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Emmys Dilemma: Tapes Vs. Entire Season – What Wins Out? (Homeland Season 2, Emmy History, etc.)

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  • KT
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    #273809

    I wanted to start a new thread focused on a very good question that came up in the Drama Series thread that deserves a place to highlight an important issue. It will very likely get lost there amid talk of all the nominees and different shows. Hopefully such a topic hasn’t been posed before–if so please close this.

    Regarding Homeland’s Season 2 in particular, which began this conversation: There is obviously much hype for this show following its deserved win last year. Interestingly, the show will submit 6 tapes for consideration in the top category again this year. I think most of us figured they will submit the top four episodes in two pairs: The Smile, Beirut is Back + New Car Smell, Q&A, in addition to another episode paired with the finale The Choice.  In doing this, Showtime can mostly highlight the beginning of the season (episodes 1, 2 + 4, 5) and steer away from the episodes that were a significant step down in quality and direction, which received huge public and critical backlash.

    Using Homeland Season 2 as a jumping off point, does anyone know other examples of a show winning Best Drama Series (or Comedy Series) in which the overall quality was lesser and less consistent than the quality suggested by its tapes?? Has this happened before, and is this a pretty consistent flaw in the Emmy voting system (one that the Networks and Cable Channels have taken advantage of)? Do voters consider their votes solely based on the tapes, for in the case of Homeland, those tapes will not give an accurate read of the many missteps of the season. An interesting scenario:
    TAPES VS. THE ENTIRE SEASON — WHAT WINS OUT? 

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    SaraR
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    #273811

    Thanks for making a separate thread for this question as I think it’s an interesting issue.

    I would say it’s a flaw of the Emmy voting system but it’s also unrealistic to expect voters to watch an entire TV season, anywhere from 10 to 22 episodes! That is, I don’t see any viable alternative to this issue, and I would say most shows don’t sustain excellent quality for 10 or 12 or 13 or 22 episodes. Inevitably there are filler episodes, and there are those types of “game changing,” watershed episodes. I tend to think this is less of a problem with comedies, however.

    I mean, even Mad Men’s submission last year (5/6, 7/11, 12/13) suggests “bursts” of quality. They left out the much more disappointing episodes (“Tea Leaves,” largely regarded as the worst episode of the series, or the utterly bizarre “Christmas Waltz”). But if Mad Men had won would people have really questioned it?

    Anyway, I think that, while the backlash wasn’t “huge,” it was significant enough (as in, short period of time — about three weeks — but loud over that period) that it may still be in the back of voters’ minds. In addition, I wonder if we might be overestimating the backlash. Casual viewers of the show — those who don’t read online recaps or participate in online forums — may not have noticed anything drastically different.

    The question at hand seems to be, do the highest of highs outweigh the lowest of lows? I think the answer would depend on who you ask.

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    SaraR
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    #273812

    Another point to consider: While it seems to be a consensus here, it’s entirely possibly that “The Smile”/”Beirut Is Back” will not be on Tape A. Who knows?! It’s certainly not definitive. If you’d told me last year this time that “Grace” and “The Good Soldier” would be included on Homeland’s tapes but “Blind Spot” or “The Vest” wouldn’t, I’d have been skeptical to say the least. Maybe the producers submit another set of episodes instead, in which case this question becomes moot anyway.

    Also wondering about the comparison between Homeland’s tapes last season and this season. I don’t know how big of an effect this will be, if at all, but I think some would consider Homeland’s S2 tapes (those proposed above) to be overall better than Homeland’s S1 tapes. Might there be a consideration of “well these tapes are better than the ones they sent last year, and last year they won, so…”? Again, not sure if this would even come into play as it would only really affect the people whose only exposure is to these 11 (5 from S1, 6 from S2) episodes, and then they have no barometer at all of what a “high” or a “low” for the series might look like outside of these episodes. In other words, if these voters take Homeland the series as these 11 episodes, it’s conceivable that they would see the last 6, from season two, as superior in quality to those 5 from season one.

