Why do we even bother with this category? I mean, isn’t this going to be The Amazing Race’s race to lose at this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards? With 68 nominations overall and 10 amazing wins in this category, isn’t it a forgone conclusion? Two shows since the inception of the Reality Competition category in 2003 have managed to triumph over Race—Top Chef in 2010 and The Voice in 2013. Voters have favored one winner in its short history, and there’s a need for new blood here. None of Race’s competitors have been nominated less than four times. Talk about a need to change things up! Perhaps the available candidates just aren’t attractive enough on their own to merit a nomination, but there ought to be some room for original thinking. Here’s how I see this race shaping up this year, but it is just a guess since every year I hope Amazing Race folds its cards. However, the CBS series never seems to stumble when it really counts.
The Amazing Race, CBS
With an astounding 10 wins, The Amazing Race took this prize for seven straight years before its first upset in 2010. That’s definitely the amazing statistic of this Reality Competition race. This year the series landed only three nominations—editing, cinematography and the big one, where it is once again favored. The bones of this glorified travelogue are really starting to show wear and tear, but will it really matter? Do voters who keep giving this series the crown really care? What Amazing Race does is reliably provide CBS with one of its few guaranteed wins at the Emmys.
Coming off one of its best seasons ever, with Rumer Willis winning the mirror ball trophy, this venerable dance-musical series only belongs in this category because they declare winners and losers. Otherwise, it is solidly a variety series—and a good one at that. But if it couldn’t post a victory in the nine previous years it has been eligible and nominated, what would make anyone think it was about to start now?
Project Runway, Lifetime
This is the Lifetime show’s incredible 11th consecutive nomination in this category. And I expect it will be an 11th consecutive loss. Not trying to be harsh, but do the math. Perhaps the problem this show has had to overcome with Emmy voters is that it’s not a lightweight competition vehicle, but an overall first-rate reality series that just can’t seem to get a break. Bottom Line: If it hasn’t ever won before, don’t expect it to start now.
So You Think You Can Dance, Fox
This has been a perennial nominee in this category since 2011, chalking up half the number of nominations that other dance shows have amassed in twice the time. Despite SYTYCD’s loads of energy when compared to its fellow-nominated stable mate Dancing With The Stars, the show might just pale in sheer excitement. I doubt it. Both have recommendable things about them, however, SYTYCD’s biggest problem is out of their control: It is really a variety series dressed up as a reality competition.
Top Chef, Bravo
Cooking shows abound, especially on The Food Network, which has been uber-aggressive in recent years in vying for noms for their culinary shows and ego-inflated stars. But Top Chef is remarkably the only food show to resonate here with a 2010 shocker-of-a-win over then-undefeated Amazing Race. Maybe voters were just worn out—or hungry? Nominated nine times, this is the stealth entry no one really counts on but sometimes just manages to get a pat on the shoulder—an Emmy and a job well done.
The Voice, NBC
American Idol never managed a win here and has only one more chance with its final season next year. While sentiment could prevail then, it seems this Mark Burnett-produced show has left Idol in the dust—at least as far as Emmy voters are concerned. And indeed, The Voice has the kind of excitement Idol appears to have lost. Perhaps that is why this show took the prize in 2013 and has managed four nominations in a row. I wouldn’t be surprised—with Emmy rules allowing a wider sampling of voters this year—if The Voice again comes through loud and clear.
THE WINNER: The Voice