Basing Emmy predictions off statistics only pays off most of the time; the key is knowing when to ignore them and which statistics to favor when they conflict. Not every race is as simple as this year’s for Best Drama Series, in which “Game of Thrones” has consistently been affirmed as the front-runner, first with the industry guild awards that were bestowed during film awards season, then in the Emmy nominations announcement and finally at the Creative Arts Awards. The guilds, nominations and Creative Arts each suggest a different Best Comedy Series winner — not “Veep,” despite it being the most-predicted to win.
“Veep” won Best Comedy Series the last three times that it contended at the Emmys, then took an extended hiatus before its final season, missing last year’s Emmys and this year’s guilds. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” dominated in its absence. Leading up to Emmy nominations this year, pundits favored “Veep” over “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” After all, they did not square off at the Emmys last year and “Veep” has won Best Comedy Series two more times than “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
What they overlooked was that “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” did not just dominate in the absence of “Veep;” it dominated like nothing before, including “Veep.” It won more Emmys last year than any comedy ever has in a single year (eight), then it won more guild awards than any comedy ever has in a single year (14). The most that “Veep” had ever won was five Emmys and four guild awards. This dominance actually began while “Veep” was still in contention. The guilds mostly use the calendar year for eligibility instead of the television season like the Emmys, so the Producers Guild of America Awards last year pitted the last season of “Veep” that won the Emmy against the first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” that would later win the Emmy; “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won Best Comedy Series there.
The Emmy nominations upended the race. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” led with 20 nominations, but runner-up “Barry” with 17 was the only comedy represented in all key races that correlate to winning Best Comedy Series. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” racked up nominations like Best Period Costumes and Best Series Hairstyling that have no historical correlation to winning Best Comedy Series, but was crucially snubbed in Best Comedy Writing; “Veep” was snubbed in both Best Comedy Directing and Best Comedy Editing. It was surprising that these two front-runners had faltered, but not that “Barry” capitalized on the opportunity to advance in the race after the guilds had positioned it as such. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was not the only comedy to break guild records this year — “Barry” was nominated for more guild awards than any comedy ever had in its first year.
The Creative Arts threw another wrench into predicting this race. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” led with six wins, but again mostly in fringe categories. “Barry” won only two awards; “Fleabag” also won only two awards, but they were the most important ones: Best Comedy Casting and Best Comedy Editing. Casting has become the ultimate bellwether, particularly in recent years after a voting revamp. The first two years that “Veep” won Best Comedy Series, its only Creative Arts win was Casting. Just as the guilds had moved “Barry” into the upset position, the nominations had moved “Fleabag” there.
“Fleabag” had missed a key nomination in Best Half-Hour Sound Mixing, but it will be easy to reconcile in hindsight if it becomes the first half-hour Best Comedy Series winner without a Sound Mixing nomination since “The Office” in 2006. “The Handmaid’s Tale” won Best Drama Series for its first season without Editing and Sound Mixing nominations.
What has since become apparent is that timing instead of apathy was to blame for the anomalous snubs. “The Handmaid’s Tale” premiered later in the eligibility period than any Best Drama Series winner in Emmy history, so not every branch of the academy had seen it by nominations voting. Had apathy blocked “The Handmaid’s Tale” from those key nominations, it is unlikely that the American Cinema Editors would later have awarded the same season or that the Emmys would award the second season the next year; both the Emmys and Cinema Audio Society have nominated the show for Sound Mixing both opportunities that each has since received.
Amazon released the second season of “Fleabag” in April this year and the industry seems to have only discovered the show in the time since, seeing as the first season received zero Emmy and guild nominations despite critical acclaim. Time will tell if it apathy or timing yielded its Sound Mixing snub, as well as the Best Movie/Limited Editing snub for “When They See Us.”
Best Limited Series is a tight race between “Chernobyl” and “When They See Us.” As both premiered this spring, they have not contended at the guilds. Nominations gave the edge to “Chernobyl,” with its higher overall count and representation in all key categories, but “When They See Us” has even more of a timing caveat than “Fleabag” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Netflix released all of its episodes on the last day of eligibility, so potential snubs by branches like the editors and sound mixers that have proved to be slower on the uptake than others can be chalked up to insufficient visibility two weeks later during nominations voting.
The Creative Arts proved unhelpful in clarifying the race. “Chernobyl” won a greater number of important races, while “When They See Us” took only the most important one: Best Movie/Limited Casting, whose winner has won either Best Movie or Best Limited Series the last seven years. 2014 Best Limited Series winner “Fargo” similarly came out of the Creative Arts with only a Casting win, but “Chernobyl” would be the first ever to win seven Creative Arts Awards and lose Best Limited Series.
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