Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman wrote a piece for The Hollywood Reporter today about how ridiculous it is that all the great sketch and late night talk shows on TV compete for one category at the Emmys. Aukerman proposes splitting the Outstanding Variety Category into “variety/talk program” and “sketch/alternative program.” Here’s a bit of what he had to say:
“In August, either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report will win the Emmy for outstanding variety series — and America will yawn. Probably because the ceremony is heading into the four-hour mark at that point. But also because, once again, smaller alternative-comedy sketch shows (Key and Peele, Portlandia, Kroll Show, Inside Amy Schumer and, yes, my show Comedy Bang! Bang!) will never hear their names read by a person wearing a tuxedo — the ultimate show business honor — shut out again.”
Awards shows might seem trivial on one level, but a win or a nomination does make networks treat their shows better and draws more attention to said shows from viewers. As Aukerman points out, splitting the categories will ensure that “some different voices will also receive the recognition they need to encourage their networks to pick them up for more groundbreaking seasons.” The Daily Show or The Colbert Report have won the “Outstanding Variety Series” Emmy for the past 12 years, and it’d be nice to spread it to some of the other great shows on the air. The fact that the award is even titled “variety series” in this day and age, when traditional variety series are completely extinct (Maya Rudolph’s recent NBC special doesn’t count because it’s a special not a series) is a pretty good indication of how outdated the category is.
The recent boom of strong sketch shows on Comedy Central (Key and Peele, Kroll Show, Inside Amy Schumer) and IFC (Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Birthday Boys) may have happened within the last few years, but it’s time the Emmys get on board and start leaving enough room with their nominations to recognize these comedies. Aukerman’s proposal of defining the new category as “sketch/alternative” is smart too because it leaves room to include critically-acclaimed, hard-to-categorize shows that the Emmys probably won’t recognize like Nathan For You and The Eric Andre Show.
There are a lot of great sketch/alternative/talk shows on TV that exceed the paltry six nomination slots the Emmys has for its “Outstanding Variety Series” category and they only ever hand those nominations out to late night talk shows anyway. Portlandia and Key and Peele have been nominated for Emmys but never in the Variety Series category, despite having each won a prestigious Peabody Award. Why aren’t the Emmys recognizing them too?