With the Primetime Emmy nominations set to be announced next week (July 18, 2013), I don’t think anyone is holding their breath for The Walking Dead to be duly recognized in any of the major awards categories. Even though the show has been setting ratings records for AMC and was the most watched cable TV program in 2012, it’s just not likely that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is going to get over their bias against horror and sci-fi shows enough to give The Walking Dead the recognition it deserves.
Shows like FX’s American Horror Story, Showtime’s Dexter, and ABC’s Lost have shown that the Academy is somewhat more willing to honor non-traditional dramas with nominations than they were back in the days when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was snubbed year after year, in spite of the fact that critics consistently named it one of the top 10 best shows of the year. But expecting the Academy to overlook The Walking Dead’s visceral zombie gore and appreciate the show for the quality drama that it is might just be hoping for too much.
Corporate Bias Could Leave The Walking Dead Unrecognized in Emmy’s
The show has already won two well-deserved back-to-back Emmy’s for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special in 2011 and 2012. It was also nominated those same years for sound editing and visual effects, but lost to HBO’s Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire.
If The Walking Dead is able to score an upset this year, which Emmy category is likely to snag it a nomination and possibly a win?
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
The Walking Dead is full of possible candidates who could get nominated and win in this category, starting with David Morrissey’s chilling performance as The Governor. Morrissey stole the show in Season 3. It was fascinating to watch his character turn from a charismatic, manipulative leader with a dark side to an unbalanced, unpredictable killer. After Michone killed his zombie daughter, it was all downhill for The Governor as he became more and more unglued and intent on killing anyone who crossed him. He even went so far as to gun down dozens of his own people in cold blood. If nominated, Morrissey would have a great shot at winning.
But he’s not the only candidate. Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus could also be surprise nominees for playing the Dixon brothers. Rooker’s Merle was the guy you loved to hate and wanted to see get eaten by a zombie as payment for any one of his sins, of which there were many. He was a racist mercenary who left devastation in his wake. But in a surprise twist, the show gave him a heart and made you really start to like him after he turns on The Governor…right before he died. Rooker played Merle’s transformation from hateful bigot to unlikely antihero brilliantly.
Reedus’ Daryl spent most of the season being the strong silent type who was always there to put an arrow in a zombie’s head when needed. His coolness factor is off the charts, but being a man of few words could hurt his chances for an Emmy. His heart-wrenching performance after Merle’s death was one of the most memorable moments of the season, but that may not be enough to get him a nomination.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Danai Gurira’s katana-wielding Michone is one of the most unique characters on television. She doesn’t say much, but she can leap into explosive action when threatened. Her knock-down drag-out fight with The Governor after she killed his zombie daughter was probably one of the most intense fight scenes I’ve seen on television in a long time. Seeing her play the outsider trying to fit in endears her to the audience and makes her one of the most popular characters on the show, but just like Daryl, Michone doesn’t really get to say much, so that will hurt her chances at an Emmy nomination.
Laurie Holden, on the other hand, got to say a lot this season as Andrea. She came to life as she was caught in the middle, trying to broker peace between two warring camps and transitioned from being naively in love with The Governor, to fearing him, to hating him. Her attempts at making peace cost her her life, but the bravery she showed prior to her death might just be enough to snag her a Emmy nomination. Although she’s the strongest chance The Walking Dead has of scoring a nomination in any of the actress categories, it’s unlikely the Academy would pick her for a win over an actress from a more traditional drama series, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Andrew Lincoln, as Rick Grimes, could have been a contender for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series considering everything his character faced this season. His wife, Lori, went into labor during a zombie attack and had to have an emergency c-section that left her dying on the floor. His son supposedly had to shoot her to keep her from returning as a zombie. When Rick went to find her body, all he found was a zombie with a really fat belly. In my book, no body means Lori is still alive somewhere. But in Rick’s book, that situation led him to believe she was eaten by a zombie and that drove him crazy and made him start hallucinating and dropping the ball as leader when his group needed him the most. Since he spent most of the season struggling to get his head together and generally acting crazy, he never really got a chance to react to all the drama thrown at him. Though he managed to pull himself together by the end of the season and had some great moments along the way, the writers never really gave him a moment that was strong enough or clear enough for Lincoln to sink his teeth into, so it’s unlikely he will get a nomination.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
In spite of it’s ratings, many fans criticized the writing in the latter part of season 3. Some felt the showdown between Rick’s prison group and The Governor’s Woodbury group was delayed for too long. Other’s felt Andrea’s character was far too naive and stupid to not see the signs that The Governor was a lunatic. Those criticisms combined with the fact that the source material is a comic book are probably enough to guarantee that the show doesn’t have a chance of getting a writing nomination this year. Even still, there were plenty of moments in season 3 that would justify The Walking Dead getting nominated in this category. On the surface, the show is about a zombie apocalypse. But that’s not all it is. It’s a rich human drama about survival and facing impossible choices in impossible situations. They balance out the horror and gore with a surprising amount of humanity and character development that can leave you on the edge of your seat one moment and reaching for a box of Kleenex the next.
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie or Special
There isn’t a show on television that is currently doing what The Walking Dead does with make-up. Not only should they get a nomination in that category, but they should also win for the third year in a row. The Academy usually honors most horror and sci-fi shows with technical awards as a way of acknowledging their popularity. Because of The Walking Dead’s massive popularity, they may wind up with more than just one technical award and may snag the visual effects and sound editing wins that they lost in 2011 and 2012.
The Walking Dead Sets New Ratings Record for AMC
Outstanding Drama Series
In spite of some complaints, season 3 of The Walking Dead was can’t-miss television. It had action, drama, tears, laughs, fights, explosions, massacres, zombies and a huge audience. Some of the performances were strong enough for several of the cast to get nominated and some could even win if they were nominated. Though some fans felt the writing faltered toward the end of the season, the first half of the season alone could earn the show a nomination. If the Academy is as flexible as they were in 2010, when TrueBlood, Lost and Dexter were all nominated for best Drama Series in the same year, The Walking Dead could possible find that 2013 is their year. Especially since Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Downtown Abbey may have run their course as Emmy favorites. Although, I doubt it. I suspect that if The Walking Dead did get an Outstanding Drama Series nomination, there would be a better chance of season 4 opening with a musical episode featuring a zombie Rockette’s number then there would be of them actually winning. Most of the critics and Academy members are still stuck on a field full of traditional dramas to break with tradition and award the most outstanding show on television with an award for being the most outstanding show on television. Still…I would love to be proven wrong.