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Emmys Curse! Why Modern Family and Mad Men Stars Should Worry

Sophia Vergara, Modern Family, John Slattery, Mad Man, Tina Fey, 30 Rock Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC; AMC; ABC/BOB D'AMICO

Sunday's Emmy Awards will find Modern Family and Mad Men going for repeat wins.

But should either show really want another statue?

The surprising answer is:

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Maybe not!

Nielsen history shows a pattern of diminishing TV ratings returns for series that win, and win, and win at the Emmys.

Or, to put it another way, the awards-show bounce loses its bounce with use.

Take 30 Rock.

The Tina Fey Emmy favorite topped the Comedy Series competition for three consecutive years, from 2007-2009. The first win worked its magic: The following season, the low-rated show broke into the Top 100. The second win seemed to help even more. 

But after the third win? The comedy slid right back down.

This was hardly an isolated result.

In the 1970s, 30 Rock's spiritual foremother, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, won three straight Emmys. Sure, the first trophy made the hit series a bigger hit, but the Nielsen glow was gone by the third—the series ended its storied run out of the Top 30.

Dramas can show Emmy-win fatigue, too.

The West Wing, which found itself elected to an Emmy-record four straight wins in its series category in the aughts, saw nothing but steep viewership defections after its third win. 

But as bad things look right now for Modern Family and Mad Men—and both shows are the oddsmakers' consensus picks to be Sunday's big winners—neither seems likely to be doomed by success. 

Modern Family's only looking for its second Comedy Series win, and only heading into its third season—it's a baby.

Mad Men, meanwhile, will be in the hunt for its West Wing-tying, fourth Drama Series trophy. But even in repeated victory, it'll be hard for the Matthew Weiner series to wear out its welcome: It hasn't aired a new episode since last fall, and won't air a new one until next March. It's a tease.

Besides, the still-running Amazing Race, it of seven-straight wins in the Reality Competition category, would tell the Pritchetts, Dunphys and Drapers, there's no such thing as too many Emmys.

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