Emmy Awards: Creative Arts categories expand beyond series nominees

Of this year’s 47 Emmy Awards categories in which dramas and comedies contend beyond the two series races, 41 of them include programs that have never been up for the top prizes. The six that snubbed shows yet to reap Best Drama or Comedy Series bids were four on the comedy side –both Guest Acting, Casting and Directing — as well as Drama Casting and Technical Direction.

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Indeed, shows that have never contended for Best Drama or Comedy Series amassed 95 of the 229 drama and comedy nominations at the Emmys in 2016. That is up from 86/231 in 2015, which in itself was a significant improvement on 53/213 in 2014 and 60/225 in 2013.

In years past, categories that were supposed to recognize outstanding achievements in cinematography, editing and sound functioned as little more than secondary Best Series races. Consider that from 2013 to 2015, five of these creative arts races — Single-Camera Cinematography, both Drama and Comedy Single-Camera Picture Editing and both Half-Hour and One-Hour Sound Mixing — had 79 nominations in total and all but two went to programs that had been nominated for Best Series in their respective genres. The exceptions were two comedies: “Californication” (Best Half-Hour Sound Mixing in 2014) and “The Last Man on Earth” (Best Comedy Single-Camera Picture Editing in 2015).

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So, it was especially refreshing that voters paid attention this year to more of this new golden age of television. There were shake-ups across the board, including these five races. Among dramas, “Bates Motel,” “Gotham” and “The Man in the High Castle” are up for Single-Camera Cinematography; “Narcos” contends for Drama Single-Camera Picture Editing; and “Ray Donovan” is in the race for One-Hour Sound Mixing. On the comedy side, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is up for Single-Camera Picture Editing while “Mozart in the Jungle” is nominated for Half-Hour Sound Mixing.

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None of these seven have ever been nominated for Best Drama or Comedy Series. And with only three of them (“The Man in the High Castle,” “Narcos” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) being new series, these craft branches must be commended for going back to catch up on series that they snubbed in prior years.

Compare this expansiveness with the drama and comedy casting categories which have nominated current or past Best Series nominees exclusively for five and four years respectively. There has not been a surprise in their last 40 nominations. Perhaps next year?

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