Outlander and the Emmys: Fans everywhere have opinions about why this beloved show deserves all the awards. Here’s a realistic look at why we should prepare ourselves for some disappointment.
Let me start with this caveat: I would love for Outlander the show to get all the awards. It deserves recognition for outstanding production values, incredible acting, wonderful costumes and sets. Outlander deserves to win some Emmys. But as that old Scottish proverb so wisely notes, “if wishes were horses, all beggars would ride.” In other words, fine people, I don’t think Outlander stands much of a chance — at least not in the areas where we fans would really love to see some recognition because let’s face it, the biggies — ie. best actor and actress, and best drama series — tend to land in the shows that are more easily identifiable and Outlander, unlike, say, The Americans, is always going to be a niche-audience show.
First a bit of chronology. The submission period, where shows submit episodes, actors, etc. to be considered ended June 25. Now all that information will be judged and the final Emmy nominations will be announced July 17, with the actual winners announced in September. STARZ submitted 22 options for Outlander. All told there are 728 submissions this year.
While Outlander has received some awards recognition in the past (Golden Globe nomination for Best Drama Series in 2016, and a Best Actress in a Televisions Series-Drama twice for Caitriona and Critics’ Choice Awards acting nominations for Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe), the series has not gotten much Emmy recognition so far. (For a full accounting of what Outlander has been nominated for and actual wins, check this list from IMDb.) The first two seasons only garnered three Emmy nominations: Best Music Composition (2015), Best Production Design (2016) and Best Costumes (2016). Because of the long hiatus between Seasons 2 and 3, the show skipped the 2017 Emmys (which will sadly impact this year’s nominations, I think).
Here’s the full list STARZ submitted for Emmy consideration and some thoughts on what might actually make the cut and why. Please remember this is written by a fan, not a television critic or industry expert or a psychic. I’m just giving my best guesses. You can certainly disagree. In fact, we love Outlander debates! Let the commenting begin!
Best Drama Series
Outlander is up against some very tough competition here. While the number of entries in this category this year — 160, yes 160! — is down from 2017’s 180, that is still a lot of shows. Add to the fact that these likely include The Americans (final season), WestWorld, and The Handmaid’s Tale (last year’s winner), as well Game of Thrones (coming back after a break last year so likely to be high on the buzz), Killing Eve from BBC America and Mindhunter from Netflix (which got a lot of interest) and well, Outlander’s chance of making this list seem slimmer by the minute. Don’t shoot the messenger!
Best Drama Actor: Sam Heughan
Gold Derby has a nice analysis of why it’s unlikely Sam will win (assuming he’s even nominated). It has to do with what they call the “slap-the-stud” bias. In other words, men like Sam (and previously Jon Hamm in Mad Men and even Kit Harrington in Game of Thrones) don’t get taken seriously because they’re too good looking. And this is without even considering the actual talent pool of who’s likely to get nominated. Sam, who I think has improved each and every season as an actor and who had some very strong material to work with in Season 3, will likely be competing for a nomination against Jeffrey Wright of WestWorld, Kit Harrington from GOT, and Sterling K. Brown from This is Us (a winner last year), to name a few. And Matthew Rhys just took a bow on The Americans’ final season, which is often when the judges give a win to an actor in part as an achievement award for work in the series rather than one season. (See Jon Hamm in 2015 for the final season of Mad Men.) I think Sam’s nomination chances are even slimmer than the series as a whole. Sad but true.
Best Drama Actress: Caitriona Balfe
Catriona has already won a bunch of awards — Best Actress in television by the BAFTAS in 2016, for instance, and People’s Choice Best Actress in 2016 and 2017 — and she has been nominated for a bunch, including three times by the Golden Globes for Best Actress. She certainly had an amazing Season 3, as well. It’s likely she’ll be up against some tough competition, though. Elisabeth Moss won for The Handmaid’s Tale last year and Emmy buzz already has her on the list to win this year. Keri Russell, meanwhile, had an amazing turn in the final season of The Americans, as did Claire Foy for Season 2 of The Crown, and this might be her last shot at recognition since the series has cast a new, older actress to play the lead role now. Caitriona may get a nomination nod, but winning? Not likely, especially since the Golden Globes and Emmys in recent years have often echoed each other. Streaming shows have reigned supreme recently (The Crown and Mozart in the Jungle are just two examples.)
