These Emmys Might Mean More If the Voters Actually Watched the Shows


Gillian Anderson American GodsStarz

There’s a big difference between the Emmys and every other major awards show. Besides the TV half of the Golden Globes, only the Emmys allow for repeat nominees and winners, because every year, new content is being created for the same shows that we’re seeing on our televisions, computers, phones, or wherever.

This is good and bad. Good, because it allows for the consistent recognition of certain performers and shows, year in and year out. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, deserves every award she gets, even if it has gotten a bit predictable and, perhaps, tiresome, as well.

Which is the bad part. It’s gotten so predictable that there’s rarely any drama left over in the proceedings, and the only reason why we should expect any this year is due to Game of Thrones production delays. Predictable, and, yes, tiresome, because with the exception of the occasional stunner — your Rami Maleks and Tatiana Maslanys — it’s fairly easy to discern which show and which performer, even which writers and directors, are going to be handed trophies for their work.

Herein lies the issue. Emmy voters are lazy, and the question has to be asked whether or not the majority of them are even watching the shows for which they’re voting.

To be fair, there is an enormous amount of content to watch, and I know it’s difficult to watch it all, but, the whole point of being a voting member of the Television Academy is to, y’know, actually vote for the stuff that deserves to be recognized. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I was raised with the idea that a worth doing is a worth doing well. That’s why, back in the day, I was such a good bartender, despite how much I hated doing it. And being forced to sit down and watch a lot of quality television to decide whether or not it’s worth your vote is, by any stretch of the imagination, a much easier gig.

Crazy Ex GirlfriendCW

So, pardon me for not having a whole lot of sympathy, especially when this laziness has led to yet another Best Comedy nomination for Modern Family, a show that has not seen its best days in a number of seasons, but continues to be nominated every year because, well … it’s still on, right? Which means it must still be funny, yes? So … we should probably vote for it!

Don’t laugh, I imagine the show scored a large percentage of its tally from Academy members who were working with that exact kind of logic. And that’s just unacceptable, especially when a show that is far more deserving — like, say, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — gets ignored in the process.

Because Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is, in just about every way right now, a far better, more interesting, entertaining, original, groundbreaking, challenging, envelope-pushing show than Family — and I know this because I make it a point to tune in a couple times a year to Family, to confirm that what used to be so much fun now feels so tired and strained — but it’s easier to vote for the perennial nominee, and besides, CXG is on the CW, and who even watches that network?

Another good comparison is between two shows that I actually love, one of which was recognized yesterday, while the other was not. So we’re clear before I even get into this, nothing you are about to read is in any way a disparaging or denigrating of Netflix’s Stranger Things, because I adore the show and firmly believe it deserves every kudo it gets. However, is it an appreciably better program than Starz’s American Gods? I honestly don’t think that it is, but Stranger Things earned six nominations, and American Gods didn’t even get one.

Which leads me to double down on the laziness accusation levied above, because one of those two shows received an inordinate amount of hype, while the other did not. And if you don’t believe it, I present Exhibit A, Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser’s nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for her performance as (spoiler alert!) the ill-fated Barb Holland. As the show became a sensation at the end of last summer, so too did the character Barb and, by extension, Purser herself.

Barb Stranger ThingsNetflix

Again, she’s terrific on the show, and I’m happy for her, but have you happened to check out Gillian Anderson’s work on American Gods in what would be the same category? Odds are, you haven’t, and I’m guessing that most of the Television Academy hasn’t, either, or else her name would have been read yesterday. She’s that good.

Not that this is an either/or proposition. It’s not. But two actresses were up for the same category, and the actress who got the nod works on a show that has a great deal more cultural awareness surrounding it than the other.

Call it a coincidence if you like, but to further back up my argument, I’ll give you one more. Carrie Coon is, quite possibly, the best actress to appear on your television in the past 12 months. Not just because of her work in Fargo, which was recognized, but also for her work in The Leftovers, which wasn’t. You ask me, a devoted fan of both shows, her performance in the latter was not just superior to her work in the former, but somehow vastly so. However, lots of people watch Fargo, and very few watched The Leftovers before it completed its three season run, so, again, there shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that she was nominated for Best Actress in a Limited Series, but not for Best Actress in a Drama Series, which is as big a crime as any perpetrated this year.

There has to be a better way to do this. We live in the 21st century, where we can pay every bill, order every piece of furniture, buy our groceries, connect with other singles, do pretty much anything we want, all over the internet. You’re going to tell me the Television Academy can’t change its voting system to ensure that its members see an overwhelming number of eligible shows? It can’t set up a program wherein, every time a voter sees a show, it registers in a central database, and when enough shows are viewed, said voter’s ballot is released to him or her?

Because I’m betting it can. It could do this at any time, and fix a lot of these issues, if it weren’t so … um … what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s right on the tip of my tongue … Wait! I have it.


Neil Turitz 2 is a filmmaker and journalist who has spent close to two decades working in and writing about Hollywood. Feel free to send him a tweet at @neilturitz. He’ll more than likely respond.


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