Dear Emmys, why are you STILL blind to ‘The Americans’?

the americans keri russell matthew rhys emmys

On August 8, "The Americans" won Best Drama Series at the TCA Awards, where it was also nominated for Individual Achievement in Drama (Matthew Rhys) and Program of the Year. A couple of months before that, "The Americans" also won Best Drama at the Critics' Choice TV Awards. Our users have gotten on-board too, nominating the FX drama for Best Drama Series for the first time at the Gold Derby Awards.

TCA Awards winners: 'Empire,' 'The Americans,' 'Better Call Saul,' Amy Schumer (twice)

TV academy, you're late to the party. And not fashionably late, like when it took you a year or two to fully catch on to shows like "Seinfeld," "The X-Files" and "Will & Grace." After three seasons of scant nominations for "The Americans," it's time to catch up to the rest of us.

It's starting to get conspicuous. Every single Critics' Choice winner for Best Drama had won the corresponding Emmy – until now. And while the TCA Awards don't always line up with the TV academy's pick, "The Americans" is the first TCA winner in that category since "Boomtown" in 2003 to have never been nominated for the top Emmy.

When "The Americans" was first snubbed in that race a few years ago, many Emmy watchers thought: "Oh, well, it must be because the race is too crowded. If only there was room for more nominees, it might get in." But this year one prestige drama fell out ("Breaking Bad") and another wasn't eligible ("True Detective") and the TV academy expanded the category to include seven nominees instead of six. And "The Americans" got skunked again.

So what gives? "The Americans" is a high-gloss, prestige period drama, like Emmy darling "Mad Men," and it's a thriller with serious political import, like past champs "24" and "Homeland." Part of me wonders if "The Americans" has suffered from comparisons to "Homeland," which premiered a year earlier and may appeal to some of the same voters, but that has never been a problem before. In 2014, the Emmys nominated two gritty crime dramas ("Breaking Bad" and "True Detective"), and in years past, they never had any qualms about nominating multiple legal shows or medical shows in the same year.

And even if voters are comparing them, they had an opportunity to embrace "The Americans" last year when critics and audiences soured on "Homeland." This year, "Homeland" made a comeback, but "The Americans" is still persona non grata.

One feasible explanation may be the daring perspective of its focus. Face it: This program encourages viewers to root for spies plotting against the U.S. and the fate of the Free World. That makes for compelling TV drama, yes, but it may make some Hollywooders reluctant to honor it with one of the industry's most prestigious awards.

Or maybe "The Americans" has an FX problem. In 2008, the network's "Damages" became the first basic cable series ever nominated for Best Drama at the Emmys (along with AMC's "Mad Men" the same year). It earned another nomination in 2009, but since then, no FX show has ever contended, despite abundant acclaim for shows like "Justified" and "Sons of Anarchy." That's a baffling blind spot considering that FX has no trouble securing major nominations and wins for its comedy "Louie" or for its anthologies "American Horror Story" and "Fargo."

This year, "The Americans" did manage to break into one new category: Best Drama Writing for the episode "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep," featuring Lois Smith as an unwitting witness to a secret KGB operation, which forces Soviet spy Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) to execute her.

That writing nomination is significant. If "The Americans" continues to be ignored by the TV academy in other top categories, it will join an elite list of shows that were embraced by the Emmy writers branch but snubbed almost everywhere else, including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The Wire" and "Battlestar Galactica." That's good company to be in, but makes Emmy voters look like they're asleep at the wheel.

But if winning major accolades from Critics' Choice and the TCA doesn't wake them up, I'm not sure what will.

VIDEO: Matthew Rhys ('Americans') on season three reveals & whether Philip will defect

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Last year, our Experts had an accuracy rate of 58.62% when it came to predicting the Emmy winners. That score tied them with both Gold Derby's Editors and the Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best at predicting last year's Emmys). Our Users scored  51.72% (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

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Photo: Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell in "The Americans." Credit: Patrick Harbon/FX

2 thoughts on “Dear Emmys, why are you STILL blind to ‘The Americans’?

  1. I’m really getting into this show and I’m about to start season 3 but why no spoiler warning?! I didn’t need to know what was going to Lois Smith’s character. *sigh* As someone who really enjoys reading Gold Derby articles I ask that this site please take spoilers more seriously.

  2. Ehh, this is an article about ‘The Americans’, so I can see how it would talk about plot points from ‘The Americans’. There are much worse spoilers than revealing what happens to Lois Smith’s character anyway, seeing as she is a one-off.

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