Emmys: Three Agents Dissect the Writer Races
To clear up some of the confusion for the 2014 scribe-off ("True Detective" is a traditional series, but "Fargo" is not? "Orange Is the New Black" is a comedy?), three anonymous TV lit agents handicap each competition.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The Comedy Writers
David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik
Never an Emmy winner, Episodes remains a nominee, in part, due to the Academy's fondness for a Hollywood spoof. "I think people enjoy the inside aspects of that show, which is why you continue to see it nominated, but I don't think it has the mainstream support or interest to get a win."
Taking the category once in 2012, C.K. returns with a show that many consider to be skewing more dramatic than comedic in its latest season. "It's a little pretentious sometimes, but I still appreciate what it's doing, and the academy does love him."
Orange Is the New Black
Liz Friedman, Jenji Kohan
Orange's big showing this year could prove especially advantageous for Kohan -- who benefits from lingering Weeds affection and what many consider a consistent voice. "It's got a lot of topspin right now. I think that could be the surprise of this year. It's the exciting new kid on the block, and it was a very mercenary move on Netflix's part to put it in comedy instead of drama."
The quiet newcomer, HBO's freshman comedy is being nominated for its season-one finale. "It's incredibly funny, but it's also one of those things that a lot of people are finding later. I don't think it's the show's year. There are still people who haven't seen it."
Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Armando Iannucci
Three years in, Veep upped its nomination count (eight) considerably. Its nods have thus far been limited to its cast; the prolific Iannucci has yet to receive any Emmy kudos. "Veep will always be good for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but it probably won't take it in writing."
The Minis & Movie Writers
American Horror Story: Coven
Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
The nominations-to-wins ratio is never in the FX anthology's favor. Many think Murphy stands a better chance this year as executive producer of The Normal Heart. "It's like chapters in novels, these anthologies. Individual episodes can stand out, but if the Academy voters don't see the whole story, it can affect how they choose."
Coming out of the gate strong, Hawley's sort- of-but-not-really update on the Coen brothers' classic raked in a near-high for the year with 18 nominations. Certainly the fact that True Detective is competing in the drama category instead of in minis and movies hasn't hurt Fargo's chances. "It would have been a real big race if we'd seen Fargo go head-to- head with True Detective this year. Both made such a splash and are still very fresh in voters' minds."
Luther has become an Emmy regular despite never winning -- something that some chalk up to the series' import status and the TV Academy's tendency to reward its own writers. "Certainly this series has more cachet in the Golden Globes, but we favor our domestic product right now -- especially on the writing side."
The Normal Heart
An outlier in a race of usual suspects, 79-year- old playwright and activist Kramer spent decades trying to get his seminal 1985 work about the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis translated past the stage -- something many thought would never happen. "He doesn't have the most recognition with this crowd, but they've done a great job getting his story out there."
Sherlock: His Last Vow
Like Louie in the comedy category, this is another franchise that returns after a very long break. But affection for Sherlock might see voters giving more love to lead actor nominee Benedict Cumberbatch than to the series' showrunner. "I don't know if you give this award to Steven Moffat. Everybody loves Sherlock, but you've got another case of the Brits fighting an uphill battle."
David Simon, Eric Overmyer
Shifting from series to miniseries for its final five episodes, this marks both Overmyer and Simon's first nominations for their work on the series. That may be too little, too late. "It has its fans, it has its core group, but it does not have the freshness or awareness that Larry [Kramer] and Noah [Hawley] have."
The Drama Writers
The only series to score two writing nominations this year, Breaking Bad follows a huge showing in 2013 -- and a long lapse since its final episode. "Obviously a great show coming to a conclusion has a positive lean in this race, but the distance from when it last aired is its challenge. You want to take care of Breaking Bad in its final year, but people might be thinking more about True Detective right now."
The Walley-Beckett-penned "Ozymandias" episode has an advantage of being a critical favorite, but the series finale from its creator likely has the edge with TV Academy voters. Again, if they still care. "I'd like to think Breaking Bad got its due last year. I don't know that it deserves one last big hurrah."
Game of Thrones
David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
With two writing nominations (and no wins) over the course of the first three seasons, this third mention for its showrunners for the episode "The Children" comes at a time when Game of Thrones awareness is as near critical mass as it's likely to get. "People love the show, but I don't think they think it's the best storytelling. If you look at True Detective or Breaking Bad, the kinds of shows about singular characters, the writing feels more thorough. … It's just a different beast."
House of Cards
The Netflix show upped its presence during its second year, with Willimon notably getting a tap for his work writing the sophomore premiere. Still, since it pulled so few wins during its breakout year, some say it's just out of reach. "I think that it still feels more niche where the academy is concerned. This is such a competitive playing field."
HBO's decision to submit the anthology in the drama series race is a big gamble. Drama presents a more competitive writing pool, one that could prove hard to crack for Pizzolatto. "It's only been one season, so it's less confusing that it's not up for mini. Others might want to wait to see what he does with a second season and an entirely new cast."