Earlier this week, Tom O’Neill over at The Envelope’s Gold Derby revealed that the Academy planned, for the first time, to reveal the official Top 10 qualifiers for the Series and Acting prizes. These are the shows that will be screened in front of panels, and then used to decide 50% of the final nomination process. These lists are the cutoff point – if you don’t make the list, you cannot get nominated for an Emmy.
Now, the Academy is making their unprecedented decision a little bit more tentative; they’ve announced the Top 10 Series in both Comedy and Drama, and are going to re-assess the situation tomorrow after they see the critical and industry response to these revelations. This is fair, I guess, but let me be the first to say that as a wannabe TV critic I love this news, and think that it’s only helpful to the process. Yes, it will make a potential nomination for a show like The Wire less surprising (Where before people would have presumed that it wouldn’t even make the Top 10), but now people are actually kind of excited going into the process.
Now, Tom has asked that the list of episode submissions be kept to his blog, but the Top 10 lists are floating around. So, here’s the link to Tom’s list, and then I’ll provide the full list of shows and go into some commentary on the choices, and why releasing the acting lists is still a viable option.
“Friday Night Lights”
The Big Surprise: The Wire, which in its fifth season finally captured a little more of voters’ attention. The show is actually HBO’s only show in the category, trouncing their more heavily promoted In Treatment.
The Big Snub: While one could argue that Big Love’s absence from the list is a surprise, the real surprise is that Heroes (nominated last year) didn’t make the Top 10. That the Academy so clearly judged the second season’s quality correctly gives me high hopes.
The Sentimental Favourite: It’s gotta be Friday Night Lights, which squeaks its way into the category with an uneven, but still quality, second season.
After the break, the comedy list.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Flight of the Conchords”
“Two and a Half Men”
The Big Surprise: I didn’t blog about this, but Family Guy submitted in both the animated and comedy categories by submitting Blue Harvest (The Star Wars spoof) in one and the series in another. The series, competing here for the first time, cracked the Top 10.
The Big Snub: That wouldn’t be nearly as surprising except that it means that Desperate Housewives, one of the highest rated shows on television, didn’t make it as a result.
The Sentimental Favourite: While I’m cheering for Pushing Daisies or 30 Rock, it’s charming New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords who are sure to carry the flag for the little show that could.
On that note…
Now, this is already more than the Academy has ever given us: sure, every year the lists leak out to Tom as he uses his sources to figure it out anyways, but this release of information is in itself a coup. The Academy’s decision to withhold the acting categories “to gauge reaction” is an easy copout, a way for them to avoid releasing too much information.
The problem with that argument though is that all they’ve done is make people more curious about the acting nominations, and make smart people like Tom more likely to get leaks on who made it into those categories. We have serious questions now: with Californication unable to make the comedy list, can star David Duchovony break into the acting race? With the show snubbed, will any of the Housewives make it into Lead Actress Comedy? And is Friday Night Lights making the Top 10 good news for stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton?
From what I’ve read from other critics (See: Sepinwall), these aren’t the type of people who are going to just look at the lists and outright dismiss this process because their favourite show didn’t make the list. I know that critics have this reputation for being extremely, well, critical, but they’re not going to write off the awards show based on these lists. If anything, to be honest, they should know that critics will like these lists: while How I Met Your Mother is probably the one critical favourite left off of the year’s lists (that had a shot – sorry, Battlestar Galactica), for the most part those of us who criticize television are kind of used to Two and a Half Men doing well on these lists, and The Wire’s inclusion will prove a strong buffer for most.
Now, I can’t possible predict the industry response, but I do hope that they respond to this in kind; the lists are an intriguing window into this process, and unless the decisions are downright awful this transparency might help those who do dismiss the Emmy process come to terms with its reality and accept that in years to come (When, hopefully, they release these lists again). In the meantime, let’s talk about a few more things.
- More than a little disappointed by 30 Rock’s episode submission (Season Finale “Cooter”). I thought that Greenzo (With Al Gore/David Schwimmer!) or Rosemary’s Baby (With Alec Baldwin’s amazing scene) were without question stronger episodes as a whole, but I guess the political humour was considered a better choice in terms of the panels. It’s nomination is secure regardless, but still a point of concern.
- Lost’s submission of “The Constant” is its best choice – while there are some talks that the episode could confuse people with its time travel discussiions, it’s also a contained story that features a strong central performance and, most importantly, an awesome love story.
- I’ll have more on the other nominees in the weeks ahead previewing the nominations, so I’ll leave that for then – feel free to comment on your own thoughts on the shows that made the, or got, cut.