SAG Awards: Tim Goodman on TV Nominations-- Snubs, Surprises and More Snubs (Opinion)
Better late than never with "Homeland," and voters finally found FX with their remotes, but where are "Girls," "House of Lies" and "The Walking Dead"?
Now that the SAG Award nominations are in, let’s start with a positive since that’s so unexpected (at least when it comes to the television end of it). Congratulations, voters, on discovering Homeland, the series you whiffed on completely last year.
Alrighty, that pretty much ends the enthusiasm.
Unless, of course, you’d like a rousing hand-clap for matching last year’s total of two minority nominations? Or that your love affair with Betty White appears to be very consistent if nothing else? Would a back-handed compliment help? If so, congratulations on ignoring the whole Girls phenomenon. It was so reminiscent of your Homeland choke last year.
Enough niceties. Let’s start with the nominations -- or the lack thereof -- and finish off with the structure of the awards, which truly need to be modified if you want to be taken seriously (again, at least on the television end of things). No, check that, it can’t wait:
Is SAG too lazy to include supporting actor roles for television? Really? These are your people. Show them a little respect. Yes, acknowledging the collective work of an ensemble is kind of you, but it's also lazy, as if the organization is really saying, with a dismissive wave of the hand, “and all of these other actors as well, who we don’t have the time to acknowledge by name.”
Look, if you can have a “stunt ensemble” category, you can have supporting actor categories. It’s really that simple.
Also, SAG might want to send a memo to its voters with this part underlined: “We encourage you to use your remote. There are many and varied television series with wonderful actors in them. You’d be surprised.”
For example, discovering Louie is a big step forward – for a long while now it was worrisome that you weren’t getting FX on your cable package -- but doesn’t really cover up the Girls gaffe, which, honestly, took some doing. Don't you read? Everybody has an opinion on Girls, it seems. Except you people. Or the dozen or so wonderful comedies you could have discovered (most of them on the broadcast side, no less).
As an aside, yet relating back to the FX thing, just because you keep nominating Edie Falco doesn’t convince anyone that you’re paying for Showtime. She’s a great actress, unquestionably. But she’s not a comedy actress. Write that down (and don’t feel too bad -- it took the Emmy people awhile to get that memo as well). Also, to include Falco’s series in the ensemble comedy category is acceptable only in the sense that it does include some fine actors. However, the show is about as funny as The Walking Dead. (Then again, you also included the Glee cast in the comedy category. You really need to use that remote, people.)
Ah, The Walking Dead. You had to figure the conversation might circle back to cable’s most shockingly popular series that, um, you completely avoided. It has many wonderful actors. Lead actors and actresses even, since you love them so much. At the very least, your all-inclusive ensemble laziness should have been bestowed here. Same goes for Game of Thrones. Their absence in your categories is embarrassing. There’s no other word for it.
And if you think that’s harsh, consider this: There is no recognition among your nominations for Justified and Sons of Anarchy from FX, Sherlock from PBS, The Hour from BBC America, Shameless or The Borgias from Showtime. That’s not an oversight; that’s incompetence. Adding supporting actor roles would fix part of that shame. (Are you sensing a theme here, or do I need a bigger anvil?)
And listen, pony up for Starz. The lack of Kelsey Grammer among your nominees is ridiculous, just as it was when the Emmys overlooked what has been, for two seasons, arguably the best acting on a drama. Any drama. I’m no believer in Grammer’s contention that his politics have played a part in his exclusion, but if this keeps up, it might at least have to be given some credence. And hey, not to hammer home the obvious fix here, but supporting actor roles in television and a subscription to Starz might have let you at least consider the work done on Magic City.
Now, a quick jaunt back to your biggest oversight: Girls. It’s very hard not to play the age-bias card here when you’ve nominated Betty White again. She’s a treasure; no one’s arguing that. But Hot in Cleveland is woefully bad. And if you wanted to reward an older, well-regarded actress who gets -- and kills with -- all the best lines of a series, you already were covered Downton Abbey's with Maggie Smith. Maybe Girls and, specifically, Lena Dunham, will get the better-late-than-never makeup nomination next year that went to Louie and Homeland this year. That would be swell. But the point is this: You’re out of touch.
Again, these are your people. Do a better job.
Look, if the argument in the drama category is, “OK, smarty-pants, who would you cut out?,” it’s a reasonable dodge. However, we’re still in the thick of an impressively ongoing television renaissance, so you could add a sixth nominee. It would be justified (oops, shouldn’t use that word). In any case, you have no argument at all in defense of your shortcomings until you add supporting actor categories. After that, the nitpicking can be more finely attuned and less prickly. For example, including Glee and The Office -- two series well past their sell-by dates -- might not be so aggravating if, say, actors from Veep or Raising Hope or Community or, well, a double-digit number of other comedies might be included.
Oh, and back to the race thing for a moment. It’s clear you’ve never seen Treme. But there’s a comedy on Showtime called House of Lies. It stars Don Cheadle. Might want to check out his work.
In conclusion, please remember that there’s an unbelievable amount of brilliant acting on television. Rubber stamping hurts everybody. So pick up the remote, see what’s out there, and just do better next time.
2014 Emmy Awards
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