It’s that time again! That’s right. It’s Emmy season. And ballots for most of the major categories have been released to the public. For the next few weeks, I will be discussing and making pleas for some of the “children,” family, and youth programs from the 2015-2016 season that I believe deserve a shot an Emmy. I’ll also, of course, predict whether these programs even have a chance in the first place.
After its success with Transparent, it looks like Amazon is ramping up its Emmy campaign this year, most notably in regards to two of its children’s series. While Annedroids was submitted for Daytime Emmy consideration (and received a bunch of nominations as a result), Amazon (or the producers/TPTB) has decided to submit Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street and Just Add Magic for Primetime Emmy consideration. Since, unlike with the Daytime Emmys, there are fewer categories exclusively for “Children’s Programming” (really, just one category), the actors, directors and writers from both those shows are being submitted in categories that more “adult” comedy series would also be submitting. So, for example, in regards to Gortimer Gibbon‘s, Sloane Morgan Siegel is submitted as a Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, while his co-stars Ashley Boettcher and Drew Justice are submitted in the supporting categories. Meanwhile, Lost alum Elizabeth Mitchell submitted as a Guest Actress for her performance in the season 2 standout “Mel vs. the Future.” Likewise, the six actresses (half teens, half adult) that make up the cast of Just Add Magic also submitted in the categories that have been dominated by the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Allison Janney. The programs themselves are, of course, being submitted in the “Children’s Program” category.
It’s a fun gamble on Amazon’s part. It’s also unexpected. Children’s programs don’t usually get recognition outside their designated category. There are a few exceptions. Alfre Woodard received an Emmy nomination in 1990 for her performance in the “Children’s Program” A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story. The next year, the Disney Channel movie Mark Twain and Me won the Children’s Program category and its director Daniel Petrie received a Directing in a TV Movie or Miniseries nomination. The Kevin Sullivan produced programs Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables also received recognition both in and out the Children’s program category. And, of course, Kenny Ortega received a surprise Directing nomination for High School Musical (he won an Emmy for choreography). So, it’s not impossible for a Children’s Series to break though…but, again, it’s a gamble. I remember almost a decade ago when Miley Cyrus submitted herself in the Lead Comedy Actress category for Hannah Montana. She actually received a little buzz, but didn’t even make the shortlist (that was the year when the Emmys had “shortlists.”) Disney Channel (and Nickelodeon) submit its programs for Emmy consideration, but not their actors. Dove Cameron and Laura Marano probably choose to submit for themselves, considering none of their co-stars show up on the ballots.
But if there’s a “children’s program” that deserves to “break out” of the Children’s Program category, it’s Gortimer Gibbon‘s. It is currently the best looking children’s show on television. And its season two finale “Gortimer, Ranger And Mel Vs. The Endless Night”(which is submitted in both the Directing and Writing” categories) remains one of the best half hours of television this season. Ashley Boettcher’s performance in “Mel vs. the Future” (the episode where her character’s mother unexpectedly dies) is heartbreaking. She’d make my top six in the Supporting Actress category. Even Just Add Magic, a wonderful show based off the book about three girls who concoct magic recipes, is pretty close to Gortimer’s quality. I wish the Primetime Emmys, like the Daytime Emmys or even the Canadian Screen Awards, respected children’s television more and offered separate categories for the performers, writers and directors of this genre. But, in my opinion, the performers, writers and directors of these Amazon Originals can stand by the ones who make more general television. So, Emmy voters, open your mind, get an Amazon Prime subscription, and actually be unpredictable for once!
What are the chances?
Well, hopefully, GG and JAM will at least get nominated in the Children’s Program category. Both shows have a good chance. Just Add Magic is apparently Amazon’s most popular Kids program. Sometimes, I think voters just choose shows their grandchildren are watching (mixed in with an important HBO doc and the token Nick News special). Maybe they’re watching Just Add Magic. Meanwhile, Gortimer Gibbon’s has had a pretty successful awards run this year so far, winning the Humanitas and the Writers Guild Award. It was also the only series (not special) to get a Director’s Guild nomination. There isn’t another children’s show that’s received more acclaim this year…but, Amazon is still pretty new to the Emmy race. An “online series” has never received a nomination in the Children’s category (although they haven’t existed for very long). I hope hope hope the recognition from the guilds is enough to give Gortimer Gibbon’s an edge. But, again, with Nick News and HBO guaranteed at least a spot each (and Degrassi also most likely in the mix), Amazon will have to compete with Disney Channel for those remaining two slots.