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It's that time of the year again folks: The 2014 Emmy nominations ballots are out, and while we here at TV.com are busy working through our dream nominations for television's biggest awards show, the members of the Academy will be poring over** these hundreds of pages of PDFs and deciding the fates of all our favorite performers and shows. 

** "Poring over" is probably too strong a phrase. It's unclear whether most Emmy voters actually read the full ballots. Maybe they choose their friends, maybe they throw darts at the printed pages, who really knows. It's a mysterious process. 

The actual nominees won't be announced until July 10, when all our wish lists and hopes for a roster full of cool, different nominees will come crashing down. But for now, there's still room to be optimistic—and there's certainly still room to dig into the ballots to look at all the weird, random things that could influence the process, just like we've done for the past two years

A couple of things to remember: 1.) Nominees (or their agents, managers, or mothers) have to submit themselves to get onto the ballot in the first place, 2.) There's sometimes a lot of strategy involved in deciding which category to submit to, and the results don't always make sense.


1. Damian Lewis still fancies himself a lead (and plenty of other folks are stretching the definition of the term, too)


It never fails. Every year, there are actors who submit to the various lead categories even though they're clearly not the lead (and in some cases, not even a co-lead) of their show. Rob Lowe is famous for doing this on just about every show he's appeared on, including Parks and Recreation. The most egregious attendee of this year's Not at All a Lead party this year is Homeland's Damian Lewis, who appeared in roughly half of the show's 12 Season 3 episodes. To be fair, Lewis won for Lead Actor in a Drama Series award just 20-some months ago (remember when the world just couldn't get enough of Homeland?), so it makes a bit of sense that he'd try to run it back one more time, especially after turning in a couple of showy performances. But come on. Dude wasn't a lead. 

Also on this list: Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Kevin McKidd (Grey's Anatomy), and William H. Macy (Shameless).


2. If you're canceled, you're a miniseries

I have some good news and some bad news. Starting with the bad news, your show has been canceled. But the good news is that you can now submit to the Emmys as a miniseries (where the voters will still almost certainly ignore you, but still)! HostagesMob City, and Treme have all taken advantage of this loophole in hopes of getting a couple of extra looks in less-competitive races for themselves and their casts and crews. It's not likely to work for Hostages and Mob City because those shows weren't very good, and while I actually think it's a smart move for Treme, the HBO drama has never received any Emmy love, so why start now? Nevertheless, we know that the miniseries category is often screwy; this is just further confirmation of that fact. 


3. Some coworkers have no problem competing with one another


I'm always eager to see which actors from ensemble-driven shows will compete against one another same lead categories. It's not always clear whether the actors are deciding how to submit or letting their agent's/network's/etc. make the clal, but there has to be some strategy involved in who jumps in where. By now, we expect multiple big names from shows like The Big Bang Theory (Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons), Two and a Half Men (Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer), and Suits (Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht) to try this tactic, but there are a few notable examples this year that might have real implications on the nominations. 

Only two of the four Pretty Little Liars (Lucy Hale and Troian Bellisario) entered the Lead Actress category (or at all), and Dean Norris and Mike Vogel are going head-to-head for Under the Dome supremacy. True, none of those people will actually be nominated (at least in Norris's case, for this particular work), but there are similar situations where competition among between two leads could really matter.

Much has been made about True Detective entering the drama categories instead of chasing the miniseries trophy, but there's another competition looming involving the show: the one between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the Lead Actor race. The former is a lock for a nomination, but what does that mean for Woody? Will there be a vote split? Will both of them earn a nod? 

The other curious intra-show competition is fresh from the Hannibal kitchen, where both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are on the menu. You could argue that the show's profile rose quite a bit over the last calendar year, improving both actors' chances of earning some recognition. But with Dancy and Mikkelsen competing in the same category, I'd bet those chances almost immediately decrease. 

