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With ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ Netflix Has Even Brighter Emmy Dreams Ahead

Netflix could double up on drama noms in 2014

Netflix made history at Thursday’s nominations for this year’s Primetime Emmys, but the bulk of the nominations were for one show: “House of Cards.” So some on the impatient side questioned whether Netflix would have the depth to advance the ball farther down the field a year from now.

Having taken in the 13-hour first season of “Orange Is the New Black” in the past 10 days, I can tell you that Netflix has got its second-down drama.

Orange” is pretty damn sensational. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the best show on the air. But assuming TV Academy voters can be reminded of its virtues 11 months from now – and judging by this spring’s campaign for “House of Cards,” Netflix won’t be shy about pushing the memories – the digital distributor has reason to hope it will get two of the six drama series nominations in 2014, along with potential nods in other major categories.

Drama remains extremely crowded at the Emmys, and “Orange” would have to unseat something from the group of 2013 nominees that features “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” and “Cards,” while also holding off such shows as “The Americans,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Justified” and any other fare. But there’s little reason the show (which has a 79 on Metacritic) won’t contend.

Even if it doesn’t score a series nomination, nods for writing, directing (among others, Jodie Foster helmed one episode, past Emmy nominee Phil Abraham another) and acting are also strong possibilities. Taylor Schilling, sometimes guilty of overreaction but otherwise grand, is positioned for a lead actress nomination, and as for supporting, take your pick – the bench is deep, even if more familiar names like Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew and Natasha Lyonne overshadow the many other options. (Hello, Taryn Manning, Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox.)

Questions remain over whether Netflix can sustain its original series production pace over the long haul. But “Orange” shows that when it comes to hourlong drama, Netflix is no one-trick pony.

P.S. This is as good a place as any to formalize my plea on Twitter for someone to create an “Orphan Is the New Black” video mashup.

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