Emmy frontrunners include ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Homeland,’ ‘Game of Thrones’

Written by Max Ehrenfreund

The nominations for 2013 Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, with Netflix’s “House of Cards” becoming the first online-only show to receive a nomination in the prestigious award for best drama series:

Analysts have long heralded the movement toward “cutting the cord,” meaning canceling cable subscriptions in favor of getting what’s still quaintly called “television” through Internet services such as Hulu, YouTube and Netflix. But many popular and critically acclaimed shows were not available through those services or arrived only after the original broadcast time. Devoted fans kept their cords intact.

The move by Netflix to produce its own shows has upset the equation, especially now that it has made good on its goal of developing high-quality series in the model of premium cable channels such as HBO. Many analysts expect the Emmy nominations for Netflix to encourage more companies to produce their own shows and prompt those already experimenting — such as Amazon.com, which is developing several new series — to expand their ambitions.

“It is a watershed moment for video content,” technology industry analyst Carl Howe of Yankee Group said. “We’re now starting to see awards that don’t pay attention to how content is distributed. . . . What the awards people are saying is: We don’t care anymore.” Craig Timberg and Max Ehrenfreund

“House of Cards” was one of several shows set in Washington nominated for recognition, which also included:

“Homeland” (Showtime): Last year’s champion continued to dominate the drama category, as the CIA nailbiter was nominated for best drama, in addition to actors Claire Danes and Damian Lewis (lead) for their work in a love-and-terrorism storyline. Plus, Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin (supporting), and Rupert Friend (guest actor). Last year the show knocked off four-time winner “Mad Men,” while Damian Lewis triumphed over “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston. Repeats seem very possible this year. . . .

“Scandal” (ABC): Kerry Washington landed a lead drama actress nod for her work as the fearless Olivia Pope (based on D.C. fixer Judy Smith) in the only breakout broadcast hit of the season. Plus, Dan Bucatinsky, who plays the all-suffering chief of staff’s husband, grabbed a nom for guest actor in a drama. . . .

“Veep” (HBO): Emmy favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus — last year’s winner — predictably showed up in comedy lead actress category for her role as the harried vice president, but two of her co-stars also got some attention, as Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky each scored noms in the comedy supporting actor and actress categories, respectively. Plus, the show scored another for best comedy. Emily Yahr

Find a complete list of nominations here. Watch Emily Yahr discuss the shows about Washington below:

Emmy nominations show love for D.C. shows

The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr discusses this year’s highly anticipated Emmy nominations, which included heavy recognition for Washington-based shows and Netflix series. (Nicki DeMarco and Emily Yahr/The Washington Post)

The nominations included a few surprises :

One nod that caught attention was a supporting actor in a comedy for Adam Driver, who plays the slightly unhinged boyfriend of Lena Dunham’s character on HBO’s “Girls.” Driver — who made news this season when he appeared in one of the most sexually explicit scenes on TV in recent history — did not seem like one of the most likely actors to make the list. And yet, there he is, in the company of the “Modern Family” guys (except Eric Stonestreet), “Saturday Night Live’s” Bill Hader and “Veep’s” Tony Hale.

Speaking of unusual categories, the one featuring the biggest overhaul was lead actress in a drama, which featured three first-timers: Kerry Washington (“Scandal”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) and Vera Farmiga (A&E’s “Bates Motel”). Connie Britton joined the gang from “Nashville,” though she has, of course, been nominated twice previously for “Friday Night Lights.” . . . Meanwhile, “Game of Thrones” racked up the nominations, with 16 overall. One surprise? That Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, was one of the people out of the show’s massive cast to nab an acting nomination, for supporting actress in a drama. Emily Yahr

Perhaps no one was surprised when the sixth season of “Mad Men” was nominated in the drama category, but Hank Stuever argues the show doesn’t deserve consideration:

Some viewers thoroughly enjoyed the slow and more-dour-than-usual unraveling of the Don Draper epic, treating the season as a necessary layover to the final destination, next year, when Don, et al, will likely crash-land on 1970. Only in the season’s finale did any of our time investment pay off, when Don melted down in a meeting with Hershey’s chocolate executives and was forced to take a leave of absence from SC&P.

As a television critic, I’ve never had more readers and colleagues try to pull me into a concerned talk about a show’s current condition. “Something’s wrong,” one friend mulled, sadly.

“Something beyond what’s supposed to be wrong?” I asked. “Their world was always meant to fall apart.”But I get what she was saying. Season 6 seemed to be standing in place. The hallucinatory aspect was intriguing (and apropos, given the 1968 setting), letting you wonder just how much of it was really happening versus how much of it might be a trip. The show’s knack for verisimilitude – for all-encompassing era-replication – seemed to flag. It was strange to see “Mad Men,” with all its styling expertise, make mistakes with “hippies” and counter-cultural types, whose wigs and clothes made them look more like trick-or-treaters. I’m on record as a being a fair-weather fan of “Mad Men.” My favorite season was 2012, a.k.a 1966 (a.k.a “Zou Bisou Bisou”), when it seemed to be hitting all its best notes, from ennui to humor to surprise, and had what for “Mad Men” passes as momentum. I find it a hard show to root for when things just grind to a halt. Another nomination for outstanding drama feels less like an honor and more like a habit. Hank Stuever

Some of those who did not receive nominations included Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black,” and Jennifer Carpenter of “Dexter.” See stills from the nominated shows below.

 
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