Few traditions bring the world together quite like complaining about award show nominations. It’s really quite fun. One person looks at the list and shouts about their favorite thing getting snubbed, then another person agrees and adds their favorite thing to the list, then a third person swoops in through an open window and tells both of them that they’re wrong because they forgot about his favorite thing, which was better than everything and everyone else is, actually, very stupid. It becomes total chaos in about five minutes. I love it.
The tricky thing, though, is that doing this is a trap, because once the chaos hits a certain point, a lot of valid criticisms can get drowned out in the noise. This brings us to the 2017 Emmy nominations. There are a lot of very fair complaints to be made. The Leftovers and The Good Place were shut out almost completely despite being incredible slices of television. The underwater episode of BoJack Horseman didn’t get nominated in the animated comedy category, which feels impossible. Peter MacNicol was not nominated for his guest appearance on Veep even though a) it was perfect and b) it would have corrected an injustice from last year. The list goes on and on and if you want to hang out and go nuts about it all for an hour or two, I am mostly free this weekend. But this is not the time for that. What I am going to do here is put all that aside to make one simple, targeted request, in the hope that laser precision will be more effective than a thousand voices screaming into the ocean. Here we go. Everybody focus.
We have to stop nominating House of Cards for Emmys.
It should be so easy. House of Cards has not been very good for multiple seasons now, if it was ever that good. I can understand the original excitement about it. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright were on television. And not even “television,” really. They were on a big budget series that was made for and by a streaming service. David Fincher was involved and even directed a few episodes. This was a borderline revolutionary development. I am willing to forgive people for being blinded by all of that at the beginning. I was blinded, too. That’s why I said “we.” All of us are complicit here, to some degree.
But man alive, have you seen the show recently? No, really. Have you? I’m honestly asking. Because I don’t see how anyone who watched it can think it deserves a place in the best six or seven dramas on television. Not with the competition out there. The best explanation I can think of is that people stopped watching after the first season or two and just keep rubber stamping the show in year after year.
And this is coming from someone who just defended the fifth season a few weeks ago. I’m not saying no one should watch it. It’s a total mess and once I recalibrated my brain to think of it as expensive trash instead of a legit prestige drama, I kind of enjoyed this most recent season. (Kind of.) There was a secret billionaires’ meeting where everyone wore robes and chanted like some sort of Illuminati fever dream. Kevin Spacey chewed up so much scenery that he’s probably still passing bits of their Oval Office set in his stool. Someone literally humped someone to death, on purpose. That’s what this show is now. It’s a fancy version of Scandal, even if it thinks that it is politics Sopranos.
Which, fine. Again, there is room for that show. And it’s not like I’m in any place to tell anyone what to watch or enjoy, because I’m the same guy who non-ironically loves Zoo, CBS’s silly summer drama about animals taking over the world, in which society’s only hope is team of renegades that includes Bob Benson from Mad Men and a blogger who became a billionaire author that also runs around judo-chopping her enemies at night like Batman. Television in 2017 is a wild place, man. Watch what you like and hold on for dear life.
That doesn’t mean we have to keep pretending House of Cards is something it’s not, though. There’s too much out there that is for-real great to do that. The Leftovers, Halt and Catch Fire, the first season of Amazon’s Patriot, if we want to slip a new streaming series into the mix. Hell, put The Young Pope in there for all I care. It had the same star power going for it and it at least tried to do something cool and artistically ambitious between all its nuttiness. We have so many options. We don’t have to keep doing this. It’s madness.
Now, will I still find something to complain about even when we finally do this? Well, yeah. There are like 10,000 shows and only a handful can get put on the short lists of nominees. And again, I really do enjoy complaining about it all, even though the rational part of me knows the whole thing is silly and political and the sun is going to swallow the Earth whole in a few million years. But let’s at least try, you know? Let’s do this one thing. Let’s take this one tiny step. Let’s stop nominating House of Cards for Emmys.