2013 Emmys: Why Were There 7 Nominees in Lead Actress in a Drama, and More Questions About This Year's Race

On Thursday, two of TV's most adorable men, Neil Patrick Harris and Aaron Paul, joined together to announce the 2013 Emmy nominees. Along with the inevitable shock, anger, confusion, elation and pride that accompanies the nominees for TV fans come questions. So many questions! From the rhetorical (do Emmy voters know that The Americans exists?) to the more literal (do they have to pay for Netflix?), we've assembled some of the queries that this year's nominees inspired and set out to answer them.

Q: Why do the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series categories have seven nominees instead of the usual six?

This isn't the first time a category has included seven nominees. Just last year there were seven women nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category, and it has happened a few other times as well. Slate explained the process last year — seven nominees usually come as a result of a tie. Emmy rules actually allow up to 10 nominees in one category, in case there are ever a lot of ties in one category.

Q: Mayim Bialik and Anna Chlumsky are former child stars who turned to TV after long breaks from acting, and they were both nominated this year. What other famous child stars have gotten nods in the past?

With the Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohans of Hollywood, it's always nice to see a child star find success as a well-adjusted adult. Another one of this year's nominees, Arrested Development's Jason Bateman, got his start as a child actor on shows like Little House on the Prairie and SIlver Spoons. A few other former child stars have earned Emmy nominations in the past, including this year's Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris. He went from starring on Doogie Howser, M.D. as a kid to being nominated multiple times for his role as Barney Stintson on How I Met Your Mother, as well as a guest starring role on Glee, for which he won an Emmy in 2010.

Then there's last year's Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series winner Claire Danes, who has been acting since she was kid and was nominated for an Emmy at just 15 years old for My So-Called Life. Christina Applegate, who was nominated for Emmys with her short-lived series Samantha Who? and won for her guest role on Friends, started as a teenager on Married... with Children. Ron Howard, the narrator and executive producer of multiple Emmy-winning Arrested Development, started out as an actor at just six years old on The Andy Griffith Show.

Q: What the heck is Top of the Lake?

With five Emmy nominations, you may have just discovered Top of the Lake today. And that's too bad. Here are the basics: Top of the Lake is an Australian miniseries created and written by the groundbreaking director Jane Campion, and it stars Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss. The seven-episode series aired on the Sundance Channel in the US, and follows Moss' Detective Robin Griffin as she searches for a missing, pregnant 12-year-old. It might not pick up the win, but you can pick up a win if you check it out.

Q: Bobby Cannavale has been nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on Nurse Jackie. How many times has the perennial guest star (Will & Grace, Blue Bloods, etc.) been nominated?

This is only Cannavale's third time being recognized by the Emmys as a guest actor. Last year, he was also nominated for guest starring on Nurse Jackie, and won the Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series award in 2005 for his role on Will & Grace.

Q: Cannavale was also nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series this year, for his role on Boardwalk Empire. What actor and actress have been nominated for the most awards in a single year?

Just last year, Louis C.K. broke the record previously held by David Lynch for most nominations for an individual in a single year. The comedian was nominated for seven awards, three for his FX show Louie (one each in acting, writing and directing) and another four for his stand-up special Live at the Beacon Theatre.

Q: The Good Wife was nominated for three more Outstanding Guest Emmys this year. How many others has it been nominated for, and does it have the most Guest nominations?

With Michael J. Fox and Nathan Lane both nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series and Carrie Preston for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, The Good Wife has received nine nominations in the Outstanding Guest categories. Though that sounds like a lot, it is not the record. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has the most nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series with 15 nods, while ER has the most for Guest Actor with 14.

Q: Saturday Night Live received five acting nominations this year. Has it ever actually won?

It seems like SNL always fills the Outstanding Guest in a Comedy Series categories, thanks to its hosts, but it has not won very often. Out of six Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series nods, it's won only twice. The first time was in 2008 for Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin during the Presidential Bash, followed by Betty White for hosting in 2010. The Guest Actors have a better track record, with three out of four nominations leading to wins. Justin Timberlake won for hosting in 2009 and 2010, and though Jimmy Fallon was never nominated as a performer, he won for hosting last year.

But SNL has yet to win in a Supporting category. The series' only Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nod went to Bill Hader last year, but he was beat out by Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet. The show has also received six nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, two to Amy Poehler and four to Kristen Wiig, but neither woman has won.

Q: Justin Timberlake was nominated for his third Emmy this year, and won the previous two — all for hosting SNL. Has any other musician ever been nominated for or won an Emmy for acting?

There have been a few other musicians nominated for acting Emmys, however all have been in the Guest categories. Both Stevie Wonder and Sammy Davis, Jr., were nominated Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Seris for their appearances on The Cosby Show. Patti LuPone and Cyndi Lauper received Oustanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series nods, LuPone for Frasier and Lauper twice for Mad About You, one of which she won.

Q: Netflix's House of Cards made history by being nominated this year, as it is the first show to be nominated for an Emmy that is not broadcast on TV. When's the last time the Emmys made history?

Right now, cable shows seem to dominate the Emmys, but that definitely wasn't always the case. The Emmys actually had to change their rules in 1988 to allow cable network shows to even be considered. The first non-network show to be nominated was HBO's The Larry Sanders Show in 1993 as Outstanding Comedy Series. The first non-network Outstanding Drama Series nod didn't come until 1999, with another HBO show, The Sopranos. It would be a few more years until a non-network show actually won an Emmy though, with HBO's Sex & The City winning for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2001 and The Sopranos taking home Outstanding Drama Series in 2004.

Q: Maggie Smith was nominated for her role on Downton Abbey for the third time this year, and even though she's won the past two years, she has never collected her award in person. Does she ever go to awards shows?

It might've been physically impossible for Smith to go to all of the Awards ceremonies that she's been nominated for. She's won 40 awards and been nominated for another 53, and, yes, she has shown up to collect some of them, including some Oscar and BAFTA awards.

Q: American Horror Story: Asylum received 17 nominations this year, bringing its total up to 34. What show has gotten the most Emmy nominations?

American Horror Story is actually considered a miniseries by the Emmys, and it's come very close to breaking the record for most nominations for a miniseries. Roots still holds the title, but by a slim margin, with 37 nominations during the 1977 awards. If considered a series, American Horror Story wouldn't even come close to the record. SNL has it right now with 142 nominations, followed by ER with 124.

Betty White was nominated for Outstanding Reality Host for Betty White's Off Their Rockers after the show was canceled. Have any shows ever won an Emmy after being canceled?

Most recently, Arrested Development won Outstanding Comedy Series for its thrid season after its cancellation. Previously, a few shows had won for Outstanding Writing after being canceled, including The Ben Stiller Show in 1993 and Frank's Place in 1988. Deadwood also won a few technical Emmys after it had ended in 2006.

Q: Yet again, most of the Modern Family adults are nominated, but none of the kids have received a nod. Who were the youngest people to be nominated for and win an Emmy?

There are notably fewer young actors and actresses nominated for Emmys than many other awards shows, like the Oscars. The Hollywood Reporter has an entire article on the lack of young people at the Emmys, with insights from notable actors like Parenthood's Mae Whitman. One of the lucky few to be nominated, however, was Roxana Zal, who won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie award in 1984 at just 14. Though some have been nominated, like Claire Danes for My So-Called Life and Fred Savage for The Wonder Years, to this day no one under the age of 18 has won an Emmy for a TV series.

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