Note the date of this article very carefully. It is the date and time that the Emmys officially became irrelevant.
Now I know those of you who frequent my blog know that my frustration with the Emmys runs long and deep. It dates back to my early years of television viewing when brilliant series like Homicide, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gilmore Girls were routinely shafted by the Academy. It got deeper when brilliant series like The Shield and The Wire never got their fair share. But this season may have come the time when the Academy finally revealed their true colors for the toothless, dullard, unimaginative old farts that they are. There have been years where the Emmys have express lack of respect for great series but very few like this.
It is the eternal frustration with Broadcast network heads that Emmy voters seem singularly pressed to treat every nugget that HBO produces as though at it was as golden and pristine as when they were producing Six Feet Under and Deadwood. Perhaps this is a fallacy of my own, having never gotten into Game of Thrones the same way that, well, the rest of the world seems to have. And in fact I was very impressed by some of their more recent productions, such as True Detective. But it was an anthology series, and should be competing against Fargo and American Horror Story. (I also find it very telling that Treme could only get nominated when it was changed from a regular series to a mini-series. Either way, it didn’t deserve recognition. Sorry, David Simon.)
Even more frustrating in the constant shafting of The Good Wife for Best Drama over Mad Men for the last two seasons. Now I know that the Emmy voters have the misguided habit of giving a series recognition years after a series passes its peak; God knows Law & Order and NYPD Blue were. But The Good Wife fell off the grid when it was actually getting better; Mad Men seems to be rewarded for getting worse. At least, they managed to retain some credibility and left Homeland out of contention.
Which brings me to an interesting codicil: The Emmys are now far less relevant than the Golden Globes and The Broadcast Critics. This is the second year in a row that both groups have given nominations or awards to actors and series far more frequently ignored. This year the Globes nominated Michael Sheen for Masters of Sex and James Spader for The Blacklist. The Broadcast Critics nominated Matthew Rhys for The Americans. The Emmys nominated Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm… again. For Best Actress, the Broadcast Critics nominated Vera Farmiga for Bates Motel and, for the second consecutive year, gave their Best Actress prize to the remarkable Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black. The Emmys nominated Kerry Washington for Scandal and Michelle Dockery for Downton Abbey. Again. The Golden Globes gave their Best Comedy and Best Actor prize to Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Andy Samberg, neither of whom was recognized. The Broadcast Critics gave Best Actress nods to Amy Schumer and Abby Jacobson for their work on Comedy Central comedies The Emmys nominated Lena Dunham and Melissa McCarthy. Again Thank God Two and a Half Men finally fell below their radar.
Now I know there are encouraging signs for those who care to look for them. Fargo’s 18 nominations are definitely signs that the voters aren’t completely crazy when it comes to FX. House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, each of which received 12 nominations, shows that the voters are willing to go beyond their TV to recognize great programming. The fact that Key and Peele, Portlandia, and Inside Amy Schumer received writing nominations would seem to indicate that they’re finally looking beyond SNL and The Daily Show for comedy. The fact that they are starting to separating costuming and hairstyle in period pieces is also encouraging as Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire seemed to be winning them every year. And the fact that such brilliant non-fiction series as Cosmos, Years of Living Dangerously, and The Writer’s Room shows that TV might be getting beyond the usual navel gazing.
But the fact is that in many ways, the Emmy voters gazes, which had admittedly widened in the past few years, seem to be narrowing once again. Broadcast Networks should be justly worried that Emmy rating, which have been plummeting year to year, will probably hit a new low, unless there are a huge amount of people who care about Breaking Bad and Big Bang Theory. This may be a golden age of television, but the Emmys, which one swung immensely in favor of Broadcast TV, now seem to be swinging dangerously away from it.
Stay tuned to this site for more specific complaints… and trophies, cause there are, for all this, some encouraging signs.