When the Emmy nominations are announced tomorrow, you can be sure of two things: The noms will be dominated by cable fare, and the howls you’ll hear from fans will be for non-cable network shows that got passed over.
So, if you’re a fan of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Breaking Bad, you can be sure that your faves will be more than well-represented. But what are some of your favorite network series? Fringe? Community? Person of Interest? Ah, I would bet that you’ll be out of luck. (Not that I don’t hope I’m wrong about that.) This will also hold true in the TV-movie and miniseries categories.
Indeed, if it wasn’t for CBS’ The Good Wife and PBS’ Downton Abbey, the drama category will probably be completely dominated by cable shows. But does this make much difference, you might ask? After all, don’t most people have at least basic cable, and don’t younger viewers increasingly make less of a distinction between broadcast and cable networks?
I think you’d be surprised how many Americans aren’t plugged into the cable-verse, at least in the way most Entertainment Weekly readers are. There’s a reason NCIS and Criminal Minds and reality stuff like The Bachelorette top the Nielsen ratings so much of the time.
Where the playing field becomes more even is in the comedy categories — that’s where the broadcast networks continue to dominate. Modern Family will, I can predict in what will be the safest, easiest prediction possible, command a majority of the comedy noms, along with perennial faves such as 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, and Parks and Recreation not far behind. Add Zooey Deschanel and New Girl as a new voter fave in the mix. Worthy cable comedies like the superb Girls and my beloved Enlightened will remain as distinct possibilities.
But there’s yet another sub-category of shows that the Emmys will overlook, I would wager. It’s the Cable Shows With Cult Followings and Good Reviews That Don’t Seem Classy Enough for Voters. Among the best examples of what I’ve now dubbed CSWCFAGRTDSCEFV (catchy, isn’t it?) are Sons of Anarchy, Southland, and The Walking Dead. The main reason these shows don’t get much or any Emmy love is primarily because they’re violent in varying degrees, and Emmy voters like their violence only when it comes in period or fantasy costume. The one big exception in my CSWCFAGRTDSCEFV category/calculation isn’t a drama, but a (usually non-violent, unless Melissa Leo is guest-starring) comedy: FX’s Louie and its star will score multiple nominations. Wanna bet?