Important note: While Galecki and Parsons were both nominated in Lead Actor in a Comedy category a few years back, no two actors from the same show have been nominated in the Lead Actor in a Drama race since Michael C. Hall and Peter Krause for Six Feet Under in 2003. It's been a while. 


4. Unsurprisingly, the gender inequality continues 

The disparity between male and female nominees/winners is near and dear to my heart, and it's probably not much of a surprise that the ballot underscore the typical issues. If you combine all the acting categories (across lead, supporting, and guest and drama, comedy, miniseries, and TV movie) there are 1,620 performers in the running for a nod. The gender breakdown is 943 men (58 percent) and 677 women (42 percent). The difference isn't as substantial as I might have expected before looking at the ballots, but it still presents some notable difference between men and women. 

On the directing side of things, the picture is much uglier. There are 438 total nominees across all the major directing categories; roughly (I counted twice, but it's a lot of data to go through) 60 of them are women (and a few of those women submitted more than once). That's a paltry 13.6 percent.


5. Orange Is the New Black's Crazy Eyes and Pennsatucky, Mad Men's Harry Crane, and New Girl's Coach are just guest stars? There's a very fine line between "supporting" and "just visiting"


If you think the lead categories are a mess, take a gander at the seemingly never-ending ballots in the supporting and guest races. Because of the self-submission process, there's no hard-and-fast rule for what distinguishes a supporting performance from a guest role, so we'll often see people we consider fundamental members of the cast submit in guest categories. Folks who joined this year's guest fray but seemed, at least to me, more like supporting players include: Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), Jonathan Banks (Community), Kate Burton (Scandal), Robert Clendenin (Cougar Town), Gary Cole (Veep), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Jon Glaser (Parks and Recreation), Harry Hamlin (Mad Men), Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black), John Oliver (Community), Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black), Damon Wayans Jr. (New Girl), Alicia Witt (Justified), and Heléne York (Masters of Sex). Obviously, there's some real strategy in positioning yourself as a guest performer; it's a little easier to stand out from the pack, and since the field generally turns over every year, the old standbys aren't really present to muck up the race. 


6. When it comes to writing and directing categories, some shows go for quantity, while others hope quality is enough

The writing and directing categories are always fascinating because each show makes different choices with regard to how many episodes/people to submit. It's pretty common for a single show to dominate the writing categories—think Mad Men30 Rock, or Modern Family, recently—and as a result, we see other shows submit large chunks of their season in hopes of making something happen. Justified has thrown 10 scripts into the ring, followed by Wilfred with nine and The AmericansBoardwalk EmpireModern Familyand The Walking Dead with eight. 

Meanwhile, notable frontrunners like Mad Men and Breaking Bad each submitted seven, while two other big players, The Good Wife and Game of Thrones, each submitted only one. New players The Blacklist, The Bridge, and The Goldbergs also submitted only one, and are clearly hoping that past years' fairly consistent adulation for pilots will come through.


7. Michael J. Fox and a few other big names didn't even bother to submit


Maybe it's the same every year, but it does feel like a number of notable actors chose not to submit at all. Some of the biggies are Alan Cumming, Michael J. Fox, and Stockard Channing of The Good Wife, all of whom had a legitimate shot to grab a nomination and maybe even a win. 

Others include Super Fun Night's Rebel Wilson and Sean Saves The World's Sean Hayes, two recognizable names who could have, in a really weird world, made the top six in their respective categories. Hayes's absence is especially conspicuous, given his solid track record at the Emmys. 


8. Online platforms like Amazon and Hulu are trying to follow in Netflix's footsteps and make some noise

One of the things that stands out the most about this year's ballots is the prevalence of actors from various online series. We all expected to see a lot of names associated with the big Netflix players (House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black), but folks from Hulu, Amazon, and elsewhere are also trying to drum up a little publicity for their projects. 

