The nominations for the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced early last Thursday morning. There were old favorites. (ABC’s “Modern Family” nabbed its fifth “best comedy” nod, meaning it could tie the record with “Frasier” this year.) There were newcomers. (HBO’s delightfully smart/rude “Silicon Valley” joins “Modern Family” in the best comedy category.) So what were the highlights?
Last year’s dramatic darling, Showtime’s “Homeland,” dropped from 13 nominations in 2013 to just four this year. Perhaps that’s not so surprising when you consider what a crowded field drama has become. “Breaking Bad” (fingers crossed) and “Mad Men” still dominate. Toss in “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones” and HBO’s “True Detective” and there’s no room left for anyone else.
Tatiana Maslany, the multitalented lead actress of BBC America’s “Orphan Black,” got snubbed again in the lead actress category. Fans have comforted themselves by saying the Emmys always overlooks genre shows—excepting, of course, fantasy fave “Game of Thrones,” which crushed the competition once again with 19 nominations.
The biggest snub, however, went to ... all broadcast networks. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and The CW managed, between them, to come up with two best comedy slots, zero best drama slots and exactly no best movie or best miniseries nominations. It’s a pretty strong indication that network TV is dying the death of a thousand cuts.
FX’s gleefully grim variation-on-a-theme “Fargo” nabbed 18 nominations, one less that HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” “Fargo” was a terrific show all around, and the acting nods (for stars Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman) were all extremely well-deserved. But how is the show not competing against HBO’s “True Detective” in that overcrowded best drama category? Both are close-ended crime stories that plan to pick up next season with different casts and different story lines. The answer is simple: HBO nominated “True Detective” in the drama category. FX chose to slip “Fargo” into the miniseries category. Pretty sneaky.
Speaking of HBO’s nihilistic crime saga “True Detective,” stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson both got nominated for Best Actor—which should prove even more alluring to big-time movie stars considering the move to cable TV.
When you tally it up by outlet, HBO got 99 total nominations, CBS trailed far behind with 47, NBC got 46, and Netflix showed up with an impressive 31. The number gets more impressive when you realize this is only Netflix’ second year producing original content. HBO has been generating content since 1977. But the number gets downright phenomenal when you do a little math. HBO produced 26 shows, miniseries, movies and specials within the last year. Netflix only produced 5. That averages out to 3.8 nominations per show for HBO and more than 6 per show for Netflix. Bottom line: HBO needs to watch its back. For the last couple years, the streaming service has positioned itself as the HBO of the Internet Age—a provider of movies and a creator of original content. In a shockingly short amount of time, Netflix has made good on that promise, winning tons of accolades for “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Another couple of years like this one and Netflix could topple HBO from the “more Emmy nominations than any other network” perch it has held for the last 14 years.