×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nielsen winners have no cache with Emmy

'Millionaire' and its net on outside looking in

America’s most watched television program won’t be winning any Prime Time Emmys come September, but that’s not necessarily anything new.

Nor is it new to the net who broadcasts it.

Emmy voters have never been totally aligned with viewers’ tastes, but it’s ABC in particular that has most often been on the outside looking in when it comes to its highest-rated series failing to pick up major statuettes.

So while a footnote may go down next to the Alphabet’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” this year — it competed for a Daytime Emmy because their was no suitable category for it on the primetime kudocast — it does extend an amazing streak for the net: ABC has now had the season’s No. 1 non-news series on nine occasions, yet none of these shows has won a major drama or comedy award.

These series, which range from “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Happy Days” in the 1970s to “Roseanne” and “Home Improvement” in the ’90s, all seem to have been bitten by one of Emmy’s most deadly bugs: its tendency to shun popular, mainstream shows (especially those with blue-collar leads) for the hip, quirky and sophisticated.

That may explain why vet laffer “The Drew Carey Show,” for all its begging and pleading with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences after another top-20 finish in the ratings, was once again bypassed in the best comedy category while sexy newcomers like “Will & Grace” and “Sex and the City” each grabbed a bundle of nominations.

But while ABC has had the least luck with its top-rated shows, it by no means is alone. Other Nielsen winners to be Emmy losers include NBC’s “Wagon Train” and “Bonanza,” and CBS’ “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Dallas.”

Never honored

And big-name stars who appeared on some of the highest-rated shows of their time — including Jackie Gleason of “The Honeymooners,” Andy Griffith of his eponymous show and Tim Allen of “Home Improvement” — never made it to the winner’s circle.

In recent years, NBC has fared best with its top-rated shows, as hip, sophisticated, urbane hits such as “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” “Frasier” and “ER” have all won the top prize. Still, given that the Peacock has had both the No. 1-rated drama and comedy for each of the last six years, it’s perhaps surprising that it’s won the drama and comedy Emmys in the same year only once — in 1996, when “ER” and “Frasier” were victorious.

Nielsen’s top-ranked drama and comedy have captured the big Emmys in the same year only once — in 1953 with “I Love Lucy” and “Dragnet” (the category at the time was for mystery, action or adventure series). If this trend continues, the “Friends”-“ER” parlay would be considered a long shot Sept. 10.

This year, the three most watched sitcoms were nominated for best comedy (“Friends,” “Frasier” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”) while two of the top three dramas made the cut (“ER” and “The Practice”), but “Touched by an Angel” did not.

As for this season’s rookies, Emmy did honor the top-rated new comedy and drama with acting noms, but both of these shows — top-20 hits “Judging Amy” and “Malcolm in the Middle” — will have to wait at least one more year before receiving any major series recognition.

NBC’s “The West Wing,” on the other hand, barely cracked the top 30 in its first season but captured 18 nominations, including best drama.

Emmy history is also replete with low-rated series that have shined on TV’s big night. Sometimes the victory helped the ratings, but oftentimes it did not.

Not always a boost

Two series — “Mission: Impossible” in the ’60s and “Hill Street Blues” in the ’80s — won multiple Emmys as best drama but the honor didn’t help either break into the top 30. And a third, “Cagney & Lacey,” was only a marginal hit when it won best drama in 1985 (ranking No. 28) and actually slipped out of the top 30 a year later, when it won again.

But for some lower-rated shows, an Emmy victory can be a turning point.

Both “Cheers” and ABC’s “The Practice” struggled to find an audience in their early years but were saved by Emmy triumphs in 1983 and 1998, respectively.

More TV

  • China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel

    China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel Cop Show ‘Life on Mars’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    A Chinese “Life on Mars” is in the works after BBC Studios and Phoenix Entertainment inked a deal to create a Mandarin-language version of the time-travel cop series. BBC Studios will officially unveil the format deal at Showcase, its annual programming market for international buyers, which is now underway in Liverpool, England. “Life on Mars” [...]

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content