    Another question — just to confirm, voters rank the six nominated series, putting their top at #1, second at #2, and so on, and then the winner is based off the show with the highest total (or lowest total, depending on how you look at it)? A show like Homeland might get a lot of second-place votes, behind a Breaking Bad or something, which would get a lot of #1 votes but from likely a smaller number of people. Just a thought. It’s possible that a  big Breaking Bad fan might be putting a Game of Thrones in second anyway.

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    Riley
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    #273813

    “The Good Soldier” was singled out by the Writers Guild for a nomination (over everything else in the season), so it was proven as an industry favourite and thus a good submission on the series tapes.  The only questionable episode was “Grace”.  I would have gone with “Blind Spot”, but there are worse strategies than pairing an acclaimed pilot episode with the one that immediately follows it.

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    Icky
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    #273814

    There’s not much that can be done with series voting. I do think a series being able to submit three or four episodes per tape would help out shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I would have only two tapes with four episodes on each. Each actor in both lead and supporting would have to submit two episodes.

    Homeland is not only helped by the tape system because it gets to withhold its crappy episodes from voters. Like last year its best episodes are very voter friendly. They’re easy to understand for people who haven’t watched much the season. They’re also dramatic and have wide-ranging appeal.

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    1874
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    #273815

    I think it’s really depends on what kind of the shows are. for example, The Good Wife will definitely wins out by it’s tapes, because each episode of a serie is individual. but a show like Homeland will always have been considered as one cohesive whole.

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    Awardzilla
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    #273816

    I think it’s really depends on what kind of the shows are. for example, The Good Wife will definitely wins out by it’s tapes, because each episode of a serie is individual. but a show like Homeland will always have been considered as one cohesive whole.

    That’s exactly what I was thinking! Yep I think that The Good Wife can pick and choose nicely to get itself nominations for individual stand out episodes, and pair appropriately if the themes are right. Homeland can only tell half a story in tape submission. I haven’t yet seen Breaking Bad season 5, but the fact that it will submit 75% of its season could help it to win.

    Back to the arguement. I feel that Homeland and Modern Family are both in an interesting position this year. Both have tapes that could justify a win, but the series as a whole, particularly MF isn’t as good as the previous bench mark they’ve set for themselves. I think where tapes help, ulitmately buzz does win out too, which is a creation of the entire season. For last years race, I can only compare BB and Homeland, but based on tapes I’d have a terribly difficult time as to who I’d put #1, but if I was an emmy voter last year the buzz of freshman series Homeland would be more pulling. This year I feel that Breaking Bad will win. Assuming that the tapes are of equal quality to those submitted by Homeland (Which should submit: Q&A and In Memorium, Beirut is Back and The Choice, State of Independence and New Car Smell) I think that Breaking Bad will have more buzz than Homeland because it’s final season is airing during voting.

    I basically think that to win it’s about tapes, but not as much as it is about buzz and appeal, which an entire season builds. Also it never hurts to have safe wins in other categories, Danes and Lewis were in contention last year where they had the best tapes in their categories, Danes by a landslide and Lewis marginally, but this would have helped the overall effect, along with it’s buzz etc. that gained it a win in writing and casting for example.

    As for other shows I don’t follow Girls but it’s buzz is high even though it’s tapes I hear aren’t as good as the first season, so I can’t say in confidence it will be the one to knock off MF. I think Arrested Development will have the buzz for sure and hopefully the tapes to go with it.

    As for tapes vs the entire season in terms of gaining a series nomination, a show like New Girl so has the tapes and the entire season is exceptional, but not the buzz to get a nomination. And for The Good Wife it has 6 tapes, it does not have an entire season worthy of a nom and it’s buzz is sub-par.

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    KT
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    #273817

    Homeland is not only helped by the tape system because it gets to withhold its crappy episodes from voters. Like last year its best episodes are very voter friendly. They’re easy to understand for people who haven’t watched much the season. They’re also dramatic and have wide-ranging appeal.

