Emmy nominations arrive two weeks from Thursday, and there's the possibility we might see some fresh faces mixed in with the perennial favorites. (Really.) We gathered The Envelope's Buzzmeter panelists — USA Today's Robert Bianco, TV Guide's Matt Roush, The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff, the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara and Glenn Whipp and, when the focus is on predictions, Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil — to discuss this year's most intriguing races. We'll be back Friday the second part of the conversation.
HBO placed "True Detective" in the drama series category. Is that fair? Are you OK with a one-off like this competing alongside shows with recurring characters?
McNamara: I am more concerned with the continuing problem of 23-episode shows competing against 10-, 11- and 12-episode shows. That's really unfair. I do find it odd that "American Horror Story," which has something of a contiguous cast, is a miniseries, but
Bianco: It's "fair" because the academy has allowed it to happen, and the academy sets the rules. But it's not appropriate. "True Detective" was a closed-ended, eight-episode project without a story or a cast that continues. It's a miniseries and should be competing in the miniseries category. Where it would have lost to "Fargo."
VanDerWerff: Honestly, I wish the
O'Neil: The distinctions between miniseries and drama series are now -- officially -- a mess. The academy needs to get tough and enforce the obvious: If a TV series plans to come back next year with more than six episodes featuring the same characters, it's a drama series. Period.
Roush: It's fair because the rules say it's fair. But it's dishonest. "True Detective" was an eight-hour, self-contained miniseries. HBO might not have wanted this (especially
Whipp: As much as I appreciate the networks and, by its lack of action, the television academy, providing us with some interesting Emmy fodder, the anything-goes attitude makes everyone look silly. Ten-episode "Fargo" is a miniseries, but "True Detective," with two fewer episodes, is a drama series? Check. What's next? Shows jumping between comedy and drama from year to year? (Wait.
Most deserving lead acting nominee from a new show:
Roush: Schilling, though I'd be more inclined to root for her if her performance were being considered in the drama, not comedy, category. The other actors on this list were already fairly well established (though Virginia Masters is also a breakthrough for the marvelous Caplan) — but the role of Piper has put Schilling on the map, deservedly.
Whipp: It's a great class, but I'll go with Caplan, who finally found a project worthy of her.
VanDerWerff: Taylor Schilling, no doubt, though Michael Sheen comes close. People rag on Schilling sometimes as being the least interesting thing about "Orange," but that's rather by design. Piper Chapman is unlikable, for sure, but that's because the series needs her to be. Schilling is expert at playing someone we react to viscerally, while maintaining just enough of our empathy.
Bianco: Isn't that a tough one? Go with Samberg, because he easily could have given a bigger, smugger, less generous, more "SNL" performance that would have sunk the series – and he didn't.
McNamara: Lizzy Caplan, hands down. She (and co-star
Emmy voters are notoriously creatures of habit. What habit do they need to break?
VanDerWerff: It's time to drop some of the
O'Neil: Emmys need to break the habit of using a popular ballot to determine nominees. That only guarantees the return of the most popular contenders over and over again. They should use judging panels just like they use for round two of voting to pick winners.
McNamara: Snubbing genre shows. That Tatiana Maslany was not nominated last year for her amazing, unparalleled performances in "Orphan Black" is proof positive of the weird snobbery with which the Academy views sci-fi and fantasy. That had best be different or people will take to the streets. And not just for Maslany; Jordan Garvaris and the writers deserve recognition as well.
Bianco: Nominating shows based on their ad campaigns and mailers rather than on their quality. And relying on ad campaigns and mailers because they don't actually bother to watch TV during the season.