The 70th Annual Emmy Awards is currently underway this evening. It’s a night to celebrate the best of the best in television. A night to shower performers, writers and crew alike with accolades for their hard work. Earlier today, I was scrolling through social media, eagerly drinking in all the Emmys related content. Every year I read the list of Emmy contenders, and every year I find myself more disappointed. I’m a huge lover of genre TV which, I wholeheartedly believe, boasts some of the best content in the medium. We’re living in a “golden age of television,” and genre TV has certainly been given the Midas touch where that is concerned.
However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences incessantly brushes this section of television under the accolades rug. That’s not to say they dismiss genre TV altogether – Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She won the award back in 2016. Game of Thrones is also nominated for a slew of awards, including Outstanding Drama Series. But what about the horde of other science fiction/fantasy series in the TV-verse? Why is the Academy so hesitant to recognize shows outside the mainstream?
To me, awards shows are merely “popularity contests.” Shows that are incredibly popular and have the loudest fan base tend to sweep the golden statues. Remember Breaking Bad and the still reigning awards champ Modern Family? Now, I’m not saying these series don’t deserve to be recognized. I’m a big fan of Breaking Bad. However, a large amount of the populace are “geeks” and tend to gravitate toward shows that satiate those geeky needs. Remember, now it’s cool to be a geek. So, why doesn’t the Academy follow suit and hop aboard the geeky train?
They don’t take genre TV seriously.
Perhaps the Academy doesn’t recognize genre TV as a serious awards juggernaut because they only see costumes, big green monsters and mustache-twirling villains. A flurry of superhero capes, vampires and zombies. Genre TV, to them, doesn’t serve to be recognized like the drama series on the primetime circuit. We know that’s not true, though. Genre TV, scifi in particular, is like a mirror – it takes humanity’s flaws and puts them on display. There’s always some allegory interwoven in the genre narrative. Lessons that we can learn as a society.
Battlestar Galactica, for example, showed us what the future of technology may hold (timeline plot twist aside) for us with its Cylon story line. What could potentially happen should AI advance. The Expanse is storytelling at its peak, in all aspects. Terrific performers, beautiful arcs and breathtaking visuals. Of course, the escalating war between Earth and Mars mimics the current political climate. Genre TV has a message to tell, if only we allow ourselves to hear it.
The Academy assumes genre TV performers aren’t up to par.
Now, one stellar actor in scifi that comes to mind is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D‘s Iain De Caestecker. He deserves every accolade in existence, in my opinion. Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D’s ongoing Fitz arc detailing his struggle with neurological issues is an award-worthy one, and not just for the brilliant writing. De Caestecker effortlessly steals every scene on the series. He makes acting look easy, and has the ability to tear your heart asunder with one glance.
Melanie Scrofano, of Wynonna Earp fame, is another brilliantly talented performer in a genre series. Scrofano injects the titular Wynonna with oodles of nuance and likability. When her heart breaks, your heart breaks. She shines like a beacon of hope in this sometimes hopeless world. Summer Bishil of The Magicians brings the sassy Margo to life with charm and fire. She serves as a prime example of a strong female lead young girls can look up to. Margo is a multi-faceted, fierce lady, all thanks to Bishil’s knockout performance and the writing.
Lastly, the Academy doesn’t think genre TV is relevant.
Of course, we know the aforementioned is a bold faced lie. Being a “geek” is cool, and submersing one’s self in the world of genre TV and fantasy is a cool thing to do. It’s a way for people to connect. For many, sci fi/fantasy acts as a means of escapism. Doctor Who is a series that has impacted my mental health tremendously. Peter Capaldi‘s performance as the Twelfth Doctor in particular has helped me clamber my way out of many a depressive hole. The Doctor’s words inspired me to stave off my depression and anxiety. They provided encouragement and hope – which is a common thread in many genre TV series. Genre TV is incredibly relevant, for the stories told and the lessons imparted.
Alright, the Academy. You know what to do. Start giving recognition to genre TV. Now is the time to shine a spotlight on the many shows that impact us in more ways than one. Expand their fan bases. Launch the careers of deserving performers, creators and crew members. You don’t need to make genre TV great again, because it already is.