If you want to understand the Emmys, start with Mad Men

The Emmys are tonight! We love a celebration of the best of television as much as anyone, but as with any award show, remember that the nomination process is highly political and probably reflects the tastes and temperament of the voting body more than an objective measure of quality.

It’s interesting to see what Emmy voters broadly consider to be the most prestigious shows. The number-crunching wizards at FiveThirtyEight took a shot at quantifying the types of programs the Emmys love to nominate.

Generally speaking, sci-fi, fantasy and period dramas get nods for the technical awards. Late night comedy mops up for writing. Guest appearances on Law & Order will get you a nomination for acting. And right in the middle of all this is Mad Men, a show with a nomination pattern that matches the average Emmy show almost exactly. Unsurprisingly, that’s one of the most award-friendly shows in the last decade.

That article is super stats-wonky, but the point is that the Emmys have their own predictable tastes and politics. A show like The Americans is more likely to appeal to Emmy voters than Bob’s Burgers, even if Bob’s Burgers is wonderful and terrific.

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