It’s time for an overhaul in Emmy land.
This much was clear after the 2014 nominations for the best that television has to offer were announced last week.
Why? Because there’s just too much great television now to contain in the six-or-seven-nods-per-category format. The proliferation of cable, subscription and premium channel programming has changed the TV landscape, yet the folks at the Emmys remain stuck in an archaic model for rewarding them.
It’s time for Emmy to roll with the changes and either expand its numbers per category or expand the categories themselves.
It’s the only way to truly recognize the vast amount of quality television that’s being produced in the 21st century.
The number of this year’s “snubs,” as entertainment writers like to put it, proves the old model doesn’t work. The shows and actors nominated are no doubt all worthy of the accolades, but so are several others who were shut out by the restrictive system.
Take the best-drama category – one of the most rich in its offerings on television today. Few could argue with the nominees: “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” and “True Detective.”
Even though I’m unable to personally weigh in on the merits of half of the above, I don’t doubt their popularity and critical acclaim. But I can weigh in on a few of the shows shut out – shows like “The Good Wife” on ABC and two from FX, “The Americans” and “Justified.”
Other critics have bemoaned the exclusion also of the shows and actors from Showtime’s “Masters of Sex,” BBC America’s “Orphan Black” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
In the best-comedy category, “Brooklyn Nine Nine” on Fox and HBO’s “Girls” were left in the lurch along with NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Showtime’s “Shameless.”
That’s a long list of justifications for Emmy expansion.
The folks behind the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences have two ways to go to be more inclusive.
1) They could expand the top categories – best drama and comedy and their respective actor and actress nods – from six to 10. That would mimic and expand on a similar move in the best-picture category by the folks who run the Academy Awards, so we aren’t talking unprecedented here.
2) They could break up the categories by having separate awards for broadcast and regular cable shows in one category (the big five broadcasters, plus cable channels most viewers have access to like FX, AMC and the like) and premium and subscription fare in another category (such as HBO, Showtime and Netflix). Five nods each would do the trick in this scenario.
But narrowing the list of snubs isn’t the only reason – or maybe even the most compelling reason – that the Emmy categories should be reworked. Moving along with the changing TV landscape is in the best interests of the Emmy telecast – read: ratings – and in the actual relevance of the awards themselves in entertainment culture.
Seriously, how many people who once faithfully tuned into the Emmys have skipped the awards show since premium channel shows started taking over the nominee lists? If you don’t watch most of the shows competing for awards because you don’t pay extra for the privilege, you probably don’t care who wins. Thus you’re likely not terribly keen on wasting three hours of your life on watching the statues being handed out.
Get more deserving fare available to the masses on those nominee lists and regain those who’ve decided the Emmys are irrelevant to them. This seems like a no-brainer.
There’s nothing wrong with changing with the times. In fact, it’s key to survival. The folks at the Emmys need to consider that, and soon.
Back to those snubs
On a personal viewing note, I’m downright disgusted that “The Good Wife,” “The Americans” and “Justified” were ignored by the Emmys this year.
Don’t even get me started on former Modestan Timothy Olyphant’s lack of recognition for his amazing work on “Justified.”
As Olyphant’s show prepares to enter its final chapter in 2015, I can’t believe he has been nominated only once in the best-actor category. Nor is it fathomable that his critically acclaimed show never has been recognized with a nod of its own.
Meanwhile, “The Good Wife” had an amazing season that managed to maintain its quality despite the loss of a beloved character. (Yes, I finally forgave the death of Will Gardner and finished watching last season’s final episodes. I am a believer again.)
And “The Americans” couldn’t be more gripping and well made. Keri Russell’s portrayal of a Cold War Russian spy absolutely deserved a nod, as well.
Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at email@example.com.