The Emmys Need New Categories

The Emmys were over a week ago, but as the fall season approaches, I can’t help but continue to think about the shows that weren’t and won’t ever (it seems) be nominated for the most prestigious TV award out there.

There are so many more shows on the air than when the Emmys first began. There have been new categories added in the years since, with an entire separate ceremony for the “Creative Arts” Emmy’s, but with the evolution of television has come the evolution of genres. Shows are not simply drama or comedy anymore. Single camera comedies (which moved comedies from being mutli-cam only to a two method shooting process) and programs like Orange is the New Black (which views like a drama (and is an hour long) but submitted an Emmy nom in the comedy category) show that maybe the Emmys need an update regarding genre.

I believe there are so many shows out there where the actors, writers, producers, and crew work just as hard on their show as the staff of the Breaking Bads and Modern Familys out there, but they’re not recognized because their genre is properly represented. There are three genres that I think could use an Emmy boost, if just so that the people working on them can get the recognition they deserve. Dramedy, Procedural, and Science Fiction Fantasy.


Emmys Outstanding Dramedy
Dramedies are a relatively new designation we’ve been giving comedies that have serious moments and dramas that aren’t dark and heavy. A lot of the shows airing this fall 2014 seem to fit either drama, comedy (or the other two categories I’ll talk about later), but aren’t really straight up dramedies. I think shows like Castle and Bones are both drama and comedy, but would go in my proposed Procedural category. Pushing Daisies was also a hearty mixture of both comedy and drama, but again, could also fit either Procedural or even Science Fiction. That’s the hybrid nature of these kinds of shows and I think that they should be rewarded for touching both sides of the spectrum–it’s not easy to make your audience both laugh and cry without creating jarring moments of mood whiplash.

Shows that I think would (have) benefit(ed) from a separate Dramedy category include:

  • Pushing Daisies
  • Chuck
  • Ugly Betty (an hour long drama that submitted in the Comedy category, and won at least one that I know of [Best Actress in a Comedy to America Fererra])
  • The Carrie Diaries (a Drama based on Best Comedy winner Sex and the City )
  • Psych
  • Glee – (Dare I include this) I believe they’ve submitted under Comedy before, despite tackling serious issues and being properly considered an hour long Drama.
  • Up All Night – the short-lived Christina Applegate/Will Armett show reminds me of a network comedy that probably could have done better if it had not been trying so hard to be funny. I think the show had an understated humor to it that works for dramedies more than straight up comedies and if Dramedy were an accepted genre of television, then people would have understood it more.
  • Orange is the New Black – might have won the awards it submitted for (though I do recognize Uzo Aduba for winning, though I wouldn’t call her a “guest” actress on her show).


Emmys Outstanding Procedural
There are dozens of procedurals on TV these days. From the umpteen CSIs and the prevailing Law and Orders, there’s no lack of cop/investigative shows out there. And due to the overwhelming number of shows in the Procedural genre, rarely do they get recognized for the work they do. I watch the quirky procedurals; Castle, (I’m an ex-Bones fan), Psych, could we consider Veronica Mars a procedural? Those shows often could fit under Dramedy as well, but I think a Procedural category would give shows like this more attention.

These shows last long–the production staff, crew, and actors work long hours for many years trying to make fresh stories in a sea of other shows just like them. That’s not an easy feat. Several of these shows do the “ripped from the headlines” stories and some do them better than others. The guest casts can make us laugh or cry or feel fear as the murderer stalks someone down a dark alley. These shows may be “easy” or formulaic, but the shows that upend or subvert the formula should be recognized, but because there’s not that much room in the drama category, they often go unnoticed.

Shows that I think would (have) benefit(ed) from a separate Procedural category include:

  • Castle
  • Bones – not sure I’m confident it would win any, I’ve got problems with the way the writers progress then unravel character development constantly, but I think some of it’s early seasons warranted recognition for twisting procedural tropes.
  • Psych – though I think it’s stronger in the Dramedy category
  • Pushing Daisies – never forget this was a procedural. They solved crimes every episode.
  • Veronica Mars – strong, witty writing; strong female lead; great fun stories with sometimes great, sometimes faulty twists. Worthy of recognition for season 1 at the least.
  • Person of Interest – I don’t watch this show, but many people who do love it and think it’s amazing.
  • Elementary – Again, a show I don’t watch, but people who do love. It also inverts many Sherlock Holmes/Buddy cop tropes that deserves more praise, even from a non-viewer.
  • Lie to Me – I miss Lie to Me every season it’s not on the air. I think the idea was brilliant and it was a really smart show. Tim Roth’s a great actor and the characters were lovely. I would have given it all the awards.


Emmys Outstanding SFF
Lastly is the Sci-Fi Fantasy (SFF) Category that I’d fight the strongest for, not only because most of the shows I watch are in this category (and therefore never win any major Emmys), but because the extra level of suspension of disbelief that the show must give their audience–transporting them to another world or time–is extra work that a show must put in. If a show like Buffy puts in seven years of making audiences believe these fantastical things could happen and that these characters could react in the way they do–often with the actors acting against green screen or with ridiculous set decoration–then that deserves recognition. It would also help shows like Game of Thrones–which has quite a few Emmy nominations (DINKLAGE!), actually win the awards. (If there was a SFF category, Game of Thrones would be the Breaking Bad or Modern Family of it’s category; it would win every year I am sure.)

Shows I think would (have) benefit(ted) from this category:

  • Angel – mostly just because it’s my favorite show ever, but also because the writing was often very strong and engaging.
  • Game of Thrones – obviously. It’s *this* close to winning all the awards now, much less if it had a separate category.
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Smallville – I never watched the show and I’ve heard mixed things about it, but you want to tell me that it went 10 seasons and there weren’t any award worthy moments? I think if there was a category for it’s genre, it could have warranted some nominations.
  • The X-Files – Another show I’ve never seen, but it’s such a cult classic that I think it must have some award worthy episodes or acting moments in it’s episode catalogue
  • Orphan Black – This category would be the saving grace to finally get Tatiana Maslany the Emmy she so well deserves.
  • Fringe – a cult classic show I haven’t watched yet, but from the word of it’s fans, it seems like there could be some Emmy moments in writing in it’s repertoire of episodes.

There are plenty of shows in each category that I am missing (or adding simply because I like the show and maybe it doesn’t have Emmy worthy writing or performances; I admit this is possible), but that’s where you come in. If these Emmy categories existed, what shows would you submit? Any particular episodes? I know some of the shows I listed above are very adaptable to more than one category, but if OITNB can submit for Best Comedy, and Uzo Aduba can submit for Best Guest Actress (rather than supporting), then submission guidelines can be pretty subjective.
How do we get the Emmy committee to considering adding even just one new category that expands the list of shows able to be seen and nominated? With the advent of reality television, there began an entire reality genre section to the award ceremony itself (was there a year where five reality hosts “hosted” the Emmys? Am I making that up or did that nightmare of an idea actually happen?), so we know the committee is capable of adapting to the times. I most strongly desire SFF, but Dramedy is much needed category as well.

Current Emmy (and Creative Arts Emmy’s) Categories

(P.S. As much as I want a Dramedy category, it’d be really hard to take anyone serious when saying the word on television. I am trying to imagine the President of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences saying the word, and it’s just fuzzy. But we’d find a way to work around it.)
Related Emmy Posts:

Is TV getting more diverse? Not by the look of this year’s Emmys via Lee and Low

Who Are the Emmy Voters?