‘Looking’ cancelled by HBO, but farewell movie could end up winning Emmys

Wouldn’t you know, just two days after writing an article about why “Lookingdeserves a third season and tons of Emmy nominations comes news that HBO is discontinuing the series, with plans to wrap up the story with a TV movie. That’s bittersweet for fans like me who felt “Looking” was just coming into its own. But there’s a big silver lining: the farewell movie could be an Emmys darling.

Emmys MVP: ‘Looking’ for nominations for one of TV’s best shows

How could that be? After all, the series didn’t get a single Emmy nomination in its first year, and its second season may have just as much of an uphill battle (click here to see its odds for Best Comedy). Why would a TV movie be any different?

The fact is there are far fewer eligible TV movies and miniseries these days than there are continuing comedies and dramas, which means there’s less competition. So with “Looking” now an established brand and HBO such a consistent Emmys powerhouse, the series suddenly becomes a top contender as a TV movie.

But don’t take my word for it. Just consider other TV programs that have crossed over between movie/miniseries and comedy/drama categories in recent years.

For instance, I was pretty sure I was the only one still watching HBO’s “Treme” by the time it signed off after four seasons. After a pair of nods in its first year (Best Drama Directing and Best Music and Lyrics), it fell off the TV academy’s radar entirely. But its five-episode final season was too short to compete as a drama in 2014 and entered as a miniseries instead. The result: Emmy bids for Best Miniseries, writing and casting, plus a win for its sound mixing.

Then there’s Showtime’s “The Big C.” It earned a combined four Emmy nominations but no wins as a comedy series in its first two years, including acting bids for Laura Linney (Comedy Actress) and Idris Elba (Comedy Guest Actor) in 2011. But the series ended with a four-episode miniseries in 2013, and Linney was able to win Best Movie/Mini Actress.

Ricky Gervais‘s “Extras” did well in comedy categories in its first two seasons (2006-2007), earning eight nominations including two bids for writing, one for directing, and a surprise Comedy Actor victory for Gervais himself. But when the series concluded with a telefilm, it earned six nominations in 2008, including Best TV Movie, writing, directing and a supporting actress bid for scene-stealer Ashley Jensen, who had never been recognized when “Extras” was a continuing series.

Other shows have made the opposite switch, but with similar outcomes. “Downton Abbey” has won 11 Emmys in its first four seasons, but the majority of those (six) came when the show competed as a miniseries in its first year. It won Best Movie/Miniseries, as well as prizes for writing, directing, costumes, cinematography, and supporting actress Maggie Smith.

USA’s sci-fi drama “The 4400” also got its start as a longform program, and earned a nomination for Best Miniseries in 2005, along with bids for writing and cinematography. It continued for three more seasons as a drama series, but didn’t receive a single nod during those subsequent years.

So take heart, “Looking” fans. Ironically, the loss of a third season might mean the show will finally get the industry recognition it deserves.

Jonathan Groff teases ‘Looking’ season finale and returns to ‘Frozen’ and ‘Glee’

But do you think there’s a chance the show could rise from the ashes at the Emmys even earlier than that? Another acclaimed, low-rated HBO comedy earned major nominations despite being cancelled after two seasons: “Enlightened,” which earned bids for lead actress Laura Dern and guest actress Molly Shannon in 2013.

If you think “Looking” is already primed for an Emmys breakthrough, click here to make your predictions or use our easy drag-and-drop menu below to get started. If you bet on it at its current 100/1 odds and it pulls off a surprise nomination, you’ll earn tons of points that could help you win our predictions contest. Best Emmy predictions will win you a $1,000 prize.

If you don’t think “Looking” will be nominated but think it should be, you can still vote for it on our Dream Emmys ballot, which you can find in our predictions center along with our Emmys, ACM Awards, and MTV Movie Awards predictions. You can also win a $100 Amazon gift card every week by predicting reality shows like “Dancing With the Stars,” “Survivor,” and “American Idol.”

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