As we enter the halfway point of the broadcast TV season, it’s probably a good time to look at the status of the Emmy race. The summer and fall cable series have already gone through their seasons (Breaking Bad, Homeland), we’re at a point with the series on broadcast TV where we have a pretty good idea of where their seasons are quality-wise (Scandal, The Good Wife), and the shows yet to premiere should be somewhat easy to judge as they’ve been consistent in terms of quality and Emmy love (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey). There are also new shows to take into consideration, but we’ll address those as we dive right into the predictions, beginning with the Drama side of things and moving onto Comedy in a later article:
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
2. Game of Thrones (HBO)
3. Mad Men (AMC)
4. Downton Abbey (PBS)
5. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
6. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
7. House of Cards (Netflix)
8. The Good Wife (CBS)
9. Homeland (Showtime)
10. Scandal (ABC)
As the most most buzzed-about and among the most acclaimed shows on TV, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones continue to look like good bets. Mad Men’s buzz has faded in the last couple years (zero wins out of 29 nominations) the show’s quality remains consistent, and it seems too late now for the Emmys to stop nominating it (it takes an intense turn for the worse quality-wise to snap the Emmys out of nominating something after so many years – most of the time, anyway). And early buzz from across the pond indicates that Downton Abbey’s new season isn’t anything worse than the last couple seasons, so it should remain a likely nominee.
But while those four nominees from last year look set, he last two spots might be more up-for-grabs from House of Cards and Homeland, due to internal competition for both. The former has to deal with Orange is the New Black, a show whose first season received stronger acclaim and greater success than House of Cards’s own first season, and while House of Cards did better with SAG and the Golden Globes (at the latter House of Cards received four nominations, the most of any show), Orange is expected to release its second season later in the spring in time for consideration along with the show’s first season, a tactic successfully used before by Six Feet Under and Nurse Jackie. As for Homeland, in addition to taking a strong downturn in buzz this season, it’s been overshadowed by its lead-out show, Masters of Sex, a show that beat out Homeland at the Golden Globes in Drama Series (where Homeland had just won last year).
Amidst all these competing basic cable, pay cable, import and streaming dramas, there are two broadcast shows that could break into the lineup as well. First is The Good Wife, a show that the Emmys have been gradually forgetting about in the last couple years but has seen a resurgence in hype and critical acclaim. It even received three Golden Globe nominations (including Drama Series), an incredible feat considering that awards body prefers their shows young and hip. Could it return to the Drama Series lineup, similar to Lost being nominated again in its fourth season after two seasons of being snubbed? There’s also Scandal, probably the most hyped/discussed broadcast series airing, but the first half of its third season seems to be having a mixed reception, which in a category this competitive isn’t enough to break through.[divider]Actor in a Drama Series
1. Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
2. Jon Hamm, Mad Men
3. Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
4. Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
5. Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
6. James Spader, The Blacklist
7. Demian Bichir, The Bridge
8. Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
9. Damien Lewis, Homeland
10. Jamie Bell, Turn
Cranston and Hamm are perennial nominees and aren’t about to be dropped here any time soon, while Spacey will also probably be back even if House of Cards underperforms overall. Jeff Daniels is the kind of surprising winner that could be snubbed again (see; Patricia Arquette for Medium), but for now he still seems like a good bet.
There are a few new leading men that can break through this year, especially with Damien Lewis being in so little of an already-weak season of Homeland, and with Hugh Bonneville being such a filler nominee (though that didn’t stop him last year, so who know). Chief among the new men are Michael Sheen in Masters of Sex, a show that the Emmys could really fall for, and James Spader for The Blacklist, an actor the Emmys have really fallen for in the past (and whose show is one of the few genuine new hits this season). Also potentially on the cusp are Demien Bichir for The Bridge, an actor who campaigned his way to an Oscar nomination two years ago and could possibly do the same here, and Jamie Bell for Turn, one of the more promising AMC shows in recent memory.
[divider]Actress in a Drama Series
1. Kerry Washington, Scandal
2. Claire Danes, Homeland
3. Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
4. Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
5. Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black
6. Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
7. Vera Fermiga, Bates Motel
8. Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
9. Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
10. Robin Wright, House of Cards
Possibly the most competitive category this season, all of last year’s seven nominees will be eligible again, and there are even a few more new names hoping to break in. Of last year’s nominees, only Washington and Danes seem truly safe, and maybe Dockery too (early word is that the first episode of the season is an easy tape for her). After that though it’s a mess.
Considering the buzz around the current season and that she’s a previous winner for the role, Julianne Margulies seems like a good bet to be nominated again after her surprising snub last season. Though not many would pick her as their favorite character on the show, Taylor Schilling is such an important anchor to Orange is the New Black that if they nominate the series, they’ll probably nominate her.
But who for that last slot? I’ve decided to tentatively go with Caplan, for reasons similar to my Schilling prediction – it seems weird that they might go for the show in Drama Series and Actor but snub the female co-lead (granted, the Globes did just that, though they’re rarely a good Emmy precursor). But my answer could easily change day-to-day. Farmiga seems like the kind of role that can skate by getting nominated for a couple more seasons despite the show not being particularly beloved. Moss will probably depend on whether the splitting of the Mad Men season gives her good enough material to be nominated again, and I’m not certain it will. Wright was a surprise nominee here last year, but will the show be beloved enough her to break back in? And then there’s the curious case of Tatiana Maslany, whose show was watched by about 300,000 viewers in its first season but has been gaining buzz since then, netting her wins at the Critics Choice TV Awards and the TCA Awards as well as a Golden Globe nomination. If season 2 maintains the quality of the first season while building its audience, it might be enough for her extremely flashy (and extremely deserving) performance(s) to break in here.