Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series, where we analyze and predict all your favorite TV series and their chances with the Television Academy (at least at this time of publishing). The series examines the shows and performances about their awards potential, most notably the Emmy Awards. Emmy nomination voting opens June 10 and closes on June 24. The official Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16 while the ceremony airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. All Emmy pieces run with the following schedule: Mondays (Dramas), Tuesdays (Network Spotlight), Wednesdays (Comedies), Thursdays (Network Spotlight), Fridays (Limited Series, Variety Series, Below-the Lines).
The Supporting categories at the Emmys are notoriously hard to predict. This year looks to be especially difficult. Of the seven nominees from last year’s Drama Supporting Actress lineup, only one remains eligible this year. Both last year’s winner (Thandie Newton – “Westworld”) and the previous year’s winner (Ann Dowd – “The Handmaid’s Tale”) are among those whose shows did not air new episodes this year. In fact, one has to go back to Uzo Aduba’s “Orange is the New Black” win in 2015 to find a former winner still eligible this year.
This is great news for Lena Headey in “Game of Thrones,” the lone nominee from last year able to return. After four previous nominations, Headey leads the field in terms of winning. “Game of Thrones” also looks to bring Maisie Williams her second nomination and Sophie Turner her first. After one gets past the three “Game of Thrones” women, the field opens up. Will they go for new blood, former nominees from years past or someone new from shows that have been on the air?
We’ve already talked about the strength of the women from “Game of Thrones.” In 2016, the show took up three of the six Supporting Actress slots. This year HBO hopes for the same, albeit with different nominees. Last year, former Supporting Actress nominee Emilia Clarke was moved to Lead Actress. Subsequently, she will compete in Lead again this year. HBO is only campaigning Lena Headey, Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner in the hopes all three will receive nominations. With such an open field and this being the final year of the show, it’s difficult to imagine any of them being snubbed.
Netflix saw both of its earliest, most popular shows end this year. “Orange is the New Black” has had a roller coaster ride with the Emmys over its seven season run. Supporting Actress contender Uzo Aduba, in particular, has received the most attention. Aduba won Guest Actress in a Comedy for the first season, while the following season the show shifted to Drama, where Aduba won Supporting Actress. The year after winning, Aduba was snubbed for the third season, but received another nomination for season four, only to be dropped from the lineup the next year for season five. Are even number years lucky for Aduba? We’ll find out if she makes it in this year.
Netflix’s “House of Cards” also ended its run this year, sans Kevin Spacey. While Robin Wright has a narrative in Lead Actress, the show’s Supporting Actress players might have a more difficult time. Patricia Clarkson is having a stellar year. Love for her in “Sharp Objects” might help her receive an additional nomination here for “House of Cards.” But if the voting body are looking to go with a movie star in one of their slots, they might go for Diane Lane for her role in the show.
The largest network show to look at in all categories is “This Is Us” on NBC. The show has been the lone network nominee in Drama Series since “The Good Wife” in 2011. The series started off strong in its first season, earning 10 nominations, including Chrissy Metz in this category. Last season, the show dropped to 8 nominations and Metz fell out of the category. The third season sports a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than the previous two season (94% vs. 91%), though ratings are down slightly year over year. Could Metz get back in? One other possible route is Susan Kelechi Watson, who could receive her first nomination for the series. Her character, Beth, was given even more to do this past season and she might be the show’s best chance in this category.
Speaking of “The Good Wife,” there’s always a chance its spinoff, “The Good Fight,” could sneak in here. It’s predecessor received nine nominations in this category between Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi. Baranski is the lead of “The Good Fight” and Panjabi is not on the spin-off. However, both Cash Jumbo and Audra McDonald have amassed quite a fanbase from their three seasons on the show. The Emmys have not taken a liking to CBS All Access shows. However, could this wide open Drama Supporting Actress race be the perfect way for “The Good Fight” to break in?
