Netflix still might be relatively new to the whole Emmy game, but it knows how to play.
By announcing that the second season of its hit dramedy “Orange is the New Black” will debut on June 6, Netflix is ensuring that the first season will return to voters’ minds precisely when balloting begins to determine nominees.
That’s the old, sneaky Emmy ploy used successfully by “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” In 2001, when “Sex and the City” won Best Comedy Series, it had aired its newest season June 3 to August 4. The final episodes of “The Sopranos” bled over into June, 2007, initiating the hanging episode rule, and it won Best Drama Series in September.
Phase one of Emmy voting (nominations) occurs throughout the month of June. Phase 2 (picking winners) can vary depending on the air date of the Emmycast. Usually, it occurs throughout August, but it can often spill into early September.
Some Emmy contenders who are confident that they’ll score well with nominations believe it’s best, if they have to choose between early and late summer, to air new episodes during August. That’s what “Breaking Bad” did last year (July 15 to September 29) when it finally broke through and won Best Drama Series. The same calendar ploy worked for “Mad Men” when it won that category in 2009 and 2010.
Had Netflix premiered the new season before June (as was rumored), that would mean both seasons would be eligible at the same time, cutting its Emmy potential in half. (Emmy eligibility is June 1 through May 31.)
The first season premiered to massive ratings and immense fandom way back on July 11, 2013, meaning it would have been an entire year that Emmy voters were expected to remember this gem when it came time to tally their votes in the summer of 2014.
Now, Netflix is making it easier for voters to recall that eligible first season as the promotional bangwagon for Season Two rolls through Hollywood.
Of course, all this talk of Emmy airdates and eligible seasons really won’t mean a thing if voters can’t get past the confusion of “Orange is the New Black’s” category placement.
At the WGA “Orange” was submitted in the comedy categories, then Netflix changed its strategy and entered the show into the drama field for the Golden Globes and SAG — where it will also compete at the Emmys. Series star Taylor Schilling made it into the tough TV Drama Actress race at the Globes, but lost to fellow Netflix star Robin Wright (“House of Cards“).
Watch a sneak peak of the much-anticipated second season here: