The fourth season of “Louie” premieres Monday (May 5) on FX. In order to be eligible for the Emmys, it is doubling up on episodes each week and will have aired eight by the deadline of May 31. Airing so close to the deadline sounds like a good strategy because it ensures that this laffer from Louis C.K. is not forgotten when it comes time to vote.
But has this strategy really proved successful in the past? And will voters feel comfortable ticking off their ballots for a season of television that they only partially saw?
Last year, “Arrested Development” really pushed it, releasing its entire season on Netflix on May 26. That fourth season ended up being the first not nominated for Best Comedy Series or Writing. Indeed, it received just three nominations, a far cry from the series’ heyday in 2005 when it got eleven.
However, at the guild awards more than six months later, “Arrested Development” reaped the third-most bids, behind only “Modern Family” and “30 Rock.” It was nominated for both Best Comedy by the Producers Guild and Comedy Ensemble from the Screen Actors Guild.
Given the membership overlaps between these guilds and the TV academy, its failure at the Emmys may have been because not enough voters had seen it. They had just two weeks before ballots became available to watch 15 episodes in the midst of dozens of screeners from campaigning studios. For the guild awards, voters had many months to catch up.
Two years ago, “Veep” premiered April 22 and finished airing its eight-episode season a day before ballots went out. It surprised the Gold Derby pundits when it edged out “Louie,” “New Girl” and “Parks and Recreation” to clinch a nomination for Best Comedy Series. Because it was a new show, “Veep” could not rely on goodwill from previous seasons. So, all of its votes came from TV academy members impressed with these late spring episodes.
If “Arrested Development” was too late on May 26 and “Veep” was right on time on April 22, what about the return of “Louie,” which premieres right in the middle?
The last season of “Louie” concluded in September 2012, many months before Emmy voting in June 2013. To remedy that, FX shipped the complete season on DVD to the entire academy in May, ensuring that anyone who missed it could catch up and anyone who did see it would not forget it. The show will not have that advantage this year.
“Mad Men” aired on a similar timeline last year. AMC sent voters the first four episodes in May, then the next five in June, after ballots had gone out. However, the last three — which were considered by many to be the strongest of the season — were never sent to voters. The show suffered its worst nomination tally ever at 12, down five from the year before. And it was snubbed for writing for the first time ever.
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