Television is often thought of an escape mechanism, but when social issues and politics are thrown upon us with such force, there is no escaping them. This often will affect the outcomes during awards season and the 2016 Emmy Awards will surely be no different.
What do computer hackers, the divisive U.S. presidential campaign and racial tensions have to do with the Emmys?
Possibly a lot, if TV academy voters favored shows plugged into modern anxiety when they cast ballots for the 68th prime-time Emmy Awards. The ceremony airs 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on ABC with host Jimmy Kimmel.
Golden Globe-winning “Mr. Robot,” a conspiracy thriller about a troubled hacker, is vying for the top drama series award and best actor honors for star Rami Malek.
Biting political satire “Veep” is seeking its second consecutive best comedy series award, and bleak political drama “House of Cards” is looking for its first major win, as are its stars, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
A sitcom that has aggressively taken on issues including use of the “N-word” and police brutality, “black-ish” is up against “Veep” for top comedy honors in a field that also includes “Master of None,” ”Modern Family,” ”Silicon Valley,” ”Transparent” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
“Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus is on the hunt for her fifth best comedy actress trophy for her portrayal of vice president-to-president Selina Meyer.
“Mr. Robot” will be vying with last year’s formidable champion, “Game of Thrones,” this year’s most-nominated show. The fantasy saga could break the record it set in 2015 for most wins by a series in a single year, 12: It already earned nine creative arts honors last weekend and is up for five more trophies Sunday.
Besides “Mr. Robot” and “House of Cards,” ”GOT” will compete with “Better Call Saul,” ”Homeland,” ”The Americans” and the farewell season of “Downton Abbey.”
There will be more than ego tallies at the awards, with diversity in Hollywood an ongoing issue. The Emmys have outpaced the much-criticized Academy Awards, and each of this year’s major acting categories includes at least one minority nominee. Among them is “How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis, who last year became the first woman of color to be honored as best drama series actress.
A pair of key changes made by the TV academy could affect the outcomes in Sunday’s 27 categories. It revised how votes are cast and counted, switching from a ranking and points system to letting voters simply check off their top choice. That sharpened the selection process and might affect past winners who managed to collect enough second-place votes to overcome the competition.
In another revision, this one implemented last year; voting was expanded from blue-ribbon panels to – depending on the award – giving substantially more or all of the academy’s 20,000-plus members the chance to vote for finalists.