The Emmys Got Things Mostly Right Again. So Let’s All Get Mad About Them.

Slate's Culture Blog
July 10 2014 11:33 AM

The Emmys Got Things Mostly Right Again. So Let’s All Get Mad.

emmy nominations
Sure, most of these actors were great. But Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom!?

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Emmys, in recent years, have more or less adopted the voting habits of a reasonably urbane TV viewer. The voting body appears to make a good faith effort to watch and appreciate lots of diverse television, on network and cable and Netflix, seeking out some little-watched series as well as the zeitgeist-capturing ones. If, as this morning’s nominations suggest, the voters still get moony-eyed about famous actors and shows that look like “serious dramas” (ahem, House of Cards, Downton Abbey), they now also pay regular fealty to Louis C.K. and Lena Dunham and know when it’s time to start snubbing Homeland. If they haven’t gotten around to watching The Americans or Broad City, they at least fell in love with True Detective and recognized Amy Schumer. If the movie and miniseries categories have been highly massaged or finessed or, shall we say, manslaughtered—an episode of Sherlock was nominated as a movie; Treme’s fourth season was nominated as mini-series; Fargo’s Allison Tolman, the lead on that show that hopes for a second season, was nominated for best supporting actress in a miniseries—at least they’re all deserving. The Emmys are doing what they can to try and please as many people as possible.

And you know what happens to people-pleasers.

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The simple fact is it’s no fun being reasonable about the Emmys. Sure, Orange Is the New Black got nominated for Best Comedy Series, Best Writing, and Best Directing, and Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox, and Kate Mulgrew all received nods for their acting on the show. But where the hell is Broad City and Brooklyn 99? American Horror Story, Fargo, Treme and Luther make Best Miniseries an extremely strong category. But did anyone voting for an Emmy actually watch Bonnie & Clyde?? Best Actor in a Drama is stacked: Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Spacey and, oh, what on earth— Jeff Daniels for Newsroom?! It’s great Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Christine Baranski got nominations, but how could The Good Wife, by far the year’s best network show, get shut out of Best Drama?!? Look, Louie and Veep and Orange are great, and the nomination for Silicon Valley is pretty unexpected and interesting, but Modern Family and Big Bang Theory for Best Comedy again??? SO BORING EMMYS!! SO BORING!! And all due respect to Margulies, Kerry Washington, Lizzy Caplan, Claire Danes, and Robin Wright, but where in the name of all that is just and holy is Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany????? Do any of these other women play nine different people in one show????? I THINK NOT!

I kid—kind of. The Emmys are now generally sophisticated enough that getting exercised about them feels worth it. And that, more than anything, is a reflection of just how much excellent television the Emmys has to choose from. The Emmys, even when not making boneheaded mistakes—I see your Best Actor in a Comedy category, Emmys, and don’t get me started about that Ricky Gervais nomination or I will All Caps the rest of this piece—couldn’t possibly acknowledge everyone deserving. And this is obviously great, if occasionally infuriating. But it’s infuriating in an invigorating way: Who wants to have exactly the same opinions as the Emmys? To agree with an entity that once ignored The Wire and Buffy and continues to snub the best clone actress of all time? Disagreeing with the Emmys is proof that you have your own TV taste, thank goodness. If we scream and moan loud enough, maybe next year, Maslany will finally be nominated. And then we’ll have to find some other disgraceful Emmy oversight to test our taste against.  

Willa Paskin is Slate’s television critic.

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