Tube Talk: Academic growth: A look at this year’s Emmy nominees

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

It’s funny how every year at this time almost no one is pleased with the Emmy nominations. There are always snubs. And there are always actors or shows that seem to be nominated by habit. But when you think about the sheer number of great eligible shows that are airing across so many outlets compared to just a few years ago, the Emmy voters have a real challenge to keep pace with industry changes.

Perhaps it would help if the TV Academy increased the number of nominees allowed in various categories, or even added categories to accommodate different types of series. Maybe they will. After all, each year they seem to tweak a few categories.

In 2001, Survivor won for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class); in 2002, its category was Outstanding Special Class Program. That same year, The Osbournes won as Outstanding Non-fiction Program (Reality). Eventually, the Academy created two separate categories: Outstanding Reality Program and Outstanding Reality Competition Program.

Even with the extra category, celebrity-focused reality shows like Kathy Griffin: My Life On the D-List were pitted against shows like Mythbusters for Outstanding Reality Program honors.

This year, while the Reality Competition category remains the same, the other category has been divided into Outstanding Structured Reality Program (nominees include Antiques Roadshow; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Mythbusters; Shark Tank; Undercover Boss; and Who Do You Think You Are?) and Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program (Alaska: The Last Frontier; Deadliest Catch; Flipping Out; Million Dollar Listing New York; Wahlburgers; and Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan.)

On the scripted side of things, broadband is making waves with Netflix getting 31 nominations — most for its breakthrough shows, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. picked up three nominations, and there was one each for AOL,,, and As more original programming is distributed online, expect an even bigger impact in new or expanded categories.

Fans say that Tatiana Maslany was overlooked for her amazing work playing multiple roles on BBC America’s Orphan Black because it’s a sci-fi show, or because it’s on cable — or maybe even because she’s playing more than one role per episode. Another reason might be that because some people eligible for Academy membership simply don’t join.

(Eight or nine years ago, I asked the star of a chronically-overlooked CW series if she was planning to vote for the awards, and she sheepishly admitted she hadn’t gotten around to joining. That’s almost as bad as complaining about your elected officials when you don’t bother to cast a ballot.)

No matter the show, actor or genre, it’s always funny to hear slighted fans complain about a lack of nominations for their favorites while in the next breath saying how meaningless the Emmy Awards are. If they’re meaningless, why get so worked up over a snub?

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the July 16-22, 2014, issue

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