Tatiana Maslany to Bellamy Young: Why Do Emmys Dismiss Great Acting in Genres and Soaps?


With every Emmy announcement, there are the standard complaints about snubs. In such a fabulous year, it’s inevitable that certain things will get overlooked. Yet in the drama acting categories, there were some frustrating oversights, likely due to the fact that the shows weren’t deemed as Important with a capital I as others.

While Kerry Washington was recognized again in the lead actress category for her work on “Scandal” and respected vets Kate Burton and Joe Morton were nominated in the guest categories, it’s a shame many of Washington’s co-stars were overlooked in the supporting categories. Bellamy Young, who plays First Lady Mellie Grant, is one of the great success stories of the season. Mellie has gone from three lines in the “Scandal” pilot to the most vilified character on the show to one of the most beloved in the space of three seasons. The Critic’s Choice TV Awards recognized her work, awarding her best supporting actress last month over some stiff competition.

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It’s likely that “Scandal” is viewed by many voters are too much of a soap opera, fare too light to recognize alongside such dark dramas as “True Detective” and “Breaking Bad.” But the reason the show works so well is that the actors invest completely in the stakes. Much of the male supporting cast—Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Perry and Guillermo Diaz—had to play some of the most gut-wrenching scenes of the season. Yet because the show is just too damn fun, it’s easy to dismiss.

There are other shows that can’t seem to get Emmy traction despite critical raves; the cast of “Parenthood” is one of the best ensembles on television, yet it likely suffers from the same problems as “Scandal”—it’s viewed as soapy or, less kindly, treacly. And while no one will accuse “Sons of Anarchy” of being lighthearted, its actors—particularly its Lady MacBeth lead Katey Sagal—can’t get recognized.

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This is, of course, nothing new to genre shows. “The Walking Dead” has record-setting ratings and remains king of the watercooler, but can’t get any love for its actors, who so believably sell the story of a zombie invasion, particularly Norman Reedus as fan favorite Daryl Dixon.

And once again, Tatiana Maslany—who won a Critic’s Choice Award this year—was overlooked in the lead actress category for her stunning work as multiple characters on “Orphan Black.” It could be argued that her show airs on an obscure network or that marketing budgets aren’t as significant as others—one imagines the craft services on “House of Cards” costs more than an episode of “Orphan Black.” I like to think that maybe Maslany is so consistently outstanding in creating various characters, Emmy voters don’t realize it’s the same actress.

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  1. Mike says:

    best acting award should go to Tatiana Malsany for taking on so many characters in one series is amazing work.

  2. PAMELA says:

    I am so dissapointed in the Emmy’s for the snubs i mean Bellamy Young is amazing she deserves credit for her wonderful performance as Mellie, she is a huge part of this show’s success however that did not make me as angry as the disrespect the Emmy’s have shown by ignoring the unbelievably breathtaking and jaw dropping performance from Ophan Black star Tatiana Malsany, she is incredible and its not only because she can act as 3 different characters in one episode which is pretty awesome but the way she brings those characters together and allows us to fall inlove with how much these sisters love each other that we forget that she is playing all of them(eg: Helena and Sarah in episode 6, or Sarah and Casima in episode 8 and 9) making this one of my favorite shows. I have watched both seasons enough times to be 100% sure that this leading actress deserves the credit and recognition from the Emmy’s for her hard work.

  3. Andrew says:

    I think your point about Tatiana Malsany playing multiple characters so well that everyone forgets it is the same character is the best point. The characters and performances feel so defined and distinct that I forget that this one person carrying 80% of a show every episode.

  4. Gordon Nim says:

    Ms Riley, you mixed up your Shakespeare there. Sons of Anarchy isn’t Macbeth, it’s Hamlet, and Katey Sagal is definitely not Lady MacBeth, but Gertrude in Hamlet. And yes, she deserves a nomination.

    With regards to the snub of Tatiana Maslany, it is a clear example of how the Emmy prioritize high-budget shows, with high media value talent attached, who will bring high media value to the awards ceremony.

  5. John says:

    Hear, hear! Maslany is the worst snub of the Emmy’s by far! I hope a lot more people write about it because it’s really a travesty,.

  6. Jane says:

    I too am disappointed in Tatiana Maslany being overlooked. She gives 3 or 4 great performances every episode and Orphan Black is my favorite show.

  7. Lisa London says:

    Yes! I was just thinking the same thing…

  8. Lola says:

    This article is an irresponsible move to discredit Kerry Washington as an actress.

    Happy Mellie = happy main stream Media. I live in the UK and watch Scandal. This is my observation as an outsider.

    Variety, enough with your bias, it is getting tedious. It is an open secret that you would like Bellamy Young to be the lead actress on Scandal. I am a Bellamy fan and she is great as Mellie Grant and truth be told, she had a great season 3. But no one called Variety out on its Patronage towards Mellie throughout the series and your recognition of her work last month. So stop with the whining and don’t criticize another award for recognizing other actors on the show especially the lead, it is cheap and shameful. You demonized other characters on Scandal all season whilst propping up Mellie. You all hated on Fitz, a seasoned actor who is amazing on Scandal, all because of the role he plays as Olivia’s love interest. The point is that the Emmy, unlike Variety recognized the racial undertone of the scene that Bellamy submitted for her Emmy nomination and decided not to stir the racial pot.

    The story you should be telling is why Tony Goldwyn and Jeff Perry continue to be overlooked by awards including Variety.

  9. The Emmys are another way for actors, writers and producers to express self love and the public loathes it says:

    ……….for the same reasons models are always skinny and “them what has the gold makes the rules.”
    The more things do NOT change, the more thay stay the same. Was anything different realistically expected?

  10. nathiest says:

    MTV needs to do a TV award show.

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