“Breaking Bad is the danger this Emmy season.”
That’s Debra Birnbaum, Editor-in-Chief of TV Guide Magazine, in an email to The New York Times, as the TV world waits for the 2013 Emmy Awards to be handed out this evening.
American Horror Story: Asylum is leading the race with the most Emmy nominations (17), followed by Game of Thrones (16). But the shows that everybody’s talking about are Breaking Bad and House of Cards.
Yes, 2013 is a year of change, with Netflix’s political heavyweight, starring Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey, nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. It faces competition from Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland and Mad Men – and marks the first time an Internet programme has been ranked alongside traditional cable shows.
Netflix even has three nods for its fourth season of Arrested Development (including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Jason Bateman) and two nods for Hemlock Grove (Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Original Main Title Theme Music).
It is House of Card’s staggering nine nominations, though, that sum up how much the industry has changed. The drama is competing for Outstanding Single-Camera Cinematography, Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series, Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Music Composition for a Drama Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for Drama and, in another big coup, boasts nods for both Outstanding Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
“That’s how you devour a whale… one bite at a time.” – Frank Underwood
Photo: © 2013 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
And yet the odds are against Frank Underwood, whose ballot box has been eclipsed by that of another: Walter White. Bryan Cranston has won the award for Outstanding lead Actor in a Drama Series three times before – in 2008, 2009 and 2010 – and he’s the favourite to do so again. The same is true of Outstanding Supporting Actor nominee Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman picked up the gong in 2010 and 2012).
Outstanding Drama Series, though, has eluded AMC’s meth-cooking masterpiece, despite four previous nominations. Why? Mad Men. AMC’s other show has dominated the category, sweeping up the Emmy for each of its first four seasons (taking its total to the record highs of The West Wing, L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues). Mad Men’s winning streak was ended by CBS’ Homeland last year.
As viewers bid a tearful farewell to Walt and Jesse, though, 2013’s Emmy Awards ceremony is surely set to be a blue one. That, in itself, is another sign of the changing times.
When Mad Men won Outstanding Drama for AMC, it marked the first time an advert-supported cable channel was voted top dog. Before then, the Emmys were all about broadcast networks and HBO. That was back in 2008. The year before that, the rules were changed, allowing Internet TV shows to be nominated for Emmys.
While AMC has transformed the awards playing field in the last five years, it has taken that long for an Internet show to stand alongside it.
“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” – Don Draper
CBS will be confident that current champion Homeland can defend its title – and its win for Damien Lewis and Claire Danes in the Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress categories. AMC will be hoping that Jon Hamm, whose has been nominated many times but never won Lead Actor, can finally do Don Draper proud. Cranston, though, seems the favourite – the second half of Season Five (which could still be nominated for Emmys next year) hit screens just as Emmy members were casting their votes.
And all the while, Kevin Spacey sits in the west wings, quietly overlooking them all. The very fact that House of Cards is even being mentioned in the same breath as Breaking Bad and Mad Men is a big deal: Netflix doesn’t need to win the major awards. It’s already won.
Indeed, House of Cards picked up Emmys for both Outstanding Cinematography and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series last week at the Creative Arts ceremony. The latter was part of Homeland’s clean sweep in 2012.
The revolution hasn’t taken over yet. HBO snapped up a cool 20 awards, including an impressive eight for Soderbergh’s TV movie Behind the Candelabra.
Soderbergh making TV. Netflix winning Emmys. Yes, 2013 is a year of change. Breaking Bad is broadcast exclusively online in the UK, indirectly adding even more gold to the video on-demand service’s haul. And with its new original series, Orange Is the New Black, earning equally strong critical acclaim, you can expect to see Internet shows earning even more nominations next year.
Breaking Bad is the danger this Emmy season. But Netflix is the one who knocks.