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Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 Emmy Questions: Homeland

Click here for the introduction to The Cover 3's "2014 Emmy Questions" series

COLD, HARD LOCK NOMINATIONS: Best Actress (Claire Danes)

EDUCATED GUESS NOMINATION: Best Supporting Actor (Mandy Patinkin)

FULL DISCLAIMER: I have seen the first two seasons of Homeland, but I stopped watching its third season (the one that's Emmy eligible in 2014) four episodes into it because it was just not good anymore. I absolutely loved its rookie season and publicly applauded its Emmy wins, but Season 2 took a big step back for me and Season 3, well, you kind of know my thoughts on its third season. I'll do my best to make this post as objective, but...

QUESTION ONE: How many nominations will Homeland lose in 2014?

OK, that's most certainly not a fair way to phrase my first question, but I do think that Homeland is going to be the biggest loser come Emmy nomination time this year. Not only are there just too many good dramas that are out there right now, but I think Homeland has dipped in quality too much that it ceases to deserve nominations. However, my personal feelings aside, this post is meant to be objective. So let's objectively look at Homeland.

In 2011, Homeland's rookie year, Metacritic ranked the Showtime show as the second best television show of the year, just behind Breaking Bad. In 2012, Homeland's sophomore season, Metacritic ranked the show as the third best television show of the year, right behind Breaking Bad and Mad Men. I think it's safe to say that Homeland's quality stayed the same between 2011 and 2012 according to critics. In 2013, the season that's Emmy eligible, Metacritic didn't have Homeland ranked in its top 20. Out of the 61 top 10 lists Metacritic used to compile its rankings, only 6 T.V. critics had Homeland ranked in their top 10.

Another compilation of TV critics is' Annual Television Critics Poll. The poll has only run for the past couple of years, so unfortunately Homeland's rookie season isn't taken into account. However, in 2012, Hitfix ranked Homeland has the second best show of the year, one spot behind Breaking Bad and one spot above Mad Men. In 2013, Homeland dropped all the way down to 20. Out of about the 50 or so critics included in Hitfix's poll, only 9 ranked ranked Homeland inside their top 10, and only 2 ranked Homeland inside their top 5.

Homeland's decrease in quality couldn't have come at a worst time for the show. We live in what I call The Silver Age of Television, which is characterized by quantity. There are just so many good TV shows airing right now! Last year saw 2-time Outstanding Drama Series nominee Boardwalk Empire drop out of the running to be replaced by Netflix's House of Cards. This year, someone else needs to drop out to make way for HBO's True Detective. I believe True Detective will dominate the Emmy nominations, but I'll go into more detail on that on a later post. Even if True Detective doesn't earn any nominations, Homeland still has to compete with its network co-star Masters of Sex (#8 on Metacritic's list and #5 of Hitfix's list) as well as other great dramas like FX's The Americans and CBS's The Good Wife. Maybe HBO's Boardwalk Empire regains its nomination again! Although that's wishful thinking on my part, you still need to be on your "A" game to keep your nominations, and I think because of the dip in quality, Homeland loses nominations.

I think this dip in quality will not only hurt its chances to win Outstanding Drama Series, but also Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (See QUESTION TWO below), any writing or directing nominations, and possibly even Morena Baccarin's Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nomination (although Baccarin's competition is much weaker than in the other categories Homeland will attempt to compete in).

QUESTION TWO: Will Damien Lewis earn an Emmy nomination in 2014?

In 2012, Damien Lewis won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, beating out incumbent Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Internet favorite Jon Hamm (Mad Men). At the time I didn't have a problem with the win because Lewis' acting throughout Homeland's first season truly was the best of the year. My concern came a year later where Lewis again earned an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nomination when it felt like the only reason he was nominated was because he won the year before. Similar to Homeland itself, I don't believe the Emmy's feel they have an obligation to nominate Damien Lewis again because of the obvious dip in quality (see: above). Plus, the Emmy's have shown us in years past, like what they did to two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet's (Modern Family) non-nomination in 2013, that it won't hesitate to "bench" an Emmy winner.

The first concern for Damien Lewis is which category will he be nominated in. For the past two years he was nominated in the Lead Actor category because, Lewis' Brody was actually a lead actor during the show's first two seasons. However, Brody was clearly a supporting character in Season 3. Nicholas Brody didn't even show up until Episode 3 of the season. Because I stopped watching after the dumb plot twist in Episode 4, I have no idea how many episodes Damien Lewis actually appeared in, but he wasn't in 3 out of the first 4. There is no objective measurement that you can show me to convince me that Damien Lewis was a lead actor in Season 3.

