Today the Emmy Awards got a bit more complicated and crowded — just like TV in general. The 2013 nominations, announced from Los Angeles this morning by Neil Patrick Harris and Aaron Paul, contain a number of significant nods to Netflix, a new outlet for original programming that falls well outside both the network, basic cable, and pay cable models.
The Internet streaming service won three major 2013 drama nominations, with political thriller “House of Cards” as best drama and two of its actors, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, as best actor and actress. Jason Bateman of Netflix’s fourth season of the resurrected “Arrested Development” was given a best actor nod in a comedy. Including writing, directing, and production categories, Netflix got 14 nominations in all, including two for its horror thriller “Hemlock Grove.”
With Netflix — and the idea of Internet distribution — now firmly ensconced in the Emmy mix, the definition of television is officially broader than ever. Now your show no longer needs to be “on the air” somehow in order to be celebrated by the powers that be.
Streaming is the new black.
The rest of this year’s nominees are decidedly familiar, though not disappointing. Worthy incumbents rule, with only a handful of new names joining the likes of Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Michelle Dockery, Jim Parsons, Elisabeth Moss, “30 Rock,” “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men” in the major categories. “Game of Thrones” is the most-nominated drama, with 16 nods including best drama.
And HBO, which airs “Game of Thrones,” is the most-nominated network, with 108 nominations in all, including 15 for the excellent Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” five for “Veep,” five for “Girls,” and 10 for “Boardwalk Empire” (which was not renominated for best drama). While Netflix is ascendant, HBO doesn’t need to worry — yet.
Kerry Washington of “Scandal,” Connie Britton of “Nashville,” and Vera Farmiga of “Bates Motel” bring some new blood to the category of actress in a drama, which includes seven names this year. And that’s great news, although Farmiga, in my opinion, remains indistinct and hammy as Norman Bates’s mother.
Unfortunately the voters did not include the best of the potential new blood: Tatiana Maslany, who plays a number of clones on “Orphan Black.” The show, which airs on BBC America, may be too culty for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences members, whose sensibilities tend toward the mainstream. If there is a major misstep this year, overlooking Maslany — who recently won a Critics Choice award — is it.
Jeff Daniels of “The Newsroom” is a nominee for best fast-walker-and-talker — I mean, best actor in a drama. He joins Spacey, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Damian Lewis, and Hugh Bonneville in the category.
“30 Rock” finished its seven-season run with a fantastic season, and 13 nods — the most of any comedy — to show for it. Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and Jane Krakowski were also honored. The other best comedy nominees are all accompanied by acting nods, too: “Louie” and star Louis C.K., “The Big Bang Theory” and Jim Parsons, “Girls” and Lena Dunham, and “Veep” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As always, “Modern Family” is nominated for best comedy and its actors crowd the supporting categories, with five nominees. Oddly, last year’s supporting actor winner, Eric Stonestreet, is not nominated, while Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, and Ed O’Neill are.
Did someone say snubs? “The Americans,” FX’s electric drama about Russian spies in 1980s America, got no major nominations, and neither did FX’s “Justified.” “New Girl” actors Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield were ignored, along with Jennifer Carpenter for “Dexter.”
In the movie or miniseries categories, the gothic “American Horror Story: Asylum” won the most nominations: 17 in all, including best actress for Jessica Lange. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in “Behind the Candelabra” are set to duke it out for best actor. Let’s just give it to Douglas right now, for his indelible turn as Liberace, a performance that puts his fellow nominee Al Pacino’s clownish interpretation of Phil Spector to shame.
The winners will be announced on Sept. 22, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.