Emmy Nominations: Lack of Incumbents Opens Up Race as Amazon Becomes Latest to Break Through
The end of the 'Breaking Bad' era and several snubs bring an altered landscape, while 'Transparent' now ranks as the most-celebrated comedy.
Transparent's 11 Emmy nominations, the most of any comedy series, come as little surprise. Critics have been having a love affair with the Amazon original for the better part of the year. But its complete overshadowing of other newcomers (zero Emmy noms for fellow Golden Globe favorite The Affair) and domination of the comedy race is strong evidence that TV Academy voters have grown far more open-minded about the vehicles for their favored series. The lack of prejudice could prove even more interesting come Sept. 20, when many of this year's nominees will compete with few repeat winners.
Amazon ranked 12th among nominated networks and platforms, but it did so almost entirely on the merits of one show (comedy Bosch scored one nom for main titles). Streaming trailblazer Netflix also made some gains from last year, thanks in large part to its ever-growing roster of originals. And even though Orange Is The New Black's move from comedy to drama prompted a steep drop in its number of noms — down to four from 12 — it did get a mention in the top drama category.
The biggest series was Game of Thrones for the second year in a row. Its 24 mentions came largely on the merits of technical awards (four mentions in the cinematography race alone), but it nabbed a fifth consecutive mention in the best drama category and four nominations for actors. Thrones, combined with mini Olive Kitteridge, telepic Bessie and Veep, helped HBO again rank as the most-nominated network with 126 total nominations. That's up from 99 the year prior.
There was a question of how voters would great the final season of AMC's Mad Men, especially with Breaking Bad finally out of the race, and the former reigning drama champ did not come up short. It matched Transparent and House of Cards for third-place status among television series with 11 nominations — including mentions for leads Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss and two writing nominations (Matthew Weiner and Semi Chellas) after a shut-out of the category in 2014.
It's not immediately apparent in the rush of familiar names and series, but there are actually very few incumbent winners in the big races this year. Modern Family is expectedly competing for its record sixth win in the main comedy race, but the absence of Breaking Bad opens up not just drama — but lead actor, supporting actor and supporting actress in a drama. 2015 lead drama actress winner Good Wife star Julianna Margulies is absent from the nominations, as is lead comedy actor Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory). Aside from Modern Family, Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus will defend her lead comedy actress crown, as will supporting comedy players Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and Allison Janney (Mom).
The constantly evolving limited series race, redefined again thanks to the rise of anthologies, sees the fourth installment of FX's American Horror Story topping all others with 20 nominations. That's after a year where network sibling Fargo took the top prize the category. AHS: Freak Show actresses Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, who won lead and supporting last year, are both back to compete for their respective titles, but the vacancy left by Sherlock means the actors' races are open.
AHS' biggest competition actually comes as a bit of a surprise. ABC anthology American Crime, by no means a lock for renewal, ranks as the most-nominated broadcast effort. The drama raked in 10 nominations and will see Emmy-winning star Felicity Huffman go toe-to-toe with Lange.
There are 65 days until the Primetime Emmys, which leaves plenty of time for voters to check out American Crime, Transparent and the other new series that many have likely yet to see.