As we come closer to the Emmys, one thing that has network heads like CBS' Les Moonves in a snit is the fact that for the second consecutive year, none of the networks has a nominee in the Best Drama category. I am not one to normally agree with the heads of networks, but there is a certain measure of truth in that network dramas face far more obstacles to being critically and creatively recognized than HBO or Showtime or even AMC or FX. They have to try for a wider net, face an audience that has gotten much smaller each successive year, and find favor a lot faster. The days that shows like St. Elsewhere and Picket Fences could build up a following over time are long done.
There are suggestions that perhaps the Emmys should take a leaf from the Academy Awards and up the number of nominated shows in either category to 10. Show heads like Howard Gordon argue that this would be overdoing it, and trying to give everybody a prize. Considering that Gordon is at the head of Homeland, once again the show to beat for Best Drama, this seems a tad hypocritical. One wonders if he would feel the same if 24 were facing similar odds.
Actually, I believe this is a very good idea, for a simple reason. There are more viable contenders in either Best Drama or Best Comedy then there have been since the late 1980s. And while the Oscars has been forced to strain to come up with ten nominees for Best Picture, (and let's face it, some years there haven't been as many as five), there are literally dozens of goods shows eligible for nominees, some of whom are very likely being overlooked because they are being locked out.
The Broadcast Critics Association actually did list ten nominees for each category in their inaugural year back in 2010. And I don't think they were in any risk of gilding the lily. At the time, I was overjoyed to see Fringe, Justified, and The Middle getting the recognition they deserved. I really don't know why they fell back to six nominees in successive seasons. (I still think they're doing a better job than the Emmys, but that's just me.)
This would be the chance that shows like Scandal, Sons of Anarchy and Parenthood have been waiting for, as well as a legitimate chance to honor The Good Wife and Parks & Recreation , series that have not declined in quality, but have gotten passed over, as newer, shinier shows have gotten their spots. Perhaps then the Emmys would stop resembling, as one critic put it, a game of musical chairs.
Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic with this prediction. Maybe the Emmys would only take the opportunity to nominate series like Boardwalk Empire and CSI again. And we have no idea whether the current heights of critically acclaimed TV will hold up beyond next season, when such prize series as Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Dexter end their final seasons. But considering the way the TV market has broadened over the past five years, and how brilliant new diamonds seem to be coming every few months now, this may be an idea that's overdue. Let's hope the Emmys consider it more thoroughly then they did before ignoring Buffy the Vampire Slayer.