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May 28, 2015 at 10:17 pm #349636
Since there’s so many of these for other shows, Chris’s blog post sums up what I’ve been feeling since I recently finished the current season. The show is in a “now or never” situation. It’ll continue to be shown precursor love this year and like Chris mention, the timing is perfect. I have been wondering about potential other contenders, but I don’t think they’ll go back to past contenders in “The Good Wife” or “Homeland”, when they have proven and consistent offerings in “Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”, “House of Cards”, and “Mad Men”. “Better Call Saul” had a respectable debut season, but just like it’s mother, it’ll need another season to be embraced by the academy. OITNB is the wildcard here and they made such a concentrated effort into shamming the show into this category. They wouldn’t leave it out after all of that and it’ll benefit from the AMC special in having its anticipated season (as well as the entire series to date) ready for viewing during voting. That leaves two slots left and where the heart of this new rule change come into effect.
In theory, the rule change is tailor made for new shows to benefit. The president of ATAS states this in the press release for the new rules and usually preambles about “how this is a great time in television” before the announcements on nominations morning. Why all this pomp and circumstance, if the nomination body goes back to the well to old stuff. Would make all of this unnecessary. Similar to the Oscars “The Dark Knight” best picture nomination rule, the extra slots benefit critical darlings and populist/blockbuster offerings. Ironically, best picture might go back to the traditional five as the Emmys expand. Funny how that works. Anyways, this is where “The Americans” come in. If “Empire” is the the populist/blockbuster offering, “The Ameicans” is the critical darling.
To end, the show’s potential nomination would be similar to when the category last had seven nominees. In 2009, “Big Love” was nominated and that was the show’s sole nomination. One would’ve thought “Breaking Bad” would’ve been their “critics” nominee, but they obviously had room for two. The more I think about it, “Big Love”‘s also continued HBO’s dominanced here. An eligible HBO series has been annually since “The Sopranos” broke through, so asterick lol. While I’m also predicting Lois Smith too, it’s potential nomination here would be nearly parallel. That year also saw a rule change when voting for nominees returned to a straight popular vote, after an experimental pre-nominations round that saw mixed results (2006, anyone?). I could be convinced for the potential for more nominations down the line (Alison Wright would make my personal ballot), but two seems like a good bet for an overdue breakthrough. And could open the possibility for more opportunities down the line in a “Friday Night Lights” kind of fashion for an increase in nominations nods in either the big creative categories and/or the leads.May 29, 2015 at 12:50 am #349638
The issue with comparing The Americans to Friday Night Lights and Big Love is that those shows actually had a base.
The first season of Friday Night Lights was nominated at the Emmys for directing and it won casting. It was also nominated by the casting guild, it won the editors guild and it was a new series nominee with the writers guild. Those are some key categories and branches. After the first season, Friday Night Lights became a perennial writers guild nominee for best drama, it was nominated by the casting guild again and it even got a SAG nomination for stunts. Now, consider the way that NBC campaigns. They sent out a package this year of six discs covering their twenty-seven shows, with a single episode of each. It is ridiculous. How are voters supposed to be swayed when something like Friday Night Lights is getting just as much attention as twenty-six others and that is hardly any at all? That it was able to drum up the support within the industry that it did for its first season indicated that voters really wanted to like the show. Once episodes actually became accessible to voters when DirecTV mailed out the complete season, voters were happy to give it the time of day and actually had seen enough of the show to justify voting for it.
The first season of Big Love was nominated for directing and casting (and main titles) at the Emmys. It was also nominated by the casting guild, actually won the writers guild award for drama episode and it was nominated by the costume guild. There is no correlation between costume nominations and getting a best drama nomination, but I think that in this case, it demonstrates that the show was on the industry radar such that it was getting recognized where voters may have been short on contenders. Using Big Love to round out a set of nominees when they were short on contenders is exactly what would happen later when the series field expanded.
The Americans has never been liked by the industry. It picked up three Emmy nominations over its first two seasons, none of which demonstrate that Emmy voters like or watch the show. One of these nominations was for main title theme music. Music nominations are easy to discount because the music branch employs a different voting method than all of the other branches. Instead of a straight popular vote to determine nominations, every single person who submits themselves for Emmy music consideration must serve as a judge. This ensures that there are plenty of voters. Each submission is then sent to the same number of voters to be graded on a scale. That is how we end up with random music nominations for Legend of the Seeker, while Game of Thrones is snubbed for years. The other two Emmy nominations were for Margo Martindale. The first nomination was a name recognition thing as she had goodwill from her recent win for Justified, but it was kind of excusable, since she was was one of those season long “guest stars”, so she had a lot of material, including a win-competitive tape. The nomination for the second season was a slap in the face to people on the show who actually deserved nominations. Matthew Rhys gave the best performance on television in 2014. Plus the show has showy costumes, hairstyling and stunt coordination. And would someone who watched the second season actually nominate Margo Martindale before they nominated the show for editing, writing, casting, Keri Russell, et cetera? Margo Martindale got her nomination because she is Margo Martindale in a guest category and her show had little to do with it.
The Americans got two total guild nominations over its first two seasons, from the casting guild for pilot casting and from the writers guild for new series. Yes, Friday Night Lights and Big Love were also recognized by these guilds, but in much more substantial ways. Both shows were able to either complement their drama pilot casting nominations with drama series casting nominations or translate them to that after their first season. The Americans was only nominated when it competed against only new shows, which means that voters had to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The Following was also nominated. The Americans‘ writing nomination was also cheap, as it was nominated against only new shows. Friday Night Lights got drama series nominations from the writers guild; Big Love won the drama episode award.
