Today, June 21st, the first stage of the Emmy Nomination process ends. Getting nominated for an Emmy Award is not an easy task, and the entire process is ludicrously complicated this year. To help you follow the process as it unfolds over the next month, here’s a rundown on how the decision is made and who benefits from each stage.
Stage One: The Popular Vote
How it Works: Voters select their favourite candidate from all individuals who have submitted themselves for nomination. They read For Your Consideration ads, watch screeners, but in the end likely just pick who they like.
Who it Benefits: Shows that are either perennial nominees or extremely buzz-worthy, and actors that are well-known in Hollywood. Shows like The Sopranos or Desperate Housewives are guaranteed to do well at this stage because they have star power and award show history. Thus, voters don’t really even need to see what these candidates have to offer, they just assume they’re really good. Much hyped new shows, like Heroes and Ugly Betty, will also benefit.
Who it Harms: Ratings-deprived, critically acclaimed programs without any of the above, and actors or actresses who lack star power. While a show like critically acclaimed 30 Rock has a lot of star power (Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey), Friday Night Lights does not and will not perform well at this stage of the competition. Similarly, a show like Jericho lost so much steam in the post-hiatus period that it is unlikely to be on voters’ minds, even with the recent campaign to save it.
Stage Two: The Top 10 Run-Off
How it Works: The Top 10 series from the popular vote are isolated and screened in front of a blue ribbon panel. Each show/actor/actress selects an episode that will be screened for the panel if it makes the Top 10. They also prepare a short written statement explaining their show and the episode in context with the show. For example, should Lost make the Best Drama Series panel (Count on it), they will be screening the season finale, “Through the Looking Glass.”
Then, each member of the panel will rank the shows from 1 to 10, and a final ranking will be decided.
Who it Benefits: Shows that are actually, you know, good, and actors or actresses who submitted great episodes. This is the stage where a show like Friday Night Lights or 30 Rock will likely perform better, along with actors or actresses who might not be seen by much of the panel (Such as Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights). It will also benefit shows like Showtime’s Dexter, and its star Michael C. Hall, who haven’t been seen by as many voters.
Who it Harms: Actors or Actresses who submitted the wrong episode or who only made it due to their pedigree or popularity. Someone like Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men will make the Top 10 based on the popularity of his show, but getting a nomination will be more difficult since he might pale in comparison to Steve Carell, Alec Baldwin, etc.
Stage Three: The Final Tally
How it Works: The final nominations are decided by taking the Popular Vote data, the Blue-Ribbon Panel data and then combining them together. Each is worth 50%, and after that process the nominees are decided. This differs from last year, where the blue ribbon panel had final say.
Who it Benefits: The popular vote winners. Unlike last year, shows that are popular and well-known but not all that good can still perform well and be nominated thanks to the popular vote still being counted towards the final nominations.
Who it Harms: Shows like Friday Night Lights, to beat a dead horse. The series is unlikely to rank much higher than 10th, if even in the Top 10, of the popular vote. As a result, it would need to do extremely well within the panel in order to be nominated.
Stage Four: The Nominations
How It Works: On July 19th the nominees are finalized and announced to the public. And then the voting begins again, this time with the prize being an Emmy award.