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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black Wasn't Nominated For An Emmy

The short answer: There's just too much great television to watch right now and Orphan Black is a small show on a barely watched network, that Emmy voters just didn't have time to get around to watching the show; therefore, Emmy voters just haven't seen Tatiana Maslany's performance(s).

The long answer? Well, here we go.

We live in an incredible age of television. 20 years ago it was just NBC, CBS, and ABC fighting it out. There wasn't a whole lot of television for Emmy voters to watch. Life was simple. Then FOX and HBO starting coming along and producing amazing television. In the model of HBO's success, Showtime, Starz, FX, and AMC starting producing original content that was so great that Emmy voters started to take notice. We now live in an era where networks you'd never heard of like Orphan Black's BBC America are springing up as well as non-television networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime are creating original content. There's just so much damn original and great television series', that it's extremely difficult for an average Emmy voter to take time out of their busy day (remember, Emmy voters are NOT T.V. critics, and they do have day jobs) to watch a niche show like Orphan Black.

I consider myself a huge television fanatic, and I watch way more TV shows that I care to admit, and even I don't have time to watch Orphan Black. Here are the following television shows I've watched within the past 12 months that either received Emmy nominations, or were considered in the running: Breaking Bad, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Parks and Recreation, The Good Wife, Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards, Homeland, Mike and Molly, Fargo, Silicon Valley, Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Saturday Night Live, Masters of Sex and Sherlock. That doesn't include the TV shows that I just watch for fun, even though I know they won't earn an Emmy nomination like Justified, Community, and How I Met Your Mother. I'm not even going to bother counting up how many hours of television watching that is, but needless to say, it's a lot.

There's a finite amount of time in the day, and myself as well as Emmy voters can only watch so many television shows. That's why many of the acting nominees come from shows that the Emmy voters watch. Out of the 48 actors and actresses that have earned a major nomination (a lead or supporting nomination in either the drama or comedy series categories), 26 of them came from a show that was nominated for Outstanding Drama or Comedy Series. Over 50% of the acting nominees came from a top 6 Comedy or Drama according to Emmy voters. Out of the remaining 22 nominees, 8 came from a show that also had a co-star earn a nomination (Homeland, The Good Wife, Girls). That means 14 shows only had one lone major Emmy nominations. When you exclude previous nominees, that 14 drops to 6. Six actors and actresses who were not nominated previously and are the lone representative from their show. Those six actors are Jon Voight (Ray Donovan), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Ricky Gervais (Derek), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Kate McKinnon (SNL), and William H. Macy (Shameless). Out of those 6, Armisen and McKinnon are extremely easy to judge because they come from sketch comedy shows, and Gervais (a former nominee and winner for other shows) and Macy are nominated in the extremely, extremely weak Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category.

The point to all these statistics is this. Emmy voters can only watch so much television, and I'm sure they watch the big shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, and some "smaller" ones like Louie and Veep, but they don't watch everything- at least not in full. When an Emmy voter can't create a ballot based upon personal viewing experience, they just make the rest up- mainly on past viewing experiences. I can't imagine many Emmy voters actually watched Downton Abbey this year, because even according to DA's most loyal fans, the show had a bad year. But if you're an Emmy voter who only saw three good year's of the show and missed the bad one, you're more inclined to continue to give Downton Abbey nominations.

Now we get to a show like Orphan Black. It's a show the internet raves about, but in reality, that's just a vocal minority, and a small minority at that. In the scheme of actual television viewership, Orphan Black's rating are minuscule. They're barely a blip on the radar. And just because that blip is extremely active on Facebook and Twitter is irrelevant to Emmy voters. Emmy voters and made up of industry insiders who don't concern themselves with social media. Nor should they. The Emmy's are their own organization and they can do what they please and watch what they want to watch. You combine this with the fact that I'm sure BBC America has (probably) a piss poor Emmy marketing campaign because they just don't have the money to get the word out to Emmy voters, and I'm sure Emmy voters have absolutely no idea what Orphan Black actually is. To add insult to injury, the only way you can catch up on past seasons of Orphan Black is Amazon Prime, a streaming service the good majority of Emmy voters and television fans in general just don't have.

Orphan Black may be an incredible show, and the best show you've ever seen, but that still won't garner it Emmy nominations. This is the same problem that Community just recently had and the same problem that The Wire had a few years ago. Right now, The Wire is considered one of, if not THE, greatest television show ever made. But when it first aired, it barely received any critical buzz. Throughout The Wire's five year run, it only was nominated for two Emmy's- and both of them were in the writing categories. And by the way, it's not like TV critics, who probably were the only ones watching The Wire when it originally aired, were singing its praised either. The TCA named the first season of Heroes as the best television show of that year over the 4th season of The Wire (generally considered its best season).

The Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is extremely deep, and while that should be no excuse for Tatiana Maslany's snub, it's one of the reasons she didn't earn a nomination. Emmy voters would much rather watch The Good Wife, House of Cards, and Scandal rather than Orphan Black. It's a shame and it's infuriating, but it's the truth. In law school, we learned a saying, "you write the law and I'll write the procedure, and I'll win every time". Maslany may be the law and has acted so damn good that she deserves to be recognized, but the procedure and system in place is against her. Maybe as the show grows bigger and the fan's outrage of the snub intensifies will Tatiana Maslany finally earn an Emmy nomination. But until then, stop pretending like you're upset that she wasn't nominated.

By the way, I told you two months ago that Tatiana Maslany wasn't going to earn an Emmy nomination.



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