My point is that whereas shows like Friday Night Lights and Big Love were demonstrably always bubbling under for a nomination and just needed the right field and a little push to break through, The Americans is going to have to grow its support from pretty much zero. And how is it going to do that? The difference with Friday Night Lights was sending a complete season instead of just a single episode and having its network focus all of its efforts on it instead of a twenty-seventh or so. The difference with Big Love was a gap in HBO’s campaigning because The Sopranos was gone. Voters have received DVDs with full seasons of The Americans every year, plus the show has both FX and 20th Century Fox sending out screeners of it. Voters have either ignored the series or really not responded to it. Sure, the show is more critically acclaimed than ever this year, but the show led the TCA nominations its first year. At Critics’ Choice this year, it got four nominations, just as it did last year and the year before. Not that much has changed.May 29, 2015 at 2:47 am #349639
I still don’t get why people are doubting Better Call Saul. Every second Best Drama prediction on various forums seem to downplay its chances.
I don’t love it, but boy is it right up Emmy voters’ tastes. From the premier to the finale, the premise, the quality. It is such an Emmy show. By Emmy award winning/nominated creators, producers, writers, actors. Between massive ratings, critical acclaim and “spin-off of THE Emmy beloved Breaking Bad”… i’d rather believe Emmy voters will make it a priority to watch Better Call Saul than a series that was never really on their radar. I don’t believe in the speculation that Better Call Saul “needs another season to be embraced by the academy”. It is not an original offering. It’s a spin-off of a very popular, very accalimed, recent big winner. Just last year.
If previous Emmy nominated Homeland, Boardwalk Empire and Justified ( 8 nominations, 2 wins) wont make it back in, why would a series that was never really on their radar suddenly make a big splash? How does that work? Because of sudden acclaim? Those previous Emmy nominated shows (Homeland, Boardwalk Empire and Justified) have that acclaim now, just like in the past.
What confuses me is that the show that should’ve gotten this thread treatment (Master of Sex), is not even being discussed. If any show is about to break through, it should be Master of Sex ….no? Made a big splash last year, 5 nominations, 1 win,
almost made it into Best Drama series, got a lead actress nod, 2 guest acting nods.
But no. It’s 10 other accalimed, snubbed shows that are apparently going to break through this year.
So….May 29, 2015 at 3:59 am #349640
While I disagree with the notion of all of The Americans acclaim being sudden I will agree that it is higher than it has ever been. I also agree that the comparison to FNL is specious as FNL was about as Emmy and America friendly as it gets whereas the better comparison for The Americans would be The Wire. Extremely gritty and at times almost too serious (The Americans tends to lack the type of levity The Wire had at times but they are different shows about different subject matter, tone, and different time periods) but beloved by critics. And The Wire never made huge strides at the Emmys either.
However, if The Wire were airing today I believe it would have a better shot today than it did back then. Here are reasons I think The Americans could break in.
1. This is the third straight year that people and critics have been calling it one of if not the best show on TV. That kind of conistenency is really truly rare so everything is technically an outlier when you use it to compare to previous shows. It certainly doesn’t hurt.
2. Amazon Prime is more prevalent and in more homes now than it has ever been. If Emmy voters were able to get caught up, much like they did with Breaking Bad hitting netflix (yes, I know BB was an Emmy favorite before but Netflix seemed to be what allowed it to get into writing and win series) then the idea of a few nominations isn’t out of the question. The Americans issue has always been getting voters to watch it so if you take my first point into consideration, I think more people will have watched it on prime.
3. There is a dearth of competition in drama this year and the frontrunners range from decent to aggressively mediocre in all facets of production (writing , directing, acting, etc) whereas The Americans excels. Quality has to count for something.
4. FX seems to have a broader appeal than ever right now so it’s possible the network bias could be fading. But unlikely.
5. Lastly, it deserves to be nominated. In series, lead actor and actress, supporting actress, guest actress, writing, directing, and a bevy of technical categories. Do the Emmy’s want to be remembered for never embracing a historically great show again? Maybe. But I believe in this day and age a show like this has a much better shot at getting in than it wuld have a decade ago. But maybe I am being too hopeful.
With that said, I dn’t think it gets in. But it would be nice if it did.May 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm #349642
I hope it does get some love. It deserves it!May 30, 2015 at 8:48 am #349643
eastwest, I have to agree with you, if the Americans is ever going to break out at the Emmy’s, than this is the year. You are most likely correct that it really is now or never. I do not really care/give a shit about what other guilds are doing or what pre-cursors have predicted in the past (I swear if you try hard enough you can claim that something must mean anything). The drama cateogry is about as wide open this year as it has been in nearly a decade, so now would certainly be the time for it to happen. Especially when you consider their will be at least three new shows nominated this year (two shows not returning from last year and a new guranteed seventh nominee).
I am not expecting it to break out in any major way, but I will certainly be happy if it does.May 31, 2015 at 12:17 pm #349644
Excellent counterpoints, Riley. I don’t think a show late in its run has ever gotten a series nomination without some key nominations, so the show’s potential nomination would be unprecedented. It is truly now or never for the show.