“House of Cards” (Netflix)
Emmy history: First nom, plus one other outside this category
The case: Known for playing memorable villains, Spacey’s latest is a ruthless congressman gunning for a high-level Cabinet post. After he’s passed over for the job, the power-hungry politician masterfully plots his revenge and schemes to get what he wants — at one point, baiting a teachers’ union boss into punching him. The assault brings a protracted strike to a quick end.
Trivia: Spacey auditioned for “The Gong Show” in 1976, doing an impression of Johnny Carson, but was rejected.