It’s a well-known fact that the Emmy voters are a bunch of stuck-up snobs who wouldn’t recognize good TV if they fell through their screen into it, but it still hurts when some of the best series are snubbed year after year. Networks are ignored on principle, even though their shows are often as good (if not better) than the cable shows that critics heap praises on year after year, sometimes despite obvious drops in quality. At least I can pay a little homage to the shows that make television great but will never receive a golden idol. Here is a list of the best shows currently on television that will never win an Emmy.
In its first season, Hannibal turned murder into an art form, made us crave dishes we suspected were made out of people, and turned an unrepentant psychopathic murderer into a likeable character. Bryan Fuller has really pushed the boundaries of network TV with the latest in his string of bizarre shows, and the results are spectacular. Hannibal is at once fascinating and horrifying, leaving viewers unsure whether to recoil in terror or draw ever closer to the magnificent madness. But because this masterpiece is tucked away in a dark corner of NBC, it will never get the Emmy recognition it deserves.
It takes a special kind of actor to convincingly play two different characters. Tatiana Maslany regularly brings to life four different characters, with a couple extra thrown in from time to time. Orphan Black is unparalleled in its originality, daring in its execution, and finally answers the age old question of nature versus nurture. The writing and acting manages to be fast-paced while still feeling organic. Hinging an entire show on one woman’s performance was a huge gamble, but it was one that paid off. Orphan Black has shown that it isn’t afraid to take risks and try new things, and that, rather than playing it safe, is what makes for good TV. It was no surprise when the show was snubbed by the Emmy voters, but it was still an outrage.
A tolerable comedy can be hard to find these days. Most are full of unoriginal, forced jokes and have writers that play for cheap laughs rather than build compelling characters. Not so with Community, the weirdest and arguably best comedy on TV. The show’s setting and characters are strange and hilarious, and seem to exist in a world apart from ours. Even seemingly throw-away lines have meaning and reveal things about the characters. Some of Community’s greatest hits include epic paintball battles, a cartoon episode, and an episode built entirely around how one random event creates alternate timelines. After a rocky fourth season, Dan Harmon is back to continue creating some of the most strange and brilliant half-hours on TV.
Canadians must love their science fiction, because this is one of two original and successful show of that genre to come from our northern neighbors in as many years. Continuum is both an exciting time-travel adventure and an insightful examination of fate, the fine line between right and wrong, human nature, and the evolution of government. Somehow this show just keeps getting better and better, and hopefully will continue to enthrall viewers and blur the lines between terrorist and freedom fighter for years to come.
Person of Interest
Described as a superhero show without the tights, Person of Interest doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as it deserves. The show has well-rounded, loveable characters, an extensive mythology, and possibly the best writing on TV today. Person of Interest has turned flashbacks into an art form and contained some of the most perfect story arcs I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. PoI has found the perfect balance between procedural and serialized story-telling, not to mention predicted Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal over a year before it happened. With Person of Interest seeming more and more like science fact rather than science fiction, it’s about time the show gets some recognition by the Emmy voters (not counting that one time it was nominated for outstanding sound-mixing). I’m still not getting my hopes up.