‘Mr. Robot’: Rave reviews & strategic timing could be key to hacking the Emmys

The freshman season of Sam Esmail’s technological thriller “Mr. Robot” starring Rami Malek is sure to reap multiple bids when the Emmy nominations are announced on Thursday, July 14. But while few are predicting that “Mr. Robot” can upset heavy favorite “Game of Thrones” for Best Drama Series, USA Network is utilizing an ingenious strategy to keep the show fresh in Emmy voters’ minds.

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The series broadcasts its second season premiere on Wednesday (July 13), the night before the big reveal by the TV academy. If “Mr. Robot” ends up contending in major categories as we’re predicting it to, it will be fresh in the minds of voters as they’re marking their ballots, a strategy that can only help build momentum for the series.

While season one had a score of 79 on Metacritic, season two is up to an 81 as of this writing (based on the first two episodes which were previewed for critics).

Below, just a sampling of the critical raves for season two:

Tim Long (The Detroit News): “[Mr. Robot] remains one of the most dizzying, intoxicating, challenging shows on television, a gripping look at mental illness and brilliance run amok, tied to an essentially sweet, if damaged, character. It’s a show that poses Big Questions and dares to leave them hanging.”

Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix): “But while Wednesday night’s two-hour season premiere — the first hour of which got a very ‘Mr. Robot’-appropriate debut, popping up on social media Sunday night with no advance warning, then vanishing a few hours later — opens up depicting a world in tatters after the stunt Elliot and fsociety pulled off in erasing billions of dollars in personal debt, the show itself remains in superb shape.”

[WATCH] Emmy Awards drama slugfest: Can ‘Mr. Robot’ dethrone ‘Game of Thrones’?

Hank Stuever (The Washington Post): “By building a story on the uncertain foundation of the narrator’s perception of reality, ‘Mr. Robot’ presents itself as a complex loop, a puzzle that never quite resolves. That style is perfectly suited to an audience that prefers the challenge in unconventional narratives.”

Verne Gay (Newsday): “Showrunner and creator Sam Esmail is setting up the second season for a deeper exploration of his themes and preoccupations — the isolating effects of technology, and the dark, dark side of the digital revolution. He’s a Kafka in the director’s chair, who sees alienation where everyone else sees a Facebook ‘like.’ It’s as compelling and timely a vision as there is in a primetime series at the moment, and darkness is the price of admission.”

Airing new episodes during the voting period may have helped “Mad Men” win four consecutive Best Drama Series awards. The show regularly aired a new season while TV academy members voted on the previous one. This strategy also helped two-time Best Drama Series champ “Breaking Bad,” which won its first trophy for the first half of its final season while the second half — which were among the most highly acclaimed episodes of the entire series — was airing. That undoubtedly helped increase the show’s buzz during Emmy voting.

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