'Shameless' and 'Orange Is the New Black': Why the Emmys Need a Dramedy Category
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The Emmy Awards could look incredibly dramatic, even on the Comedy side, in 2014. Not only is Netflix's Orange Is the New Black submitted in the Comedy categories (after being nominated as a Drama at the Golden Globes), but now Showtime's Shameless is switching to Comedy as well.
The show, now in its fourth season, made a special request to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to switch over to the Comedy categories after being submitted as a Drama for its first three seasons (where it earned three straight nominates for Joan Cusack as Guest Actress in a Drama). The switch was approved, so now the dramedy will be submitted alongside The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.
While shows like Orange Is the New Black and Shameless certainly have comedic elements, competing as comedies at the Emmys seems strange. Could Emmy Rossum be nominated for a season where her Shameless character was sent to prison for accidentally letting her young brother ingest cocaine?
This kind of category confusion has been prominent for several years. Shows like Boston Legal and Desperate Housewives blurred the lines between comedy and drama. When Edie Falco won an Emmy for Nurse Jackie as Lead Actress in a Comedy, her speech opened with her admitting that she's not funny.
This is why the Emmys need to embrace the changing landscape of TV and create new categories for dramedies. With so many shows on TV, there are undoubtedly more than enough that blend comedy and drama to justify such a category.
Not only would OITNB and Shameless be obvious candidates, but there's also Nurse Jackie, House of Lies, Californication, The Newsroom, Awkward, Glee, Girls, Psych, Hart of Dixie and plenty others. Heck, you could even make a legitimate case for network procedural "dramas" like Bones and Castle, which have plenty of comedic elements.
Since the Emmys are already splitting up Miniseries and TV Movie acting categories, it only seems fair to add this third type of TV series to the mix. Yes, it would result in many more categories since, at the very least, you'd have to add 10 new ones (Series, Lead Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Guest Actor and Actress, Writing, Directing and Casting, all for Dramedy), but it would be worth it.
The traditional Emmy categories were created at a time when only the major broadcast networks created content. Now there are dozens of channels offering hundreds of scripted programs, very few of which fit neatly into the preconceived notions of Comedy and Drama.
Is it fair for OITNB's Taylor Schilling and Shameless' Emmy Rossum to compete against Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler? How can anyone possibly compare William H. Macy's work as a man dying of liver disease on Shameless to Jim Parsons' wacky Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory?
The Emmys need a Dramedy category. Not only does it make sense to avoid absurd competitions in the Comedy categories, but given how much TV actually exists these days, it would let the Emmys honor more deserving shows.
(Image courtesy of Showtime)