Categories blur as shows angle for Emmy Awards

  • By Lynn Elber Associated Press
  • Thursday, August 21, 2014 1:13pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

LOS ANGELES — If it walks like a drama and talks like a drama and yet calls itself a comedy, that’s just fine with the Emmy Awards.

But the audience for Monday’s ceremony may suffer momentary confusion when, say, the Netflix women’s prison saga “Orange Is the New Black” pops up as a nominee for best comedy series.

While the Emmys have included category-busters before, the 66th prime-time contest is an especially freewheeling one.

“The Emmys are being loosey-goosey about category placement,” said Tom O’Neil, author of “The Emmys” reference book and organizer of the Gold Derby awards website.

Such flexibility isn’t unusual when it comes to TV awards in Britain, where category definitions are less stringent and series formats are more fluid than in the United States, said Gareth Neame, the U.K. executive producer of PBS’ Emmy-winning “Downton Abbey,” a nominee once more.

“My view is all these producers, studios and (networks) are just giving their best shot to try to get their shows nominated, and what producer wouldn’t do that?” Neame said.

The tactic isn’t frivolous. Shows are angling to better their odds of winning TV’s top honor, which can bring not only prestige but also possibly more viewers— and attention that may usher in more viewers is what niche shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” crave.

Emmy bragging rights are another matter. With the explosion of acclaimed cable and online content, traditional broadcast networks are finding themselves shut out or lightly represented in the major categories including best drama and comedy series. Network stars are being elbowed aside, too.

NBC late-night host and ceremony host Seth Meyers is ready to take advantage of broadcasting’s plight.

“That’s a thing that I think everyone in the audience will be aware of, and being someone who’s on a broadcast network makes it a lot more fun to make jokes about than if I were someone on the cable side lording it over everyone,” he said, chuckling.

The decision by “Orange” to compete as a comedy despite its bleak setting puts pressure on four-time best-comedy winner “Modern Family.” The ABC series— vying for a record-tying fifth win (with “Frasier”) against a buzzy Internet newcomer— may look a lot less modern to Emmy voters.

The Netflix series already flexed its muscle at the creative arts Emmys held a week ago, when Uzo Aduba was honored as best guest actress in a comedy for her role as prisoner Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. She is the first online performer to win an Emmy.

Another apparent fish-out-of-water: Showtime’s dysfunctional family series “Shameless.” After coming up empty as a drama contender, it gained the TV academy’s OK to jump into the comedy pool and snared a lead comedy actor bid for William H. Macy.

The other comedy series contenders are “The Big Bang Theory,” ‘’Louie,” ‘’Silicon Valley” and “Veep.”

Shifting categories isn’t unprecedented. In the 1950s, “Father Knows Best” moved between comedy and drama and captured trophies in each, and “Moonlighting” did the same in the 1980s, O’Neil said. The academy tightened the rules in 2009, but obviously didn’t make them ironclad.

Offbeat interpretations of what a comedy may encompass presents a challenge for more than Emmy viewers.

“When you’re putting clip packages together for comedy series, in some instances it’s harder to find something to put into a clip package where someone would say, ‘Yeah, that looks like a comedy to me,”’ said Don Mischer, the ceremony’s executive producer.

HBO’s “True Detective” is unmistakably a drama, but one with miniseries trappings: a close-ended story and two movie-star leads (Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson) who have said they committed to just one season.

Because of a TV academy rule involving the show’s Writers Guild of America credit, however, it was eligible to compete as a series.

If “True Detective” nabs the top drama trophy, it would deny “Breaking Bad” a farewell hug for its final season. A McConaughey victory as best drama actor also would keep Bryan Cranston from tying Dennis Franz’s record of four wins in the category.

Other series competing for the best drama trophy are “Game of Thrones,” ‘’Downton Abbey,” ‘’House of Cards” and “Mad Men.”

The envelope, please

“The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards,” hosted by Seth Meyers, will be broadcast at 5 p.m. (Pacific) on NBC.

More in Life

Take a closer look: Winter gardens share gifts in subtle way

Go on a neighborhood walk this month to enjoy the seasonal beauty offered by a variety of gardens.

Great Plant Pick: Pinus contorta var. contorta, shore pine

What: Who is not impressed by the beauty and toughness of this… Continue reading

Red wine usually costs more, but you can still find bargains

Here are five good-quality reds that won’t drain your grocery budget.

Beer of the Week: Skull Splitter and Blood of My Enemies

Aesir Meadery of Everett and Whiskey Ridge Brewing of Arlington collaborated to make two braggots.

Jesse Sykes brings her evolving sounds to Cafe Zippy in Everett

She and Phil Wandscher make a return trip to a club that she values for its intimacy.

Compost: It’s what every gardener really wants for Christmas

A pile of decomposed and recycled organic matter is the gardener’s gift that keeps on giving.

Need a centerpiece? Plant paper-whites for December beauty

The white flowering plant brings the garden indoors in winter, even if the bulbs were never outside.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Ugly Sweater Party and Canned Food Drive at Whitewall: Marysville’s Whitewall Brewing… Continue reading

Student winners to perform concertos with Mukilteo orchestra

This annual show is a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association.

Most Read