In the past I thought Emmy voters would eventually grow tired of Netflix’s House of Cards. Yet, as the show ages, voters’ (especially the actors branch) passion for the show grows as well. Overall the political drama has received 32 nominations so far, continues to do well at guild awards, the Metacritic score has consistently stayed at 76 for three of the four seasons, and, most importantly, the drama races are thinner than usual. This all means House of Cards is looking pretty good in terms of nominations. The fact that voters will be bingeing the current season in the middle of an out-of-control primary season most likely will propel the show to even more support from voters.
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood was the star of the fourth season. From her battles with her husband, her mother, President Petrov, the vice president, the Republican challengers, and even the leader of a terrorist organization, Claire Underwood controlled and manipulated just about entire world. In fact, the show is arguably more about Claire than it is about Frank at this point. She dominated screen time throughout the season especially when Frank was in the hospital after being shot. The most interesting and even shocking turn of events was when Claire joined Frank in his infamous breaking of the fourth wall moments at the end of the season after she came up with the idea to go to war to save their candidacy. Not only did Wright dominate the season with her performance but she also controlled the season behind the scenes by directing a third of the season. With the show being as popular as it is with Emmy voters and Robin Wright being at the face of season four, she is probably the front runner of the lead actress race even against the reigning champ Viola Davis.
Kevin Spacey has won two individual SAG awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Frank Underwood, but he has never won an Emmy. He’s lost to iconic performances from Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, and surprisingly Jeff Daniels. Now Spacey is the most revered actor and gives the most iconic performance of the contenders and will probably win because of these factors. The only reason Emmy voters might not want to vote for Spacey is because this wasn’t necessarily his strongest season. Spacey was overshadowed by his onscreen wife throughout the season and was even in a coma for part of the season. Now that the submitted episodes don’t really have an impact and the popularity of the show and actor is much more significant Spacey probably has nothing to worry about.
Other than the leads of the show the easiest predictions to make in terms of nominations are the Emmy bait names in contention for the guest categories. Ellen Burstyn is beloved by Emmy voters having won twice and having been nominated seven times total (five over the past ten years). After she snatched her own wig off and tore Claire to shreds I knew she was winning the Emmy. There is no reason to overthink it, the race is sewn up. Reg E. Cathey has been nominated two times already for his work on House of Cards and even shockingly won last year. Part of his success might be because of the infamous alphabet theory that might not have as much power but Cathey is also a well-respected character actor. He only had two scenes this year but as long as voters still like the show he shouldn’t be counted out. Cicely Tyson had a small role at the beginning of the season as a retiring congresswoman, and it would be easy to argue that she could easily earn a nomination off of name recognition and love for the show. Her biggest competition to a nomination is herself in a role that she was nominated for the year prior on How to Get Away With Murder. She could easily split the vote or be nominated for both performances.
House of Cards’ biggest question marks in terms of nominations this year are the supporting actors. Michael Kelly was nominated last year for his performance as Doug, the president’s chief of staff. He had a huge story-line last year beginning with his struggle to walk again and ending with him murdering another character with a shovel. He doesn’t have the same material in season four and he is also one of the slimiest and just straight unlikable characters currently on television. His only significant material this season (feelings of remorse for essentially killing a man on the donor list) came off as trite. When Neve Campbell joined the cast as Claire’s campaign aide I thought she had a strong chance at receiving her first Emmy nomination, but as the season went on she wasn’t given anything to do besides stand in the background. Depending on how well voters respond to the fourth season Campbell and Kelly could sneak into the supporting categories especially since there is not a lot of new competition.
The fourth season of House of Cards was absolutely wild but so is the current Presidential election. Emmy voters could easily embrace the Netflix political drama in this election year but voters could easily feel exhausted with politics and end up snubbing the show in a lot of categories. In the end though, voters will probably continue to embrace House of Cards in growing numbers, especially among the actors. Readers, do you think Wright and Spacey are the front-runners to win the lead categories? Do you think the other guest nominees should even bother showing up? Or do you think voters will skip the show altogether?
Kevin Spacey, Lead Actor
Robin Wright, Lead Actress
Ellen Burstyn, Guest Actress
Reg E Cathey, Guest Actor
Michael Kelly, Supporting Actor
Neve Campbell, Supporting Actress
Cicely Tyson, Guest Actress