Luckily for Lewis, and unfortunately for us, it really doesn't matter that Damien Lewis wasn't a lead actor as long as Homeland tells us he was a lead actor. Showtime and Homeland get to decide what category they want their actors to get nominated in, and the show has every incentive to do what they can to game the system. Mandy Patinkin earned a nomination last year for his work on Homeland in the Supporting Actor category, and I can't imagine Showtime wanting Patinkin and Lewis to compete against each other in the same category. It's possible that Patinkin submits as a Lead and Lewis as a Supporting Player so the two, for all intents and purposes, swap. However, Showtime has to balance that out with the risk of Patinkin losing future nominations down the road. I think no matter who Showtime and Homeland chose to nominate in the Best Lead Actor category, that person will fail to earn a nomination because Matthew McConaughey (True Detective) needs to knock SOMEBODY off, and Homeland is the easiest target. 

I'll be curious to see how Showtime and Homeland actually decide to nominate Mandy Patinkin and Damien Lewis and if they're even considering the same things I am. They could put very little thought into this and just do what they've done the past two years. Maybe they'll be honest and won't nominate anyone in the Lead Actor category. They also might not feel True Detective is as much of a threat as I do considering Damien Lewis, as well as the show itself, are freaking Emmy winners. No matter what they do though, I think Damien Lewis' Emmy nomination is in jeopardy. If he's a Lead Actor he'll lose out to Matthew McConaughey and if he's a supporting actor he'll lose out to Mandy Patinkin. 

QUESTION THREE: Will Homeland earn any writing or directing nominations in 2014?

In 2012, Homeland's pilot episode earned it a directing and writing nomination. In 2013, Homeland ran one of the best episodes of the year entitled "Q&A", which involved Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and the CIA's interrogation of Nicholas Brody. It was one of those "holy fucking shit this episode is fantastic" type of episodes that destroyed the internet. In turn, that episode earned Homeland another writing and another directing nomination. Truthfully, I don't know if Homeland ran a "holy fucking shit" internet breaking episode in 2013. Maybe its Season 3 finale which drew the biggest ratings the show has ever seen? It might have, but I think the dip in overall quality during its last season (See: QUESTION ONE) plus Breaking Bad's final season will put a damper on Homeland's parade.

Let's start with the directing categories. Breaking Bad aired two Holy-Shit-Internet-Breaker episodes (its actually finale of "Felina" and the true end to its story "Ozymandias") and True Detective aired one Holy-Shit-Internet-Breaker episode, its fourth episode entitled "Who Goes There". Tim Van Patten is a juggernaut in this category, and I think he's a lock to earn a nomination for his work on Boardwalk Empire's Season 4 finale. That just leaves one open slot. While Homeland is most certainly in the running, I think it has to compete with Alfonso Cuaron and his direction of the NBC pilot of "Believe." While I think even the Homeland haters would agree that Homeland is a better show than some random, failed NBC show, the Emmy's have Little Brother Syndrome when it comes to big name Hollywood guys. Oscar-nominee David Fincher (House of Cards) won Best Director last year and Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese (Boardwalk Empire) won this category two years ago. I'd be surprised if the 2014 Oscar winner for Best Director wasn't nominated. Even if Homeland did beat out Alfonso Cuaron, it would still have to compete with Game of Thrones (the HBO epic earned a nomination in this category 2 out of the past 3 years) plus possibly a 3rd Breaking Bad episode.

As for the writing categories, Homeland still has to compete with Breaking Bad along with Mad Men (who are both just as likely to earn two nominations a piece), one True Detective episode, and maybe a Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey episode. Again, it's certainly possible since Homeland has been nominated twice before that it will earn another one again, but a dip in overall quality just hurts everybody. It's like the opposite of a rising tide lifts all boats.

QUESTION FOUR: Will Claire Danes three-peat at this year's Emmy's?

The only person who is absolutely guaranteed an Emmy nomination from Homeland is the show's lead star: Claire Danes. For her, it's not a question of if she will get nominated, but if she'll win. I absolutely think she'll three-peat, and she's at minimum the favorite. The only reason I even bring this up, is because I recently did a study that suggests it is extremely difficult to win three straight Emmy's in a row and Danes isn't the only actress attempting to three-peat. But despite the 60+ years of Emmy history, I believe Claire Danes will win her third Emmy in a row for playing Carrie Mathison. 



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