Billy Bob Thornton 'humbled' by Emmy nod
Speaking about his Emmy nomination for Fargo, actor Billy Bob Thornton admits he is out of practice when it comes to award season.PT1M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3bt8c 620 349 July 12, 2014
If the Emmys have demonstrated anything in their six decade-plus history, it is that the winds of change blow very slowly through their cobwebby forest.
Shows past their prime, shows that should have left the screen (let alone Emmy contention) long ago, and shows which, for some inexplicable reason, the Emmys just can't quit.
Done and dusted: Breaking Bad. Photo: Supplied
That seems to be the complexion of the nominations for the 66th annual Emmy Awards: a big fat old chunk of the past that just won't move on, and a whole lot of bad calls around the edges, with ungracefully ageing hits hanging around like a bad smell, and brilliant, young shows overlooked or sidelined.
The drama category is plump with old favourites: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men and one newcomer, True Detective.
But let's be frank: Breaking Bad is done and dusted, Downton Abbey stopped being brilliant in its second season, the second year of House of Cards wasn't as good as the first and Mad Men has sailed past its prime.
Denied: The Good Wife is arguably the best drama on TV. Photo: Supplied
Only Game of Thrones is a rock solid candidate, and it doesn't have a hope when you consider the historic prejudice against "genre" at mainstream awards shows.
So, where is The Good Wife? Where is Sons of Anarchy? Where is The Blacklist? Where is Ray Donovan? Where is The Walking Dead?
With so many extraordinary dramas to choose from, why not genuinely mark those which delivered their best years, rather than pay lip service to a handful of shows deemed to good to be overlooked?
House of Cards received too many nominations. Photo: Supplied
Okay, so Homeland and The Newsroom probably don't cut it, but Emmy, baby, you can't seriously be pushing Ray Donovan and The Walking Dead aside for Downton Abbey?
Even True Detective, which deserves to be there, is technically a miniseries but has been put into the series category because of regulatory fine print which affects shows badged with a "created by" credit. (Fargo, with the same anthology format, uses the wording "created for television by" and is therefore not affected in the same way. Don't start. It makes no sense.)
Which brings us to the second very big elephant in the room: Orange is the New Black nominated as a comedy? Shameless nominated as a comedy? Is the marketing department's hunger for nomination making these people make mad, bad decisions, or are we seeing plain desperation?
Poor decision or plain desperation? Orange is the New Black has been nominated as a comedy. Photo: Supplied
Both are obviously dramas but rather than suck it up and take their place in what is clearly a long queue to reach the top six, they are pretending that comedic story elements warrant competing against shows like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. You know, sitcoms.
That the Emmys' own governing body didn't step in to stop that particular farce reflects as poorly on them as it does on the shows which are using the fine print to do what amounts to cheating.
What is criminal about the Emmys this year is this: House of Cards got too many nominations, and The Americans, Sons of Anarchy and Ray Donovan got few or none. Casting aside Netflix's do-no-wrong magic spell which seems to have us all smiling like TV's answer to the Stepford Wives, all three of those shows had better seasons.
Overlooked: Katey Sagal's work on Sons of Anarchy leaves many nominees in the shade. Photo: Supplied
Jeff Daniels and Jon Hamm nominated for outstanding actor in a drama, but not Andrew Lincoln, or Charlie Hunnam? Michelle Dockery and Kerry Washington nominated for outstanding actress in a drama, but not Katey Sagal? Sagal's work on Sons of Anarchy leaves half of those nominated in the shade for texture, complexity and nuance.
So, what is it? Prejudice against bikers? Or prejudice against genre shows? Is it favouritsm towards Netflix because it's the shiny new toy in the toybox? Or simply blindness-by-the-light from film stars, such as Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey who are the big kids in TV's little yard?
Whatever the answer, it is clear the Emmy Awards aren't just splitting at the seams in category terms, they're actually losing their grip on common sense, weighed down by misplaced loyalty to TV shows which seem iconic but aren't, or seem like they ought to be guaranteed their berth, but oughtn't.
Most years there are snubs and oversights, but they are largely the construction of vanity and PR. This year there are gaping holes and few sensible explanations.
Where is Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany? Why was Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul nominated but not the brilliant Dean Norris? Why no nomination for Michael Sheen from Masters of Sex? Or James Spader for The Blacklist? And what about Girls, pushed not only out of the outstanding comedy category, but also out of outstanding writing and outstanding direction comedy categories as well?
And The Good Wife? It is arguably the best drama on TV when you consider its staff have to deliver twice the volume of a cable drama and move within the restrictions of America's free-to-air network broadcasting standards. They pumped out the best season of any show this year and were denied placement in outstanding drama, writing and direction? Seriously?
There is, in all of this, an echo of Frasier, a brilliant comedy which powerfully demonstrated during the 1990s Emmy's almost cloying affection and unwillingness to let go. No one could ever challenge it was a brilliant comedy, but years after other, better comedies came along, the Emmys were still smothering Frasier with love at the expense of everything else around it.
It feels almost like television as an industry has handed a baton between two generations, from an established suite of big TV shows and eminent actors to a new wave of edgy comedies and dramas, new actors and new, nuanced performances from familiar faces. But the Emmys, slow to play catch up, hasn't caught on yet.
In the end, however, the Emmys must lift their game or sacrifice their relevance. Time and tide wait for no man. Nor Emmy.