    Exactly–that’s why I started this thread. There’s this conception that Homeland is the show to beat, that it’s this great, amazing show. Actually that sentiment is propagated by bloggers and websites like this one which place Homeland in first place and create so much hype even though there are several other shows that surpassed Homeland with their vision and direction and deserve to win more this year. When people see Homeland being predicted here, they automatically think it was the best show this year—IT WASN’T!  In some episodes Homeland was exactly that, but the season as a whole disappointed—this needs to be reinforced again and again, otherwise with the day-to-day media news cycle we live in, people will conveniently forget the many missteps and the show could be the lazy choice by voters this year, people who fail to distinguish between quality in a few episodes and the lesser quality of the season. I hate it when people try to predict how the Academy will vote and rather than backing shows that need to be pushed for their difficult and challenging material, they add support behind shows that have the perceived buzz, regardless of whether they were truly the best. It would kill me to see those kids on stage again, looking dumb and dopey for contributing nothing to the show…it’s almost as bad as the Modern Family kids at awards shows (eeek).

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    Icky
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    #273818

    I don’t know where you’ve heard/read all this “Homeland had an amazing season” stuff. The second season has been criticized everywhere. People know it won drama series last year and it remains a popular and Emmy friendly show. More importantly, no other show seems to have the momentum or Emmy appeal to overtake it right now, which is why many consider Homeland the front runner. The media can only do so much. No matter how much critics supported The Sopranos, The West Wing kept winning. The Sopranos couldn’t win until it had a much buzzed about season and the academy was not wanting to give The West Wing five series wins a row. A relatively lame mini season of Breaking Bad was still the most acclaimed show of the year, and it’s been the number one or two most acclaimed show since its second season. It has yet to win series. No matter how much The Wire and Battlestar Galatica were pushed they never received series nods. There are quite a few factors beyond the media support that determines series winners. If that were the case Breaking Bad might be on its way to winning its third or fourth series win.

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    KT
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    #273819

    Of course there are a multitude of factors. The show is very Emmy friendly in ways that Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are not (subject matter, genre, audience–Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones have predominantly male audiences). It’s great you mentioned the Sopranos, The Wire, and Battlestar Galactica. Like the Oscars, the general public sees these Awards as indicative of the best shows on television, the awards matter for people in the industry for respect, clout, one’s future career. I didn’t say specifically that many people have said Homeland had an amazing season, certainly some online critics have spoken out. But right now it’s more widely seen as an amazing show; people in the Drama Emmys thread were saying how the finale saved the season, brought the mess to a cohesive end. Is that true? Did the finale feel like the organic end where everything came together nicely? I’m just saying that the issues the Homeland season had may get buried by the tapes, and the hype created by Emmy prognosticators half a year before the awards who think the show is the one to beat (vs. the more discerning eye of critics) only serves to reinforce the misguided conception that Homeland was the best show of the year.

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    Icky
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    #273820

    Well, of course every show has its defenders, and I’m sure there are people who genuinely enjoyed most of season two. You’re not gonna convince people who liked the season that they’re wrong. But The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and Entertainment Weeky I can recall all criticized Homeland when its second season wrapped. I don’t think websites that predict the Emmys have even a dent on who wins as been proven by years of winners contradicting predictions. The show still has a lot of momentum on its side. It’s still the hot, Emmy friendly show that works in the tape system, and that’s the reason its the frontrunner. It’s not gonna win drama series because Gold Derby predicts it to. They didn’t predict it to win last year.

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    SaraR
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    #273821

    Good discussion. I agree that certain shows are just going to be more Emmy-friendly to voters. I think a show like Game of Thrones, for example, regardless of its classification as a genre or fantasy show, will always be less accessible than a show like Homeland or even Breaking Bad, for the sheer volume of material and characters it presents. How many characters are there interacting in a given episode? Overall? It may have a harder time presenting episodes that tell a cohesive and understandable story to new, uninitiated viewers.

    A show like Homeland, though? You might be able to give someone a five-minute synopsis of the first season and they would be able to follow along relatively well. They would not understand everything, nor reach the depth of understanding of some other viewers, but hey–those “previously on Homeland” clips at the beginning of each episode are pretty thorough!