In particular, Amazon Studios has its fingers crossed that members of the Academy really liked Alpha House; everyone in the main cast is on the ballot, as is Bill Murray for his blink-and-you-miss-it guest stint. (Sadly, there's no love for Amazon's other original series, Betas.) Representing Hulu are The Wrong MansQuick Draw, and The Awesomes, while something called Tiny Commando (starring Ed Helms, apparently) is holding it down for Yahoo! These non-Netflix platforms aren't going to attract much attention this year, but it's a smart move to put the shows and performers out there now. When the Amazons and Hulus and Crackles of the world eventually create more programming worth celebrating, maybe it won't seem so weird to voters to give them a shot.


9. Special one-off episodes are the equivalent of sneaking a few extra raffle tickets into the hopper


The messy rules for what ends up where means that shows can wiggle their way into different categories with special one-time-only events. This year, Community entered its animated "G.I.: Jeff" installment in the Outstanding Animated Program race, while Psych is hoping that Psych The Musical will be worthy of a TV Movie nod. Both shows are also part of the more familiar Outstanding Comedy Series category. 


10. Reality/Reality Competition Show Host is the most entertaining race of them all

I could talk all day about the intricacies of the so-called "major" categories, but it's also important to stop and just bask in the glory that is the ballot for Reality/Reality Competition Show host. Though the eventual nominees will likely be mostly the same as they've been for the past few years, the ballot offers so many great names and host-show combinations. I would absolutely love to live in a world where Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue or my main man Nev from Catfish could say they were "Emmy-nominated." 

The reality list also features some also big names who aren't known for their work in the category. Remember The Rock's "hosting" of TNT's Hero? And isn't it fair to say that Jane Lynch has actually been better on Hollywood Game Night than she was on Glee this year? 

Finally, I guarantee that this particular ballot will inform you of at least two TV shows you didn't know existed. The ProfitCounting CarsCapture? Flea Market Flip? Apparently, they're all real.


Want to see what's fascinating, odd, or just plain funny? Check out all the ballots here, and let us know what stands out most to you!



Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/18/2016

Season 68 : Episode 0

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Another thing that I've learned is that if Orange is the New Black, then prison drama is the new comedy. I hate these fake classifications just to try and win awards. And they do that in a shameless way! Can't shows run in categories which reflect their contents, no matter if they win awards or not?
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I'm sad that Amy Acker didn't nominate herself.
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Even more proof that Emmys don't really mean anything anymore. Just like any other award ceremonies. They're just an excuse for the rich and famous to play dress up and have their ego stroked. Plus free booze!!!
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Look, if someone offered you free booze would you turn it down?
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Hehe...of course not!
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To be fair to Treme, I'm pretty sure they submitted in Miniseries this year because they were only able to air 5 episodes for their final season, when to compete in Drama I'm pretty sure you need a 6 episode minimum (given how all Series nominees submit 6 episodes to the judges for consideration). It's the same thing that happened to The Big C last year. That doesn't make it right, necessarily, but it is understandable to see why they did it.
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100 percent. It's a SMART strategy. Won't work, but.
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11. the concept of Comedy and Drama are apparently very subjective (Shameless, anyone?).
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Yeah, it's the same with Orange is the New Black. Shameless actually swapped categories either this year or last; they started in drama, I believe.
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And the award for Best Reality Competition/Reality Competition Show Host goes to ...... BOOGER! Go Curtis Armstrong! (King of the Nerds)
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These nominations and categories just annoy me. Someone almost always gets shafted.
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LOL at Laura Marano submitting herself once again for Austin & Ally, Rob Lowe for lead actor is ridiculous.

I can of feel bad for all the people from CW and ABC family shows that are submitting themselves in categories because they are not getting nominated not because some of them are bad actors but there is no way the Emmy people is going to take a look at those shows.
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The Marano thing really made me laugh but I figured it wasn't worth calling her out.
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This is true. I also don't think that Lana Parilla or Robert Carlyle are very likely to be nominated. It's not what network the show is on. It's how silly the show is. I'm sure that they will have taken a look at the shows (they're interested in TV, aren't they), but they don't want to hand out awards to shows that are too silly.

