Do you love Emmy-watching, but hate following the presidential election?
Hate to break it to you, but history shows that the two are often inextricably linked to one another. The first of four consecutive “The West Wing” wins for Best Drama Series came in the Bush v. Gore election year of 2000. In 2009, Tina Fey took home the Best Comedy Guest Actress award for playing Sarah Palin during the 2008 election cycle. And just last year, when talk of the current election began, “Veep” finally won Best Comedy Series after three losses in non-election years for a season notably about an election.
This year there are handful of races set to be influenced by this year’s buzzworthy primary season and the upcoming election. Take a look at my analyses of these races below and update your early predictions before Emmy nominations are announced on July 14!
‘House of Cards,’ ‘Veep’ and a possible contested convention
With Ted Cruz’s recent triumph over Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary it is looking more and more likely that the Republican party will be facing a contested convention in July. Contested conventions — where no party candidate has secured enough pledged delegates during primary season to win the party’s nomination outright –are rare in modern politics.
Both filmed far in advance of this year’s Republican primary race, the new seasons of both Netflix’s “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Veep” are set during presidential elections. Emmy voters will have also begun considering their votes for president by the time they cast their ballot, and the connection between real world politics and television politics is narrowing.
When asked if he’d ever join Cruz’s ballot, Marco Rubio shot it down calling the idea “stuff from like ‘House of Cards.’ It’s not real life.” Little does he know that the connection between real world politics and television is very much the stuff of real life.
Season 4 of “House of Cards” takes place entirely within the scope of primary season, and three-time nominee Kevin Spacey could see Frank Underwood’s journey through an election provide a boost for his first win. It’s Robin Wright’s First Lady Claire Underwood that is at the center of the show’s own contested convention plot though, as we see her face off against Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) in a contested convention for their party’s Vice President nomination. Already nominated three times for this role, Wright is once again astounding as Claire.
Though her category is stacked again this year, Wright is the “Cards” actor that may benefit most from perfect timing. If voters have the election on their minds they will have probably connected with “House of Cards” this season and in drawing parallels to the exciting nature of contested conventions may finally find cause to give Wright the win.
“Veep” will bring its own elements of an unusual election when its new season gets under way later this month. Last year the show finally took home the award for a season that ended with Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) reaching an electoral tie, something that hasn’t happened in real life since 1800. “Veep” will be contending in this year’s race for a yet-to-air 5th season. That electoral tie will likely factor heavily into the initial episodes of the season and may feel in step with the progress of this year’s highly unusual election.
‘SNL,’ ‘Broad City’ and guest appearances by the candidates
Like Fey before her, Kate McKinnon (previously nominated for Comedy Supporting Actress in 2014) could find Emmy love for portraying a prominent female politician. McKinnon is the show’s Hillary Clinton and if she submits it, feels like a shoe-in for the standout sketch that featured the actual candidate in a surprise cameo as bartender to McKinnon as Clinton. A Clinton cameo on an election-focused episode could also propel “Broad City” into the Emmy race for the first time. The episode also featured two-time Emmy winner Cynthia Nixon in a guest role as a member of Clinton’s campaign team.
Bernie Sanders also showed up on ‘SNL’ in a sketch with Larry David who could factor into the race as a Comedy Guest Actor nominee. A win would be the first in acting for David, after two previous victories for writing and producing “Seinfeld.”
And Trump, who hosted the show in November and delivered the best ratings of the season, could see his national presence as a nominee translate into an Emmy nomination for himself.
‘Confirmation,’ ‘All the Way’ and political history
Two HBO telefilms — “Confirmation” with two-time Emmy nominee Kerry Washington and “All the Way” with six-time Emmy champ Bryan Cranston — are just as timely in that they focus on major political events of the past.
Cranston portrays Lyndon B. Johnson as he assumes the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and must re-focus his politics toward the civil rights movement. Washington plays Anita Hill who testifies during the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Clarence Thomas and accuses him of sexual harassment.
Though neither film focuses directly on a presidential election, both contain the elements of sexism and racism that have made headlines for candidates throughout this year’s primary season. For Washington there’s the added relevance that we are currently in the midst of nomination hearings for a new SCOTUS justice.
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Photo Credits: “House of Cards” (Netflix); “Veep” (HBO)