Gold Standard: Emmys 2014: ‘Orange’ fans can celebrate; ‘Thrones’ devotees: Not so fast

Hello, Emmy voters. Taylor Schilling here. Don’t you think it’s time for some new blood?
(Jojo Whilden / Netflix)

Emmy nominations have come and the field is now set. The dust has settled. The Tatiana (Maslany) torches have been extinguished and the pitchforks have been put back in the storage shed, right next to the Soviet flags hoisted by supporters of FX’s “The Americans.” (Nyet!)

And thanks to NBC’s unwavering dedication to avoid any September Sunday conflict with our national religion, the Emmys are crazy early this year, Monday, Aug. 25 to be precise. What do we have to look forward to (besides brutal humidity) 45 days from now? Here are five early Emmy questions and our early, admittedly knee-jerk answers.

Is “Modern Family’s” comedy reign over? Yes. And not a moment too soon.

Don’t get us wrong. It’s not that we don’t like the Dunphy and Pritchett families. We do. But after winning the comedy series Emmy for each of its four seasons, it’s time that Emmy voters recognized that there are fresher and funnier shows on the air. And, from yesterday’s evidence (no acting nominations for perennials Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet), television academy members might be itching for a change too, which probably has the makers of “Frasier” feeling like the 1972 Miami Dolphins. So, yes, “Frasier’s” record of five straight comedy series wins will likely stand. Rest easy, Kelsey Grammer.


So, what comedy inherits the throne? “Modern Family” might have lost last year had the comedy field not been composed mostly of smart, niche shows (“Veep,” “Louie,” “Girls,” “30 Rock”) that cannibalized one another’s votes. (If you dig one of those, you probably like the other three too.)

This year, there’s a clear alternative in “Orange Is the New Black,” which lands in the comedy category even though each episode contains plenty of deeply felt, dark drama. (I suppose one could same the same about “Louie” this year too.) Yes, it might be too edgy for some voters, not enough of a “comedy” to others. But with 12 nominations, there’s clearly strong support for “Orange,” which also just happened to unveil an even-better second season not all that long ago. This is a program that arouses passion. It feels like its moment is now.

Who’s this year’s Merritt Wever? You may remember Wever’s four-word Emmy acceptance speech (“I gotta go. Bye.”) more than the show for which she won the supporting actress comedy trophy. (“Nurse Jackie.”) Wever was the Emmy winner no one saw coming, even this guy, who figured Jane Krakowski would finally win for the last season of “30 Rock.”

Who might shock this year? Well, Julia Louis-Dreyfus can’t win every Emmy, which might mean the comedy actress prize could go to “Orange Is the New Black’s” Taylor Schilling, who has plenty of standout episodes that showcase her deft ability to walk the line between comedy and drama.


Really? You call that a surprise? OK. Then how about William H. Macy for comedy actor, a category that has gone to Jim Parsons three times for “The Big Bang Theory” and, like its lead actress counterpart, is probably ripe for a change. Macy finally found some Emmy love when “Shameless” shifted from drama to comedy and his wild, explosive work on the show could net an upset in a relatively wide-open set of nominees.

Can “Game of Thrones” plunder the drama series Emmy? Not a chance. Not even with a leading 19 nominations. “Thrones” stands as Emmy voters’ token genre show, the series they watch, (mostly) love and then ignore when the trophies are presented. In its first three seasons, “Thrones” won 41 nominations, taking 10 awards, but only one (for supporting actor Peter Dinklage) outside of the creative realm. Call them unchivalrous. Call them traitors. Call them unimaginative. But Emmy voters are willing to ride the dragon just so far before hopping off.

Begin plotting your revenge now.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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