2018 Emmy Roundup: How Queer Is it?

2018 Emmy Roundup: How Queer Is it?

While Netflix leads the way with 111 nominations (the new record, beating out HBOs 108), the real question we want to know is … How queer is it this year? How many noms go to shows with any representation? How many go to shows with good representation? Basically, are we getting noticed? Let’s do this thing.

The Positive

The following shows provide a generally positive representation of queers in a more than token way. And the actors here play queers in the same way on those shows.

The Okay

These shows are listed here because they have a few queer characters, but not many. They’re not queer enough in terms of representation, even if they’re really good shows.

The Bad

These shows are generally not ones we recommend you watch. Which sadly means actresses we love are stuck down here.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale – drama series
  • Godless – limited series
  • Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale) – supporting actress in a drama series
  • Merritt Wever (Godless) – supporting actress in a limited series
  • Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) – guest actress in a drama series

Why So Harsh?

As Tracy put it “The Emmys are rewarding gratuitous rape with Handmaid’s Tale and Godless.”

This has always been the problem. We get a lot of great quality shows, but we also get ones that have seriously problematic premises or situations. Take Godless. It was supposed to be about women in a  town with no men. Instead…

So while we’re very happy to see so many shows with queer representation getting nominated, it really illustrates the problem of not getting enough good representation. For example, four of the seven drama series nominated have queer characters. Of those four, none are great for representation. The closest would be Game of Thrones, and that’s a stretch since they’re a tertiary plot. Four of the seven nominated comedy series also have queer characters, but of those, two are good rep.

Now, bear in mind, shows like Sense8 and Pose were not eligible, as the period is June 1, 2017 until May 31, 2018. That means GLOW only barely counts, since the second season is the one with queer characters, and it only just came out in June, making it ineligible. And Mrs. Maisel also is a squiffy count, since the character is not openly queer.

How Queer Is It?

Not queer enough. And not queer positive enough. The shows that are getting recognition are ones where queers are murdered and raped. They’re shows where the women are sidelines to horses. They’re shows where the queers are background lamps to other stories.

Why wasn’t One Day at a Time nominated? What about Vida? At the very least, the first 2/3rds of the season counted. I know Pose missed the cut-off, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Jane the Virgin didn’t. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been flipping the script all season, why not that? The Good Fight has been topical, well written, and outstanding in both seasons, but it’s only ever been nominated for their (albeit masterful) opening theme. I mean, why the hell not Wynonna Earp?

The Emmy’s, yet again, fail to recognize works outside their own comfort zone. They exacerbate the echo chamber of the same old shows we’ve seen a hundred times over. They limit creativity by celebrating nothing new. Basically, the Emmy’s could use a serious shake up to catch up with everything else.

There’s better television out there, stories told in more unique ways, and the Emmy’s need to catch up with the times. The shows we love are the ones that more accurately reflect the world we live in and that includes ourselves. Reward the novel, the outstanding, and the diverse. Reward something new for a change.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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