Five Big Themes That Could Sway

The Primetime Emmy nominations are meant to serve as an annual scorecard of the best work in television. But picking kudos contenders is a highly subjective process, and plenty of unpredictable, zeitgeist-y factors surely influenced the choices of TV Academy’s 15,000-plus members as they completed the first round of balloting by the June 20 deadline, with nominations to be revealed July 10.

1. Time
“True Detective” taught us that time is a flat circle … yet in the Emmy race, the question is whether the calendar is friend or foe to “Breaking Bad.” Has too much time passed since the AMC drama’s September 2013 finale to command a second straight win for drama series?

2. Death [SPOILERS!]
Major characters were dropping like flies this past season. Josh Charles went out in spectacular fashion on “The Good Wife.” Robert Morse danced his way to the hereafter on “Mad Men.” But if anyone deserves extra credit, it’s “Homeland’s” Damian Lewis for swinging from the gallows. Awards voters love a good death scene, but is the body count too high for the end of life to give anyone a leg up?

3. Sentimentality
If “How I Met Your Mother” is ever going to take home an acting, writing or directing Emmy, now’s the last chance for voters to take note. Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” Showtime’s “Dexter,” NBC’s “Community” and HBO’s “Treme” are among others that could be sentimental favorites in their final year of eligibility. Might “Suburgatory’s” Jane Levy get a going-away present?

4. Stardust
No matter how many pundits proclaim that TV is where it’s at these days for quality, movie stars still have undeniable sizzle in Emmy competition. Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Billy Bob Thornton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter and Chiwetel Ejiofor are marquee names with a high probability of landing noms.

5. Endurance
The debate over longer vs. shorter episode orders is heightened this year as broadcast shows such as “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Blacklist” and “Scandal” stepped up their campaigning. With hotshots like “True Detective,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” fielding less than half the number of episodes delivered by broadcast shows, there could be renewed appreciation for distance runners, particularly in acting categories.

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