Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Television Writing: The Best Emmy Category (Emmy Week)

Freaks and GeeksIn the previous days blog I talked about shows that Emmy forgot, but also cited two shows that were
honored in the writing categories: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Wire.  After a meeting with my boss today we started briefly talking about our excitement for the Emmy Awards, and she asked me my favorite part of a show, and my clear answer was the writing.  The writing is the glue to the show, some shows have decent actors, or good directors and good production value, but if the writing is not there they often suffer in quality.

When the writers strike happened a few years ago I had two emotions, anger, and empathy.  I understood why the writers wanted more.  Quality writing is hard to find, and without good writing there is no show.  There are of course a a few (a very few shows) that use a more improvisational style like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the writing makes the show.  Bad writing is very easy to spot, check every reality show.  Even reality television has writing or a script supervisor, and usually those shows are proof that bad "writing" exists.

At the Emmy Awards members of the academy vote to determine the nominations in their craft, hence writers determine the writing nominees.  Within the late 90s and early 2000s (when I can remember most shows) the writing categories have included the shows like Buffy and The Wire, Freaks and Geeks as nominees while they were ignored by both the the actors and for the major drama and comedy series awards.

So why do the writers tend to honor the obscure shows, or the forgotten shows?  Writers often appreciate material that is well written hence they tend to honor better shows or more quality work than within the other major categories.  Here are some previous examples of shows that were honored in the writing categories (both comedy and drama) that were not ever nominated in any of the other major categories, or got very little recognition:

Just Shoot Me
Sports Night
Freaks and Geeks
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
The Bernie Mac Show
Pushing Daisies
Flight of the Conchords

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Shield
Battlestar Gallactica
The Wire

The noticeable trend is that the writers in the 2000s honored about one show (give or take) a year that was not considered a mainstream candidate.   The problem is that most of these shows recieved only one perspective nomination.  Many of these shows (not all) would be considered some of the best shows in the 2000s (and early 90s). Yet most of them received little to no attention in other categories.  There is however a negative trend with this branch of  Television Academy.  The trend tends to prove that  the writers got together, picked a "hip" show and honored the show with one Emmy nomination in that perspective year.  I will still sing the praises of one of the hardest working people in the entertainment business, the writers.

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