It is indeed a “golden age” of sorts for television right now, in that the rules are constantly changing and evolving, new platforms are being expanded, and opportunities for storytelling are opening up like never before. But as a consequence, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Television Academy to keep up.
What qualifies as a true, traditional “TV series” anymore? What is the distinction between a “limited series”, a “mini-series”, a “television movie”, and a "dramatic special"? Is “Orange Is The New Black” a comedy or a drama?
The Academy seems to change its collective mind on a yearly basis now, and these conundrums are consequently reflected in each new batch of Emmy nominations. This year is no different. In an effort to give everyone a fair chance to compete, things are frequently fudged, tweaked, moved around, or invented altogether to make room. But on the bright side, it allows so much more great content out there a space to be recognized.
And thus you create circumstances like the fact that almost every acting category, leading and supporting, features at least one person of color, including: Rami Malek, Anthony Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Cuba Gooding Jr, Courtney B. Vance, Idris Elba, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Regina King, RuPaul, Tracy Morgan, and many more. That’s not only an impressive turn-out, it’s a much-deserved one as well!
Other cool things of note:
- 3 of the 4 Directing categories feature at least one female director on the list (Jill Soloway, “Transparent”; Lesli Linka Glatter, “Homeland”; and Susanne Bier, “The Night Manager).
- 3 variety shows starring, hosted, or co-written by women are up for Outstanding Writing (“Inside Amy Schumer”, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”, and “Portlandia”).
- “American Crime Story”, Ryan Murphy’s dramatization of the O.J. Simpson Trial, makes up half the nominees in the Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special category.
- Reality series are now split up into “Structured” and “Unstructured” (basically the difference between shows that are pre-planned and those that are just cameras following people around).
- None of the Outstanding Drama Series nominees come from broadcast networks, and in fact each nominee represents a different network altogether: AMC (“Better Call Saul”), PBS (“Downton Abbey”), Showtime (“Homeland”), Netflix (“House of Cards”), USA (“Mr Robot”), FX (“The Americans”), and HBO (“Game of Thrones”).
- Aziz Ansari’s brilliant (and, I feel, underacknowledged) Netflix series “Master of None” nabbed a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as Aziz himself being recognized in the Lead Actor category, proving that the former “Parks & Rec” scene-stealer can most definitely carry a series on his own!
- “Roots” the adaptation of Alex Haley’s classic novel (and loose remake of the 1970s miniseries), was rightfully nominated in the Limited Series category, though oddly none of its brilliant cast was acknowledged in any of the acting categories.
- “A Very Murray Christmas”, which I had considered a holiday special, somehow ended up in the Outstanding Television Movie category, along with “episodes” of “Sherlock” and “Luther”.
- Both Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn nabbed nominations for Netflix’s way-underrated “Bloodline”, and I NEED THEM TO WIN.
- Lily Tomlin was nominated for her role in another not-talked-about-enough Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie”, although the Grace to her Frankie, Jane Fonda, was not recognized. Boo.
- The always-outstanding Laurie Metcalf has three nominations this year – for 3 different roles on 3 different shows!!! (Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “Getting On”; Guest Actress in a Drama Series for “Horace and Pete”; and Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”) Now THAT is what I call “diverse”!