×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmys 2016: ‘UnReal,’ ‘The Path,’ ‘Mr. Robot’ Look to Break Ground for Their Networks

With so many big dogs in the annual Emmy hunt, what’s a kudos underdog to do?

Several networks not usually associated with Emmy-bait series are entering or re-entering this year’s drama race in a major way. From Lifetime’s “UnReal” to Hulu’s “The Path,” these series tussle to stand out from the pack of the usual heavyweights that dominate the category.

Jason Katims has been at this game for a while, working on a string of critically acclaimed series including “My So-Called Life,” “Relativity,” “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights.”

But when it comes to garnering awards attention for a cachet drama like, “The Path,” he jokes, “If I knew the answer to that, I’d have more Emmys.”

Obviously, TV creatives can only put their best work forward and hope for the best — while also making it so unique and special people have to pay attention.

“To be honest, having Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy, Michelle Monaghan and Kathleen Turner helps,” Katims says of the crisis-of-faith series centering on a religious cult. “The excitement around this cast may cause people to check it out, and if given a chance, they will like it.”

It’s also an important show for Hulu as it vies with digital players Netflix and Amazon to create high-end original programming.

“We get a lot of love and energy because (Hulu is) using the show to say this is who we are as a network,” says “The Path” creator-producer Jessica Goldberg. “Their ad campaign was beautiful and evocative. The subject matter is incendiary, so that has been useful in getting attention too.”

Campaigns have been the time-honored way to get a series front and center to the voters. Kerry Ehrin, a colleague of Katims’ on “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” now partners with Carlton Cuse for “Psycho” prequel “Bates Motel.” Having recently completed its fourth season on A&E, the series has a cult following, but has struggled to gain Emmy attention — beyond a lead actress nomination for Vera Farmiga in season one.

“There’s no denying publicity helps, and there’s huge marketing going on to grab attention,” Ehrin says. “But then you also have to factor in the fanbase. ‘Orphan Black’ did a big fan based push for Tatiana Maslany to get recognized (and she was nominated last year). I think fervent fans help a lot.”

“You have to do more to get attention, and you have to be strategic. There’s not only 400 shows out there, there are at least 50 great shows.”
Liz Gateley

Sometimes, a respected drama can pop into the headlines by winning a high-profile award prior to the Emmys. USA’s critically acclaimed series “Mr. Robot” has picked up a slew of notable awards including the Golden Globe for drama series and a 2016 Peabody Award. Lifetime’s “UnReal” also copped a Peabody.

While Lifetime has snagged a few Emmys in the past for shows like “Project Runway” and nominations for TV movies, the network hasn’t been known for scripted series that capture the attention of Emmy voters.

“We are so excited about the (Peabody) award because it stamps the show as worthy,” says Liz Gateley, Lifetime exec VP and head of programming. “This is the renaissance of dramatic television and you have incredibly talented people out there producing a lot of great dramas.”

Gateley says she’s proud of her PR team, which got a jump on the competition by sending out an Emmy mailer in January.

“You have to do more to get attention, and you have to be strategic,” she says. “There’s not only 400 shows out there, there are at least 50 great shows. And nobody has adequate bandwidth to watch it all or even consume it all.”
And getting a budget to promote is always a challenge. Having cable shows premiering around this time of year allows studios and networks to leverage their marketing campaigns leading up to the Emmys.

New seasons of “UnReal” and “Mr. Robot” are due shortly. Last year’s winners “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” bowed new episodes in the spring and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” returns every summer.

“If your show is coming out during that loading period, whether it’s a tune in or for your consideration spot, it’s an efficiency,” Gateley says.

“UnReal” creator-producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who once worked on “The Bachelor,” wrote “Sequin Raze” about the vicious behind- the-scenes drama of a reality show. Her dark indie short was sold to Lifetime and blossomed into a critical darling for the network.

“We are proud of what we are doing, and getting the Peabody and the Critics’ Choice award is uplifting for a show like ours,” Shapiro says. “It took a giant leap to take my baby to Lifetime, but it was worth it. Just trying to make a good show is challenging and scary, but the awards are great because they allow us to keep doing the work.”
The trickiest part of any Emmy hungry show is not only garnering a bit of attention, but standing out from an increasingly crowded field of worthy shows.

“‘The Path’ is capturing attention because it’s arresting, surprising and fresh with an incredible cast. When that happens, you are hopeful about getting recognition from the awards,” Katims says. “It’s not why you do it, but it’s exciting to have anything that will bring new viewers to your show.”

As Cuse notes, “You don’t want people to find your show four years later. There is no ‘Was a Great Drama But We Missed It’ Emmy category.”

More TV

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content