Best Drama Supporting Actor: David Berry, Tobias Menzies, Richard Rankin
Not sure why STARZ decided to have its own actors compete against each other in a category that will have a lot of other contenders.(Peter Dinklage of GOT, Noah Emmerich for The Americans, James Marsden in Westworld, to name just a very few in a large, likely strong field). Having three from the same show in the potential mix will likely work against all three of these wonderful actors. While I love Richard as Roger, it’s way too soon to toss his hat in the ring. His real turn is coming in upcoming seasons, as book readers know. It’s a toss-up between both David and Tobias. Both are wonderful actors. Unfortunately, Tobias is likely going to be the loser here because he only appears in three episodes this season that don’t really have the gravitas associated with his acting in seasons one and two. His moment for serious consideration was Season 2 — the pregnancy announcement scene! the final moments as Black Jack Randall! So if — and it’s a big if — one of these actors makes it to the nomination cut, David stands a better chance. Even David’s seems a bit premature, though, given that he, too, was only in three episodes. I’m thinking none of them get a nomination and certainly no one gets an award.
Best Drama Supporting Actress: Sophie Skelton
No. Just no.
While many in the fandom are skeptical she has the acting chops to make this role sing the way the rest of the cast does, the reality is she hasn’t had enough air time to show what she can actually do. Her chance to really shine will come in seasons 4-6 storylines. That’s when STARZ should submit her. And this is without even considering the strong competion like Chrissy Metz from This is Us, Ann Dowd from The Handmaid’s Tale and Margot Martindale in The Americans.
Best Drama Guest Actor: Duncan Lacroix — “All Debts Paid”
Again missing season 2 hurts Duncan’s chances here. Yes, it was wonderful to see him alive (an unexpected twist from the book that even book purists have a hard time arguing about) but he hardly does anything in season 3. I doubt he’ll make even the nomination cut. There’s just not enough of him to evaluate.
Best Drama Guest Actress: Lotte Verbeek — “Eye of the Storm”
Blood bath scene aside (which, of course, was awesome), Lotte really is just too campy in this role to be seriously considered. I just don’t think it will compete with other drama series actresses.
Best Drama Directing: “Eye of the Storm”
I love Matthew B. Roberts. I really do. I think he’s got Outlander’s back and that he has written some amazing episodes for this series. This was his first directing moment in the show, though, and it wasn’t the best episode. It just wasn’t. So many other directors in Outlander itself should have gotten the nod first from this season. Brendan Maher anyone? He directed “Freedom & Whisky,” “Of Lost Things,” “All Debts Paid,” and “The Battle Joined.” And this is without considering other directors likely in the competition, such as David Lynch in Twin Peaks, Miguel Sapochnick in GOT and David Fincher for Mindhunter. Need I say more?
Best Drama Writing: “All Debts Paid,” “Freedom and Whisky”
These are both solid scripts to this non-screenwriter. “All Debts Paid” was written by Matt B. Roberts while Toni Graphia wrote ”Freedom and Whisky.” These are solid writers who understand these books and how to bring them to the small screen. Can they compete against whatever other episodes are put out there? Who knows? But they deserve nominations in general.
Best Drama Casting
Suzanne Smith casts Outlander clearly and is a genius. Has she cast a single person who wasn’t anything other than perfect? End of story. Nominate her and give her the award.
Best Cinematography (Single-Camera Series, One Hour): “The Battle Joined”
Absolutely a good choice by STARZ. Just brilliant.
Best Costumes (Period): “Freedom and Whisky”
Again, season 2 was the season where Terry Dresbach and her crew outdid themselves. Those Parisian dresses alone would have been enough to get a nomination if not a win. Terry nailed the ’60s garb, too, and it was fun to see the Bat Suit being made. Is it stunning enough to get the nomination and then a win? Maybe. Fingers crossed for Terry.
Best Hairstyling (Single-Camera Series): “Heaven and Earth”
We love the hair in this show and think the people who do it are wizards. I might have thought submitting an episode with ’60s Claire would be more obvious but I love aging curly Claire too so maybe that will do the trick. Maybe they figured competing against Keri Russell’s Cold War look was too similar.
