2016 Emmy Consideration: USA Network’s ‘Mr. Robot’ and Rami Malek

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Last summer’s TV critical-darling “Mr. Robot” could not have come at a more auspicious time for USA, considering the network has experienced an Emmy drought for the last two years. It owes much to series creator and executive-producer Sam Esmail who has circumvented the network’s humdrum of procedural comedies and syndication of investigative shows and opted to work with material that is the incarnation of the zeitgeist, underscoring the lust for transparency that the internet generation pontificates about (usually on the internet). The show follows Elliot (Rami Malek), a young New York City computer programmer who moonlights as a white hat for a clandestine anti-establishment group – led by the enigmatic Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) – aimed at taking down E Corp, the show’s convenient attempt to collapse society’s most nefarious organizations and individuals into one company colloquially referred to as “Evil Corp.” At a time when cyber security has increasingly become a national debate, elections have given rise to political outsiders and conspiracy theories have become mainstream topics of conversation, it’s not hard to wonder why the show has amassed such a strong following since its premiere almost a year ago. “Mr. Robot” easily channels the state of unrest and paranoia that plagues those who wonder about the digital landscape and the unchecked power of those in positions of control. Whether you agree with the show’s anarchist principles or its “Down with The Man” platitude, “Mr. Robot” is incontrovertibly a series of its time. The question is whether it will be honored as such at this year’s Emmy Awards.

The last time USA received love from the Emmy’s was back in 2013, when it nabbed three nominations for the six-episode mini-series “Political Animals,” including a win for Ellen Burstyn in the supporting actress category for a mini-series or movie. Some of the network’s more popular series (“White Collar,” “Suits” and “Royal Pains”) get prodigiously ignored at awards shows, but “Mr. Robot” is gearing up to be the series that will break USA’s dry-spell and put it under the same serious contender discussions as other shows on Emmy-favored networks like HBO, Netflix and AMC. The series has already earned two Golden Globes this year for best drama series and earned Slater his first globe in the supporting actor category, while Malek was nominated for best actor. The series also won in all three aforementioned categories at the Critics Choice Awards earlier this year.

Malek and Slater are the two obvious choices for Emmy consideration, and while there are a few other actors that might surprise with nominations in the supporting and guest appearance categories (Martin Wollström, BD Wong, Carly Chaikin), it’s Slater who is a sure-bet and also likely to win – awards voters love a comeback. It would be nice to see Malek at least nab a nomination – he’s paid his dues working with venerable directors like P.T. Anderson and Spike Lee, while also being widely ignored in the indie-darling “Short Term 12” a few years ago, not to mention enduring (along with the rest of us) the “Night at the Museum” franchise. Malek plays his character Elliot – a widely misunderstood young man, battling social anxiety and coping with his vices – well, bringing an approachable vulnerability to Elliot’s aloof façade. But considering he’s up against big-time players, e.g., Kevin Spacey, Bob Odenkirk and the “American Crime” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” cast, his nomination might not happen. When it comes to the night’s biggest award, though, it would be egregious for “Mr. Robot” not to be nominated for best drama series. Whether it stands a chance at winning is another question. It’ll be up against contender-regulars like “Better Call Saul” (AMC), “Game of Thrones” (HBO), “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), while also facing possible competition from other rookie shows like “Jessica Jones” (Netflix). The show is also likely to be nominated for its directing and writing, with special consideration towards the first season’s finale “Zero Day” which revealed an intricately well-conceived plot twist. If you’re composing your Emmy ballots, bet on the top three predicted categories: Best Series, Actor and Supporting Actor. I predict Slater will win with the show possibly taking home the top prize and Malek probably being humbled with a nomination.

Possible nominations for “Mr. Robot” at this year’s Emmy’s include (for a Drama Series):

  • Best Drama Series
  • Best Actor: Rami Malek
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christian Slater
  • Best Supporting Actress: Carly Chaikin
  • Guest Actor: BD Wong
  • Best Directing
  • Best Writing

Check out the official Emmy Predictions and see where “Mr. Robot” ranks!