Uh...so...why does what I just said not apply to Jessica Lange? I'm confused. She was nominated last year. Maybe miniseries are allowed to be silly.
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Emmy-wise in this context, you're allowed to be adult-"silly" (i.e., s.f. and fantasy genre). You're not allowed to be child/family-silly.

Granted, since most mini-series are adult, that may be redundant.
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OMG True Detectives is in the running wow. Each time I tried to watch it I fell asleep....yep it was that boring!
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well boring aside.. atleast i get to see the thing i was searching for a very long time. No.. not two great actors on tv.. but alxendra daddario's assests.. If you know what i mean.. ;)
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Who's that Maggie or that hot stripper chick?
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they call TD a slow burner because it starts off really slow. That first episode is necessary viewing, but its not remarkable in any way. In fact , after all the hype ep 1 was a disappointment but its necessary foundationally. They definitely pick up the pace in subsequent episodes. True Detective is violent, urban,rural, cerebral, and philosophical. You have to watch at least four episodes to see what's being dealt with.
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Thanks for the elaboration,now that you've put it that way, will try and catch it during the holidays....in the daylight cause I deleted the epis off my queue.
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It's a bit overrated tbh
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IMHO True Detective is phenomenal. You're probably just watching it at night. Every time I watch a show lying down, I fall alseep no matter how good a show it is. I fell alseep watching the best shows on tv. I had to start dvring and watching on weekends.
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If Damian Lewis is a lead actor, then the wine glasses on The Good Wife are at LEAST best supporting actors. At least.
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I loved watching his performance this entire last season, but have to agree with you. Calling him a lead actor on this season was a HUGE stretch.
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I would have considered Alicia Witt a guest actress simply because her character was the kind you expect to only see in one season. But now that I think about it, that seems like an odd criterion. If you are in almost all the episodes in the season that aired during the eligibility period (a 1-year period starting with June 1), shouldn't you be considered supporting, even if you're only in that season? Was John Lithgow a guest actor or a supporting actor in season 4 of Dexter? (He won the guest category that year, but it might have made more sense to consider him supporting).

Walton Goggins is on the ballot for his 1-episode gig on Community. That makes sense to me. If you appear in only one episode, you are only a guest. But what if you appear in half of them? Or more? Taryn Manning was in 9 episodes of 13. (Only season 1 is eligible for these awards). What if you're a regular and your character dies early in the season? Does that make you a guest? How about Taraji P Henson or Scott Wilson (Hershel)? Again my first thought is that they're both supporting, mainly because they were supporting in earlier seasons, but I'm not sure that's a good criterion.
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The guest/supporting thing is not determined by episodes, which is maybe part of the problem. Since you brought up Witt, remember that when Margo Martindale was on Justified, she entered in supporting, and won. It was basically the same type of role--1 season, bunch of episodes. There's no real rule, which is frustrating.
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Here's what I learned from my quick glance at the ballots:

* Amy Acker isn't in there. She's the one I wanted to win either supporting actress or guest actress.

* Apparently Connie Britton is a lead actress and Hayden Panettiere is a supporting actress.
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The Connie-Hayden thing is kind of ridiculous. Love CB, but Hayden is the star of that show
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11 actor/actress submissions from Game of Thrones: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Natalie Dormer, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maise Williams, Pedro Pascal and Diana Rigg.

I didn't check which ones are lead and which ones are supporting, but I noticed that Pedro Pascal and Diana Rigg submitted as guests, and that Rory McCann didn't submit at all.
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And of those, HBO didn't even want to submit Natalie Dormer. She had to put her own name in contention.
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Interesting. How do you know that?
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Thanks.
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GoldDerby.com tends to post what the networks are planning to submit just a few days/weeks before the ballots go out. Dormer wasn't on the ballot at the time (likely because HBO likes to limit they're GOT contenders to 3 or 4 per category), so she must have filled out the paper work to submit herself.