Best Picture Editing (Single-Camera Drama Series): “The Battle Joined”
I don’t know enough about this to weigh in.
Best Production Design (Period/Fantasy, One Hour or More): “Freedom and Whisky”
I’m admittedly a Christmas fan so what Jon Gary Steele and crew did recreating a ’60s Christmas in Boston was just perfect. Add to that a hint of the print shop at the end of the episode and I think this one has a good shot for at least a nomination.
Best Sound Editing (One Hour Series): “The Battle Joined”
Yes, yes and yes. The breathing alone makes this a good choice.
Best Sound Mixing (One Hour Series): “The Battle Joined”
See comment above.
Best Special Visual Effects: “Eye of the Storm”
Even a novice can see that this was an amazing episode to pull together. That wave! It certainly seems worthy for a nomination.
Best Stunt Coordination (Drama, Limited Series, Movie)
Well, this show certainly has its share of stunts including some amazing water scenes in this season so maybe that will do the trick.
So there you have it. My best guesses on what stands a chance and what likely doesn’t. Where do you think Outlander will land in the Emmy nominations and then in the final winners’ circle?
Sound reasoning, Janet. Will be nice if we’re surprised but I think you’ve called it. Maybe anyone who hasn’t received recognition after Season 6 (or whatever season comes last) will get the awards they so deserve!
… AND the timing was the best this year- finally – getting all episodes in before the deadline and plenty of time to watch it.
If only STARZ had marketed the real, emotional reason Sam was so good in S3 Ep4.
Without that context, I would have put him up for Ep1. That was true, unspoken brilliance.
And for Cait, E3 had sparks of #50/50 and sexism, very “de rigeur” in Hollywood right now.
Did STARZ not want to promote them to win?
For that visual “Claire’s evolution garment”, the Bat Suit, Terry deserves a win, and straddling the 60s and 1700s (print shop amazeballs) should go to J.G- both for E5.
I really have to know, “Was Matt always going to direct E13?” Lots of campy touches, but action it was- not so much drama, which seems more his style.
I think you’re right on, Janet. Sad, but true. I do see Emmy’s in the main cast’s future, just not yet.
A complete and intelligent bit of jourmalism and the research and knowledge of what makes this show is beyond words…Well done Miss R. you kow an awful lot more about the inner workings of all of this awards stuff..it sems it is not so much about the quality of the acting and the sets and the costumes as who is relevant-I have thought for a while that OL missed the boat time wise and it is set in another country-with an accent. I love the technical details but on reading them can see that neither S nor the sublime TM will come within sniffing distance of a gong…This show richly and rightly deserves them but that is in the real world.however you hit the nail fair and square when you introduced the word niche…it has a niche audience-vociferous tho we are-it is a very narrow band and from my experience outside of this band no-one has ever heard of it. I have many friends and I am the only one banging the drum to around 30-40 people..only another two actually like it…hey-ho but we can but hope-but thank you for the time you took to write the above….
Thanks for your kind words and for reading. Outlander has been tough to categorize ever since the first book was published—is it romance? historical fiction? Chick lit? None of the above? All of the above? And that challenge is only echoed in award circles where the judges’ ability to think seems even more narrow.
Anyway WE all know how wonderful these actors, writers, set designers, etc are. And as long as we fans keep clapping and STARZ remains happy about the large audience we should hopefully make it through to the end of the books on the TV series as well! Fingers crossed.
I would love for Sam to get a nomination. He is so deserving of it. I know that Tobias Menzies’ work was largely ignored for the first two seasons. Most actors couldn’t play Frank and Black Jack, without creeping us out each time we return to the twentieth century. But Frank stayed sympathetic throughout. I would love to see David Berry get a nomination in the future. I know the material that’s coming, so assuming there’s a Season Seven and Eight that will be made, I think he’ll get his chance. Those will be Lord John Grey’s banner years.
I saw the ad Starz put forth for Emmy consideration for Cait, but not one for Sam. Did they do one?
