None of the eight nominated performances from the fourth season of “House of Cards” were victorious at the Emmys last year, which made for the largest acting shutout in 19 years. Back in 1997, the third season of “ER” went home without an acting trophy despite a staggering 11 nominations. The largest acting shutout since then was in 2012 for the fifth season of “Mad Men,” which had seven nominations spread across all six drama acting categories. That blanking contributed to “Mad Men” setting a dubios record by losing all 17 of its bids — the greatest overall shutout in Emmy history.
“House of Cards” had much to celebrate when nominations were announced last July, as it had received the most acting nominations for a program in seven years (the third season of “30 Rock” reaped 10 on the comedy side in 2009). Comparing only dramas, “House of Cards” scored more acting nominations than any other in 14 years: in 2002 “Six Feet Under” scored nine for its first year and “The West Wing” 12 for its third.
The “House of Cards” shutout was especially surprising because the series was thought to be competitive in four of its five acting categories. Lead actor Kevin Spacey had won the equivalent Screen Actors Guild Award earlier the same year, in direct competition with the man who would ultimately claim the Emmy: Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”). Lead actress Robin Wright was not expected to beat her category’s incumbent winner Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), but she was heavily favored over the nominee who ultimately bested both of them: Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”).
Guest actor Reg E. Cathey had won the same award the year before — the show’s only acting win in 19 nominations to date. Although Cathey was not predicted to repeat opposite Max Von Sydow (“Game of Thrones”), he was favored over eventual winner Hank Azaria (“Ray Donovan”). Most surprising was the loss by guest actress Ellen Burstyn, who had won the category in 2009 (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), the last time that she was nominated in it. Unlike the other “House of Cards” contenders, Burstyn actually was favored to win in the aggregate predictions of Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users; she lost to Margo Martindale (“The Americans”). The other “House of Cards” nominees were supporting actor Michael Kelly, guest actors Mahershala Ali and Paul Sparks and guest actress Molly Parker.
The acting losses contributed to a total shutout for “House of Cards” at the Emmys last year. Its 13 losing nominations represented the greatest shutout at the Emmys in four years since “Mad Men” was blanked and “30 Rock” lost all 15 of its bids. The shutout made that fourth season the first of “House of Cards” not to win an Emmy. The first season (nine nominations) won Emmys for directing, casting and cinematography in 2013. The second (13 nominations) won for its sound mixing in 2014. And the third (10 nominations) won for its music composition and Reg E. Cathey.
“House of Cards” returns for Season 5 on May 30, just one day before the end of the Emmy eligibility period. Gold Derby confidently predicts repeat nominations for Spacey, Wright and Michael Kelly, while the show ranks seventh to win Best Drama Series, which has seven slots.
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