Saturday May 31st marks the final day of Emmy eligibility for the 2014 ceremony. Given the wildly varying schedules of television series in our modern 1,000+ channel world, episodes airing after this date will still apply if the season has enough episodes out to qualify. Eligibility periods can get confusing. Take Penny Dreadful on cable and Black Box (with Kelly Reilly and Vanessa Redgrave) on ABC for perfect examples. Both debuted before the cutoff date but neither of them have aired more than half their first season episodes yet so do they qualify or do they have to wait until next year? (Any Emmy trivia experts out there know?)
Simpler examples that can still be a bit headscratching to the flow of the calendar happen over at Netflix. [Lots more after the jump...]
Simpler examples that can still be a bit headscratching to the flow of the calendar happen over at Netflix. House of Cards and Orange is the New Black were both huge smashes for Netflix in 2013. House of Cards which debuted in the winter, was eligible for the 2013 Emmys but Orange, which debuted in the summer just after the eligibility period but well before the actual Emmys, was not. So while Orange is the New Black's Second Season is enjoying its binge-watching love-in starting on June 6th (we'll cover it in a special experimental episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot), Emmy voters will be gearing up to vote on its first season (balloting starts on June 9th) while they're also voting on the second season of House of Cards even though both shows have been around the same amount of time. Time is a flat circle.
They'll No Longer Be Hogging Nominations
Bad news for new shows. Only one real Emmy juggernaut went off the air in 2013 and that was 30 Rock, making the comedy series categories fluid this year. Otherwise nearly all the same shows Emmy loved in multiple categories are still around. Even Breaking Bad, which feels like it is long gone, is eligible due to that cheating "first half now. first half later" tactic -- the same one that Mad Men will try to game the system with next year. If it works for both shows, expect virtually every beloved TV program to drag out their final seasons for a year after the team has already disbanded.
Last Chance... for love ♫
The following shows are now off the air so this is their last shot at golden winged glory: Breaking Bad (the final eight episodes) and How I Met Your Mother (though Emmy love has always been fickle with that series)
Shameless (Showtime) isn't new but they've suddenly decided it's a comedy after years of trying to make headway as a drama and having virtually no luck. But on to the real newbies... The following shows are eligible for the first time but breaking through the heavy walls of recurring favorites can be tough outside of the more excitable awards realms of, say, The Globes or the Broadcast TV critics peeps. New and High Profile: Orange is the New Black (Netflix which will compete in comedy), The Blacklist (NBC), Getting On (HBO), Looking (HBO), True Detective (HBO which will compete in drama series rather than miniseries due to all the fluid categorizations these days), Silicon Valley (HBO), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, and the Globe winner in January), Ray Donovan (Showtime); New but Lower Profile OR Less Likely: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fargo (which will compete in miniseries), The Goldbergs, Turn, About a Boy... and so on...
WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR IN THE TOP CATEGORIES?
I'm more concerned with your opinion than my own this year since I wasn't watching much TV outside of a handful of series. I sampled some other things but these are the ones I watched every episode of and am thus qualified to judge...
MASTERS OF SEX
My pick for Best Drama for the 2013/2014 season... though the Globes (which have a different eligibility period) only nominated Michael Sheen last year, that outcome was strange since he's the show's weak link and one can argue, the thing preventing it from really being a hit. You can make a case for its scripts and direction with ease but the absolute #1 priority for a nomination is Lizzy Caplan for Best Actress, doing the best work of her highly enjoyable and quite singular career (quick, name an actress like her. It's hard, right?). My second choice is in Supporting Actress & Guest Actress fields where just about everyone is stellar, my favorites being: Helene Yorke (as the very willing participant / secretary), Julianne Nicholson (as a perpetual killjoy doctor), Annaleigh Ashford (as the lesbian prostitute) and Alison Janney (as the Provost's wife). They're all sublime. I assume Janney especially has a "Guest Actress" slot lined up but Emmy really needs to look at the rules regarding that category because she's on the show way too often to be a "guest" and not a regular. It's like Joan Cusack always getting "Guest" nominations for Shameless (the show's only Emmy pull, really) even though she's in every episode for multiple seasons.