Sam needs one. End of story. I don’t care how beautiful he is (and he is) or how perfect his abs and tushie are (and, Lord, are they ever!) But he’s also one he!! of an actor and he’s been snubbed for two years now. I know he’s getting shafted again this year. I go to the Entertainment news sites and read their lists of “Who’s most likely to get nominated” and he’s never on it. Never. I read one with Cait. I read one that said Outlander was a “Dark Horse” Nominee. But, no Sam.
I saw in one of the comments someone mentioned Starz’s marketing department (or lack of marketing) and just waneted to add this–Oh, and PS, Starz is also not doing any marketing by sending anyone to Outlander to Comic Con this year. . . and I’m a little bitter. Not that I can go–I’m a poor momma from North Carolina who doesn’t have the money or the time to travel to San Diego–but I like watching the panels on Youtube and reading the interviews they do with the press. They just wrapped filming and maybe they’re taking a well-deserved vacation, but still.! I think it’s a mistake on marketing’s part to miss out on all the publicity they can get going into a Season 4 that’s been pushed back a couple of months just to make Droughtlander more “Droughtly.”
Okay, I’ll stop my ranting. Love ya mean it.
Sam suffers from Cary Grant/Paul Newman syndrome. Great acting and great looking somehow mutually exclusive.
JR writes so well, making this an easy to read analysis that I thoroughly enjoyed even though awards are not the measure of great entertainment to me.
It’s an engaging series that hopefully will continue.
Hmmm…do the stars hope for this, too?
AND the nomination went to ….somebody else. Except for Terry Dresbach and co, who are the bomb with the Batsuit!
Yup….it’s one of those times where I wish I hadn’t been so right….
besides hearing a bunch of stuff that was good but no cigars, I find it too partial that because an actor is very good looking, all his talent and good work gets pushed aside, so we should see ugly actors with an award and beautiful women with awards. I don’t get it, I’m the first one to say that yes Sam Heughan is a very handsome man, and a real dream of a man but if his acting is somewhat ok, I could care less on watching Outlander because I need to be convinced that he delivers the character Jamie, and he did with flying colors, no one can play that part like Sam Heughan. what I didn’t like was that he didn’t even had a recognition or in my words I would call it RESPECTED.
I love Outlander, it’s my favorite show ever, who cares about these awards, Ok, I would like to see them win for the sake of all the hard work on this show, but it will never change the fans love & feeling for this show. All the cast and crew has made outlander the greatest show ever & a series doesn’t renew for 6 seasons if it’s not spectacular and well loved by many. By the way, I can’t stand GOT, I did try but couldn’t get thru 5 minutes of watching it. I’ve heard a lot of people say they’ve never been obsessed with any show until outlander came along. Never in my life was I interested in how a show was made, I wanted to be entertained by the final product and could care less of any back story or how a show was made. Outlander is different, I can’t get enough of following the writers, actors, designers, production, anything to do with outlander & the making of Outlander, bring it on, I love it all!! I can’t explain this besides it’s one very special show that comes to you once in a lifetime, it’s very special, beautiful and full of history of the world. I look forward to all the future seasons of Outlander.
I think you are right and I’ve never seen most of the other shows you mention. I have seen a couple of GOTs episodes and don’t see Kit Harrington as an actor at all. He barely speaks and has one down in the mouth look. It is too bad that Sam, who acts with his whole face and body and voice would be ignored. I don’t think it is his good looks that hold him back. He is good looking but not that much. I think it is just that the show is on a network not everyone gets.
I too am shocked that Sam Heughan has not won any major awards…like best actor in a dramatic series. He has embodied the character of James Fraser to the fullest and no one can duplicate this or shouldn’t! I’ve read the books and cannot picture anyone else playing Jamie and Claire. The Emmy’s, Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards always pick the same people to win.
Maybe it’s because Starz is a premium station and not everyone has it, but Outlander’s following is so strong and the fans are so dedicated to this show, their time will come…thanks to Ronald E Moore and entire company for bringing us such a wonderful getaway and especially to Diana Gabaldon.
I would love for the show to get more recognition. I worry, though, that while the fans are legion and enthusiastic the show itself is still a niche show for Starz and that’s how the rest of the TV/Emmy world will always see it. Unfair but I fear sadly true.