Back in 2008, the Emmys made a rule change that allowed digital series to compete in the same drama and comedy categories as traditionally televised shows. But in the five years that past since, none have been nominated. This is most definitely the biggest opportunity for that to happen, but will it?
The Emmys have historically been slow adapters to trends in television. It took them a good decade to start significantly rewarding cable television after it clearly had become a force to be reckoned with. "The Sopranos" was the first non-network series to win the top dramatic category in 2004 (for its fifth season). Since then, all but two winners in that category ("24" and "Lost") came from outside broadcast television.
This year's Emmys have an eligibility period of June 1, 2012-May 31, 2013. Netflix has already premiered "House of Cards," and will release all of "Arrested Development" on May 26th -- just five days before the eligibility period ends. Both have a lot going for them in terms of making the cut. "Cards" received stellar reviews and mass interest, and has the kind of big names involved that the Emmys tend to gravitate toward (David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright). Nominations for Spacey's performance and Fincher's direction of the pilot seem like pretty safe bets, though it should be much more difficult for it to slip into the packed best dramatic series category (where "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "Homeland" and "Downton Abbey" are all but guaranteed slots).
"Arrested Development," on the other hand, has yet to premiere, so we have no idea what reviews and interest will be like. But it seems pretty hard to imagine the show -- coming off three seasons that many champion as among the best ever for a comedic television series -- will crash and burn. Those seasons were each nominated for a best comedy series Emmy (the first of them winning), while Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett and Jeffery Tambor were among the cast members to receive Emmy nods (though none of them won). With no new comedy series really making an impact this season, and veteran series like "Modern Family" (which has for two years in a row received six of the 10 supporting acting nominations) looking past their prime, there's plenty of opportunity for "Arrested Development" to swoop in. And given its late release, it could very well be the talk of the town just as voters are filling out their ballots.
We have to wait until July 18th to find out if either series make the cut, but until then check out our predictions charts (which will be updated regularly between now and the nominations).