I’m going to try to predict this year’s Emmy awards “scientifically” using four basic rules. Two of the rules are Positive, one is Negative, and one is what I guess you could call Neutral or Preferential. There’s also a fifth rule that’s not yet proven. These predictions are based on things I’ve observed about the Emmys from long before I started this Blog and even before I had the Internet.
There is one thing that could disrupt “The Rules” and that is that the Emmy have adopted a new voting system. In the past they have used a “preferential ballot” in which the voters ranked the nominees from your favourite to your least favourite of the nominees. In tabulating the results the votes were counted and the show with the least number of first choice ballots was eliminated. The votes from that show were redistributed to the voters‘ second choices, and so on until one show had 50% of the vote. The Academy has switched to a plurality system (or “first past the post” as we call it in Canada) where voters pick the show they want to see win in the category and vote for it. The show with the most votes wins outright even if, in a six-way race they have 17% of the vote and the other five shows have a total 16.6% each. What this will mean to the Emmys is yet to be proven, but I’m predicting (hoping for actually) limited change.
So what are these rules? They’re actually pretty simple:
Rule 1: Winners win….until you know, they don’t.
The Emmys are unique among entertainment awards shows in that the same show or people can win year after year. The equivalent at the Oscars would be for last year’s Best Picture winner to win again this year. It doesn’t happen at the Tonys, the Grammys or the Oscars, just the Emmys and any other awards show that touches on TV. And the Emmys tend to give awards to previous season’s winners.
Rule 2: The “Hot New Thing” can overturn previous season’s winners, but it’s the academy that decide what the hot new thing is.
Funny thing about the TV awards. The people who choose the nominees and who vote for the winners don’t actually watch a hell of a lot of TV. TV critics (the pros) watch a lot of TV but the people at the TV academy are too busy working making TV shows to actually watch TV shows on a regular basis. What they know about what’s hot and what’s not is generally based on ratings and buzz and whatever they decide is “quality” TV this year.
Rule 3: Premium cable trumps basic cable which trumps broadcast TV.
And by premium cable I mean HBO. This year HBO had 40 nominations, while Showtime had nine and Cinemax (!) had one. Those 40 nominations for HBO were greater than ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC combined although when you factor PBS into the mix it is greater. We don’t know yet were streaming video factors into this except to say that while they get more nominations than The CW, Amazon and Netflix have had very limited success.
Rule 4: Fantasy and Science Fiction don’t win… unless they come from HBO.
In fact Fantasy and Science Fiction shows almost never get nominations unless they’re on HBO. Battlestar Galactica may have been one of the best shows on all of TV during its run but never earned a Primetime Emmy nomination. Creative Arts Emmys sure, but not Emmy’s from Writing, Directing or Acting, let alone Outstanding Drama Series which are the categories being awarded on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the series and acting categories and apply the rules. I’ll put the rule number that applies to the person or show beside their name. Previously nominated shows are marked with a *. As an added bonus I’ve found the odds that are being offered on the various nominees in the major categories (which is to say not the supporting categories) from a number of online sites that are offering Emmy bets. They are BetFred, 888Sports, William Hill, Unibet, and 32Red. I’l try to give an average of what they say with odds of the favourite in italics.
So who is going to get the chance to pay $400 to buy the trophy that they “won” (that’s right, the Emmys charge the winners the cost of manufacturing the Emmys if they actually want to take it home with them – cheap bastards)?