Another HBO example of that occurred with Veep. Gary Cole was the only person they had listed for Veep's "Guest Actor in a Comedy" submissions, but Christopher Meloni must have filled out the paper work himself, because now he's on the ballot, too.
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The category I find the most interesting this year is lead actress. I'm pleased to see that my three favorites have all submitted: Keri Russell, Lizzy Caplan and Tatiana Maslany. I hope that they all get nominated.
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Tatiana Maslany I think is arguably the most hardworking female actress right now, if she will win she deserves it.
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It seems to me that a lot of the difficulties and confusion that seem to arise in regards to who/ what is nominated for what category (and why) could be simply fixed by the Emmy's providing clearly defined rules, instead of letting people nominate themselves for whatever they want.

Nominating yourself for a lead in a series? Then you should have to have appeared in every episode of that series. Nominating an episode of your series for best writing and/ or direction? Then choose wisely, because only one episode from your series can be nominated.

If rules like this were in place one can't help but feel that the awards would actually go to those who deserve them most, and hold a lot more credibility then they do currently.
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I know right, imagine how different the Emmys will be if they enforce a couple of rules. I mean, how difficult can it be to change their definition for a miniseries or choose if a dramedy is eligible for submission as a comedy.
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Pouring over is also not the correct iteration. The phrase is to pore over. (Unless you meant that the Emmy people would be pouring milk/tea/coffee/juice/mineral over their PDF documents, in which case, carry on please).

I would LOVE if Catfish were nominated! Nev and Max are awesome!
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ugh, what an idiot i am. thanks for pointing it out, it's now fixed.
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No problemo. Also, hate to be that person, but in point 2, I think you've written "Staring" instead of "Starting".
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PLEASE be that person. Lotta words, things slip through the cracks. Fixxxxxxxxed.
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You also wrote "make that clal" instead of "make that call" in point 3.
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Great post Cory, yet more examples of why the Emmys are nuts. I was just thinking about how billings on show credits are so rigidly defined by unions and such, given that it is even more ridiculous that so many people nominate for the wrong category. It's in no one's interest to let these opportunists manipulate the system.
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I don't hold anything against people submitting for Guest Star, if they're not part of the main cast on a show. If not even Kate Burton, who only appeared in a handful of episodes, is allowed to submit as a guest, then all we're going to be left with is Hollywood A-list stars who's doing a favor for a friend and appearing in three scenes in a random episode of some show, they probably forget the same of the day after anyway, while people like Taryn Manning and Uzo Aduba (who both did stunning work) will go completely unnoticed, because they're never getting a Supporting Actress nomination.
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I just don't get these award shows and who "wins" as it seems as though it is impossible for critics to ever develop a "goodness" meter on shows and objectively measure how "good" a show is, and is subjective and varies from person to person. For example, I was one of the few oddballs who actually enjoyed the HIMYM finale (as did sites like IGN)--I thought it was well-written, tied all of the loose ends together, and made sense of the series, while many decried it. Then we have a group of more "elite" judges who would decide what is "good" and what isn't, even though their tastes vary from one another and from the rest of the public, because we are all individuals and have different tastes of what's "good" and what isn't. They often nominate "safe" choices and stay close to their peers on what they think is good and thus shows like Modern Family get continually nominated, despite lacking in quality and humor, while many underrated gems never get the same honor. To me, it seems what is enjoyable should be judged by the viewer and solely by the viewer as an individual and not as a society to determine what is and isn't "the best."
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Agreed. There are just too many shows for me to believe that many of the voters have seen them all. Surely that must be a prerequisite for voting for "best" or most outstanding in a category. Otherwise all such votes are completely invalid.

Side note: Michael J Fox is on the ballot (lead in a comedy series).
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If you recognise that Modern Family is lacking in quality then you've already answered your own question.
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^ I'm also one of those oddballs that liked the HIMYM final. Generally agree with your post also
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