Netflix's heavy investment in original series paid off big Thursday, as the streaming service received 14 Emmy nominations and became the first digital programmer to be nominated for the awards in major categories since a rules change in 2007 made online programming eligible.
It's just the kind of Emmys debut that not so long ago helped an old-movie channel known as AMC rebrand itself as a home for cutting-edge dramas like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” and it signals that Hollywood, at least, is comfortable with the idea of television that isn't exactly television.
It probably didn't hurt, either, that Netflix's biggest winner, “House of Cards,” was set in a Washington that's a lot darker than the one we saw on “The West Wing.” Because D.C. shows did well this year, with nominations for USA's “Political Animals,” HBO's “Veep” and ABC's “Scandal” (whose star, Kerry Washington, received her first Emmy nomination, for outstanding lead actress).
“House of Cards,” David Fincher's Americanized adaptation of a British miniseries, was nominated for outstanding drama. Nominations also went to stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, as well as to Jason Bateman, the star of another Netflix production, this spring's reboot of the former Fox series “Arrested Development.”
Overall, HBO continued to dominate the overall nominations, with 108, followed by 53 nominations apiece for broadcasters CBS and NBC, 45 for ABC and 19 for Fox (whose cable sibling FX Networks scored 26).
It was a good year for Elisabeth Moss, who was nominated as a lead actress in both “Mad Men” and the Sundance Channel miniseries “Top of the Lake.”
The nominations were announced at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' North Hollywood headquarters by two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul (who was nominated once again for his supporting role in AMC's “Breaking Bad”) and Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”). Harris, a three-time winner who filled in at the last minute for “House of Cards” star Kate Mara -- reporters were told she'd been stranded on location in Santa Fe by plane trouble -- was nominated for his hosting of the Tony Awards last year. He's also hosting this year's Emmys on Sept. 22.
Playing the category game once again, FX's anthology drama “American Horror Story: Asylum,” entered as a miniseries, led the overall nominations with 17, followed by 16 for HBO's “Game of Thrones,” 15 apiece for the HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra” and NBC's “Saturday Night Live” and 13 each for “Breaking Bad” and the final season of NBC's “30 Rock” (including outstanding comedy and lead actress nominations for its creator and star, Upper Darby's Tina Fey).
“Political Animals,” the USA Network drama starring Sigourney Weaver that was filmed in and around Philadelphia, never made it to a second season. But entered as a miniseries, it received five nominations, including outstanding miniseries and performance nods for both Weaver and Ellen Burstyn.
Here's a partial list of nominees (you can find more here):
-- Nominees for outstanding lead actor in a drama are: Hugh Bonneville, PBS' “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey”; Bryan Cranston, AMC's “Breaking Bad”; Jeff Daniels, HBO's “The Newsroom”; Jon Hamm, AMC's “Mad Men”; Damian Lewis, Showtime's “Homeland”; and Kevin Spacey, Netflix's “House of Cards.”
-- Nominees for outstanding lead actress in a drama are: Connie Britton, ABC's “Nashville”; Claire Danes, Showtime's “Homeland,” Michelle Dockery, PBS' “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey”; Vera Farmiga, A&E's “Bates Motel”; Elisabeth Moss, AMC's “Mad Men”; Kerry Washington, ABC's “Scandal” and Robin Wright, Netflix's “House of Cards.”
-- Nominees for lead actor in a movie or miniseries are: Benedict Cumberbatch, “Parade's End”; Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, both for HBO's “Behind the Candelabra”; Toby Jones, HBO's “The Girl”; and Al Pacino, HBO's “Phil Spector.”
-- Nominees for lead actress in a movie or miniseries are: Jessica Lange, FX's “American Horror Story: Asylum”; Laura Linney, Showtime's “The Big C: Hereafter”; Helen Mirren, HBO's “Phil Spector”; Elisabeth Moss, Sundance's “Top of the Lake” and Sigourney Weaver, USA's “Political Animals.”
-- Nominees for lead actor in a comedy are: Alec Baldwin, NBC's “30 Rock”; Jason Bateman, Netflix's “Arrested Development”; Louis C.K., FX's “Louie”; Don Cheadle, Showtime's “House of Lies”; Matt LeBlanc, Showtimes “Episodes” and Jim Parsons, CBS' “The Big Bang Theory.”
-- Nominees for lead actress in a comedy are: Laura Dern, HBO's “Enlightened”; Lena Dunham, HBO's “Girls”; Edie Falco, Showtime's “Nurse Jackie”; Tina Fey, NBC's “30 Rock”; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, HBO's “Veep” and Amy Poehler, NBC's “Parks and Recreation.”
-- Nominees for outstanding drama are: AMC's “Breaking Bad,” PBS' “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey,” HBO's “Game of Thrones,” Showtime's “Homeland,” Netflix's “House of Cards” and AMC's “Mad Men.”
-- Nominees for outstanding comedy are: NBC's “30 Rock,” CBS' “The Big Bang Theory,” HBO's “Girls,” FX's “Louie,” ABC's “Modern Family” and HBO's “Veep.”