“Bloodline” is back. The Netflix drama series premiered its third and final season on the streaming service on Friday, May 26. It stars Kyle Chandler in an against-type role as John Rayburn, an upstanding sheriff driven to desperation and murder as he tries to protect his family’s secrets. Chandler has earned two straight Emmy nominations for Best Drama Actor. Can he win this year for the final season? It wouldn’t be the first time the TV academy has given him a farewell hug.
Chandler’s last TV starring role was as Coach Eric Taylor in “Friday Night Lights,” which ran for three seasons on NBC (2006-2009) and then was kept alive by DirecTV for two more seasons (2010-2011). The show was a critics’ darling but it struggled in the ratings and also took a while to catch on with Emmy voters. Chandler wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Actor until the fourth season in 2010. Then in 2011 the series finally earned a nomination for Best Drama Series for its final season, and Chandler surprised Emmy pundits by winning Best Drama Actor against formidable rivals Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”), Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Hugh Laurie (“House”) and Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”).
Will the Emmys give him another farewell hug? Like “Friday Night Lights,” “Bloodline” hasn’t reached the widest audience; Netflix doesn’t publicly release its viewing statistics, but we can infer that from the fact that the streaming service isn’t continuing the series beyond its third season. However, the show has reached Emmy voters. Not only has Chandler been nominated twice in a row, so has supporting actor Ben Mendelsohn, who surprised awards pundits by winning last year.
Mendelsohn’s win may be significant. Last year was the first Emmy ceremony under a new voting system. Winners used to be decided by a preferential vote in which academy members ranked the nominees from their favorite to least favorite. That disadvantaged divisive shows as well as under-the-radar series that might have been ranked last by voters who weren’t familiar with them. Now winners are decided by a simple plurality vote, in which academy members just pick their favorite contender. This means that in a category of six nominees you could theoretically win with as little as 17% of the vote. That’s good news for niche shows with passionate followings, and it could explain last year’s surprise victories for Mendelsohn, Tatiana Maslany (Best Drama Actress, “Orphan Black”) and Louie Anderson (Best Comedy Supporting Actor, “Baskets”), among others.
Mendelsohn’s victory may indicate that “Bloodline” has that kind of passionate group of core supporters within the academy. So we could potentially see another victory or two for the show this year. And it doesn’t hurt that “Bloodline” has premiered its final season right before the May 31 eligibility cutoff. This means it will be fresh in mind when voters are marking their ballots.
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