Good nominations are not enough.
But first, let's remember the good news: The Emmy voters did a much better job with their nominations this year, offering a slate that is more reflective of both TV’s best work and America’s diverse population than ever before. There were first-time series nominations for FX's The Americans (finally), ABC's Black-ish and USA's Mr. Robot, and acting nominations for Emmy newcomers such as Aziz Ansari, Tracee Ellis Ross and Rami Malek — just to name a few of the fresh shows and faces that broke Emmy’s old nomination-by-habit routine.
But that’s only half the battle. Choosing an interesting, inclusive list of nominees doesn’t do much good if you end up with the same winners as you did the year before — which in most of the series categories is a possibility verging on probability. That doesn’t mean voters should reject clearly superior work just because it was superior last season, too — one of the great joys of continuing series is that they are new again every season. But it does mean that, all things close to equal, voters might want to spread the wealth.
Look at the Best Comedy and Best Drama races under that light, and the conclusion should be that repeat wins for HBO's Veep and Game of Thrones would be a mistake. Yes, both series had strong years, but the series field today is simply too competitive to allow any show to establish the kind of winning run Modern Family did in the first half of the decade. These are both fine shows, but they’re not so obviously the “best” shows that they each deserve a second straight Emmy.
What shows should take their place? On the drama side, it’s a very hard choice between The Americans and Mr. Robot, vastly different series that share a view of the world as a place where no one can be fully trusted. I’d go with Americans if only because it’s been waiting for its turn longer and has proven to be more consistent, but a Mr. Robot win certainly would not disappoint.
On the comedy side, the race is far more competitive, which makes the choice even harder. A case can be made for any of the nominees, but cut it down to
What will voters do? My guess is they’ll once again pick Veep and Game of Thrones,which may not be the best choices, but at least they count as good ones.
Like it or not, that may have to be good enough.
The Americans (FX)
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Robot (USA)
Should win:The Americans
Will win: Game of Thrones
Master of None (Netflix)
Modern Family (ABC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Should win: Black-ish