AHS this year’s most nominated show.

That doesn’t guarantee a win, however. Last year, AHS lost to HBO’s Game Change, and it’s possiblethat could happen again, with HBO’s Behind the Candelabra coming in with 15 nominations.

The Steven Soderbergh-directed Behind the Candelabra starred Oscar winners Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, both of whom are nominated as outstanding lead actors in a movie or mini. Scott Bakula received a nod as best supporting actor, while Richard LaGravenese scored a writing nomination, and Soderbergh earned one for directing.

AHS also boasts some acting muscle, with last year’s best actress in a mini or movie, Jessica Lange, again nominated, as well as Zachary Quinto and James Cromwell in supporting acting categories.

Other nominees in here include Sundance’s Top of the Lake, created, written and directed by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee; History’s ratings smash, The Bible; USA’s Political Animals; and HBO’s Phil Spector, written by David Mamet.

While no changes have been made by the Academy, the question of whether to split movies from minis is again up for debate, with the broadcast networks reentering the miniseries genre in a big way. This summer’s top rated show, CBS’ Under the Dome, is proving that audiences have an appetite for this fare, followed by the huge numbers achieved by History’s Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible.

Next TV season, all four of the major broadcast networks are offering limited series.

“We have what we call a ‘Rule of 14,’” says Leverence. “If you get 14 potential entries in a category, then the board will take a look and see if that’s a critical mass that deserves to be broken out. The notion to consolidate movies and minis was from an era a year and a half ago or so now that has passed. Hatfields & McCoys changed the game.”

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION SHOW

In: None

Out: None

Odds: Every show in the reality-competition category repeated from last year: Nine-time winner, The Amazing Race, which has won every year but one since the category was created in 2003; Bravo’s Top Chef, the only show to ever upset Amazing Race; Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance; NBC’s The Voice; ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and Lifetime’s Project Runway.

Odds-makers would definitely put their money on Amazing Race, just due to its sheer number of wins. However, this category is sorely due for an upset, especially with such production spectacles as The Voice, Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance on the ballot.

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY COMPETITION OR REALITY SHOW

In:The Taste’s Anthony Bourdain, Project Runway’s Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn

Out: The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan

Odds: Perhaps voting Amazing Race’s Keoghan off of Emmy island portends the results for this year’s reality races. Still, like most of the major categories, this one also saw little change. Even Betty White, host of NBC’s Betty White’s OffTheir Rockers earned another nomination, even though her reality show was canceled this year.

Bourdain—a fixture in the reality and unscripted world with shows such as Travel Channel’s No Reservations and The Layover, CNN’s Parts Unknown and many guest judging spots on Top Chef—nonetheless earned a surprise nomination for ABC’s The Taste, a show that only drew mediocre ratings last spring, although it was renewed for a second season.

Project Runway’s Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are less of a surprise, although pairing the two was something different for Emmy. This is Klum’s fifth nomination and Gunn’s first.

Stalwarts in this category include last year’s winner, Dancing With the Stars’ Tom Bergeron, as well as So You Think You Can Dance’s Cat Deeley and American Idol’s (and one-time Emmy host) Ryan Seacrest.

OUTSTANDING REALITY SERIES

In:Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Out: ABC’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? (Neither of these shows was renewed for another season.)

Odds: Discovery’s Deadliest Catch—2011 and 2010’s winner—is back on the list after skipping 2012. Last year’s winner, CBS’ Undercover Boss also is back and probably a good candidate to once again take home the trophy. Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, starring Guy Fieri, scored its first Emmy nomination this year.

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