The Primetime Emmys are, by far, the most frustrating of the old-line awards shows. The television academy is prone to keep nominating once-great shows past their prime, ignoring great newcomers for too long and – even when it gets the nominations right – picking bizarre winners. Many TV fans await the Emmy nominations less with excited anticipation than with a sense of dread: Just how off-base will the nominations be this year?
That’s why the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations surprised in a mostly good way. There were some head-scratchers, to be sure, but the reasons to celebrate outweighed those for disappointment. The Florida film industry, still smarting from the Legislature’s rejection of tax credits aimed at keeping it competitive with states from Georgia to California, received good news in the form of two nominations for Netflix’ Florida-based series, Bloodline.
Kyle Chandler got a nod for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role as John Rayburn, the “good son” of an esteemed Florida Keys family, and Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of the family’s eldest, “black-sheep” son, Danny.
Though Netflix has proven its ability to get Emmy’s attention (House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are now perennial nominees), it was unclear whether Bloodline would be able to garner nominations. The show is deliberately paced, and the character development carefully nuanced, especially in the case of Mendelsohn’s Danny.
Chandler’s nomination was somewhat expected. He’s an established television actor with one Emmy win already under his belt (for Friday Night Lights), but Mendelsohn is a relative newcomer to American TV. Danny’s evolution comes slowly and subtly, so Mendelsohn’s performance is best appreciated when watched over a full season.
And therein lies one of Emmy’s biggest problems. Its manual for entry submissions is 70 pages long, and if voters limit themselves to formal submissions, they generally only get to watch a handful of episodes of a series. Still, Bloodline and its two standout performances penetrated the rules and captured the voters’ attention– and perhaps warmed ever so slightly what has been a cool relationship between the academy and Florida-based shows.
(At this point, we will note once again that we cover economic development, and we care most about the significant money generated by filming in Florida. So, The Golden Girls’ bazillion Emmy nominations from the 1980s don’t count for our purposes – the show may have been set in the Miami area but it was filmed in California. No offense to industry workers out west, but location filming has become very competitive and you all already get plenty of business. We’re all about the Florida dollars.)
The ultimate, iconic Florida television show, Miami Vice, briefly burned bright in the hearts of Emmy voters. The show this magazine counts as the best Florida-based show in TV history received 15 nominations and won four awards in its inaugural season. After that, though, the flame dimmed quickly. During the remainder of its six-year run, the show received only five more nominations and won no awards.
Another show on our Top Five best shows, Dexter nabbed most of its nominations and statues after the show’s first season, the only one where any filming took place in Florida. That year, it received three nominations and won two awards, both in technical categories.
Bloodline was No. 2 among our Top Five, so what about the other pair of shows on that list – Flipper and Gentle Ben? Well, they prove that terms like “beloved,” “iconic” and “treasured” are not synonymous with “award-winning.” Neither received a single Emmy nomination during their original runs in the 1960s. Both, however, received TVLand Award nominations almost four decades later.
In 2003, Flipper (the show) and its entire cast was nominated for “Favorite Pet-Human Relationship” but lost to Mr. Ed (the show). The following year Flipper (the dolphin) and Gentle Ben (the bear) were both nominated for “Favorite Fauna” but lost to Mr. Ed (the horse).
Seriously? Mr. Ed?
And now, to Burn Notice, the show we left off our original Top Five list (calm down everyone, the full mea culpa is coming later this summer). During its six years on the air, it received four nominations and had no wins. Most were in “lesser” categories, but one of the nominations was for Sharon Gless as “Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.”
As we said, the Emmys can be frustrating.