Hulu finally got in the Emmys game in a real way this year with 18 nominations overall, including 13 for freshman drama “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which ultimately took home eight trophies. But it was far from the first streaming series to be a major player in the awards game. In truth, Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” paved the way with wins in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
And kudos ceremonies including the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards have embraced streaming services’ original content from those early years, too. That desire to celebrate what is unique, coupled with the Television Academy further validating such trends, should position the three major platforms — Netflix, Amazon and Hulu — to dominate with the Golden Globes and SAG this year.
“The Emmy was spectacular and unexpected, and I was thrilled for everyone who works on the show,” “Handmaid’s Tale” showrunner Bruce Miller says. “But I was very happy for Hulu, too. They supported the heck out of the show, and they were very brave, and it was nice to see that pay off.”
The big surprise around the “Handmaid’s” win, of course, was that Hulu — and not Netflix or Amazon — was the first streamer to break through to get one of the Academy’s big awards. This puts it in the driver’s seat for the winter awards season: “Handmaid’s” will likely be among the favorites to win the big awards again — including drama series and drama actress at the Globes and drama ensemble at SAG.
Hulu can’t be counted out in the comedy categories, either, especially with a new season of previous Globe nominee “Casual” and the final season of “The Mindy Project.” “Difficult People” and newcomer “Future Man” also has the potential to score nominations,especially from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
Liz Tigelaar, showrunner of “Casual,” says streaming shows are getting so much attention because they give their shows’ creators time and space to work.
“[They] are willing to start writers’ room months in advance instead of weeks,” she says. “Writers have ample time for season arcs, breaking episodes and writing scripts. New shows have enough time and space to find themselves because they aren’t shooting as quickly. It’s a more humane process that yields better results. Shows with a strong voice are the ones resonating.”
The Globes have a history of embracing shows and stars well before other award shows, which is why Amazon’s “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” both won comedy series awards years before Netflix’s “The Crown” picked up the first drama series award for a streamer at that ceremony.
“Writers have ample time for season arcs, breaking episodes and writing scripts. New shows have enough time and space to find themselves because they aren’t shooting as quickly. It’s a more humane process that yields better results. ”
Liz Tigelaar, showrunner of “Casual”
“We were totally surprised,” says “Mozart” showrunner Paul Weitz about its Globe win in 2016. “In retrospect, the HFPA seems to like surprising people. The more important win was for ‘Transparent’ [the previous year]. Our win just served to normalize the idea that a streaming show could win.”
This year an additional Amazon series in the running is the new period comedy from Amy Sherman-Palladino. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” pilot was lauded when it came out earlier this year, and the streamer is debuting the entire season on Nov. 29 with hopes that it’ll get winter award attention.
Amazon has had a bit of a rough year in the drama department, with such shows as “Good Girls Revolt” and “The Last Tycoon” getting the axe after one season each. But its still has a chance with “Sneaky Pete.” Though it flew under the radar when it debuted last winter, the show’s pedigree (Bryan Cranston, Giovanni Ribisi, Graham Yost) lends itself to recognition.
“I think the HFPA probably is additionally interested in shows with international talent,” says Weitz. “I also think they are up for actually watching new shows.”
Netflix is in position to rake in nominations in both the comedy and drama categories. When Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe won the comedy writing Emmy for the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None,” it set the show up to be among the favorites for the winter award season. But “GLOW.” has a good chance of getting attention due to its own pedigree, including Jenji Kohan, Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Grace and Frankie” are awards perennials, as well.
In the drama department, “Stranger Things,” “Ozark” and “Bloodline” have strong chances at nominations. “Stranger Things” won the drama ensemble at SAG this past winter, and season two has only strengthened the chemistry of the ensemble. The presence of Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in “Ozark” is just the star power that the HFPA enjoys to fete, and “Bloodline” released its final season, giving the voters a last chance to honor it.
|“Master of None,” top left, “The Good Fight,” top right, and “Stranger Things” are three of the streaming shows poised for awards noms.|
“Master of None” executive producer Alan Yang says it’s an exciting time for creative shows like his, no matter where they run, though.
“If a show is only screened on a single display in an elevator in one random office building on La Cienega, but it has really good writing, directing and acting and people see it, it should still win awards,” he jokes.
The sheer volume of shows vying for the few spots available on ballots only continues to increase, and these three aren’t even the only streaming services in the game. CBS All Access has some strong contenders in “The Good Fight” and “Star Trek: Discovery.” And that’s not to mention the broadcast and cable nets still churning out high-production-value programming.
“I think to have a chance, it just has to have a particular thought-through, logical point of view,” says Miller of a show in the race, regardless of platform.
Yang, however, has other ideas. “It would help if a character on the show physically stepped out of your TV and handed you a delicious farm-fresh breakfast burrito. I would vote for that show.”