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Emmy Predictions: How New Rules and New Shows Promise to Shake Up the Emmys

From left; Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) are hoping and praying the new Emmy rules won't screw up their category placement
From left; Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black) are hoping and praying the new Emmy rules won’t screw up their category placement

Awardswatch Emmy Expert Chris Pepper has some thoughts about the Television Academy’s overhaul of the Comedy and Drama categories and offers his first predictions for the 2014/2015 Emmy season.

Two weeks ago, the Television Academy announced a series of major changes which promised to finally address the issue of category confusion which had previously plagued the ceremony for some time. Instead what we have, at least until the 2014-15 Rules and Procedures are published, are more questions and just as much confusion.

Perhaps the most contentious of these rule changes, the academy’s decision to define a Comedy or Drama Series by their episode length, is sure to incite controversy. With this, any series with episodes of 30 minutes or longer, are now defined as drama series, with shows such as Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin suffering as a result. Obviously, a decision can still be overturned by a 9-person industry panel, but when the rule is so clearly implemented to counter the placement of Orange is the New Black in the comedy series category, the likelihood of that being overturned seems minimal.

In addition to this, in what promises to be a rule to acknowledge the breadth of television currently available to us, the academy has expanded the two Best Series lineups from six nominees to seven, meaning that in total 14 shows will be contending for the two Series awards. Slight overkill? Almost definitely. Will it do what the academy hopes it will? Probably not. If shows such as The Americans have failed to garner any Emmy nominations outside of Main Title Music and Guest Actress for Margo Martindale in the past two years, it would seem unlikely that increasing the field by one would have any sort of impact on that result at all. Instead, what we can probably expect is a bunch of past Emmy favorites such as The Good Wife, Homeland or Boardwalk Empire returning to the limelight. With that being said, there are still a number of freshman shows which could benefit from the rule change.

Vince Gilligan is on a hot streak with the academy, having amassed back to back Best Drama Series wins for Breaking Bad, and now his new show Better Call Saul, co-created by Breaking Bad alum Peter Gould, promises to at least attempt to continue that streak. Early word raised a lot of skepticism, but reviews and word of mouth have incited a very positive reaction, which could see it capitalize on the exit of Gilligan’s other show from the category. At the very least, this should easily be a vehicle for a Bob Odenkirk Emmy nomination, but AMC are very good at campaigning, and reviews are more than good enough, so expect this to make a serious run at a Best Drama Series nomination.

Furthermore, Netflix’s Bloodline also looks like an early Series Contender as despite no physical evidence as of yet, early word out of Berlin and from a few critics reviews have have been very positive. It’s still unclear the extent to which this will catch on with the academy, but with the pedigree of the creative team and the cast, led by Kyle Chandler, and with Netflix handling the campaign (Could they possibly get three shows into the Drama Series field?), this could play very well with Emmy Voters.

On the network television side of things, hits such as How to Get Away with Murder and Empire are probably too soapy to be contending in Series but nominations for the two lead actresses, Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson, look highly possible.

And with Orange is the New Black being pushed out of comedy and into Drama, where it could still land a number of nominations, the Comedy field is now wide open for new shows to enter the fold. For example, Amazon’s Transparent, which has already won a Golden Globe and a Directors Guild Award, is sure to capitalize. Additionally, don’t expect Netflix to accept being pushed out of the comedy lineup completely, as they have two more shows which could just as easily replace it. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, from academy favorite Tina Fey, has had very positive early reviews, however it’s still unclear the extent to which the academy may respond to a show as out there as this one. The best bets there would be the two actresses; Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski. Instead, what could prove to be a major player is the Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin-led Grace and Frankie. From the co-creator of Friends, Marta Kauffman, this has all the pedigree required to be a huge hit with the academy, and despite no word as of yet, I’m expecting it to be exactly that.

That being said, this is all highly speculative, and we are still a long way away from the Emmy Nominations. But if you want to see my early predictions, head to the next page.

Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black

Alt: Homeland

Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Clive Owen, The Knick
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Alts: Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex; Huge Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Alts: Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black; Kerry Washington, Scandal; Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donavon

Alt: Michael McKean, Better Call Saul

Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Sissy Spacek, Bloodline
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Alts: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey; Christine Baranski, The Good Wife; Carrie Coon, The Leftovers

The Big Bang Theory
Grace and Frankie
Modern Family
Silicon Valley

Alts: Girls, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Last Man on Earth, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louie C.K., Louie
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Alt: Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Alts: Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Lena Dunham, Girls

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Adam Driver, Girls
Tony Hale, Veep
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Sam Waterston, Grace and Frankie

Alt: Martin Sheen, Grace and Frankie

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Gaby Hoffman, Transparent
Allison Janney, Mom
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Alt: Anna Chlumsky, Veep

About the author

Chris is a 20 year old history student from England. Even though he has only been a member of AwardsWatch since 2013, his interest in awards-watching began in 2008, with the race between No County for Old Men and There Will Be Blood not only being what introduced him to the idea of oscar-watching but was also what sparked his interest in classic film in general. His interest in television began even earlier than that, becoming instantly hooked on HBO shows like The Wire and The Sopranos. He is now an avid cinephile and television viewer however still loves analyzing film and television within the context of awards season.

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