Emmy voters have until 10 p.m. PT on Monday to cast their nominating ballots for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards.
We’ll know what they picked on the morning of July 14, when nominations are announced — but until then, here are some of the things we’re wondering about.
1. How adventurous will voters be in nominating new shows?
For years, one of the most disconcerting things about the Emmys has been the reluctance of its voters to move beyond the same group of shows and performers who receive nominations year after year. That’s understandable, since good shows don’t usually stop being good, but it leaves little room for new shows to crash the party.
Last year, Emmy voters loosened up a bit, letting in “Better Call Saul,” “Transparent” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in the comedy and drama series categories. But they didn’t let in “Black-ish,” “Jane the Virgin,” “The Affair,” “Empire,” “Last Man on Earth,” “Togetherness,” “The Knick” or other new shows that were nominated by Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards voters.
This year, the new shows competing for attention include “Mr. Robot,” “Master of None,” “Narcos,” “Casual,” “Blunt Talk,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Scream Queens,” “Catastrophe” and “UnRreal.” Realistically, the best most of them can hope for is a couple of nods in the acting, writing or directing categories, though “Mr. Robot” has a very good chance of landing a series nom in drama, and “Master of None” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” could sneak onto the comedy-series slate.
2. How well will voters keep up with the plethora of new short-form shows?
The short-form categories were expanded this year to include performer categories, because, the Television Academy said, the form had exploded in recent years. But can voters really keep current with the sheer number of eligible shows?
Almost 100 different short-form series are competing, including three series categories: Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, Outstanding Short Form Variety Series and Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series.
Every voting member of the Television Academy is eligible to cast ballots in those categories. The question is whether they’ll have the bandwidth to explore the field fully, or will be drawn toward the short-form shows that have the biggest names (“Alec Baldwin‘s Love Ride,” “Coach Snoop,” “Great Minds With Dan Harmon,” “Jay Leno‘s Garage,” “Making a Scene With James Franco,” “Park Bench With Steve Buscemi“) and ones that are tied to other familiar long-form shows (“Behind the Voice,” “Chopped After Hours,” “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462,” “Gay of Thrones,” “Hack Into Broad City,” “Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters,” “Molly From the Bachelor,” “UnREAL The Auditions”).
3. Will vote-splitting hurt any shows?
The Emmy submission process allows entries from companies and from individuals — and in the writing and directing categories, where individual episodes are submitted rather than entire series, that means you can have a large number of entries from the same show.
“Fear the Walking Dead,” for instance, entered 11 of its 15 Season 2 episodes in the drama-writing category. “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” entered nine different episodes in the comedy-writing race and six episodes in comedy directing; “Better Call Saul” has seven episodes competing in writing and nine in directing.
Other shows that gave voters a lot of options include “Modern Family” (eight episodes in comedy writing), “Homeland” (nine writing, six directing), “Girls” (six writing, six directing), “Survivor’s Remorse” (five writing, seven directing), “Turn and Catch Fire” (eight writing, seven directing) and “Vinyl” (six writing and seven directing, including episodes from Martin Scorsese, Mark Romanek and Carl Franklin).
So will voters know which of the 11 “Fear the Walking Dead” episodes are the worthiest, or will they throw up their hands and move onto a show that only put one horse in the race? Shows that put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak, included “Angie Tribeca,” “Baskets,” “Black-ish,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Master of None” in comedy writing, and “The Americans,” “Bloodline,” “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife,” “The Knick,” “The Leftovers,” “Mr. Robot” and “Scandal” in drama writing.
4. Which limited series on race relations will do the best?
Almost 40 years ago, the original “Roots” miniseries set an all-time Emmy record with 37 nominations, of which it won nine. The franchise is back in the race with this year’s remake — but it is facing strong competition from another miniseries that deals with race in America, FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
Between those two shows and ABC’s “American Crime,” it’s likely that the topic of race will figure heavily in the limited series categories, but the heat around “O.J.” (which was given a boost by the recent ESPN documentary miniseries, which won’t be Emmy-eligible until next year) might well overshadow “Roots,” despite its historic predecessor.
5. Which longtime favorite will drop off the ballot?
Past winner “Homeland” landed a series nomination last year after falling out of the top category the previous year; its position isn’t secure this year despite a well-received Season 5. “The Good Wife” was nominated for its first two seasons, but it hasn’t cracked the category sine 2011; this season will be its final shot at the award.
On the comedy side, “The Big Bang Theory” had four straight years in the top category until last year, when its streak ended, while “Modern Family” won the Outstanding Comedy Series award during its first five consecutive years before losing to “Veep” last year. But “Modern Family” still landed a nomination — and with regular nominee “Louie” on hiatus, it might be able to do so again this year.
Still, it’s a good bet that somebody we’re accustomed to seeing in the top categories is going to be left out. The only real question: Who?