ADTV looks at the impact of the recent TV guild awards announcements on the Emmy race.
Six months from now, Emmy voters will sit down and begin to fill out their nominating ballots for the 69th Emmy Awards. However, the various guilds just gave us the first clues on what shows are popular within the television industry and what former favorites voters are beginning to move on from. Seven years ago, guild awards were the first major hint that Modern Family was massively popular with industry voters and just a few years ago the first season of Homeland was popping up at the guild awards before eventually winning Best Drama at that year’s Emmys. Below are nine shows with varying degrees of success.
Six months ago, I would have laughed at anyone who brought up Stanger Things in the Emmy conversation. Yet, after dominating the guild awards, wooing over the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice, and even earning two Grammy nominations, not only is the supernatural throwback in the conversation it might even be a front-runner. Only second to Game of Thrones in terms of guild nominations, Stranger Things racked up recognition from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Costume Designers Guild, the Art Directors Guild, and double nominations from the Writers Guild and Editors Guild. The most noteworthy nominations (and maybe the biggest hint that Emmys will follow suit) are from SAG-AFTRA voters. Not only did the nominating committees recognize Winona Ryder, but they included Millie Bobby Brown and the entire ensemble. I can’t think of a single show (drama, comedy, or limited series) that was snubbed by Emmy voters after completely commanding the attention of just about every guild, so after premiering as a simple pop culture phenomenon the show has somehow become the most unprecedented Emmy front-runner in a very long time.
Donald Glover has had an absolutely stellar past four months with the premiere of Atlanta, his show becoming the best reviewed comedy of 2016, two Golden Globe wins, a Critics’ Choice award, AFI recognition, and a surprising amount of guild support. Atlanta was nominated by the PGA, the DGA, and even received three WGA nominations for Comedy, New Series, a individual episode nomination for Streets On Lock. There really is no recent precedent for a show with a PGA, DGA and WGA trifecta being left out of the Emmy comedy race which makes it essentially a certainty once Emmy season is upon us. The only recognition that would make the show even stronger is from SAG voters, but the nominating committee has a fickle history with small first season shows in the past so Atlanta’s shutout with SAG-AFTRA isn’t that surprising.
Black Mirror entered the US as a small cult phenomenon on Netflix, and over the course of three seasons the anthology series has grown into a streaming hit. Even with all of that success, very few people thought that popularity would translate into awards potential. The guilds didn’t unanimously celebrate Black Mirror, but the third season popped up in some surprising places: the PGA, the Art Directors Guild, and even an individual SAG nomination for Bryce Dallas Howard. These nominations aren’t a straight ticket to the Emmys for the little British import, but they are signs that there is buzz for the show throughout Hollywood. Six months from now, Netflix might be able to leverage that popularity and create a campaign for their first major Limited Series contender.
HBO’s answer to the upcoming conclusion of Game of Thrones cemented itself in the Emmy race and with at least ten nominations across the guilds. There is an obvious hunger for another sweeping fantasy epic on television. Westworld is bound for Emmy glory in most of the below the line races (although it was surprisingly snubbed by the Art Directors Guild), and it will be interesting to see if the show can pull off wins including a well-deserved statue for Thandie Newton. HBO essentially perfected the Emmy campaign strategy. With so many drama races wide open, it will be interesting to watch just how strongly they parade Westworld and its star-studded cast around for the next six months.
The Night Of
The Night Of premiered so early in the Emmy season (late last summer) that many (including the ADTV team) thought that Emmy voters would eventually forget about the show once other high profile Limited Series entered the conversation. Since then, a promising strong amount of support from the PGA, DGA, WGA, ACE, ASC, and two SAG nominations turned The Night Of into a front-runner in the Limited Series race. Nothing is certain until reactions come out towards series like Big Little Lies and Feud, but The Night Of had such a strong attendance throughout the guild awards that it’s hard to imagine the crime thriller completely shut out of the Emmy race.
Better Call Saul
A show that in the past has struggled to find its own identity besides a small spinoff of Breaking Bad has certainly come into its own with a heavy string of guild support. On top of the show’s second PGA nomination, it also earned three ACE nominations and four WGA nominations (including three individual episode nominations). The popularity of Better Call Saul especially among writers proves that the show is likely to continue to reap Emmy recognition if the third season is consistent with the rest of the show. AMC should also take note of the WGA support as a hint that they need to be more strategic about their episode submissions if they don’t want to be shut out of the Emmy writing race once again. The only notable shutout from the guilds would be Bob Odenkirk not making the cut at the SAG awards, but that could easily be because of stiff competition.
Emmy voters were obsessed with Downton Abbey for six long seasons, and now that the show is over it has been automatically assumed that those same voters will heavily embrace Netflix’s The Crown. As a sweeping costume drama produced by Stephen Daldry and written by Peter Morgan, the show at first seemed unstoppable. Although the show’s technical achievements are still some of the strongest locks of the Emmy season, the first season of the show had a rocky start throughout the various guild groups. The PGA, DGA, and WGA all skipped over The Crown, but it did earn an ACE nomination and more importantly 3 SAG nominations. The acting branch clearly has a lot of power at the Emmys and, mixed with the boost it received from the Golden Globe wins, the show will still likely be an Emmy contender.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt vastly under-performed at the Emmys last summer, and the tepid response to the Tina Fey-produced comedy was a sign that it might all out disappear from the awards conversation in the future. Surprisingly, the season then had a resurgence throughout the winter season with a shocking win for Jane Krakowski at the Critics’ Choice awards, three WGA nominations (including two individual episode noms), and two SAG nominations. We’ll have to wait and see how the third season pans out when it premieres this spring, but at least we know industry voters are paying attention and maybe that overwhelming support from the Writers Guild will turn into the show’s first writing Emmy.
For the past two years, Transparent charged through the comedy races at the Emmys racking up 21 nominations with 8 wins (including two for Jill Soloway and two for Jeffrey Tambor). In the show’s recent third season, the Amazon hit continued on with its critical success although it took a major hit from guild snubs. Transparent missed the PGA, DGA, and SAG Ensemble races, but at least it managed to stay in WGA’s good graces. Jeffrey Tambor did earn a second consecutive SAG nomination. After the initial excitement over the groundbreaking show simmered down, a conversation started around the fact that Transparent was taking up space in the comedy race even though the show is a drama at heart. The growing resentment around that fact just might be catching up with voters.
ADTV has been following the interesting response to the sophomore season of Mr. Robot. The lukewarm reactions began while the show was airing and continued into the show being left out of the Outstanding Drama race at the Golden Globes (an award it won just last year). The shut out continued at the PGA, DGA, WGA, and ACE guild awards and the show once looked at as the future of television is now unfortunately looking like the most vulnerable drama in contention.