The Emmy nominations were announced this week. Some of my favorite shows got a boatload of nominations (Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, American Horror Story: Coven, to name a few.) So how come my main reaction was something like this:
As I mentioned in my Pop Culture Awards post from last year, it must be rough to be an Emmy nomination judge, especially in the drama categories. There are so many quality dramas now, with so many quality actors giving amazing performances, it’s not at all odd that a lot of people get left out.
There were also surprises, many of them fabulous, but some of the snubs were mind-boggling.
Let’s start with the snubs:
Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. In that same Pop Culture Awards post, I predicted Maslany would be nominated this year after being snubbed last year. My reasoning was that after picking up other nominations and awards ahead of this year’s Emmy nominations, it would be impossible for them to ignore her.
Even though she garnered several nominations (including a Golden Globe nomination) and won a Television Critics Award–they ignored her anyway.
I know there are a lot of reasons given for why she did not get nominated. For instance, the show is on BBC America, a small basic cable outlet. The problem with that reasoning? Netflix shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black AREN’T EVEN ON A TELEVISION CHANNEL, yet they get (very deserved) nominations.
Orphan Black is still very much a cult phenomenon (probably around 1 million viewers per episode at this point, counting delayed viewing on DVRs). Another BS excuse, as Breaking Bad had relatively low ratings for most of its run until the final two seasons. No one knows the viewership for the Netflix shows because Netflix won’t release the numbers–and I wonder if they do much better than Orphan Black. HBO’s Girls is another show that has reaped many major nominations in the past, even though its ratings aren’t that much better. (This year, though, it was limited to one major nomination.)
Lastly, unless it’s a popular show on one of the major networks, sci-fi/fantasy shows are lucky if they even get technical awards. So shows like Lost and The X-Files manage major Emmy nominations, while a hugely popular show like The Walking Dead gets only minor nominations because it’s on a basic cable station.
The prejudice against sci-fi/fantasy is absurd and even kind of pathetic. It’s really time for it to die out and awards voters to recognize the excellent work being done in those genres. The exception to the rule is Game of Thrones, which manages to overcome the sci-fi/fantasy prejudice possibly because it’s so much like a historical costume drama (with only occasional fantastical elements like dragons and zombies) that it allows some voters to forget it’s a fantasy.
My other problem with this snub is that Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey took what would likely have been Maslany’s slot. Now, nothing against Michelle, she’s a lovely actress and pulls off a rather remarkable feat: she plays a character who is a cold, sometimes nasty, snob and yet audiences see her as the story’s heroine. However, this year she did little beyond sulk. (In fact, I have a problem with most of Downton’s nominations; this was by far its weakest season.)
The academy needs to finally recognize one of the best actresses working on television today. Good news is, Orphan Black has been renewed for another season.
The Clone Clubbers will be watching you, Emmy nominators. Consider carefully next time or we’ll send our seestra Helena after you.
No Best Drama/Acting Nominations for Boardwalk Empire. There was talk about how this year was Game of Thrones “imperial phase” (best season). I wrote about how I thought this wasn’t exactly the case, but this season of Boardwalk Empire was UNQUESTIONABLY its imperial phase.
Boardwalk Empire has never been a critic’s darling like Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but this past season not only was stellar, with a beautifully composed tragic arc for the characters of Chalky White and Richard Harrow, the actors were also at the top of their game. NOT ONE OF THEM RECEIVED A NOMINATION. Steve Buscemi has been nominated in the past, but this year it is stunning to see Michael K. Williams (Chalky), Jack Huston (Richard) and Jeffrey Wright (Narcisse) all missing from the supporting actor and guest actor categories. (In fact, it’s stunning to realize Huston has not received ANY Emmy nominations for creating an iconic television character.)
The reason Boardwalk Empire was snubbed? Probably because HBO made the decision to submit True Detective in the Best Drama category rather than the Miniseries category. An interesting strategy that paid off for True Detective, but it hurt other shows that deserved nominations.
Pedro Pascal for Guest Actor on Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones racked up the most nominations of any show (19), so maybe it’s a little greedy to complain about anyone who got left out. But geez. Pascal was so phenomenal as Prince Oberyn Martell, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t included.
He could have so easily overplayed this showy role, yet he brought a lot of complexity and subtlety to it as well. Whether he was carefully needling the Lannisters (who Martell blamed for the death of his sister and her children), or flirting with characters of either sex, or showing off his fighting skills, he was a fresh presence on the show. He also had one of the most difficult scenes of the season, which was basically a very long exposition dump, and yet he did it so well it turned out to be one of the best and most memorable scenes.
Something else that bothered me that wasn’t about snubs:
Manipulation of Categories. As I mentioned, True Detective submitted in Best Drama rather than Miniseries, when it was CLEARLY a miniseries. Like American Horror Story, each season is going to be a stand-alone story with new characters.
As much as I adore Orange is the New Black, it’s absurd that so many of the actresses submitted in the Guest Actress category. They are all playing running characters on the show. I’m also not in agreement with the show submitting in the Comedy category. There’s humor, certainly, but the show is not a comedy. (In fact, I think this is a good argument for the Emmys to create a dramedy category.)
The Emmys should probably tweak their rules a bit to keep this kind of category manipulation from happening, so shows that get snubbed have more of a chance at nominations. With the success of American Horror Story, True Detective and Fargo, there will probably be more anthology-type shows in future, and the academy should consider splitting miniseries from movies and specials. As it stands now, they are all mushed together in one category.
O.K. enough negativity–what did I LOVE about this year’s nominations?
Game of Thrones FINALLY grabbed a casting nomination! Nina Gold has been a GENIUS at finding the right actors to play the roles on GoT, and yet she was snubbed the first three seasons. It’s about time she got some recognition.
Kate Mulgrew scored her first nomination–ever. That is mind-blowing. But, again, just shows how prejudiced these awards are against sci-fi.
Even though she’s in the wrong category, Laverne Cox becoming the first transgender person to garner an Emmy nomination. (By “wrong” category, I mean she doesn’t belong in the guest category–she should be in Supporting Actress.) Not only because this is historic, but because she is so good as Sophia.
Black Sails copped a few nods! Yes, for minor awards, but glad to see some recognition for my favorite new show. (It really should take two of them–for Outstanding Main Title Design and Original Main Title Theme Music.)
Cosmos garnered as many nominations as True Detective. Pretty impressive for an informational show, and so deserved!
What snubs made you mad? What nominations made you happy? Tell us in the comments section!