    There’s this conception that Homeland is the show to beat, that it’s this great, amazing show. Actually
    that sentiment is propagated by bloggers and websites like this one
    which place Homeland in first place and create so much hype even though
    there are several other shows that surpassed Homeland with their vision
    and direction and deserve to win more this year. When people see
    Homeland being predicted here, they automatically think it was the best
    show this year—IT WASN’T!

    Homeland, in this very early stage of the process, I would say is the show to beat. There is no telling how Mad Men’s 6th season will turn out, or Game of Throne’s season. Will House of Cards get in? How will Breaking Bad submit in other categories (namely, writing/directing) and will it get those nominations? It happens every year at the Oscars, too — there is always an early frontrunner. Last year it was Lincoln late in the year and then the media narrative switched after Ben Affleck was snubbed.

    Last year, Homeland very easily could have won just one award: Danes in Lead Actress (she would have won anyway), but the storyline changes as the summer goes on. It began to pick up buzz as its second season started filming, as its second season geared up to premiere, it won a few awards at the TCAs, etc. Once the nominations come out I’m not sure I’d expect Homeland to remain the frontrunner. How many people were predicting it to win 6 awards last year, especially series and Lewis over Cranston? Yet they still won.

    I don’t think the Emmy voters are just mindless drones who log on to Gold Derby and vote in line with these predictions.

    As for what critics think, I certainly agree that a great many spoke out about the direction of the late episodes, but in many year-end lists Homeland was at or near the top. Here’s a Metacritic list of Top 10 lists made by TV critics at the end of 2012. It comes in third overall, behind Breaking Bad’s 5.A season and Mad Men’s 5th (not eligible for this year’s Emmys). I just think that while this season wasn’t OMG AMAZING PHENOMENAL HOLY SHIT!!!! It was absolutely not a crash and burn abomination. It was not as good as the first season, but it was still largely a great season of television.

    That said, I don’t think the show deserves to win this year for Drama Series, and I hope Breaking Bad wins, but the show is in fact in a position to win many other words — Lead Actor and Actress, Writing, Directing, even Mandy Patinkin has a shot with “The Choice” for Supporting Actor. Would this create a kind of effect wherein voters do a type of “straight ticket,” voting for Homeland in so many other categories so why not just series, too (and their series tapes are good enough for them to win). Or will it do the opposite — “I’m voting for Homeland in so many other places, I’ll vote for Breaking Bad to win series” (who knows if this is why Mad Men has never won an acting award?).

    I think, overall, the narrative is just more likely to change. I think Breaking Bad airing its final episodes during the height of the voting period will change things. That will get it buzz, and I think the Academy is also finally ready to come around on this show. If people have Homeland at the tops of their lists now, is it because it was “the best show” or because it’s most likely to be nominated?

    The best show that aired in an Emmy calendar year very rarely wins, too. Just as with the Oscars, who wins and who loses is largely a case of politics.

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    KT
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    #273822

    ^^^ This is a great post. Yes, Game of Thrones has many characters, and is hurt by the fact that so far this season no episode has focused solely on a single storyline or character. It’s hard for casual viewers or even Emmy voters who don’t religiously follow the show to be invested in what is going on or see a complicated character arc emerge. Some of the characters are literally doing nothing, which plagued the Qarth scenes last season. Someone in the Game of Thrones thread had a great comment, comparing the show to The Wire in saying that Game of Thrones has a long way to go with regard to making all the storylines work and moving seemlessly back and forth to many characters. Plot vs. character is a good framework when evaluating every show, and this person stressed that Game of Thrones seems overly reliant on plot. I do think, however, it is improving and unlike Mad Men or Homeland season one it hasn’t reached a peak yet.