Outstanding Supporting Actor Comedy
- Louis Anderson, Baskets, FX
- Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX *
- Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix *
- Ty Burrell, Modern Family, ABC * (1a)
- Tony Hale, Veep, HBO * (1,3)
- Keegan-Michael Key, Key and Peele, Comedy Central *
- Matt Walsh, Veep, HBO (3)
Outstanding Supporting Actress Comedy
- Anna Chlumsky, Veep, HBO (3) *
- Gaby Hoffman, Transparent, Amazon *
- Allison Janney, Mom, CBS * (1)
- Judith Light, Transparent, Amazon
- Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live, NBC *
- Niecy Nash, Getting On, HBO (3)*
Outstanding Supporting Actor Drama
- Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul, AMC *
- Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones, HBO * (1, 3)
- Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones, HBO (3)
- Michael Kelly, House of Cards, Netflix *
- Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline, Netflix *
- Jon Voigt, Ray Donovan, Showtime
Outstanding Supporting Actress Drama
- Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones, HBO * (3)
- Lena Headey, Game of Thrones, HBO * (3)
- Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey, PBS (1a)
- Maura Tierney, The Affair, Showtime
- Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones, HBO (3)
- Constance Zimmer, Unreal, Lifetime (2)
Outstanding Lead Actor Comedy
- Anthony Anderson, Black-ish, ABC 5/1 odds *
- Aziz Ansari, Master of None, Netflix 3/1 odds (2)
- Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth, FOX 20/1 odds *
- William H. Macy, Shameless, Showtime 14/1 *
- Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley, HBO, 12/1 odds (3)
- Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent, Amazon, 1/2 odds * (1)
Outstanding Lead Actress Comedy
- Ellie Kemper, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Neflix 3/1 odds
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO * 1/2 odds (1)
- Laurie Metcalfe, Getting On, HBO 20/1 odds (3)
- Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish, ABC 14/1 odds
- Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer, Comedy Central 13/2 odds *
- Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie, Netflix 13/2 odds *
Outstanding Lead Actor Drama
- Kyle Chandler, Bloodline, Netflix 10/1 to 12/1 odds *
- Rami Malek, Mr Robot, USA 13/8 to 5/4 odds (2)
- Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul, AMC 9/2 to 8/1 odds *
- Matthew Riis, The Americans, FX 2/1 to 8/1 odds FX
- Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan, Showtime 30/1 to 33/1 odds *
- Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, Netflix 13/8 to 7/4 odds*
Outstanding Lead Actress Drama
- Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime * 5/1 odds (1a)
- Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder, ABC 3/2 odds * (1)
- Taraji P. Henson, Empire, FOX 12/1 odds *
- Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black, BBC America 20/1 odds * (4)
- Kerry Russell, The Americans, FX 4/1 odds
- Robin Wright, House of Cards, Netflix 7/4 odds *
Outstanding Comedy Series
- Black-ish, ABC 14/1 odds
- Master of None, Netflix 6/1 odds (2)
- Modern Family, ABC 20/1 odds* (1a)
- Silicon Valley, HBO 30/1 odds * (3)
- Transparent, Amazon 10/1 odds *
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix 10/1 odds *
- Veep, HBO 1/3 odds * (1)
Outstanding Drama Series
- The Americans, FX 10/1 odds
- Better Call Saul, AMC 40/1 odds *
- Downton Abbey, PBS 30/1 odds* (1a)
- Game of Thrones, HBO 1/3 odds * (1, 3)
- Homeland, Showtime 14/1 odds * (1a)
- House of Cards, Netflix 20/1 odds *
- Mr. Robot, AMC 3/1 odds (2)
A couple of final parting shots on categories that I don’t cover largely because The Rules don’t apply. Outstanding Variety Talk Show is going to be interesting for the first time in years because The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aren’t around to be nominated any more. Interestingly The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was the only one of the three 11:30 p.m. talk shows not to be nominated. Given America’s taste for political humour in this category I expect the Emmy to go to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
As to the Outstanding Limited Series, it and the Television Movie category are the one area where the Emmys are most similar to the Oscars. In most cases a limited series is just that; it plays out over a number of episodes in a single season and generally doesn’t reappear over and over again, although shows like Fargo and American Crime contradict this notion. In this category if you don’t see the nominated shows, you really have to look for the show that has the most buzz. If/when you find it you will also find that it tends to monopolize the awards in all of the subsidiary categories for Limited Series and Television Movies. Based on everything I’ve heard, expect a lot of awards for the cast writers and directors of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story before its eventual coronation.