There’s a very big problem with this year’s Emmy nominations | News Entertainment

There’s a very big problem with this year’s Emmy nominations

17 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

At nomination time, Emmy seems blind to many shows’ virtues.

Following Gold Derby over the past couple weeks has been grueling—to say the least. NEW YORK — The fantasy epic Game of Thrones and its home network, HBO, led the field in the nominations for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards announced yesterday (July 16). For any devoted awards watcher, the website is ground zero for news, and on the site’s prediction boards, where pundits weigh in on the actors and shows they think will be nominated, old faces have dominated. But while HBO held the lead, competition for the top prizes in drama and comedy continued to heat up across broadcast, cable and streaming outlets – signaling the vast changes reshaping the television landscape. “The pool is getting bigger, the number of great shows being produced is getting larger, and the end result is that more people are watching more television than ever before,” said Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the Television Academy, which oversees the awards. Emmy’s judges are all too susceptible to the safe, the familiar, and grinding repetition. (Item: “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, with three wins in a row, is nominated again.

Item: “Modern Family,” named best comedy series for five years straight, is nominated again.) Without the right blend of buzz and ratings, an actor or a show faces steep odds breaking in with Emmy. To get Emmy attention, the program’s quality must hitch a ride on squeaky wheels, which explains those noisy look-at-me campaigns that target judges every Emmy season.

Netflix earned 34 nominations — three more than last year — including recognition for its political thriller House of Cards and its prison series Orange Is the New Black in the drama category, and for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in the comedy field. At a time in which the streaming revolution is changing the way we watch television—on Netflix and Amazon, on our laptops and phones—the Emmys have been slow to change, and these predictions reflect the “more of the same” mentality that too often ruins the ceremony. After years of fan outcry, Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany finally got nominated, and current “It Girl” Amy Schumer landed a nomination for Inside Amy Schumer, the Comedy Central show that’s become a breakout viral hit.

In January, the series won a Golden Globe. “We are deeply proud of our creative partners, the most gifted and visionary collaborators working in television today and are honored by this morning’s Emmy nominations,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement. And in the wake of Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY Awards speech, Amazon’s Transparent landed bids for Best Comedy, Best Actor in a Comedy (Jeffrey Tambor), and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Gaby Hoffman).

Along the way, Emmy has stretched and added categories in a desperate attempt to keep up. (Is Emmy doomed to become a TV version of the Grammys?) One big-tent category this year somehow harbors Zach Galifianakis’ online “Between Two Ferns,” the Adult Swim cable channel’s “Childrens Hospital” and NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show. Set in a small Georgia town, it focuses on a native son who, after 20 years’ imprisonment for rape and murder, is exonerated and returns home, where he is received less than warmly by the locals. Jon Hamm will get his final chance to win an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men, the series about the advertising industry in the 1960s that completed its final season in May.

At the time of this writing, Gold Derby experts are predicting that Modern Family will take yet another victory lap—because that’s the way the Emmys work. At least, that would explain its aversion to Starz’ “Outlander,” whose romance-fantasy trappings are given gravitas through solid storytelling and a trio of splendid actors: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies as one of TV’s most nuanced blackhearts. When the show hit airwaves six years ago, the family sitcom from Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (no, not the guy from The Pagemaster) was the freshest broadcast show in ages. Featuring three couples of a variety of generations, ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientations, it offered a groundbreaking (for primetime TV, anyway) look at family dynamics in a changing America. And the transgender dramedy “Transparent” got a boost from high-decibel buzz and impeccable timing to score a remarkable 11 nominations for its fledgling online service, Amazon Instant Video.

The show’s success likely has helped open the door for other comedies that showcase families that don’t look like the Seavers or the Cleavers—like Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish, and Transparent—but ironically, that very progress has leftModern Family behind. Both actors feast on multiple roles as their characters go undercover, and they shine — as does Noah Emmerich playing the beleaguered FBI agent who lives across the street. As Daniel D’Addario pointed out in an editorial for Salon, the show looks increasingly out-of-touch in today’s America, as the show appears to take place in “a class-blind fantasy world”: These couples are, respectively, a construction company owner and a stay-at-home parent, a real estate agent and a stay-at-home parent, and a lawyer and a stay-at-home parent. It’s just presumed that this is how families work; when Claire, one of the stay-at-home parents, expresses regret over her choice, it’s because she loved the work she did in hospitality, not because the family is feeling any sort of pinch.

While many families deal with the ongoing effects of the 2008 economic downturn, the Pritchetts take lavish vacations to Hawaii and enjoy the comfortable spoils of an affluent California lifestyle, complete with expensive Apple products. (This season, one episode even took place entirely on Claire’s laptop.) This embrace of upper-middle-class conformity is painfully ironic for a the show has gradually become like the tired family comedies its mockumentary format was intended to satirize. Sofia Vergara, who plays Gloria, has a Spanish accent thicker than the Earth’s crust and a, uh, mountain range to match. … Playing a fiery Latina, her arcs regularly revolve around predictable “fiery Latina” jokes: her pronunciation, the violence of her native Colombia, her looks.

But rather than using people of color to spice up a white world, creator Jenji Kohan used OITNB’s white lead, Piper Chapman, as a way to tell the stories of those we don’t often see on TV. The show is just savvy enough to look like a smart choice, but not tooedgy—meaning it won’t scare more conservative members of the Emmy voting body. Considering the vast array of other, more acclaimed options—like Comedy Central’s Broad City or the CW’s Jane the Virgin—it feels like the voters aren’t even paying attention. Times, TV critic Melissa Maerz said exactly what the Internet has been wondering for years: “Are voters even watching Modern Family anymore, or is Modern Family just automatically rubber-stamped onto the ballot?” Modern Family deserves its place in TV and Emmy history, but if the awards want to honor the revolutionary wave of diversity that the show helped generate, we need to stop letting one show hog the spotlight every single year.

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