Last year the Primetime Emmys adjusted their procedures to expand voting to more academy members. Gone were the more restrictive judging panels where many categories could be judged by just a few dozen members, leading to occasionally idiosyncratic results. When you also factor in the move to online voting, it seemed like the Emmys were about to become more open and democratic. However, there was also the concern that the quality of episode submissions would no longer be important when deciding the winners. With a much larger panel of voters making their choices online, what’s to stop them from just checking off the same popular names year after year?
Repeat winners were common under the previous Emmy system too — just ask five-time champ Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”) or four-time victors Helen Hunt (“Mad About You”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). Heck, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) just won her sixth acting Emmy last year, and Allison Janney (“Mom”) won her seventh. But there have also been wins by lesser-known actors on little-seen shows that probably wouldn’t have happened if voters weren’t paying close attention to episode submissions.
Consider character actor Zeljko Ivanek winning Best Drama Supporting Actor for “Damages” against his A-list co-star Ted Danson in 2008, or Debra Monk (“NYPD Blue”) taking down superstar Julia Roberts (“Law & Order”) for Best Drama Guest Actress in 1999. Even Cranston wasn’t always an Emmy juggernaut: the first year of “Breaking Bad” flew under the radar while fellow AMC breakthrough drama “Mad Men” grabbed most of the headlines, but Cranston’s explosive performance in the pilot episode put him and the show on the map in a big way. So we should thank the old Emmy system, at least partially, for helping “Breaking Bad” eventually become a TV phenom.
But can underdog victories like that still happen if the Emmys function more as a popular vote, or might they become more like the SAG Awards, where Alec Baldwin won seven Best Comedy Actor titles in a row (2007-2013) for “30 Rock” regardless of his competition. SAG is decided by a popular vote of its large membership of more than 100,000 members of the SAG-AFTRA union, and a large number of their TV winners carry over from year to year. This past year every SAG winner in drama and comedy categories was a repeat except one: Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) besting defending champ William H. Macy (“Shameless”) for Best Comedy Actor.
So will this year’s Emmy winners be a repeat of 2015? And if so, does that mean the Emmys should revert to their previous voting system? Our readers are discussing the topic in our forums. Read some of their comments below, and make sure to join the discussion in our message boards.
thedemonhog: Too many repeat wins will spark a backlash, which will prompt the academy to make changes.
GusCruz: With the exception of Peter Dinklage [‘Game of Thrones’], all of them look pretty strong to win again, I’m sorry to tell you.
Lord Freddy Blackfyre: Repeat undeserving winners has always been a problem with the Emmys since eons ago and every system they have tried.
jacob121: There isn’t really a slam dunk winner in Dinklage’s category this year, though, which makes me think a repeat is likely unless they go over-the-top with “Mr. Robot” love and give it to Christian Slater.
13SV8: The Emmy voters are one of the worst at judging art and performances. They always acknowledge the same type of roles or the most boring ones.
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