Emmys: Netflix's 'House of Cards' and 'Arrested Development' could destroy voters’ willful ignorance
By now it’s clear the Emmy voting process is standardized, and flawed. Shows submit key episodes on DVD to anyone with a ballot, meaning that if voters aren’t keeping up with a series, they have only this one disc to bring them up to speed. This presents obvious problems for heavily serialized shows, and might be why "The Wire" never received any Emmy love.
The trick, it seems, is to push a show that those voters are probably watching anyways, which might explain all the "Mad Men" and "Homeland" victories. Emmy voters seem to be willfully ignorant of shows they haven’t heard about 100,000 times, quality aside. They rally behind "Game of Thrones," but can’t even throw "Happy Endings" a bone.
But there’s a new player in the game. This year, Netflix released two series that have serious Emmy potential: "House of Cards," starring Kevin Spacey and directed/co-produced by David Fincher, and the long-awaited fourth season of "Arrested Development." There have been original shows on streaming sites in the past (Hulu’s "Battleground," anyone?), but these two are the first ones with serious production quality and a deafening buzz even noise-cancelling headphone-wearing Emmy voters can hear.
And though they are new series (relatively speaking, in the case of "Arrested Development"), the Netflix delivery model gives them a leg up on other recent additions. Voters will theoretically still receive “For Your Consideration” screeners, but pretty much anyone with even a passing interest in television has a Netflix streaming account. If the submitted episodes don’t float their boat, others are only a few clicks away. Or, if context is a problem, they can simply queue up the series premiere and know exactly why Isla Fisher is making out with Jason Bateman.
Netflix has probably been an aide for shows like "Breaking Bad" that slowly build to climactic finales and cringeworthy reveals. You could catch up on past seasons before casting your vote. But never before has the current season of a show been so readily available at a moment’s notice.
Netflix has already laid the groundwork for a new television model: full seasons of creative, compelling shows available all at once. But this is also their chance to finally shake up the stodgy Emmy process. No longer will screeners pile up; voters will have no choice but to watch.