Emmys, Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes -- every nomination morning has its share of "what were they thinking?" moments. As in "How could the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. totally snub 'Game of Thrones' and 'Masters of Sex's' Lizzy Caplan this year?" And there it normally ends, the frustration confined to those crazy folks who cast their ballots and invariably prove with their capricious taste the arbitrary nature of awards.
Until this year when the alarmingly good "Orange Is the New Black" was excluded from the list of Golden Globe nominees for best comedy not because HFPA members wouldn't know a game-changing comedy if it hit them in the face with a slipper made from maxipads, but because Netflix submitted it as a drama.
Memo to television executives everywhere: You can relax. Netflix will not be running the world any time soon. I don't know what the execs over at the high-octane streaming service thought they were watching when they saw "Orange Is the New Black," but I, like most critics, thought I was watching comedy.
A dark comedy, a sophisticated comedey, an at times uncomfortably and even scary comedy, maybe even a drama-comedy (although that is perilously close to "dramedy," a word that should not exist), but a comedy nonetheless. And one I fully expected to clean up at awards time.
Which it did not at the Golden Globes, and may not at next year's Emmys if Netflix sticks with this unfortunate decision.
"Orange's" star, Taylor Schilling, got a nomination for lead actress in a drama, and good for her, though seeing her name on the list, it was difficult to suppress the desire to hum "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same." How voters are going to judge her performance against those of her dramatic peers is anyone's guess, especially when it is so clear that her sweetly oblivious and neurotic Piper belongs with the comedic nominees -- Lena Dunham's Hannah, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina and Edie Falco's "Nurse Jackie."
Showtime's submission of "Nurse Jackie" as a comedy has caused a bit of grumbling over the years. But compared to Falco's formerly addicted, adulterous, duplicitous nurse with a heart o' gold, the overly entitled and self-indulgently naive Piper is the Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler is also a Globe nominee) of the U.S. prison system.
Netflix is entitled to submit its shows any way it desires, and the line between drama and comedy grows blurrier every year; "Dexter" had its own brand of twisted humor, as did "Breaking Bad," while even card-carrying comedies like "Louie" deal as much in pathos as laughter. But beyond the philosophical issue of labels (won't an "Orange" by any other name smell as sweet?), the decision to move "Orange Is the New Black" from a category in which many expected it to do well does beg a few questions. Is Netflix so attached to "House of Cards" that it doesn't want its more original show to outshine it? Has creator Jenji Kohan, who one assumes has a large say in the decision, surrendered to the canard that drama is more prestigious/important than comedy? Will the second season skew more "serious" and possibly less interesting?
Or maybe those of us who thought of "Orange" as a game-changing comedy were just watching it wrong. How embarrassing.
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times