Emmys 2013: Newcomers Threaten TV's Most Predictable Nominees
This story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Emmy voters don't have it easy. This year, the pool of contenders comprise the most variety ever -- upward of 100 series across as many categories -- among cable and broadcast. Sure, the stalwarts are still in the game -- AMC's Breaking Bad, HBO's Game of Thrones, Showtime's Homeland, ABC's Modern Family, CBS' The Big Bang Theory, to name a few -- but will they yield to these 10 newcomers? And can they break through the glut of competition?
The Following (Fox)
➺ Love or hate it, Fox's serial killer gore-fest had everyone talking this year (not to mention a record 17 million fans tuning in for the finale in real time and via DVR). But it is star Kevin Bacon -- in his first regular TV series gig -- playing a tortured FBI agent who had even the most squeamish voters watching. A broadcast network nominee is rare in the lead actor category (James Spader was the last, in 2006), but Bacon may have the star power to steal some of that Breaking Bad/Mad Men/Downton Abbey cable thunder.
➺ The No. 1-rated new cable drama of the season already has a solid Emmy foundation in its favor: History's juggernaut 2012 miniseries effort Hatfields & McCoys scored 16 noms and five wins. This year, History brings Vikings -- a lush epic that offers equal parts indeterminate accents, violent action and moments of growly gravitas. Think of it as basic cable's Game of Thrones (read: a lot less nudity) but with the kind of historical grounding that Emmy loves.
The Mindy Project (Fox)
➺ Mindy Kaling has more than impressed with her post-Office reinvention as creator-writer-star on a network that has wisely embraced smart women making smart shows about smart women (Exhibit A: New Girl). Kaling recently told Jon Stewart she couldn't believe she was a "chubby minority woman" with her own show, and we know Emmy loves a quirky, relatable underdog (see: Lena Dunham).
➺ It might not be the show to crack cable's domination of drama series (even The Good Wife was snubbed last year), but the divadom of Nashville's two stars is truly noteworthy. The rivalry between Connie Britton's veteran country star and Hayden Panettiere's bratty ingenue is soapy fun. And these two can really sing -- suddenly the series morphs from guilty pleasure to bona fide contender.
Bates Motel (A&E)
➺ This modern-day Psycho prequel is giving the cabler -- a 2009 winner for the gritty reality series Intervention -- its best chance at scripted series consideration yet. (No offense, Longmire.) The moody thriller delivered cable's second-best-performing new drama of the year with a finale that drew 2.7 million viewers, and it was just renewed for a second season.
The Americans (FX)
➺ With Justified past its Emmy-novelty prime and Sons of Anarchy snubbed since, well, its 2008 debut, FX is hanging all its Emmy drama hopes on former CIA agent Joe Weisberg's 1980s-set Russian spy thriller. The series had one of the most impressive debuts of the year as well as consistent grit from its excellent cast that includes Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and 2011 Emmy winner Margo Martindale.
House of Cards (Netflix)
➺ All the news this week is about Netflix's rescue of Arrested Development. But the streaming company is nothing less than a lock for Emmy love for its political thriller Cards, which boasts Oscar winners (star Kevin Spacey; director and exec producer David Fincher) and dense, highbrow writing from Oscar nominee Beau Willimon.
The Newsroom (HBO)
➺ The first season of Emmy and Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin's chat-fest homage to cable news premiered way back in June, but that will hardly put a dent in its Emmy chances. It's HBO. It's Sorkin. It's a mean 'n' grumbly Jeff Daniels in his TV series debut. Done.
➺ In a year besieged by poorly reviewed -- and now axed -- new comedy series, the king of the comedy podcast, Marc Maron, got a hit by playing a (mostly) fictionalized version of himself in IFC's single-camera comedy. Think of him as this year's Louis C.K. -- except he actually enjoys promoting himself.
➺ Recently renewed for a second season, Ray McKinnon's ambient Southern drama about a man released from death row may lack the flash of its premium cable competition, but the series has conjured a slow burn of a following that mirrors its pacing (each episode constitutes one day). Star Aden Young, as ex-con Daniel Holden, ably conveys the pain of being a free man in a town where many want him dead.