There are plenty of newcomers looking to take advantage of a field without many past nominees. FX’s “Pose” stands a great chance at getting into the Drama Supporting Actress race. The show is submitting five actors in this category – Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Charlayne Woodard, Kate Mara and Angelica Ross. Not all of them will make the final cut, especially if “Game of Thrones” holds three spots. Mara may be the most well-known of the five, but her role is less prominent than her aforementioned cast mates. Moore and Jackson stand the best chance of receiving a nomination. However, since both are relatively new, it may be more of an uphill battle. Moore, in particular, gives an impressive performance and could take the ingénue slot in the category. It also would be incredible to see either Moore, Jackson or Ross become the first transgender nominee in the Supporting Actress category.
If the Emmys go more towards veteran performers, it would be difficult to ignore Sissy Spacek in “Homecoming” on Amazon Prime. The Julia Roberts led series stands to be a big player in all Emmy categories. Spacek could ride the coattails of the show to a nomination. However, there was a thought she could do the same for “Bloodline” a few years back. While Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn were nominated (with Mendelsohn winning), Spacek was snubbed.
Netflix also has a few other freshman hopefuls this year. Emmy legend Gillian Anderson contends for a nomination for the series “Sex Education.” Meanwhile, recent Oscar nominee Mary J. Blige stars in “The Umbrella Academy.”
A pair of second season shows are looking to capitalize on early Emmy momentum from their first seasons. BBC America’s “Killing Eve” managed to receive Drama Actress (Sandra Oh) and Drama Writing nominations last year. These categories are essential for a smaller show to build momentum and break through in later years. With much more attention placed on season two, there is anticipation the series could find itself in more categories, like Drama Series and Jodie Comer in Drama Actress. However, if voters really fall in love with the show, Fiona Shaw could receive a boost in the Drama Supporting Actress category. Shaw is a beloved actress who has been in the business for quite some time. Nominating her work as Carolyn Martens, the head of MI6’s Russia division, would be a great career reward.
Netflix’s “Ozark” also wants to build on its Drama Directing and Drama Lead Actor (Jason Bateman) nominations this year. The main hopes are that the show could find itself in Drama Series and Drama Actress (Laura Linney), both of which seem likely. Julia Garner, however, emerges as a standout of season two. This category is going to be a major signal for which series was able to gain the most Emmy growth in season two – “Killing Eve” or “Ozark.”
FORMER LIMITED SERIES, NOW DRAMA SERIES
One of the biggest Emmy shakeups this year involves the category shift of certain shows. “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” and “The Sinner” have both been moved from the Limited Series categories to Drama categories. This could make the Drama Supporting Actress race even more fascinating to watch play out. While some viewers may think “American Horror Story” is past its prime, the Emmys continue to nominate the anthology series. In fact, of the seven seasons of the show, six of them received supporting actress nominations. Whether it be Oscar winners like Kathy Bates or rising stars like Adina Porter, the show almost always manages to break through. This year, FX is campaigning Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Emma Roberts, Adina Porter and Frances Conroy in this category. As of now, former nominee Conroy might have the best chance. Look out for any of these ladies to show up.
The same could also be said of Carrie Coon in “The Sinner.” The actress continues to receive rave reviews for her performances and many believe the Emmys owe her for a previous snub in “The Leftovers.”
GUESS THEY’RE CONTENDERS?
Fans of “Better Call Saul” have been banging the drum for Rhea Seehorn for a while. With a more open category, Seehorn could make her way for the fourth season of the show. This parallels Anna Gunn, who also did not receive a nomination for “Breaking Bad” until its fourth season.
When spots open up, one must look at former nominees who might come back to the category. “The Affair” may not have much Emmy traction, but the same could be said of Season Two, when Maura Tierney was nominated in the category. Tierney gives another incredible performance as Helen, in fact, her standout episode was recently nominated for a WGA award a few months ago. Could Tierney be back in Drama Supporting Actress?
Finally, the Emmys do love big movie stars and former Oscar winners. They’ve also been kind to Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” especially in the acting categories. This could bode well for Susan Sarandon in this category. However, Jon Voight’s snub last year could mean their love affair with “Ray Donovan” is over.
CURRENT BEST TELEVISION SERIES (DRAMA) PREDICTIONS
- Lena Headey – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
- Maisie Williams – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
- Sophie Turner – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
- Uzo Aduba – “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
- Julia Garner – “Ozark” (Netflix)
- Frances Conroy – “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” (FX)