    I agree. Homeland is the show to beat. I just wish people were more adventurous with their predictions and used the platform, be it this website or a Hollywood trade or the other ‘expert’ predictors’ publications, to support shows that need it. We’ve talked at length about Emmy Rossum and Shameless–there’s a good example. Also, as you said, the submission process is hugely important. Game of Thrones missed directing last year for submitting several episodes rather than one or two–in hindsight, it’s a shame Blackwater wasn’t nominated as it could’ve won. I don’t think they’ll make that same mistake this year. Looking at the writing and directing categories: I think Q&A will be a done deal to win Writing, and it’s a shame Homeland lost the writer Henry Bromell. Directing should be more interesting: Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones could win there, even Boardwalk Empire…that’s a category where I’m not sure Homeland will win (I actually think Beirut is Back might be their best bet from a directing standpoint, directed by Michael Cuesta who has been so important to the look and feel of the show), but again it wholly depends on the submissions and then the nominations. Maybe Fincher will take that category, but just because he’s a big name doesn’t mean that was the best-directed episode of TV. You mentioned Mandy Patinkin–I’m really looking forward to the supporting categories: Aaron Paul shouldn’t be a contender to win and Peter Dinklage hasn’t had a real standout tape or storyline yet. Does that mean Jonathan Banks or Mandy Patinkin could come through? And supporting actress, will they stop lazily voting for Maggie Smith, who won’t show up? If so, could Anna Gunn win? Will Lena Headey get the material to be nominated?

    I’ve been thinking about the six Drama Series nominees. I still think it’s most likely the six from last year will stay OR one will be dropped to allow for one newcomer. Maybe that newcomer will be an FX show (The Americans, Justified)? I think the Americans has some really strong tapes and has been very consistent. Maybe it will be House of Cards? That should be interesting to see. But I agree with your stance on Best Drama Series and would like to see a Breaking Bad win. And I appreciated your analysis in whether there will be a straight ticket like last year or if voters might diverge in directing and series. It’s kind of weird to think about though, since won’t there be different bodies of people voting for the different categories? Politics will play a role as always, Breaking Bad’s final season airing will play a role….but most importantly it comes down to what is conveyed in the tapes that the voters receive, the major factor in determining the outcome. I’m also wondering if predictor’s lists indicate which show is most likely to win or be nominated.

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    Renaton
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    #273823

    ^ Beyond the fact that Helmetz asks for suggestions of episodes to see before he votes, and that some actors and the people working for them look at these forums and the articles to get an idea of episode submissions, we have ZERO influence on anything else regarding Emmys. Saying a show that needs support is great over and over again won’t make voters watch it or care for it, and it won’t help it win. For years people around here talked about how The Wire was amazing, and it led nowhere.

    Prediction is based on looking at factors and judging what’s more likely, not promoting what you prefer. For example, I love “Happy Endings”, but I’m not predicting it for a win, and I’m not gonna repeat it over and over again around here because I know that without a big investment in campaigning for it, with the barely inexistent media attention and near certain cancellation looming, no matter how much I repeat it, the show won’t get nominated. There are just to many factors that play into getting voters to support a show, and Goldderby’s posters opinions, personal taste and winner predictions are not among them.

    So talk how much you want about Emmy Rossum here. But unless Showtime pushes hard for her, and unless there’s strong buzz and acclaim for this season, she won’t get their attention. It’s not being pessimistic, just realistic.

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    Riley
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    #273824

    That said, I don’t think the show deserves to win this year for Drama Series, and I hope Breaking Bad wins, but the show is in fact in a position to win many other words — Lead Actor and Actress, Writing, Directing, even Mandy Patinkin has a shot with “The Choice” for Supporting Actor. Would this create a kind of effect wherein voters do a type of “straight ticket,” voting for Homeland in so many other categories so why not just series, too (and their series tapes are good enough for them to win). Or will it do the opposite — “I’m voting for Homeland in so many other places, I’ll vote for Breaking Bad to win series” (who knows if this is why Mad Men has never won an acting award?).

    You are confusing the Oscar voting system with the Emmy voting system.  Oscar voters vote in pretty much every category to determine the winners, whereas Emmy voters get specific categories based on what branch they are a part of.  Each of the acting categories is decided by fewer than a hundred people and there is very little overlap with other acting categories.  Thus, Mad Men has lost each and every single one of its acting races individually with very little influence from how voters could have potentially voted elsewhere.

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