Appearing on Fridays, This Was Television Asked & Answered is a chance for the writers of TWTV to answer questions about TV history. Questions can range from the personal to the critical about historical television. Asked & Answered has been on hiatus for a while, but we thought we’d bring it back for the warm summer Fridays.
While we came up the question for this installment, we’d love for you, our readers, to submit questions for us to answer in the future. Feel free to leave them in the comments, tweet them to us, ask on Facebook, or email them to us.
This week’s question is: With The TV Critics Choice Awards, the Television Critics Association, and the Emmy Awards, we’re smack-dab in the middle of television’s version of awards season. What historical snub (of a performer, artist, or show) bothers you the most?
Whitney: It seems like awards snubs get noticed more and more these days. With more coverage and analysis every year, it’s easier to recognize the actors, actresses, and shows that are left out when the nominations are announced. My pick is a little more depressing, because of instead of getting ignored for one all-time great show, this actor was ignored for his performances on two. Jim Nabors, made famous by The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, was never nominated for a single Primetime Emmy. He has a Daytime Emmy nomination for The Jim Nabors Show but didn’t win. As a talented actor on two of the most popular shows in history, you would think The Academy would be more than happy to reward popularity with a nomination but it was not to be. In hindsight, The Academy looks even worse now than in the 60’s when they initially snubbed him. “Gomer Pyle” has been elevated to the rank of Corporal Pyle due to a series of promotions over time by the actual Marine Corps., Nabors has a star on the Walk of Fame, and he was inducted to the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame (the state of his birth state). He turned 83 only last week, and we can only hope that if he wants to Nabors will find a show that can show off his many talents and give him one last chance at the Emmy he so obviously deserves.
Greg: Wow. So many to choose from. There are a couple of snubs I immediately thought of, like The Wire never getting an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nomination or their continual snubbing of Mary McDonnell’s extraordinary work on Battlestar Galactica. But I’m going to go instead with a specific season of television: Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s fifth. The show was largely ignored by the Emmys throughout its run (outside of some technical awards and Joss Whedon’s writing nomination for “Hush”), and while that was outrageous on many occasions, nowhere was it more so than when the show’s finest year failed to get any sort of Emmy recognition. It’s a season that should, for starters, have resulted in nominations for the series, Joss Whedon for writing and directing (either for “The Body” or “The Gift”, if not both), Sarah Michelle Gellar for lead actress, and Alyson Hannigan for supporting actress. I could also make a strong case for an additional writing nomination for Douglas Petrie (“Fool for Love”). Plus, this season didn’t even get any technical award nominations. Nothing whatsoever. Zilch. What were you thinking, Emmys?
Emma: The Wire was also my first thought but I’m going to go a little further back and choose a show that I’ve previously discussed in the Hall of Fame nominations and that is Roseanne. Roseanne, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf were nominated multiple times for this show but somehow over the nine-year period it aired the show didn’t receive a single nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. Considering the ratings and how influential Roseanne has been this is a huge surprise and despite recognizing individual performances it feels like the Emmy voters made a misstep by ignoring the show and ensemble as a whole.
Andrew: As I discussed in my Hall of Fame nomination of Phylicia Rashād, there was some fluky stuff that occurred regarding The Cosby Show and the Emmys. Bill Cosby, who had won three consecutive Emmys for I Spy, refused to submit himself for nomination during the run of the series, and this may have caused voters to look away. The series was not ignored; it won Outstanding Comedy in 1985 and was nominated in both 1986 and 1987. Yet the show had only one acting win, a guest star victory for Roscoe Lee Brown in 1986. Rashād got two nominations, and Lisa Bonet, Keshia Knight Pulliam, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner each had one a piece. But with none of the regular cast winning, I will name the cast of The Cosby Show as my biggest Emmy snub.
Myc: There were three things that popped into my head immediately when I saw this question: The first was Roseanne, as Emma already mentioned. The second was Ed O’Neill for Married… with Children, because his characterization of Al Bundy was iconic and paradigm shifting. But really I had to talk about Andy Griffith. Don Knotts won FIVE Emmys for his supporting performance in The Andy Griffith Show, but Andy himself was never even nominated for the iconic sitcom. He was nominated once, in 1981 for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor (for “Murder in Texas”)—but lost. How could Andy Griffith not even have gotten an Emmy nod for his show? It’s unbelievable to me. Even Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) won an Emmy for crying out loud! There have been a lot of snubs for awards over the years, but this one has always sort of gotten to me.
Cory: There a number of recent snubs to get worked up over—Steve Carell, The Wire, Jon Hamm—but I tried to back into the archives a little further for my complaints. In the mid 1980s and early 1990s there were a number of really great or interesting shows involved in the Outstanding Drama Series races, but those shows didn’t win because Cagney and Lacey and L.A. Law were too busy dominating the category. Those two shows are worthwhile in their own right and I don’t mean to say that they weren’t worthy of at least one big Emmy victory. However, it bums me out that Cagney and Lacey topped the first season of Miami Vice in 1985 and the first season of Moonlighting in 1986, or that L.A. Law regularly trounced shows like China Beach, Quantum Leap, and thirtysomething. Most of all, I’m upset that Law defeated the masterful first season of Twin Peaks in 1990. I totally understand why shows like Cagney and Lacey and L.A. Law win the major Emmys and Vice, Moonlighting, and Peaks do not. But that’s one of the reasons why the Emmys can suck.