Emmys: Cable, Netflix Shut Out Broadcast Nets for Drama Series (Analysis)

Aaron Paul and Neil Patrick Harris announce the 2013 Emmy nominations.
Aaron Paul and Neil Patrick Harris announce the 2013 Emmy nominations.
 Getty Images

Cable has had a something of a lock on the golden age of TV drama. For the second consecutive year, broadcast television has been shut out of the outstanding drama series category with PBS' Downton Abbey again the lone free-TV nominee. (The last Big Four broadcast series to take home the top drama Emmy was Fox's 24 in 2006.) Meanwhile, HBO again topped the Emmy nominations with 108 including a sweep in one category and the most nominated drama series in Game of Thrones, while the FX anthology series American Horror Story: Asylum picked up the most nominations overall with 17 total.

But they'll have to share the headlines with Netflix, as the streaming service earned multiple nominations for the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards -- including noms in all three top drama series categories for House of Cards. The showing for Cards, which also earned a directing nomination for series executive producer David Fincher, signals an acceptance of alternative viewing options, as multiple SVOD services are commissioning the kind of high-priced content that was once the exclusive purview of linear television. 

The political thriller will compete for the outstanding drama series statuette with AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad (the latter heads into its final season in August), PBS’ Downton Abbey, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Showtime’s Homeland, last year's winner. 

STORY: The Full List of Emmy Nominees

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright also picked up nominations for outstanding actor and actress in a drama series. Spacey will compete with Downton’s Hugh Bonneville, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston (who has multiple statues in the category), The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels, Mad Men’s oft-nominated Jon Hamm and Homeland’s Damian Lewis, last year’s winner. Lewis’ co-star Claire Danes again picked up a nom for her Emmy-winning turn as a bipolar government agent.

Wright and Danes will compete with a large and varied field of outstanding lead drama series actresses including Connie Britton (ABC’s Nashville), Michelle Dockery (Downton), Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Kerry Washington (ABC’s Scandal).

Bobby Cannavale nabbed Boardwalk Empire’s sole acting nomination for his supporting role in the HBO series. He’ll compete with Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks and Aaron Paul (last year’s winner), Downton’s Jim Carter, Game of ThronesPeter Dinklage and Homeland’s Mandy Patinkin.

Maggie Smith will compete for her third consecutive Emmy for her supporting role as the Dowager Countess Grantham in Downton, though the 78-year-old actress has not once picked up her statue in person. Her competitors are Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn, Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke, Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, Christine Baranski from CBS' The Good Wife and Homeland’s Morena Baccarin.

Netflix’s other hotly anticipated original, a reboot of the cult hit Arrested Development, did not have a robust showing in the nominations. Star Jason Bateman scored a nom as outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, but the Mitch Hurwitz series was shut out of the other main categories. Filling out the comedy actor field are Alec Baldwin (a multiple winner and possible sentimental favorite, along with his co-star Tina Fey, for the final season of 30 Rock), Louis C.K. for FX’s Louie, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons (the winner two years ago), and Matt LeBlanc and Don Cheadle from Showtime’s Episodes and House of Lies, respectively. Jon Cryer, last year’s winner for CBS' Two and a Half Men, was not nominated.

STORY: Emmy Nominations By The Numbers

Laura Dern earned a nom for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her turn on the canceled HBO series Enlightened. She’ll face Emmy favorite Fey (30 Rock) and last year’s winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (HBO’s Veep), Amy Poehler (NBC’s Parks and Recreation), Edie Falco (Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) and Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham (HBO’s Girls).

Girls again scored a nom in an outstanding comedy series category that looks much like last year’s field with the one exception: Louie scored a nom instead of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which did not air during the 2012-13 eligibility period. Filling out the outstanding comedy series category are CBS’ Big Bang, NBC’s 30 Rock, HBO’s Veep and ABC’s Modern Family, last year’s winner.

Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, who won the supporting comedy actor Emmy last year, was not nominated. But his co-stars Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were. GirlsAdam Driver and Veep’s Tony Hale earned their first nominations in the category. SNL’s Bill Hader (whose memorable recurring characters include Julian Assange, Eliot Spitzer and Charlie Sheen) rounds out the nominees.

And Modern Family’s Julie Bowen will attempt to make it a three-peat in the supporting comedy actress category, where she’ll compete with her co-star Sofia Vergara, Big Bang’s Mayim Bialik, Glee’s
 Jane Lynch, Nurse Jackie’s
 Merritt Wever, 30 Rock’s 
Jane Krakowski and Veep’s Anna Chlumsky.

History’s ratings hit The Bible earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding miniseries or movie. HBO again has a significant presence in that category, with noms for Phil Spector and the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. USA’s canceled Political Animals also scored a nom (as did star Sigourney Weaver). Sundance Channel’s Jane Campion mini Top of the Lake and FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum round out the nominees. Meanwhile, HBO swept the lead actor nominations in a miniseries or movie with Behind the Candelabra’s Matt Damon and Michael Douglas earning noms along with Toby Jones (The Girl), Al Pacino (Phil Spector) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Parade’s End).

Along with Weaver, lead actresses in the category are Jessica Lange for American Horror Story: Asylum (Lange won the supporting actress Emmy last year for the first season of American Horror Story), Laura Linney (for her turn on the final episodes of Showtime’s The Big C: Hereafter), Helen Mirren (Phil Spector) and Moss (Top of the Lake).

This year’s variety series nominees are a carbon copy of last year, with Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report and
 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
 and Saturday Night Live, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and HBO’s 
Real Time With Bill Maher scoring noms in a category that has been dominated for 10 consecutive years by The Daily Show.

The reality competition field also is unchanged, with CBS’ The Amazing Race (the perennial winner), ABC’s 
Dancing With the Stars, Lifetime’s
 Project Runway, Fox’s
 So You Think You Can Dance, Bravo’s Top Chef and NBC’s The Voice nominated again.

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