Welcome back to another edition of Outlander – Emmy watch! It’s been a while since we last dived into this space, but it won’t be too long until some Emmy campaigns really get going for a lot of actors and shows.
As someone who does want to see Outlander as a part of these conversations, we thought today would be an ideal time to talk about the factors at play. In theory, you’d obviously want to say that the quality of the show itself is the only thing that matters in an awards-show race … but we’ve been around the block long enough to know that it’s really only just one piece of a puzzle. There’s a lot of promotion that goes into it, there are optics, and there is also just being sometimes in the right place at the right time.
Within this piece, let’s look at the season 4 Emmy race through these three factors — plus, why they matter so much in season 3. On the other side of checking this out, we also suggest that you look at our new video about season 5 filming! For more, subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and check out our full Outlander playlist.
Timing – This is something that probably is not working all that much within Outlander’s favor at the moment, largely because season 4 has not been on the air for a while now and because of that, there is always that fear that voters will forget about it. In the drama series category, we do think that this does matter because you’ve got about 10-15 legitimate Drama Series contenders vying for a handful of spots — and you can go ahead and include Game of Thrones and Killing Eve on there as locks. (We’re not sure This Is Us is a 100% lock, but it’s close.) In the acting categories, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are going to face the same challenge — with a few actors per category virtually locked in, they’ll have to compete with dozens of other people for a few potential spots in flux. That’s why timing matters, though obviously Starz can’t just dictate their entire airing structure just to make the show wrap up close to when Emmy voters cast their ballots.
Optics – What’s the narrative behind Outlander or its stars getting nominations this year? This is something we think voters think about — often, there is value in promoting a show with topical subject matter, or maybe someone who has been under-served in the past. This is a real argument for both Heughan and Balfe this year — despite years of eligibility, neither has received the love they deserve in Drama Actor or Drama Actress. We think the “rewarding someone after years of snubs” narrative works for actors, but not so much for the show as a whole; while we’d love to see Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin in contention, they’re considered more longshots. They also don’t have the same snub narrative behind them.
Promotion – This is a real challenge for Starz this year, given that Outlander season 5 is filming and will remain in production through just about all of the Emmy campaign window. It’s hard to imagine that there’s going to be a lot of time for either panels or interviews — though maybe they can work something out to at least get the cast some face-time in front of voters, even remotely while they work in Scotland. Otherwise, the show and its stars may be dependent on a media campaign to bring attention to their cause.
The current state of things
We cannot say that we’re incredibly optimistic, mostly from a definition-of-insanity standpoint. The Emmys have snubbed Outlander so much for exemplary work that it’s hard to feel confident about a different result this time. Yet, we do think that Balfe and Heughan have some strong cases based on individual episodes like “Blood of My Blood” and “The Birds and the Bees” — it really comes down to voters’ wanting to pay attention and realize that this is a show that should not be snubbed forever. It’s a significant part of TV history at this point, and you don’t want it to be a part of the laundry list of long-term Emmy voter mistakes.
Do you think that we could be seeing an Outlander Emmy nod in an acting or Drama Series category this year? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: Starz.)