Faced with the prospect that Netflix is radically and permanently upending the television industry, networks have been frantically searching for a way to keep the streaming service at bay. On Monday night, they found an unexpected savior—Emmy voters.
While Netflix entered this year’s Emmy race with an impressive 31 nominations, and picked up seven wins at last week’s Creative Arts Emmy ceremony, the network came up empty during Monday night’s 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. No wins for Orange is the New Black, none for House of Cards, nada for Ricky Gervais’s Derek.
These shows weren’t the only Emmy frontrunners left in the cold: HBO received only a fraction of its expected wins after Matthew McConaughey and his True Detective co-nominees failed to defeat the Breaking Bad juggernaut, aside from a directing trophy (Bad added five final Emmys to its tally), and The Normal Heart, Veep and Game of Thrones got far fewer wins than had been expected. Thrones, in fact, was shut out entirely…or perhaps we should call it “Netflixed.”
Netflix seemed primed for a big night, after last week’s Creative Arts wins seemed to indicate that Orange is the New Black would be lauded. Host Seth Meyers acknowledged Netflix’s expected big night in his opening monologue when he joked, “Not very nice when someone younger comes along, is it, cable?” And Netflix was at the center of one of the evening’s early highlights: a hilarious commercial that ran during the telecast in which Gervais crossed paths with characters from House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. It was supposed to be the first of many memorable Netflix moments on Emmy night. But it turned out to be the only one.
Instead, Emmy voters opted to embrace TV’s past instead of its future, awarding — again — previous winners like Jim Parsons, Allison Janney, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jessica Lange and The Amazing Race. In fact, all of the trophies handed out during the ceremony’s first hour went to repeat winners. And most depressing at all, Television Academy members bypassed edgy comedies like Orange, Veep and Silicon Valley to award to the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy to, sigh, Modern Family — for the fifth year in a row.
Who are these voters, exactly? It’s impossible to tell. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), which oversees the Primetime Emmys has more than 16,000 members split into 29 “peer groups.” But only a small portion of those members, sometimes as few as 50, make the decisions for each category, and their identity is kept secret.
Still, all wasn’t entirely lost for Netflix: Sherlock was one of the night’s big winners with three Emmys. While the show is a BBC/PBS production, the only place to see it right now in the U.S. is — that’s right, Netflix.