Emmys: Do Multiple Nominees for the Same Show Help or Hurt?

As the casts of TV series grow into ever larger ensembles, it was perhaps inevitable that actors from the same series would increasingly find themselves competing against each other in Emmy races.

This year, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” features three supporting actresses — Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett — for limited series and two supporting actors — Denis O’Hare and Finn Wittrock. On “Game of Thrones,” Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke are both vying in the supporting-actress drama series race.

While conventional wisdom says they will cancel each other out, as far as Emmy history is concerned, the jury’s still out on whether multiple contenders help or hurt.

The 1977 miniseries “Roots” saw Louis Gossett Jr. winning over three co-stars as lead actor, while supporting thesps Ed Asner and Olivia Cole defeated three and two colleagues, respectively.

It’s become something of a sign of solidarity when actors are submitted in the same category, replacing the old philosophy of “there’s less competition if we put them in different races.”

Take the “Modern Family” actors, who are consistently submitted in supporting categories. In the series’ first three years (2010-12), there were multiple nominees for supporting actor, and each year one of them won. In its fourth year, three actors were nominated, but nobody won.

This year’s crowding is not limited to acting. “Thrones” also boasts two drama-series directors in Jeremy Podeswa and David Nutter, while the show scored no less than four of the seven cinematography slots. And Matthew Weiner is competing with himself for writing “Mad Men” (sharing the recognition with Semi Chellas in one of those noms).

If these nominees hate the competition, consider the alternative: Keegan-Michael Key was nominated for supporting actor for “Key & Peele” but Jordan Peele wasn’t. One suspects he’d rather have the company.

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