I think Teddy Sears is wonderful on the show as a handsome promiscuous doctors who isn't too self-aware about his emotional life but unfortunately for him, I doubt it's the type of role that Emmy voters would think of as difficult even though I'm willing to bet it is.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
If I had to bet -- not that I'm any good at Emmy prognostication -- I'd think this is a sure thing to fill any Emmy comedy hole left by the departure of 30 Rock. You could fill the whole supporting actress roster with this show for starters and not to have make any embarrassing choices to do so. The ensemble is so strong I don't even have a personal favorite. It changes by the episode. That right there might be the biggest problem for the show. If voters feel similarly how will any one performer win enough votes to break through the regular Emmy roster?
Adore it. And it needs awards tractions given less than sizzling ratings. Will this low key comedy work for the voters?
Too long in the tooth for major awards traction (though Merrit Wever's surprise win last year for her awesome work as Nurse Zoe might indicate they're more interest than they appear to be) but the show keeps pushing itself and stays fresh with shifts in Jackie's sobriety or addiction and cast changes each year. Still I'd be hard pressed to say that this one thing needs to be nominated this year though I think it would be sweet if they finally recognized Peter Facinelli's often hilarious and surprisingly multi-note performance as Doctor Cooper.
Overrated by a country mile but that means LOTS of Emmy nominations are coming. It'll just be interesting to see which Drama Series regular nominees get pushed out of their categories since they're campaigning that way despite its anthology nature. For instance, if Emmy voters buy the non mini-series categorization, there's going to be a lot Emmy pain in Best Actor since they could take two of the six spots for Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.
Hopes for this show's Emmy prospects are dim at best, since it's such a target of pissy scorn even within its key demographic. But it's really good! Can it manage any nominations?
Since you should think only about the season you're watching when it comes to Emmy voting this is a tough one. 7 episodes is just not very much to go on at all so I wouldn't be surprised, given the downward plunge in the show's Emmy honors last season if we see it vanish from major categories. Mad Men has a gargantuan cast and no one beyond Jon Hamm's Don Draper gets much attention every episode, so I'm not sure who I'd even nominate this season particularly because we've only seen half of what we usually get in terms of screen time to pick those MVPs. They've got a gorgeous aggressive Emmy campaign this year and that might have been enough in previous years of full length seasons. This time I'm not so sure. That said, the beautiful send off for Robert Morse could well secure him another Guest Actor nomination.
All of the principle actors on this show should have won Emmys long ago but unless Emmy voters feel guilty about the shameful stat that the best acted show of the decade has not won a single Acting Emmy, I don't think their Emmy problem is going away.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN
It was a fun hot mess but I'm not sure I'd nominate it for anything... unless they had a category for Most Adept at Providing Fodder For Social Media
The Fosters started strong (Teri Polo is the MVP by a wide margin) but it quickly derailed falling curse to the dread Brothers & Sisters plague. I see this time and again with family or human-scale soaps and I wish they would all be forced to study classics of the genre from earlier decades like Six Feet Under, my so called life, Once & Again or Thirtysomething where sometimes entire episodes would hinge on one little detail about a relationship or someone's personality or a communication problem and you'd be in tears from the relatability. The genre is having such a hard time producing great series any more since writer's rooms seem convinced that dramatizing everyday interpersonal dynamics is just not supersized enough anymore. So instead they layer on crises after crises after crises usually with life or death and actual crime thrown in. Absolutely no one could escape mental institutions / jail / drugs / suicide if every week of their lives was this unstable and dramatic. The intent of The Fosters is not, by all indications, to make you question the parenting skills of the gorgeous open-hearted lesbians at the center, but the second half of the first season had me doing just that. No parent in their right mind, when they had this many crises going on would keep making such gigantic impulsive life decisions back to back to back. That is turning into one unstable home. The intimate sized every day details about raising blended interracial and adopted/biological families and winning and keeping the trust of people you love and so on can be beautifully judged but those key moments are now completely smothered in excess... especially toward the end of the season as if every single episode needed cliffhangers and hysteria and multiple variations (crime! possible murder! death! funerals! alcoholic relapses! incest!)... Seriously that writers room needs to breathe and calm the fuck down. I wouldn't have gone on about this at length but for my heartbreak at losing the thread of something so promising and touching. They're ruining a beautiful little show at breakneck speed with their hysteria. Is Ryan Murphy consulting or something? Good TV is about stamina so save some for later.
Agents of SHIELD did the reverse of The Fosters, starting weak but improving significantly as it went... but not enough.
I think that RuPaul's Drag Race is the best reality show on television but I've long since given up hope that Emmy voters will recognize its almost subversive brilliance. They're content to just xerox their nomination ballots in the reality categories each and every year as if their entire organization is just a sham storefront to mass-produce statues for The Amazing Race.