Tim Goodman on Pitiful Diversity, 'Mad Men's' Drama Snub and Other Emmy Nomination Crimes
THR's chief TV critic on more mind-boggling missteps in Thursday's announcement.
If you thought one Emmy nomination complaint column was all I had in me, let me disabuse you of that notion by trying to take the neon “WTF?!” sign in my head and turn it into words. Let’s start here: Of the 94 acting nominations, five of them went to minorities (Kerry Washington, Don Cheadle, Sofia Vergara, Alfre Woodard and Morena Baccarin – who was born in Brazil). Might want to adjust the lens on that one, Emmy voters.
And because you will never, ever be forgiven for snubbing The Wire – only the best series in television history – consider that acting nominations for minorities on that one show each season could have topped the five you came up with using four shows and a movie this year.
(Maybe if David Simon had killed off all his characters each year citing gun and drug casualties in Baltimore, he could have called the show a miniseries like American Horror Story and you would have had more opportunities to bump up those minority numbers.)
Aside: You realize this American Horror Story thing is a problem, right? Well, when you fall out of love with it, maybe tinker with the rules a bit.
But now that I’m thinking about this race thing, is it possible that a bunch of Emmy voters thought Orphan Black was about black orphans and thus didn’t watch? Just looking for rhymes and reasons for the mysteries at hand, people.
Moving on: Television is a writer’s medium. So what do you see if you look at the drama series category? Not one nomination for Mad Men, which is without question the one or two most consistently brilliant series now being written for television. The other, Breaking Bad, got two nominations, which were deserved.
The late, great Henry Bromell got one for Homeland (arguably the best episode of the year for that show). Game of Thrones got one. And the other went to Downton Abbey. This means that two of the best drama nominees -- Mad Men and House of Cards -- were completely excluded. But beyond that, it’s a rejection of series like The Americans or Rectify, Justified, Southland, etc., that failed to even get much notice in any category but deserved at least some recognition here.
Again, repeating what I stated in my main Emmy analysis piece, the time has come to expand these categories to 10. First, what does it hurt? But more important, how can the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences not have thought about this in the past few years when a record number of scripted series were being produced? With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others pushing harder into the game, this needs to be addressed immediately across all categories.
(Also, just saying before I forget yet again: Maybe you should add a category strictly for documentaries. Haven’t you screwed Ken Burns long enough? That catch-all nonfiction category is way too undefined – something that should have been obvious years ago.)
In the comedy writing category, there’s no nomination for Arrested Development, which is an asinine oversight nearly as egregious as excluding the show from the best comedy category. Of those comedies actually nominated, no writing nominations went to Girls or Veep (but two went to The Office and Episodes, which weren’t nominated). If you expanded the categories, it wouldn’t look like you’re trying to randomly -- but ineffectively -- spread the credit around. Just because The Office is leaving doesn’t mean you reward the series finale at, say, the expense of a show like Parks and Recreation, which is funny every week.
Also, just so I’m straight on this: Saturday Night Live is a “variety series” and a “comedy series” plus a “variety special”? No confusion there, clearly. But I must say that gives you an inordinate amount of opportunity to continue your ludicrous, unfathomable blind spot for the merits of that … that … whatever it is, which is, at best, erratically humorous.
Extrapolated, what I’m taking from this is that you think Saturday Night Live is -- and thus should be eligible for -- three things, while documentaries are half or quarter of one thing. Maybe Burns should do a documentary on how your members vote?
You have a similar nonsensical issue with “outstanding writing for nonfiction programming” where the catch-all pits Burns and writing partner Dayton Duncan and their documentary The Dust Bowl (which has a coffee-table book of source material) going up against Anthony Bourdain (an excellent writer, by the way) for his Parts Unknown special for CNN. Both good, both vastly different entities for a writer to undertake.
The Dust Bowl, by the way, wasn’t even nominated in the outstanding documentary or nonfiction special category. That’s just a big bowl of wrong.
(Nor was The Dust Bowl nominated in the outstanding documentary or nonfiction series category, or the outstanding informational special category. Which tells me that even when you have room to celebrate greatness, you still can screw it up pretty handily.)
But there’s no getting around this overall main point: You can expand the categories. Or, more accurately, you have to expand the categories. For the benefit of all the people doing great work in a medium you’re trying to represent and celebrate. You’ve got a year to make the fixes. And … go.