Netflix makes Emmy history, broadening boundaries of traditional TV with 14 nominations
Netflix has nearly completed its drive to become the online equivalent of HBO courtesy of the Emmy academy, which today announced the streaming video service earned 14 nominations for its original series in the 65th Emmy Awards – a first in TV history.
The nomination haul vaults Netflix ahead of similar online services with original shows, simultaneously answering a potent question: Are original series created for streaming video online really considered television?
But HBO, the channel which inspired Netflix’s quality-first original series approach, got the most overall nominations by a long shot, with 108 total nods. FX’s American Horror Story earned the most nominations for a single series, with 17 nominations overall (defining the show as a miniseries, changing storylines and setting every year, was the smartest move in recent Emmy history, pulling the series out of much more competitive categories). See the full list of nominees here.
Netflix’s success only highlighted just how competitive the categories have become, adding Kevin Spacey from the service’s House of Cards to Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, Homeland’s Damian Lewis. Mad Mens' Jon Hamm and The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels as best drama actor nominees.
The best actress drama category fielded seven nominations, including newcomers Vera Farmiga from A&E’s Bates Motel, Robin Wright from House of Cards, Connie Britton from ABC’s Nashville and Kerry Washington from ABC’s Scandal, joining Michelle Dockery from PBS’ Downton Abbey, Claire Danes from Showtime’s Homeland and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss.
House of Cards’ success seem to come at the cost of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which was knocked out of the best drama nominations; Cards instead joined Homeland, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad and Mad Men as nominees (Boardwalk star Steve Buscemi was also overlooked in the drama actor category as Spacey was recognized)
In comedy, cable crowded onto turf often dominated by broadcast networks, as HBO’s Girls, FX’s Louie and HBO’s Veep joined ABC’s Modern Family, CBS’ Big Bang Theory and NBC’s 30 Rock. In fact, 30 Rock got a nice valentine from the Emmy academy for its final season, earning nods for stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.
What may have been most surprising is the snubs forced by all the new competition. The Good Wife star Juliana Margulies joined Buscemi as a perpetual nominee left out this year; Survivor host Jeff Probst also didn’t get a nod, while celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain popped up in his reality host category, for his work on ABC’ The Taste.
And Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet – nominated in the supporting actor comedy category every year since 2010, winning twice -- was the show’s only adult castmember left out of nominations today.
Some cult favorites among critics also got left out, including BBC America’s Orphan Black, a series about clones in which the lead actress plays at least seven different parts in a story about a woman who discovers she is one of several different human clones created illegally (how you don’t nominate star Tatiana Maslany, who plays seven different parts in a single series, mystifies me).
Likewise, TNT’s Southland, which ended its season this year with a blockbuster set of storlyines, was snubbed along with co-star Michael Cudlitz as a patrolman who eventually committed suicide by cop. FX’s The Americans, likely to be TV critic’s choice as best series of the past season was also left out.
(My theory: Emmy voters, who work in television, are often too busy making TV to watch much of it.)
Diversity among nominees actually took a great leap forward and backward at once. Stars Washington and Don Cheadle (Showtime’s House of Lies) are black actors nominated for great, starring roles in major series, but they nearly stand alone. Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara is the only other non-white actor nominated for an Emmy in major drama, comedy and miniseries acting categories.
But overall, the nominations were a potent argument that the quality TV revolution is only getting started, exemplified by the instant success of a platform which was home for old movies and ancient TV series just one year ago.
Winners in the Emmy awards, which seem to have scrubbed the phrase “prime time” from its name, thanks to Netflix, will be announced at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 on CBS, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris (WTSP-Ch. 10, locally).