One of the biggest criticisms that the television academy gets is that, because shows and actors can determine for themselves which categories to submit their names for Emmy consideration, there are mis-categorized nominees every single year. Sure, the academy has guidelines and provides some oversight on the matter, but — especially compared to other awards — the nomination process is a free-for-all.
This year’s big dispute came when FX’s “American Horror Story” was nominated for a boatload of Emmys in the miniseries and movie categories. Most of the analysis of the nominees brought up the fact that putting “AHS” in this category was a sneaky move by FX to get the show Emmy nods, knowing it would have gotten swamped in a drama series category that included “Mad Men,” “Homeland” and “Breaking Bad.” Even Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel took notice, telling the critics gathered at the TCA press tour that “It’s not a miniseries — let’s be honest.”
But “AHS” is the least of the academy’s problems in that category. Sure, it’s a 13-episode series that’s coming back next season. But at least it has a closed-ended story and none of the characters from Season 1 are coming back this fall. In the miniseries and movie category, the show is up against two two-hour movies (“Hemingway & Gellhorn,” “Game Change”), the second season of “Luther,” an episode of “Sherlock” and a true miniseries, the six-hour, three-part epic “Hatfields & McCoys.” How the voters can compare any of them — and the performances within them — against each other is a mystery.
There are a few other category bugaboos that have left us scratching our heads this year, wondering if the television academy is ever going to tighten up the rules and get this right:
“Missing” being designated as a miniseries: A couple years ago, the academy combined the miniseries and movie categories because they weren’t finding enough nominees to fill the categories separately. But now, it seems like any show that lasted less than the network-standard 22 is considered a miniseries. Case in point: Ashley Judd being nominated for lead actress in a miniseries for ABC’s “Missing.” Yes, the show was canceled, and yes, the main mystery of the first season was resolved at the end of that season. But the story was supposed to continue into a second season, so we wonder how this could have slipped into the mini category (same goes for “Luther,” though its closed-ended storylines make its situation a little muddy here).
Elisabeth Moss as a lead actress: She rightly deserved a nomination in the category last year, as she co-carried the fourth season of “Mad Men” along with Jon Hamm. This season, though, Moss’s character of Peggy was more in the background, as she was being shunted aside for the “new” generation and still treated like she was Don Draper’s secretary. But because Moss submitted herself as a lead, and she’s a perennial nominee, the voters decided to give her the nod instead of giving it to the fifth season’s true female lead, Jessica Par�.
“Downton Abbey” is now a series, not a miniseries: We don’t begrudge all the nominations “Downtown” got this year; it deserved each and every one of them. We’re just annoyed at the fact that it should have been in the drama series category last year, too. What made the show a series this year and a miniseries last year? That might be one of Emmy’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
Edie Falco is not a comic actress: Falco is fantastic, but she plays the most dead-serious role in “Nurse Jackie,” a show that’s about as funny as a kick in the crotch most of the time. But because it’s a 30-minute show, it’s included in the comedy category, and she gets a nod every year. Comparing her to hilarious ladies like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Melissa McCarthy isn’t fair to Falco or her competition, and we wish the academy would just put the show in the drama category once and for all.