Over the years, much has been made of “Mad Men‘s” shocking inability to win an acting Emmy. It may have be named Best Drama Series four times in a row (2008-2011), but to date, it has gone 0-for-31 in acting categories. And if it loses its three bids this year, that shutout will grow to 34. But it’s not the only show to be otherwise recognized by Emmy only to see its actors snubbed again and again.
Consider “The Office.” NBC’s popular sitcom ran nine seasons and won Best Comedy Series in 2006, but it never claimed an acting prize. Indeed, only three of its cast members were even nominated: Steve Carell (Comedy Actor, 2006-2011), Rainn Wilson (Comedy Supporting Actor, 2007-2009), and Jenna Fischer (Comedy Supporting Actress, 2007). You’d think the series would have fared better with the TV academy’s acting branch, considering it won two awards for Best TV Comedy Ensemble at another peer-group event: the SAG Awards.
“Arrested Development” won Best Comedy for its first season in 2004, but that didn’t translate to any love for its actors, who went 0-for-6 over the years, including another unsuccessful Comedy Actor bid for Jason Bateman for last year’s Netflix revival.
“Six Feet Under” never won Best Drama, but it was a three-time nominee, and it picked up a whopping 20 nominations for acting, but those resulted in just two wins. Both victories were for guest actress Patricia Clarkson (2002, 2006), which means none of the show’s regular actors ever took home a trophy. Adding insult to injury: though no regular cast members prevailed, the show’s casting directors won – twice (2002, 2003).
But “Six Feet Under” only competed in four Emmy cycles, which is nothing compared to the 15 years “ER” was eligible for recognition. It was one of the biggest TV hits of the 1990s and won Best Drama Series in 1996, but despite an astounding 51 nominations across lead, supporting, and guest categories, it only won three acting prizes. Two of those were for guest actors (Sally Field in 2001, Ray Liotta in 2005), leaving only one for a regular cast member: Julianna Margulies, who won Drama Supporting Actress in the show’s very first year. That’s right, “ER’s” entire acting ensemble won fewer Emmys than Helen Hunt did all by herself for “Mad About You.”
“Law & Order” was an NBC staple for 20 seasons, winning Best Drama in 1997 and picking up an impressive 17 nominations for acting. Alas, its only victory was a 1993 Drama Guest Actress prize for Elaine Stritch. In fact, no regular actor from a “Law & Order” series ever won an Emmy until Mariska Hargitay finally prevailed for “Law & Order: SVU” in 2006. She’s still the only one.
“The Larry Sanders Show” was a perennial Emmy nominee for Best Comedy Series (1993-1998), but its only acting win out of 23 nominations was Comedy Supporting Actor for Rip Torn in 1996.
1985 Best Comedy Series champ “The Cosby Show” went 1-for-12 in acting categories. Roscoe Lee Brown was its sole victor, taking Best Comedy Guest Performer in 1986. There was no love at all for the regular cast, including Phylicia Rashad, who is still Emmy-less. The show’s track record might have been better had star Bill Cosby submitted himself for Comedy Actor consideration.
“Barney Miller” finally won Best Comedy for its final season in 1982 and racked up 18 acting bids along the way, but was completely shut out of its performance races.
But at least “Barney Miller” won something. “Newhart” suffered one of the most notorious shutouts in Emmy history. Not only did it lose all 17 of its acting nominations, it never won an Emmy at all out of its 25 total bids, including two for Best Comedy (1983-1984).
Suddenly, “Mad Men’s” track record doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
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