Emmys 2017: Lack of Girls and Insecure is as messed up as it feels


The lack of Emmy recognition for the final season of Girls and the first season of Insecure is more than just disappointing, it’s concerning.

Before its debut, writers, critics, and Twitter fans liked to compare to Insecure to Girls. And, to be fair, there are certain similarities: Both are female-led auteur-style dramedies airing Sunday nights on HBO. Both immediately connected with audiences who felt they didn’t see their stories on television.

Still, this grouping can feel forced (and has blessedly mostly subsided). After all, Girls is at the end of a run — the story is complete, both the one on the show and the one about the show. Meanwhile, Insecure just wrapped its second season, fresh in the cultural hive mind for pushing conversation, exploring cinematic styles, inciting a weekly “black civil war” and, well, yes, depicting characters who can be as self-involved and dumb as the ones populating Lena Dunham’s Brooklyn.

But the parallels, as they exist, are perhaps most striking as they pertain to award recognition — or lack thereof. Both shows received virtually no Emmy nominations for their acclaimed and beloved 2016-17 seasons, Girls‘ final and Insecure’s first. As Rolling Stone‘s Sean T. Collins put in his list of picks and predictions, “Emmy seems to have no love for auteur comedies when the auteur in question is a woman.”

In the history of the Emmys, Girls was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series twice — after its first and second seasons. Creator Lena Dunham was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series after each of the first three seasons. But by 2015, the only nominations the show received were for supporting and guest performances. (At the 2017 Emmys, guest actors Riz Ahmed, Matthew Rhys and Becky Ann Baker were nominated. Those awards have already been announced and none of them won.)  The only Emmy wins for Girls are credited to casting (for the first season) and guest actor Peter Scolari, who played Tad Horvath, Dunham’s character’s father.

Girls had its share of highs, lows and controversy over its six season run. There were episodes, seasons even, that were decidedly not good. But Dunham and company found their groove again in the final year, which may have even been the best. That the show was not recognized, nor were the performances of Dunham, Allison Williams, Adam Driver or Andrew Rannels, is shocking. Award academies like to recognize a final season and when the final season is also its best, it should be a no brainer.

As for Insecure, the first season had everything you could ask for in a new show. Rae’s show debuted with a fresh voice, dynamic characters and an accessible plot, plus HBO-level production. The direction was beautiful, the soundtrack incredible, the writing in-touch. And, most importantly, it was funny.

There’s plenty of time for Insecure to pick up future nominations and awards. It’s a big enough critical and cultural success to ensure a run similar to, yes, Girls. (HBO already ordered season 3.) But compared to similar nascent auteur comedies — namely, Master of None and Atlanta — the discrepancy in early recognition is stark.

Donald Glover, the mind behind Atlanta, picked up acting, directing and writing nominations — in addition to Outstanding Comedy Series for the show and a writing nom for his brother, Stephen Glover. Master of None‘s Aziz Ansari picked up acting and co-writing nominations (with Lena Waithe) and is in the running (albeit a dark horse) for Outstanding Comedy Series for the show’s second season.

The Emmys are never going to get it right. Part of the joy of watching award shows as a fan is getting riled up over the snubs and robberies of your favorite comedies, dramas, and stars. And in this age of Peak TV, the likelihood of someone or something great getting overlooked is inevitable. The nominations for Atlanta and Master of None are totally deserved, particularly the writing for MON’s “Thanksgiving” episode.

Next: Why Master of None deserves Outstanding Comedy Series

Still, when the inclination is to recognize trends — like the auteur dramedy — but the only ones receiving that (award) recognition are led by men…well, then, you’re left with an all-too-common ask for the Academy: Do better.

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. Watch on CBS or stream online.