Emmy Tracker: The Disadvantage of New Emmy Rules

Emmy Rules

How will Emmy rules impact the Supporting and Directing Limited Series categories?

This week I’m looking at three of the Limited Series/TV movie races – both supporting categories and directing. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story leads in nominations, but voters clearly loved Fargo and The Night Manager as well. With new Emmy rules for the final round of voting, this might lead to quite a few upsets.

Multiple nominees from the same show in a single category used to benefit those actors in the days of submitted episodes and juried tapes. It basically meant more material for those nominees, which is why Modern Family dominated the supporting performance races for so many years and why The Golden Girls all won Emmys. They never risked splitting the vote because voters ranked their ballots. Last year voting was opened up to any Emmy member in their specific branch, and this year new Emmy rules changed the final round of voting from ranking the nominees to simply marking off a favorite.

So being in the company of your costars or coworkers went from giving nominees an upper hand to potentially doing them a disservice in the final round of voting. 2016 is the first year with both of the new voting rules, and it will be interesting to see if it actually makes a difference. The Limited Series/TV movie segment will be the most telling with The People v. O.J. Simpson competing against itself in four major categories, and, if the biggest show of the year goes home with fewer than expected awards, these rule changes might be the reason why.


Emmy Rules
(Photo: FX)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Last fall, Fargo‘s Jean Smart seemed a near lock for her calm yet commanding matriarch, but as the television season continued Fargo seemed to be forgotten compared to the other major limited series. Now that the nominations are out and the second season of Fargo returned stronger than ever, it’s pretty safe to say that the Emmy winner has held on to her front runner status.

In a talented but arguably lackluster supporting actress lineup, there aren’t that many performances with the momentum to upset Jean Smart. Melissa Leo and Regina King (both former winners) weren’t given the material they deserve to attract enough voters, and Paulson and Bates are likely to split any support American Horror Story: Hotel might be able to muster up. However, 2016 is the year of Sarah Paulson, and I wouldn’t be shocked if, under a new popular voting system, she ends up winning two Emmys to make up for being snubbed so many years in a row.

Olivia Colman is the dark horse nominee after earning rave reviews in a British import that earned 12 nominations. She has been on the radar of voters for a while for her work on Broadchurch, and a lot of voters saw her in this spring’s The Lobster. As likable as Colman and The Night Manager are, three-time winner Smart and Fargo are even more popular and well-known making this race one of the easiest to predict.

Current Ranking

Jean Smart, Fargo

Olivia Colman, The Night Manager 

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel

Regina King, American Crime

Melissa Leo, All The Way

Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel  


Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

The massive supporting cast of The People v. O.J. Simpson was able to dominate the race with three supporting actor nominees: a movie star, a television star, and a lesser known character actor who gave the most high profile performance of his career. Three years ago, this race would have obviously been between Brown and Travolta, but without the ranking system they might end up splitting the vote (and let’s be honest, no one is voting for Schwimmer).

Fargo outperformed almost everyone’s expectations with two much deserved supporting actor nominations in Bokeem Woodbine and Jesse Plemons. The downside is that both actors are equally great, but neither stands out compared to the other, making it hard for either to rally enough Fargo fans to win. In the end the actor that will likely be able to stand out to voters is Hugh Laurie, the only supporting actor to be the sole representation of his show The Night Manager. Hugh Laurie has had a big year on The Night Manager as well as his plans to steal the White House in Veep. On top of the love for The Night Manager, Laurie also has a lot of fans who remember him being snubbed for his time on House and want to see him win an Emmy.

Since members of the acting branch have so many categories to vote in some might choose to stray away from The People v. O.J. Simpson in the supporting races since they’ll likely be supporting the show in the two lead races. I might be overplaying a potential vote split between the American Crime Story cast and hopefully voters are rallying behind Sterling K. Brown over bigger names and campier performances from John Travolta and David Schwimmer but Emmy voters haven’t always been known to make the best (and what should be the most obvious) choices. Well-wishing aside, Hugh Laurie stands out in a lineup dominated by two mega limited series and just might Adrien Brody his way to his first win.

Current Ranking

Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager

Sterling K. Brown, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

John Travolta, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo

Jesse Plemons, Fargo

David Schwimmer, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story


Emmy Rules
(Photo: AMC)

Directing for a Limited Series or TV Movie 

The directing branch clearly loved The People v. O.J. Simpson, and in the final round of voting they have three strong directors to choose from. Anthony Hemingway (Manna from Heaven) directed half of the season, and over the past ten years has been racking up directing credits on countless popular shows. John Singleton (The Race Card), the first African-American director to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars as well as the youngest, might be the most respected director in the lineup. In the end, the director with a slight edge is likely to be Ryan Murphy who, as one of the executive producers, is credited with creating the year’s breakout new show. Over the years, pilots have had an upper hand in the directing race and mixing that with a household name like Ryan Murphy makes “From the Ashes of Tragedy” the likeliest choice.

Ryan Murphy has been unfairly snubbed in the past, most recently for directing The Normal Heart where he lost to the first season of Fargo and if any program is going to upset him again it will probably continue to be just that. The one detractor to Fargo winning a second Emmy is the episode’s lack of a standout scene. Voters are going to look at all three The People v. O.J. Simpson episodes and be able to vividly remember scene after scene.

Jay Roach has never lost an Emmy previously having won four Emmys for his directing and producing work for his other HBO films. All The Way fell short of being as popular as his other films, and in a year where HBO no longer has a stronghold on the Limited Series/TV movie races Roach will likely go home empty-handed for the first time. The Night Manager has a good chance of upsetting in the writing and supporting performance races, but over the last five years the directing race has tended to lean more mainstream with big limited series or HBO films.

In the end this directing race will be the most telling on whether or not any of the new Emmy rules have any effect on the winners.

Current Ranking

From the Ashes of Tragedy, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Before The Law, Fargo

The Race Card, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story  

All The Way

The Night Manager

Manna from Heaven, The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

You may also like

Sign In

Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter