Hello, esteemed members of the Television Academy we don’t really want to piss off (like really, truly), but we see no other way. We’ve got some hard truth, real talkin’ news for you: it’s not us, it’s you. You’ve got some work to do before you can be the best possible version of yourself because you’ve grown stagnant and stale. It’s time for you to break up with some of your Emmy voters and start awarding series for their true merits and not just because they’ve already won all the awards.
As television has grown up in the past five years, so have audience tastes. Once the redheaded step child of movies, the much maligned medium was often where people went for their entertainment pudding. (Not to say it was bad — please! I love pudding! Who doesn’t? Sometimes pudding is exactly what you want and need. But I digress…) It went down easy, was sweet and delicious, and never took any effort like, say, chewing.
But television is a meatier sort these days, having had one of its most inventive, exciting, funny, different, and prolific years in ages thanks to shows like Silicon Valley, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Louie, True Detective, Broad City (Broad F—ING City!!!), Masters of Sex, Orphan Black, and Game of Thrones. But if you look at the list of winners, you’d likely never have known that, as the same ol’ sort took home a slew of the major awards last night. Heck — the first hour of the telecast was filled solely with repeat winners.
Kind of bizarre when one considers the achievements made in television in the past year.
“But Alicia,” you might say, “A few of those shows were nominated, though! Some even won a few awards!” Which, yes, that’s true: but theirs were wins that were few and far between — and largely technically based.
Why do shows like Modern Family and The Amazing Race, and people like Jim Parsons just keep winning year after year? I mean, shit: The Amazing Race has won every year it’s been eligible save one (2010, when Top Chef took the honor), and Modern Family has literally never lost the Best Comedy category. To call this sort of winning over other comedy series unjust is an understatement. Sure, Modern Family was a breath of fresh air when it premiered in 2009, but its competition has far surpassed it in years past. Can you see why a television obsessor might be a bit annoyed by that? Particularly when there are biting, brilliant comedies like Orange is the New Black and Silicon Valley rummaging around waiting to be respected?
And what about that Jim Parsons, eh? He was the first person to throw shade at his own win on Monday night — his fourth in the last five years — and question how and why he keeps piling up the trophies. Well there are several possibilities, and they all point to one thing: it’s time for a new guard of TV watchers who are passionate about and love the television being made now — in all it’s ever-evolving forms — to have the say.
Is it money? Is it the sheer number of shows? Is it laziness? Is it allegiance alá political party line-towing? Or are — and we’re sorry to say this but sometimes the truth really does hurt — the voting members of a certain age where, say, the brilliance and nuance of today’s television storylines, writing, and directing are lost on them? Are they all network loyalists? Do they relate to what’s going on in our modern, frenetic, messed-up world and how television is trying to make sense of and cope with that?
The only thing that seems truly fair, at this point, would be to reevaluate those voting members amongst the ranks. With 19,000 members — and no way for us, in all our googling and digging, to figure out even a general profile of who those 19K actually are — it may be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. With eligibility requirements that involve being at least 13 years old and, if not currently working, have “a significant body of work in telecommunications (as determined by the Peer Group Executive Committee of the Peer Group to which such persons belong),” it does seem fairly likely that there are folks out there that don’t really care, or don’t watch, or are just not the audience for today’s modern take on television. So mayhaps a bit of member culling is in order — at least on the voting eligibility front?
Because right now it all just reads as political, more-of-the-same-ing than anything else. And if television wants to be taken seriously and prove that it’s just as good if not better than movies, shouldn’t it look like its community of creators take it seriously, too?