Here’s a safe prediction: The Emmy Award nominations will elicit plenty of disgruntlement, along the lines of “What? No nomination for [fill in name of your favorite show here]? Those Emmy voters have their heads up their butts.”
The Internet has helped magnify these voices, creating a mini-industry around the disappointment (at best) and eruptions of anger (at worst) over award balloting, along with the simplistic charges that every overlooked show or performer has been “snubbed” by the collected members of the Television Academy.
The “snubs” argument notwithstanding, the Emmys do harbor some collective and historic biases, which help explain why certain kinds of programs and actors fare better than others. So while most of this week will be spent trying to anticipate who might land nominations at the crack of dawn West Coast time on July 10 — Variety will be in countdown mode this week with prognosticating posts rolling out starting Monday on top program categories — here are more general predictions regarding what will happen after the announcements and once everyone’s had their coffee and found the energy to get truly riled up.
THERE WILL BE “SNUBS” (NOT REALLY): The term “snub” is a popular form of shorthand, reducing a competition conducted by secret ballot involving thousands of people to the status of who gets invited to a high school party while the host’s parents are out of town.
So once again, with feeling, a show not being nominated doesn’t mean that it was “snubbed,” in any conscious way, and might just mean it finished seventh, eighth or nine once all the votes were tabulated – not bad, honestly, when you consider the volume of classy TV available right now.
NO COUNTRY FOR YOUNG MEN (AND WOMEN): Like their counterparts in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who select the Oscars, the Emmy jury (that is, academy membership) tends to skew older, which is often reflected in the kinds of programs that get singled out.
This complaint was leveled with inordinate force a few years ago, when “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter went on a Twitter tirade consisting of Rodney Dangerfield-type jokes about how old academy members are, insisting they weren’t hip enough to get his show.(Sample line: “if my mom and dad were alive this emmy snub would kill them. that’s not true, they were too old to understand my show. just like the academy.”)
The suggestion that dark and bloody dramas suffer, actually, isn’t quite as compelling as the assertion genre programs – that is, science fiction and fantasy – have struggled to gain much attention. Even when they do get nominated (think “The X-Files”), they don’t have a big enough constituency to graduate from there to winner – a fate that has thus far befallen “Game of Thrones.”
The same goes for older stars, which is why it’s less likely the actresses in an ABC Family drama are going to be recognized than Ellen Burstyn for, well, just about anything. (Burstyn was famously nominated for a fleeting appearance in the HBO movie “Mrs. Harris,” presumably based on reputation.)
So for those harboring hopes for “The Walking Dead” or “Orphan Black” beyond star Tatiana Maslany – or for that matter, still those still irked “Battlestar Galactica” never received its due – sorry, them’s the breaks.
STAR WARS: Yes, the Emmys do like movie stars, and this year offers a veritable smorgasbord of them, from the cast of “The Normal Heart” to the stars of “True Detective” and “Fargo.”
If it’s any consolation, this astral fixation is more justified than usual this year. And however exaggerated it’s been, the Emmys aren’t as brazen about casting their award categories for maximum star wattage as the Golden Globes.
GROUNDHOG DAY: A common gripe about the Emmys is that they tend to nominate the same shows over and over, often honoring the old at the expense of embracing the new. Recent awards have done a better job of doing the latter, but the repetitive nature of the nominations is a unique aspect of television compared to other major awards, which are presented entirely new slates of movies, songs and plays/musicals to consider every year.
Granted, multiple winners could always take themselves out of contention the way John Larroquette eventually did after his supporting-actor run on “Night Court.” But frankly, Emmy streaks – from “Frasier” to “Mad Men,” “The Daily Show” to “Modern Family” – have become as much a part of the event’s history as anything else, so why start messing with it now?
THE GREAT DEBATERS: No matter what happens, someone’s going to get left out, and the reaction will be fast and furious. Words will fly (online, mostly, so relatively little ink will be spilled) debating the merits of various nominees, and especially who might have better deserved the honor. Some of these people will swear they are done with the Emmys and that the awards have lost all credibility and, besides, we didn’t really want to come to your stupid party anyway.
Those are the people most likely to watch, if only to mutter about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ dress or what on earth Kerry Washington has done to her hair.