Overcoming Emmy Snubbing of Genre Shows

July 24, 2009 by  

no-emmy-statueGenre shows are typically – for lack of a better word – “snubbed” when Emmy Award nomination time rolls around. While many genre shows seem to only be popular among certain target audiences, there are some that cross all lines and divides. HBO has an excellent history of broadcasting just those types of shows. Unfortunately, there is also a dark history of such shows being snubbed by the Emmys. Why is this? After all, followers of genre shows are fiercely loyal consumers. Walk through any flea market, collector’s spot or visit just about any online retailer, and this becomes apparent. Turn on any network, and you are almost sure to see stars of those shows playing major roles in mainstream television shows and films. Many of them got their start on the set of a genre show. The fact that one could be a springboard to a long acting career, speaks volumes.

‘The Wire’, an urban drama set in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of the most socially relevant programs of its time, but for some reason, it too was all but snubbed by the Emmy Awards. The amount of nominations it received was the polar opposite of the amount of viewers and hype surrounding the show. It seems that ‘Alan Ball‘s True Blood’ is destined to meet the same fate. Can this be changed? Certainly it can be changed. Will this change? The answer to that is an unequivocal “no”, unless and until, we as followers and fans, make our voices heard in a fashion that all can understand. How do we achieve this? I believe that a well thought out blitz of e-mails, snail mails, forum posts, and the like are the beginning of just such a campaign. I suggest to each and every one of us who has a blog, website or social media page (who among us does not?), that we should flood the awards committee with heartfelt, intelligent commentary on why we believe genre shows – and all shows that feature out of the ordinary, yet relevant content – deserve a second look and most importantly, accolades. Could the Emmys have believed that ‘The Wire’ was just a gritty, urban drama with no point or valuable lesson to be learned? With respect to ‘True Blood’, could the ever frightening vampires have turned their focus elsewhere? Could it be that for all of the advances television has made in broadcasting not only socially responsible and relevant programming, but also unique lineups that capture the attention of countless audience members, whose demographics cross all barriers, including race and gender – that the Emmy Awards just has not made it to that stage? Is it because the plain “vanilla” shows seem safe and they believe that advertisers prefer to showcase their brands while those shows are garnering much of the attention? I really do not know the answer to why a show as popular as ‘True Blood’ would only receive a handful of nominations. I struggle to understand why genre shows do not receive more love from the Emmys. After all, walk by any “watercooler” or breakroom at any random place of employment the day after one of those popular genre productions airs – much of the small talk you will hear tends to focus on what folks viewed on television the night before.

Perhaps the history of Emmy snubbing as it relates to genre programming is nothing more than a group of people who are afraid to step out of their comfort zones. Quite likely, it may be a case of bias based on older shows that may have had one central theme that just did not appeal to a large audience. No matter what, ‘True Blood’ does not fit into either of those categories. With the exception of underage audiences, the show does have something for just about everyone. Perhaps it is just a matter of capturing the Emmys’ attention at just the right moment. Readers, let us hear from you with your suggestions. If we unite, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish.

As far as ‘True Blood’ goes, it is one such show that garners much attention. There is a reason that it is the subject of much talk from week to week. To what can that be attributed? Content – interesting, unique, attention capturing content – content that is hard to top. Most regular viewers sit on the edge of their seats while the show is playing and they enjoy every minute of the show. One of the interesting themes intertwined into ‘True Blood’ is the show’s portrayal of vampires living among everyday citizens. Another interesting element of the show is the banter between the American Vampire League and the religious right.

We urge the Emmys to consider breaking out of the box in which it has been so neatly packed for a very long time. While that box seems to be opening, we would like to see genre shows begin to receive the attention they deserve. We urge them to take a look at ‘True Blood’ and similar shows that deserve just as much attention as the usual suspects. We predict that many of the stars of ‘True Blood’ are only beginning to launch bright careers. Years from now, people will be asking why the show – and its strong characters – were not the recipients of numerous Emmy nominations. [Editor’s Note: In addition, True Blood is more than a sex and violence drenched soap opera. Its sometimes piquant, but never overwhelming, social commentary on oppression, mob mentality, health care, religion and it’s challenging of our assumptions of good and evil lifts it beyond mere ‘entertainment’. And yet, Alan Ball manages to give us that ‘spoonful of sugar’ in each episode which ‘makes the medicine go down’. While snubbing of genre material is wrong, in general, in the case of True Blood it is an atrocity. We would plead with the Academy not to force us to wait until the show has been on the air for a dozen years and is facing eventual cancellation before it recognizes, almost posthumously, the impact of this show. Moreover, some of the best acting viewable anywhere happens on this show. Stephen, Ryan and Nelsan gave performances which were clearly worthy of Emmy attention in the first season and continue their first class work in season two with Anna‘s performance being honed to a fine edge this season as well. The episode “Cold Ground” is quite simply the best episode of anything on TV in years and the fact that it wasn’t recognized says more about the Academy than it does about True Blood.]

Weekend primetime programming had been fairly lackluster until ‘True Blood’ hit the scene with a hustle and flow like none other. True Blood’ deserves recognition from the Emmys, proportionate to the number of its viewers and loyal fans. We certainly look forward to the day when genre shows, particularly ‘True Blood’, receive the attention they so richly deserve.

[Editor’s Note: We certainly support the fans right to express their views to the ‘authorities’ which determine who is nominated for the Emmy’s but we will strongly suggest that all contacts are extremely polite! Would you continue reading letters or emails if they were rude? No. So, if you decide to contact the Academy please try to be reasonable, persuasive and polite!]

The most effective contact is snail mail letters because they take more effort to make, they are considered to be representative of a greater proportion of the populations. However, an email is better than no contact at all.

To contact the Emmy committee:

Feedback on Primetime Emmy Awards
To give feedback on the Primetime Emmy Awards, please send an Email to: EmmyAwardsFeedback@emmys.org

Or to write a snail mail (has greater impact!):
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
5220 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601-3109

Or to call or Fax:
Phone: (818)754-2800
Fax: (818)761-2827

(Photo credit: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences)

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  • nia

    If they want to snub the show over their misguided ideals, fine, it’s to late, it’s done. I will never agree with it. But how can they have possibly overlooked the amazing acting job these wonderful people have done this past season and a half? Taking the wise words out of Sookies mouth, “smallmindedness”, comes to mind. How true. Lets think out of the box people, and give recognition where it is due.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m going to write a letter and send an email. I feel utterly disgusted with the committee.