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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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