Now that Emmy voting has begun, the full lists of competitors have been posted on the Television Academy’s website – and there’s a lot to be learned perusing the thousands of pages of lists, which detail who’s eligible in each category.
Among the presumed contenders who are missing in action: Michael J. Fox, a three-time guest-actor nominee for “The Good Wife,” who was not submitted for that show this year, along with Glenn Fleshler from “True Detective,” Robert Forster from “Breaking Bad” and Sarah Michelle Gellar from “The Crazy Ones.”
You can’t say they were snubbed: If a network or production company doesn’t submit an entry in a particular category, anyone can pay the entry fee and submit themselves.
Here are a few of the more intriguing, eye-opening and surprising things that can be learned from this year’s Emmy ballots.
1. It’s better to be competing in comedy than in drama.
While a full 86 series are competing for the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy, the field is even tougher in the Outstanding Drama Series category – in that brutally competitive category, 108 shows are going up against each other, including past winners “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” and “Homeland,” and HBO’s hot newcomer “True Detective.”
And in the acting categories, the numbers are all bigger on the drama side as well. Between lead, supporting, guest actors and actresses, the comedy side of the ledger sports 648 different eligible performances, while the drama side has 770.
If you eliminate the guest actor and actress categories, where comedy performers slightly outnumber dramatic ones, almost 60 percent of the Emmy contenders come from dramatic shows.
2. But it’s best of all to be competing as a made-for-television movie or miniseries.
Compared to drama and comedy series, movies and minis have it easy. Only 16 miniseries and 37 television movies are in the running for five nomination slots.
And those acting races are far less populated as well: Only 58 actors and actresses are competing in the movie/mini lead acting categories, as compared to 113 in comedy and 142 in drama.
3. It’s better to be a lead performer than a supporting one.
In every area, lead actor and actress entries are scarcer than supporting ones. In drama actor, it’s 86 leading performances to 264 supporting ones; in drama actress, it’s 56 to 169. Comedy is similar, with 113 lead performances to 313 supporting ones.
So while the odds of landing a nomination are against you if you’re a lead performer, they’re really against you if you’re part of the supporting cast.
4. Even with more than 1,500 performances in the running, people get left out.
Michael J. Fox is the year’s most eye-catching example of an actor expected to be in the running, particularly after two consecutive nominations for “The Good Wife.” But while Dylan Baker, Michael Cerveris, John Benjamin Hickey, Nathan Lane, Jason O’Mara, Carrie Preston, Jeffrey Tambor and Malik Yoba were all submitted for their work on that show, Fox was not. (He was, however, submitted for his lead role on “The Michael J. Fox Show.”)
5. “The Good Wife” was responsible for other surprises, too.
Fox’s absence wasn’t the only one that raised some eyebrows. Stockard Channing, Alan Cumming and Hunter Parrish were also considered likely contenders for the show, and all are missing from the ballot.
And in the writing category, fans of the show were left scratching their heads over the fact that only one episode, “The Last Call,” was submitted. On the impassioned GoldDerby.com forum, fans were quick to say that the show had made a huge mistake by not submitting the “Hitting the Fan” episode.
“WTF!” wrote one fan. “‘The Good Wife’ screwed itself out of a writing nomination and possible win.”
6. Just like at the movies, Hannibal Lechter takes a back seat to no one.
In the series “Hannibal,” Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays the villainous and brilliant Hannibal Lechter, the role for which Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for “Silence of the Lambs.”
Hopkins’ win was much-noted at the time, because his was essentially a supporting role: He was only in the film for about 15 minutes of screen time, but he was so dominant that he competed and won as a lead actor.
Likewise, Mikkelsen was considered a likely contender in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category, with Hugh Dancy a probable Lead Actor contender. But instead, both men are in the running in the lead actor category.
7. Some shows have bigger guest lists than others.
For years, Emmy nominations in the guest actor and actress categories were dominated by a few shows: “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” on the comedy side, “The Good Wife” on the drama side. We’re still seeing certain shows put forth big slates of candidates.
“Louie” for instance, sports six guest-actor candidates, and 10 guest-actress contenders. “Hot in Cleveland” is evenly divided, with seven male entries and seven female ones. “Modern Family” has a dozen contenders, “Girls,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Parks and Recreation” all have nine, and “Glee” eight.
And on the drama side, “Law & Order: SVU” has 13 entries, “Mad Men” has 10 and “Scandal” has nine.
8. For actors, there’s nothing wrong with a little double (and triple) dipping.
A lot of TV actors tend to guest-star on each other’s shows, so they end up being eligible in multiple categories. Andy Samberg is in the running for starring in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and also for hosting “Saturday Night Live”; Steve Buscemi is a lead-drama contender for “Boardwalk Empire,” but also a guest-comedy hopeful for “Portlandia.”
And June Squibb, fresh off receiving her first Oscar nomination at the age of 83 for “Nebraska,” now has three shots at an Emmy. She’s submitted as guest actress on “Girls,” “Getting On” and “Glee.”
But even Squibb isn’t as Emmy-worthy as comic actor Tim Conway. He’s in the running as a guest actor in three comedy shows – “Glee,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Two and a Half Men” – and also as drama guest for “Major Crimes.”
9. Playing yourself can be awards-worthy.
The Emmy ballot lists the name of the actor and the role he or she plays – and in the guest categories alone, the phrase “as himself” or “as herself” keeps popping up.
Prince, for instance, is eligible for playing himself on “New Girl” – and he’s joined by fellow singers k.d. lang (“Portlandia”), Sting (“The Michael J. Fox Show”), Patti LuPone (“Girls”) and Kenny Loggins (“Raising Hope”), all of whom played themselves.
Others in the running for doing a good job of being themselves include Zach Galifiakanis for “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” Tim Gunn for “How I Met Your Mother,” James Earl Jones for “The Big Bang Theory,” Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes for “The Real Housewives of Hollywood,” Kathy Griffin for “Kirstie,” Rob Lowe for “Franklin and Bash” and Adam Sandler for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
10. Writers are divided on whether they should risk splitting the vote.
The Emmy writing ballots are curious – because while many shows seem to feel that they should submit every notable episode, others stick with a single submission to avoid splitting the vote.
The single-episode believers this year include some real heavyweights: “Veep” in comedy, and “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “The Newsroom” and “True Detective” in drama.
On the other hand, “Justified” submitted 10 different episodes to lead all drama contenders, while “Wilfred” submitted nine in comedy. “The Americans,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “DaVinci’s Demons,” “Modern Family” and “The Walking Dead” all submitted eight.
In the miniseries-writing category, on the other hand, almost every mini (including the presumed favorite, “Fargo”) submitted a single episode, with the exception of “The White Queen,” which submitted four, “The Red Road” with three, and “Klondike” with two.
11. Now that the world of reality television has been split into three categories, things are pretty evenly divided.
For this year’s awards, the TV Academy opted to split the Outstanding Reality Program category into two different races, one for structured reality shows and one for unstructured ones.
Structured shows include “Antiques Roadshow,” “Celebrity Wife Swap,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” “MythBusters,” “Pawn Stars,” “Property Brothers” and “Undercover Boss,” because essentially the same thing happens each week; unstructured shows include “Deadliest Catch,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” “Teen Mom 2” and “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish,” in which we follow a continuing story.
By the way, does anybody not look at that admittedly edited list of unstructured contenders and think that past winner “Deadliest Catch” must feel pretty good about now?
Snarkiness aside, the ballot contains 40 structured reality programs, 53 unstructured reality programs and 48 reality-competition programs (“The Voice,” “American Idol,” “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor” … ), a remarkably even distribution.