Emmy Categories

I was texting my mom during the Emmys and we were pleased to see Breaking Bad sweeping most of the drama awards. She’s not caught up, but I got her to watch the show and she fell in love. I sent her a text after Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul won saying “Don’t worry. Cranston will still lose.” I was sure of it. The narrative of Hollywood made me forget the feeling I got when I watched “Ozymandias” and had to re-watch it 3 times that week because Bryan Cranston’s performance was unlike any I’d ever seen. I fell under the spell of “alright, alright, alright.”

When Cranston won, I backtracked. I texted my mom again, “I told you the only person that could upset Matthew McConaughey was Bryan Cranston.” I’ll admit that I was wrong. And I remembered what I thought back in January: Good thing Cranston doesn’t have to compete against McConaughey. That was before True Detective declared as a drama.

The Emmys allow shows to self-categorize if they straddle the line between genres, which is like if baseball didn’t separate Cy Young by league. How can you compare greatness if they’re not playing by the same rules? One has to face a DH, the other doesn’t. It’s not fair.

In this case, the DH is long-term commitment in casting. Matthew McConaughey is a huge movie star. He won’t commit 6 years of his life to a role because there’s bigger money for him on the bigger screen. Bryan Cranston was just Hal from Malcolm in the Middle when Breaking Bad started. He didn’t have agents telling him to avoid the commitment because he was just happy for quality work. True Detective gets to pack heavy hitters in because it’s only a single season commitment. Single season and series are mutually exclusive terms, which is why the miniseries category exists. The Emmys act like miniseries are allowed to declare as a drama as a step up from miniseries and play with the big boys, which is not true. They are separate because they play by different rules.

Bryan Cranston deserved the Emmy. But I think that his win was also justice for Nic Pizzolatto (aka Big Pizza) and friends trying to take advantage of a loophole in the rules to gain more positive press. They had to give Cary Fukunaga an Emmy for that awe-inspiring tracking shot, but McConaughey lost as punishment for not submitting in the correct category. Sorry to Sherlock and Watson, but Marty and Rust could have swept the miniseries awards.

I also want to note the biggest snub of the Emmys this season and it’s directly caused by this stupid rule. Shameless is a drama. Emmy Rossum (who deserves an award to match her name) had a heart-breaking downward spiral this season that was worthy of a Lead Actress in a Drama Emmy. But she was submitted as an actress in a comedy. Her performance was not comedic. It”s not good comedy acting to be dramatic. Which proves that the show is not a comedy because the actors are trying to be dramatic. Even Rectify makes jokes. It’s not a comedy. And I’m still mad about the Golden Globes calling The Tourist a comedy and even nominating that garbage.

Play by the rules. Be what you are. If your story is one season, it’s not a series. A series needs at least two seasons. That’s just the definition of the word. Otherwise, you’re a miniseries. And don’t argue that True Detective is two seasons. Season 2 will have nothing to do with season 1. The only thing in common is the name brand that Matthew McConaughey established and then immediately left.


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