Emmy voters confirmed Thursday morning that “Orange Is the New Black,” rewarding the Netflix series with a slot in the race for outstanding drama where it will go up against HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which leads all programming with 24 nods.
But the announcement offered an even more tantalizing possibility: That black is the new black.
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”) and Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) were nominated as best lead actress in a drama series. With last year’s winner Julianna Margulies shut out, along with most of her colleagues, that makes Davis and Henson strong contenders to strut to the podium when winners are revealed in September.
A win by either one would mark the first time an African-American has been victorious in the category.
Minorities also made an impressive showing in the race for outstanding actor in a comedy, with appearances by Don Cheadle of “House of Lies” (no surprise) and Anthony Anderson of “Black-ish” (big surprise). Minorities, however, were overlooked in the other major categories for series acting.
Diversity was also the key word when it came to honoring platforms. The absence of CBS’ “Good Wife” and Fox’s “Empire” meant none of the seven shows nominated for best drama came from network TV. PBS’ “Downton Abbey” is the only contender not to originate from cable or a streaming service.
Network TV fared slightly better in comedy with nods for NBC’s “Parks & Recreation” and ABC’s “Modern Family,” but Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” made an unexpected but welcome addition and Amazon’s “Transparent,” which already received a Golden Globe for best comedy, has to be considered an early front-runner. It leads all comedy contenders with 12 nods.
Speaking of front-runners: Is this the year the Emmys finally teach Jon Hamm to smile? The “Mad Men” actor has never taken home an Emmy, but with “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston out of the way and “House of Cards” nominee Kevin Spacey no longer the hot new “kid” on the block, Hamm stands a strong chance of becoming the first “Mad Men” performer to get to the winners’ circle.
If sentimentality is your bag, keep an eye on the race for outstanding variety series. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” have dominated this category for years, but don’t count out “The Late Show With David Letterman,” which gives voters one last chance to honor a TV legend.
Winners will be announced Sept. 20 during ceremonies on Fox hosted by Andy Samberg.