Photos (clockwise from top left): Patrick Harbron / FX; CBS; Jojo Wilden / HBO; Walter Thompson / Comedy Central

Is The Normal Heart Unbeatable at the Emmys?

Marks Peikert and Blankenship discuss infusing the Emmys with fresh talent.

Our Players

Howdy Y'all, I'm Mark Blankenship.
Hello, I'm Mark Peikert.

The Talk

I'm dreading talking about Emmy-worthy series with you, Mark, because I know we both hate saying the same things over and over again. But let's add our voices to the critical chorus: The Americans is the best drama on television. And any which way you want to view it, Orphan Black has more depth and humor than just about any other show on TV.
I mean...I might rank The Americans below Masters Of Sex, personally, though I know I'm not in the majority there. But does The Americans deserve a nomination for Best Drama? Yes. Does Orphan Black? Yes. Are all three shows better than goddamned Downton Abbey and its increasingly insulting soap-opera machinations? Yes.
But here's the question: does Mad Men deserve a nomination this year?
Ah yes.
This "season" feels like a holding pattern.
Sure does. It doesn't feel like it's leading to anything at all. Mad Men, to me, has pretty much reduced itself to posturing and empty symbolism this year.
And compare that to The Good Wife, which blew up its storylines MULTIPLE TIMES and kept getting better in its fifth season. (The biggest regret I have about our relationship is that you don't watch The Good Wife. YET.)
(Oh child, I know. Thank you for loving me through it.)
But what other dramas are you loving? I confess I've lost most of my patience with them this year.
Is it just me, or is the field for Best Drama a little anemic this year?
Blame it on Shonda Rhimes; now everything has to barrel through plot at double time. And sorry, Nashville, that's not a good look on you.
On the flip side, I'm not loving the molasses pacing of Game Of Thrones. I want a happy medium! Which is why, even though it feels like it ended a hundred years ago, Breaking Bad is still my frontrunner this year.
Oh lord, I'd forgotten that was even in the running.
Though I really do think Masters Of Sex blossomed into a wonderful series. And even thought it's probably submitting as a comedy, I'd give Looking some consideration.
Sure! But speaking of comedies, can I make a radical suggestion? Broad City.
You know, I've never watched it, but I've heard great things!
That also blossomed into a wonderful series, kind of an alternate-universe NYC that resonates with anyone who isn't in the 1%. And I'd love to see a nomination for Inside Amy Schumer, which is smarter, funnier, and edgier than the increasingly irrelevant Saturday Night Live. How many game show or talk show sketches must we be forced to endure every week?
That would be great, if only because it would make the race so much more interesting. That's pretty much all I want from an award ballot: surprise.
Oh, you don't want to see The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family battle it out again?
Pardon me. I blacked out when you said that. But you're right! They're fresher today than they were forty years ago!
Here's the thing: some people only want award shows to reward excellence. And while that's definitely a factor for me, I'd also like to see innovation rewarded.
Me too. When it comes to the Emmys, I also want to see the old guard respectfully moved aside after a few years of dominance.
In 1995, The X-Files was nominated for best series. Can you imagine that happening today for Orphan Black or even the smarter-than-it-has-any-right-to-be Sleepy Hollow?
And Gillian Anderson even won for Best Actress one time! Though I guess you could argue that Game Of Thrones is getting the genre slot. And that show is pretty good, even if it moves too slowly for me half the time. I feel like what we're both saying is that it would be nice to believe the TV academy watched TV like we do, in the sense that we watch with a pretty catholic taste and try to dig into lesser-known shows that seem exciting.
Exactly! If I make it a point to watch at least one episode of everything, why aren't the people in charge of rewarding television excellence doing the same? But speaking of HBO, I have a question: Is there even any point in another TV movie submitting itself against The Normal Heart?
Probably not. And good luck to all the Coven cast members who have to compete against Julia Roberts.
Can you imagine if the Lifetime Donatella Versace movie was up against it? Because that's the only other TV movie I can think of.
Haha! Donatella! Who starred in that? I can't even remember.
Gina Gershon!
Man...WERE there any other movies? (On my walk to work, I kept seeing posters for something called Apple Mortgage Cake starring Kimberly Elise. It was on a network I'd never heard of. Maybe that'll get in.)
(Think of the swag they'd send voters!)
Wait. Seriously. We cannot end this conversation until we think of at least one movie that can compete with The Normal Heart.
Oh, Mark! There was also The Trip To Bountiful, Burton And Taylor and The Anna Nicole Story. PLUS CRAZY SEXY COOL!
Ahhh! Yes! And you know what else? There was The Sound of Music: Live!. Crazy Sexy Cool, The Sound of Music: Live!, and The Normal Heart.
Three-way tie? If only because I want to see Larry Kramer on stage with Carrie Underwood.
I'd pay a thousand million dollars to see Debbie Allen choreograph a tribute to that category.
I miss Debbie Allen.
Maybe she'll be in Apple Mortgage Cake 2: More Frosting.

Discussion

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