Historically, I never cared a whole lot about the Emmys. TV tended to fall short of what I considered to be “high art” (that designation belonged to the cinema) and therefore the awards for such a medium didn’t really seem to be worth that much, ultimately. It’s like your kid winning best actor in his elementary school. But, as we all know, TV is indeed high art now. The worm has absolutely turned, and while my first love will always be movies, there has been some damn good television for a decade or more, and it shows no sign of slipping in quality. For everyBreaking Bad we lose, we gain an Orange is the New Black and a True Detective. Time is a flat circle.
So why are the Emmys so consistently awful, particularly this year? Yes, Breaking Bad will take its well-deserved victory lap (as will Cranston, and hopefully Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul) but how did Dean Norris get shut out? Why does mildly amusing schlock like The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family get love year after year while The Middle languishes in obscurity?
How does daring fare like The Americans get ignored while the while Downton Abbey (aka Britain’s version of Falcon Crest)gets lauded? And why does Shameless, currently the best show on television (R.I.P. Breaking Bad) get completely ignored in all categories other than the A-list star, Bill Macy?
When it comes to Shameless, I think we’re dealing a “coolness” factor, here. Shameless is on Showtime, and everyone knows the “cool” shows are on HBO. Modern Family is about the one-percenters having wacky adventures in Los Angeles, while The Middle is set in some dreary fly-over state that Sofia Vergara wouldn’t visit under threat of beheading. There’s no way anyone can objectively look at the lead performance Emmy Rossum turned in this year as Fiona Gallagher on Shameless and say “nah, not good enough. Hey, people, like that show Girls, right? Throw that chick in the mix and call it a day”. I mean, for Christ’s sake, her name is even Emmy. And how can anyone watch the performance of Noel Fisher this season and not be powerfully moved? Noel Fisher plays Mickey: the greasy, dirty, racist, and misogynistic petty thief and vandal who also happens to be the heart of the show. And he’s also gay and in love with Ian Gallagher. There’s never been a gay romance on TV as affecting and real and ugly and gorgeous and rewarding as this one and it’s killing me that the attention goes to Mitch and Cam and the annoying twinks on Glee.
But so far, that’s just all one man’s opinion. How about some cold, hard facts? Okay, sure: Natasha Lyonne and Uzo Adbua (Orange is the New Black) were both nominated for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Natasha Lyonne and Uzo Adbua are regular cast members in the opening credits of that show and appeared in every episode. Gary Cole (Best Guest Actor) is a regular cast member onVeep. Robert Morse (Best Guest Actor) is a regular on Mad Men. American Horror Story and Fargowere nominated for Best Miniseries while True Detective, also an anthology, was nominated for Best Drama. There’s no rhyme or reason for any of it. And yes, I know that the shows can submit in any category they want. So my question is: why? Shouldn’t there be at least some minimum standard for what qualifies you to be considered a “guest actor”? Like maybe you can’t be a guest actor if you’rein the fucking opening credits every week?
And finally, there are just two more abominations worth highlighting. Which one is the worse offense, I can’t say. It’s a dead heat between the snub of Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany (aka Sarah/Alison/Kosima/Helena/Rachel/etc) for Best Actress and the inexplicable shut out of Rian Johnson, who directed the best hour of TV this last year, and perhaps ever, Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias”. If you’ve seen Maslany’s incredible work playing half a dozen distinct and nuanced roles, then you know what a crime that is. And if you’re familiar with the incredible directing ability of Rian Johnson and the thrill-ride that was “Ozymandias”, you’ll be equally outraged.
Ironically however, the Emmys appear to be Shameless.