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The Emmy Award Nominations Continue to Honor Stars for Past Work Rather than Current Merit

If I had to write an Emmy snubs article in three words, it would not be very difficult. The words “Ron f***ing Swanson” would suffice. Parks & Recreation was snubbed almost entirely from the awards, save for a nom for Amy Poehler. Poehler’s nomination should hardly come as a surprise to anyone, but the lack of surprise candidates is a sentiment felt across the board for the 2013 Emmys.

This worked more for dramas than it did for comedy. I hate rewarding shows that are on the decline with more nominations, so Mad Men’s presence in the Best Drama category is bothersome, but not completely ridiculous. The Emmys tend to follow golf logic with its nominations. Past winners are rewarded with more nominations. The problem is that they’re being rewarded for work of the past and not the present. uU80h

House of Cards is a worthy contender for Best Drama, but I wouldn’t call this surprising at all. It might be on Netflix, but any show with a 2-time Oscar winner as its lead stands a good shot at a nomination. Even it was on Lifetime.

Emmy nepotism was felt across the board for comedy. Louie and Girls deserve to be there. Veep and 30 Rock do not. Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory had down years with as many unfunny episodes as gems, but snubs would represent a serious shift in Emmy voting patterns.

Matt LeBlanc, Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle, Tina Fey, Edie Falco, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, and Julie Bowen are all undeserving of nominations (I can explain each of these, just ask in the comment section). That’s more than half of the comedy actor nominations. There are two primary reasons for this. Around half were nominated because they were great on older shows or movies and the other half were nominated because they have Emmys already. There are a few guilty parties in the Drama field, but it isn’t suffering from as bad an infection of nepotism.

The Comedy series nominees should’ve been Girls, Louie, Parks & Recreation, Enlightened, New Girl, and Suburgatory (sorry Happy Endings, you had a down year too). Innovation and humor should be rewarded. Stagnant pretentious hogwash like 30 Rock and Veep should not be consistently rewarded. Veep might be a new show, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus would receive a Best Actress nomination for reading a grocery list. Elaine was a great character, but Seinfeld is over.

Speaking of Seinfeld, Ron Swanson is the greatest comedic character on TV since Cosmo Kramer. Yet he received no nomination? That is the biggest shame of this year.

There isn’t really a show that got robbed half as bad as Parks & Rec. ABC Family’s Bunheads has quietly become one of the best shows on TV (so quiet that it might be cancelled soon) and I would’ve swapped it out for Mad Men in the Best Drama category if I got to make the selections. I would have never been foolish enough to predict that it would get a nomination.

Now I’m not saying that the Emmys should be picked based of popularity. I don’t want Two and a Half Men or anything with “Real Housewives” or “Kardashian” in the title at the Emmys. This logic is often applied to the Oscars and I think it’s rather flawed. Plus Parks & Recreation is not a strong performer in the Nielsen ratings system so it wouldn’t be nominated by that logic either.

I just find it hard to believe that a majority of the voting population actually sat down and decided to award a show like 30 Rock multiple nominations based on the actual merit of its quality compared to the plethora of good comedy out there. We are in a new golden age of comedy. So why are we still rewarding the past?

The fact that The Wire has no Emmy is indicative of how little these awards matter in terms of a show’s impact or legacy. Parks & Recreation doesn’t need any Emmy to keep its loyal fan base. But I’m also not willing to say that the decisions of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences doesn’t matter either.

Shows that are on the cusp benefit greatly from awards. Enlightened could’ve benefited from some love last year, and some awards recognition could be what saves Bunheads from its increasingly grim fate. Yet quality is being passed over for the usual suspects (not a shot at Kevin Spacey).

The 2013 Emmys will not be a showing of recognition for the best that television has to offer. Rather, it will be a pat on the back for the industry’s loved heroes for their success that for the most part happened well earlier than 2013. There are a few deserving nominees, but the snubs are blatant and unacceptable. In addition to all the bacon and eggs, Ron Swanson is deserving of all the Emmys.

One Comment

  1. The Colonel

    That the selection people for the Emmys tend sometimes to be whores for the industry establishment should come as no surprise after decades of the Oscars. The only exception I can think of offhand is the Nobel Prize for Literature which seems out of a sense either of political correctness or simple Resentment Industry hatred of the dominant Anglophone/Western European culture seems to favour authors I never heard of and sometimes writing in languages nobody I know speaks. In this it is very like the Peace Prize (which has become a farce) and very UNlike the ‘serious’ Nobels in medicine and science, which seem to be awarded to great people doing great and serious work to make the world a better place.

    Still, one must recognize that ‘De gustibus non est disputandum’ is an ancient and venerable principle.

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