Last week the Writers Guild of America announced its nominations for outstanding achievement in television, new media, news, radio and promotional writing in 2014.
While many of the nominees are expected, this year’s choices has its fair share of surprises. It feels like the Guild is desperately trying to stay relevant so they are choosing nominees that are completely out of left field, sometimes more than once.
For instance, in the short form new media category the Youtube show Vicky and Lysander has been nominated twice in a single season. While I have no doubt the show is innovative it can’t possibly deserve two of the six slots available in the category.
The same can be said in the animation section. Of the six nomination spots four of them went to episodes of The Simpsons. That’s over 75% of the category dedicated to a show that is not only past its prime but currently in one of its worst seasons on record. The two remaining spots are taken by Bob’s Burgers, a great show, but also unworthy of more than one nomination in a single category.
It is as if the nominating committee simply can’t be bothered to stray out of their comfort zone so they just keep voting for the same shows year after year. That mentality seems to stretch across all genres as well. The episodic comedy nominees, with the exception of Transparent, are basically the same nominees from the last three or four years.
It has reached the point where you could ask the casual viewer to guess the nominees in certain categories and odds are they would get at least most of them correct. The Guild has become predictable and that needs to change. The introduction of video-on-demand, cable and online content opens the doors for literally thousands of new shows that can and should be considered for the WGA Awards.
The fact that they clearly aren’t even being looked at is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is possible this is just an off year but that seems doubtful. It seems like a standard case of David and Goliath where just because a show has won in the past it automatically qualifies it to be nominated for the entirety of its run. That’s not fair to the other quality shows out there struggling to survive.
Granted this hasn’t been the greatest year for new television but for every Modern Family there is a Black-ish that gets ignored. Every year The Good Wife gets nominated a show like Intruders or Peaky Blinders falls under the radar. Maybe next year the WGA will pick some interesting shows but this year seems to be nothing but recycled material.
Winners will be honored at The Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, February 14, 2015 with simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.