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).
We can utilize this space to talk about how “Game of Thrones” and how it looks like it will dominate every ounce of our media consumption. The event series has captured the hearts, imaginations, and attention from any casual television consumer. It’s season premiere set a record for HBO with 17.6 million viewers, nothing that we or Emmy voters will be ignoring.
The network will also give an admirable push to the freshman dramedy “Succession” from creator Jesse Armstrong along with the second season of “The Deuce” from creators George Pelecanos and David Simon. While the latter will have a more difficult time breaking into the Emmys race after pulling a donut for its inaugural year, “Succession” should be able to muster some strength with shows like “The Crown” sitting this year out.
“Succession” will also be an active play in the writing categories with a good possibility for acting mentions such as Matthew McFadyen, Kieran Culkin, and Brian Cox.
The network has its hands full when it comes laughs. “Veep” is back for its final season and from a 50,000-foot look, it’s the one to beat while “Barry” is back and better than ever, following “Game of Thrones” every Sunday. Both should cakewalk into a Comedy Series lineup easy while the new upcoming show “Sally4Ever” will hope to the beacon of hope for HBO’s comedy future.
“Silicon Valley” won’t be back until 2020 so perhaps HBO will find some room in their arsenal for strategic pushes for “Animals,” “Ballers,” “Insecure,” and the now-cancelled “Crashing.”
Also cancelled is “Camping” with Jennifer Garner that probably won’t factor anywhere but it’s always worth mentioning. Same goes for “High Maintenance” which was renewed but hasn’t been able to anything within not only Emmys, but any awards show.
AWARDS HISTORY AND PRECURSORS
HBO walked out of the 20th century with assurance when they received their very first Drama Series nomination in 1999 for their classic hit show “The Sopranos.” Since then, 23 more nominations have followed in the top category resulting in five historic wins. “The Sopranos” won in 2004 for its fifth season while after a two-year hiatus, won in 2007 for its sixth and final season. The other three wins came with the hottest show, also currently in its eighth and final season, “Game of Thrones.” The epic fantasy drama won in 2015, 2016, and after a one year skip, again last year in 2018.
Since this is the Emmys, we have to look at the whole picture, just as we would with the Academy Awards in an analysis. If we attempt to pull in data from the “precursors,” earlier awards that determine the direction of the race, it’s always been difficult due to the awards calendar for Emmys in comparison to the others. For the sake of analysis, we’re looking to the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and all the other significant guilds such as ACE Eddie, American Society of Cinematographers, Art Directors, Critics Choice, Cinema Audio Society, Costume Designers, Directors Guild of America, Motion Picture Sound Editors, Producers Guild of America, Television Critics Association, USC Scripter, Visual Effects Society, and Writers Guild of America.
It’s been fascinating to link the Emmy successes of the series with how its wiggled through the other groups. Looking at the major televised shows only, “Game of Thrones” has just won a single Golden Globe award in its run, and it was for the presumed current frontrunner, and three-time Emmy winner Peter Dinklage. More interesting, besides that sole nomination and win for Dinklage, only Lena Headey has been nominated from the cast. The show typically is only nominated for Best Television Series – Drama.
On the SAG Awards side, which is voted on by their peers, the film has never won the TV top prize for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. Dinklage has been nominated by the group four separate occasions with no luck, but it should be noted the HBO show has won the Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series seven consecutive years in a row.
With Critics Choice and its members of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (full disclosure: I’m a member on both the film and television side), it’s shown moderate success winning the Drama Series prize in 2016 and 2013 (where it tied with “Breaking Bad”).
With the Oscars, we would begin to look at DGA, PGA, and WGA for indicators of support. DGA awarded Miguel Sapochnik in 2017 for “Battle of the Bastards” and David Nutter in 2016 for “Mother’s Mercy.” Both are back for this current season with Sapochnik taking the helm for the untitled 8.3 and 8.5 episodes. Nutter has already shown his chops in the season premiere but also take duties for this week’s upcoming episode before turning it in with the May 5 episode. It’s safe to say, depending on decisions internally at HBO, co-directors and creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will be the ones to watch as they will be helming the series finale airing on May 19.
The multiple Emmy winning duo has only directed two episodes in the series existence, both have one of them uncredited: “Walk of Punishment” (Season 3, Episode 3) and “Two Swords” (Season 4, Episode 1).
PGA has only bestowed honor one time in 2016 while WGA has yet to reward a single season, even in the first year where it was also cited for New Series.
For the other drama series in contention, “Succession” pulled one single mention for Kieran Culkin at the Globes while it was snubbed at the SAG awards and mustered two nominations only from the Critics Choice group. Recent Oscar-nominated director Adam McKay (“Vice”) did win the DGA for his work on the episode “Celebration,” and he could pose a threat to other directors this year. We’ll see how much the TV Academy is into “Succession.”
LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE
Two separate categories but throwing them together, “Sharp Objects” will remain their focus with big pushes for Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. The third season of “True Detective” may have a bump in the road for the Limited Series category but fresh off his second Oscar-win for “Green Book,” Mahershala Ali should be able to muscle into the Lead Actor (Limited Series) easily.
The upcoming “Chernobyl” and “Room 104” may or may not pique their interests but “Brexit” and “Native Son” on the TV Movie side is sure to have people buzzing. The return to “Deadwood” has plenty excited so watch out for that one to make some noise with its long-awaited movie while “O.G.,” “My Dinner with Herve,” and “Icebox” will try to get noticed.
Variety Talk Series will be a race to watch this year overall but “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” remains a presumptive favorite across the board. It could sweep its way through the Emmys once again.
It’ll be interesting if the tense political climate will hurt “Real Time with Bill Maher” and make them look elsewhere. The controversial figure has made been cited with nominations before, but since it’s they’ve looked away since 2017, the late-night host has yet to take home a trophy.
On the Variety Sketch series side, “Tracey Ullman’s Show” is working two consecutive nominations to her favor and with seven Emmys under her belt over multiple categories, you can never count the woman out for another trophy.
THE NETWORK CONCLUSION
HBO is a beast on the circuit and this year; they have so much in their favor to make it a standout and big year.
In 2018, the network tied with Netflix for most overall wins, taking home 23 awards in total. While Netflix led nominations last year with 112, HBO was not far behind with 108. This year, they may finally have the goods to lead it all on sides of nominations.
“Game of Thrones” nabbed 22 nominations last year and there’s a really good chance they will top it when adding in multiple acting citations from various programs. I.e., Kit Harrington, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are all poised for Supporting Actor nominations while Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams are severe threats for four out of six spots in Supporting Actress. The send-off could be significant as is the case with all of them.