What’s Next For Emmy Voters?
The past couple of weeks have been silent in terms of the Emmys as the Television Academy and fans try to catch up on all of the nominated shows and performances. The first step in preparation for the final round of voting begins on Monday. Then, the Emmys post online the contenders’ submitted episodes for any branch member who wanted to do their homework before voting. Emmy voters will then have a week to prepare to make their final decisions, and then we’ll just have to wait. With the Olympics starting tonight, it will be interesting to find out if the acting branch spends their week watching Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas compete or steamroll through 73 episodes of acting nominees. That’s 73 episodes not even counting all of the Limited Series and TV movie contenders.
On to this week’s categories…
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Allison Janney is one of the most accolated television actresses working in the 21st century. Her popularity has pushed her to two consecutive comedic wins for her work on Mom, a show most voters would probably admit to not even watching. The real question is how long will voters continue to award her when most of the other supporting races have been turning to actors on popular shows? In a category filled with actually liked shows and overdue actresses, this might be the year that voters decide to spread the wealth and give Janney a break from the podium.
This might be the year Kate McKinnon can break the SNL curse as the voting process progresses into a more popular vote system and impressionable to outside forces. When juries had to judge and rank submitted tapes, actors on sketch shows were never able to come out on top. Now it’s not guaranteed that the entire acting branch will watch the tapes, and a lot of those voters will simply mark off whoever sticks out. Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton impersonations have been shared throughout the year on social media, and she has been the talk of pop culture after her film breakout in Ghostbusters. A breakout film role helped Melissa McCarthy win her first Emmy a couple of years ago, and any praise from critics and fans will help McKinnon standout in such an open year.
Anna Chlumsky had the perfect episode submission last year with “Convention” where Amy finally explodes, but somehow she was snubbed even though Veep went on to be the most awarded comedy of the night. This year’s material pales in comparison, but sometimes voters are a year late and maybe (*hopefully*) enough voters want to apologize for wronging her by giving her a makeup Emmy.
Niecy Nash is the type of hardworking actress in Hollywood who has worked with countless members of the Television Academy and in a close race might be able to sneak ahead off of likability alone. Voters also proved that they really like Getting On this year by nominating Laurie Metcalf in the lead race. Support for the show is out there (fingers crossed). Love for Transparent shouldn’t be counted out especially since voters nominated both Hoffman and Light, but in a season where both women had stellar seasons I seriously doubt that either can collect enough support to win.
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Allison Janney, Mom
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Judith Light, Transparent
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Gabby Hoffman, Transparent
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
More than any other race, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series was blown wide open this year when last year’s winner and two-time SAG winner, Uzo Aduba, was knocked out of contention. Instead she was replaced by a former Downton Abbey winner, a third Game of Thrones actress, and a string of surprising nominees from underrepresented shows. This category will be the one that makes or breaks everyone’s Emmy pool, and it’s unfortunate that with so many options voters will likely go for the most boring choice, Dame Maggie Smith. Voters will likely want to bid the show adieu somewhere and this will be the most obvious place. Smith already won two Emmys, and Downton Abbey is almost unstoppable at the SAG awards.
Voters omitted Smith in the past, though, and if they’re ready to award a fresh face they might lean towards last winter’s Critics’ Choice or Golden Globe winner. Of the two, Constance Zimmer probably has a better shot with a breakout role after years of work on TV and the second season of UnReal airing during the voting period. A lot of voters might not vote forMaura Tierney, as overdue as she is, simply because many of them have never seen The Affair even if she has a tape worthy of recognition.
Three nominations for the Game of Thrones women is nothing to dismiss, and if judging panels were ranking their ballots still this would be an easy call for Lena Headey or even Emilia Clarke (if voters were swayed by dragons and weepy romantic movies). Headey should have had an easy time winning last year with her infamous “shame” finale but voters dismissed her for a variety of reasons, likely including the fact that the only part of that scene that was actually her was her face. As much as Cersei has won over my heart, most Emmy voters tend to gravitate towards sympathetic characters – Crazy Eyes or Skyler White in the past – and snub the great villains of TV.
Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Constance Zimmer, UnReal
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Maura Tierney, The Affair
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
Directing of a Drama Series
As much of an emphasis as I have put on the new Emmy voting rules, I seriously doubt they will have much of an impact on drama direction race this year. The directing branch has notoriously been a sucker for the obvious flashy choices, and no moment on TV this year has been bigger than the “Battle of the Bastards.” Game of Thrones is the reigning champ at the Emmys and the DGA, and it’s going to be harder for any show to standout. There is a small chance that voters feel more inclined to vote for a more emotionally wrenching episode like “The Door” although that would be out of character for the directing branch.
Homeland may be slowly diminishing in nominations year after year, but strong support from the show at the DGA awards makes the Showtime drama the unlikely dark horse of the race. Lesli Linka Glatter is well-liked within the Academy. She receives nominations time and time again by the Television Academy and Director’s Guild (where she is also a board member). She even won a surprise DGA award two years ago for her work on Homeland, so after working on so many popular shows voters might decide 2016 is her year.
As celebrated as Downton Abbey is, voters might be want to give the costume drama a final sendoff. However, the directing branch hasn’t awarded a finale since ER (not Lost, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or even their beloved Boardwalk Empire). Steven Soderbergh has been nominated two years in a row off of name recognition for a show a lot of people haven’t even heard of so attracting the popular vote might be difficult for him. Ray Donovan has proven to be an industry favorite but in a category with bigger shows and bigger names I’m not sure David Hollander is well-known enough to pull off a surprise win,.
“Battle of the Bastards,” Miguel Sapochnik, Game of Thrones
“The Tradition of Hospitality,” Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland
“Episode Nine,” Michael Engler, Downton Abbey
“The Door,” Jack Bender, Game of Thrones
“Exsuscito,” David Hollander, Ray Donovan
“This Is All We Are,” Steven Soderbergh, The Knick