Let's Talk About: TV's Revolution & the Primetime Emmys

The Emmy nominations were recently announced and reaction to the snubs was on track with outrage in years past. The drama ballot included the usual suspects, veteran nominees “Breaking Bad”, "Downton Abbey" and “Mad Men” along with the star studded freshman series “True Detective” and cheeky newcomer "Masters of Sex".

The comedy category enthusiastically welcomed "Orange is the New Black". As “Fargo” cleaned up in the mini-series category. The overall victor for the amount of nominations was the smash hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones”, breaking the unspoken edict that sci-fi series typically go ignored.

The greatest change of pace seen on this year’s ballot was the absolute takeover of cablers and internet-exclusive series that practically shut out the major networks. As a result network stars such as James Spader from “The Blacklist” were overlooked. Spader being passed over was a particularly painful oversight given how deliciously rich his performance on the show was. He is the main instrument responsible for catapulting it into a ratings hit for underdog NBC.

Perhaps most troubling is that a network series like “The Blacklist”, which produced 22 episodes this season, was shut out in favor of cable series that produce 10 to 13 episodes a season. At this juncture, cable series need to compete in a separate category. The work demand that it takes to produce half of the episodes of a network series, simply isn’t equivalent.

For all intents and purposes, series like “Game of Thrones” are annual mini-series. “Fargo” wisely submitted under the mini-series category just as “American Horror Story” also does. Since there are so many series that meet that description it is time to acknowledge the variance and create a cable or “abbreviated form” category.

Personally the greatest snub dealt by the Emmys was the total lack of attention paid to “Bates Motel”, a series that delivered in every episode of its season. As a “Game of Thrones” viewer, its fourth season lacked consistency before blowing it out of the water in its finale. “Fargo” suffered a parallel problem, having a consistently stellar run before collapsing at the finish line in the finale.

In contrast, “Bates Motel” faced the uphill battle of a sophomore season and managed to more than succeed clearing the hurdle, a struggle a lot of shows fail to maneuver. “Bates” has extraordinary talent both in front of and behind the camera and it showed, given how it maintained the initial season’s quality. For it to go unrecognized is a cataclysmic snub.

As the landscape of television changes it will be interesting to see how the Emmy’s transform with them. It has been said that television is experiencing a renaissance and a lot of actors with major star power are jumping aboard. It’s an exciting time and a rewarding one for viewers as the barriers between movie and television stardom continue to blur.

The Emmys will respond in time and transitions require just that, time and patience. Making sure shows aren’t lost in the shuffle and the talent that deserves to be highlighted isn’t a casualty of the evolution should remain a top priority in the meantime.

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