Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood just pulled off another coup. “House of Cards,” his show about a conniving congressman, made history Thursday by becoming the first online series to score Emmy nominations in major categories including best drama, best actor (Spacey) and best actress (Robin Wright).
The success of “Cards” put another bullet in the already ailing body of broadcast TV, at least when it comes to being a provider of smart, challenging drama. Aside from PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” no show from a major network made the cut in Emmy’s most treasured category. In other words, the Academy is telling viewers that if you want quality TV, you better cough up enough dough to get cable or a Netflix subscription.
At least the financially challenged can still get free laughs.
CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” ABC’s “Modern Family” and NBC’s “30 Rock” all received nods for outstanding comedy, along with HBO series “Girls” and “Veep” and FX’s “Louie.” I was disappointed that “The Office” didn’t get recognized for its proper send-off. It’s also sad to note that “The Middle” still didn’t make the top, either in best comedy or for its performers.
Another disappointment was the lack of love for the drama“Orphan Black” and its star Tatiana Maslany, who played six different roles. What’s the magic number? Seven?
The biggest frustration: Fewer than 5 percent of the nominees in major categories were people of color, although let’s give the Academy voters credit for giving props to Kerry Washington for her delicious work in “Scandal.”
No minority actors are up for lead actor in a drama, which is shaping up to be the tightest contest. Rookie nominee Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom”) going up against Spacey, Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), three-time winner Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and last year’s champ Damian Lewis (“Homeland”). Anyone tempted to wager on this race would be better off betting wildly at the tracks.
Yes, it was a big morning for Netflix, with 14 nominations in all, including two for the horrow series “Hemlock Grove,” but not as huge as it had hoped. The company had campaigned aggressively for its resurrection of the cult comedy “Arrested Development,” which managed only to secure three nominations, including one for lead actor Jason Bateman. The truth is, “Development” didn’t deserve to be in contention against such daring shows as “Louie” and “Girls,” and the near-perfect comfort TV of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family.”
By the numbers, the early winners are FX’s “American Horror Story: Asylum,” which led all series with 17 nominations, the HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones,” with 16 nods, and HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra,” the Liberace biopic that locked up front-runner status in the miniseries/movie category thanks to nods for lead actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
The belle of the ball on Emmy night will be Elisabeth Moss, who will appear on the ballots for outstanding actress in a drama (“Mad Men”) and in a mini-series (“Top of the Lake”).
But when it comes right down to it, the day belonged to “Cards.” It’s a long shot to actually take home the top prize, but by breaking the traditional mold, it’s already a winner.