The Emmy nominations for writing and directing are usually a bellwether of where the industry insiders see the sizzle in the small screen. The scribe and helming categories are less of a popularity contest than the comedy and drama series races.
So it was with some dismay that after checking the list a couple of times, I noticed the paucity of female nominees in these categories. No femmes in the drama series directing race, and in drama writing, only Moira Walley-Beckett made the cut for the “Ozymandias” episode of “Breaking Bad.”
The picture is only a little brighter in comedy. Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan are nommed for writing the pilot seg of “Orange is the New Black.” On the helming side, Gail Mancuso landed her third consecutive nom (she won last year) for “Modern Family,” for the “Vegas” episode. And Jodie Foster was recognized for the “Lesbian Request Denied” episode of “OITNB.”
Questioning the absence of femmes in competition this year is not meant to take anything away from the other deserving nominees in the categories. I was especially happy to see “Boardwalk Empire” get at least a little recognition from Emmy voters with a drama directing nom for Tim Van Patten for the “Farewell Daddy Blues” season four finale seg.
But it’s hard to square the Emmy playing field this year with a few simple stats: Women account for a little more than half of the U.S. population and well more than half of the TV viewing aud on most nights. I suppose the Emmy results are in keeping with the latest DGA stats indicating that women helmers account for only about 14% of all episodic TV work.
And perhaps my hopes were raised too high after last year when Michelle MacLaren was up for directing “Breaking Bad” and Lesli Linka Glatter was up for helming “Homeland.” In comedy, three of the five directing nominees were women (Lena Dunham for “Girls,” Mancuso and Beth McCarthy-Miller for “30 Rock.”)
But last year, there were no female nominees in the drama writing heat, and three nominees for comedy writing (Pamela Adlon for “Louie” and Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield for “30 Rock”). So progress comes in fits and starts. It’s just hard to believe that we’re still talking about “progress” in 2014.
(Pictured: Moira Walley-Beckett, Jodie Foster, Jenji Kohan)