by Natalie Finn | Thu., Jul. 14, 2016 12:13 PM
Once again, TV has proved that it's the place to be for some of the most compelling drama, the sharpest comedy and the most original, diverse group of characters.
And it's also becoming the place for fairness.
The nominations for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning and, for the first time ever, all the lead acting categories include at least one actor of color.
Twitter didn't erupt in #EmmysSoDiverse applause or anything like that, and it's still years too late to start handing out cigars to every voting member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for their foresight, but it sure is a heck of a nice turn of events in a year that started with a call for an Oscars boycott because no actors of color were nominated.
Moreover, 21 actors of color received nominations overall, in lead and supporting categories combined.
But TV has usually been ahead of movies in general when it comes to offering content that, if it doesn't always reflect reality (we're looking at you, Monica and Rachel's apartment), actually resembles life as we know it.
Television has offered a much bigger playground for strong female characters, gay and transgender characters and characters of all colors—and not only are there more roles, they tend to be much better roles.
Just as HBO planted the flag for game-changing series that sent fellow cable networks scrambling to up their creativity game (a process that took a while to trickle down to the broadcast networks, but they're getting there), streaming services have now blown up the business-as-usual model and created a real push for programming that calls to viewers.
And while it's literally impossible to please all fans in one fell swoop (the word "snub" will be the word you see used most today online), this year's Emmy nominations are more of a reflection than ever of the array of characters making us laugh/cry/cringe/fist-shake/lust/sweat/etc. and the actors who bring them to life.
Better yet, there's no trace of forced inclusion among the nominees (though I'm still not sure whether Cuba Gooding Jr.'s portrayal of O.J. Simpson was a brilliant interpretation or a parody next to the also-nominated Courtney B. Vance, who stole every scene—in a good way—as Johnnie Cochran).
Viola Davis as a badass defense attorney who's also falling apart at the seams in How to Get Away With Murder. Rami Malek as a genius hacker whose delusions have become our delusions in Mr. Robot. Kerry Washington making us hang on her every word and gesture as Anita Hill in Confirmation. Aziz Ansari's working actor in the super-clever and heartwarming Master of None, which in its first season on Netflix offered some of the most insightful and hilarious commentary on race and ethnicity on TV (or any device) this past year.
Same goes for black-ish stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, the leads on a show that tackled some of the most pressing issues of the day, including police brutality, and emerged in its second season as one of the strongest shows—comedy or drama—on right now.
Meanwhile, Regina King, Sterling K. Brown, Andre Braugher, Titus Burgess, Bokeem Woodbine, Keegan-Michael Key, Niecy Nash, Tracy Morgan, Mahershala Ali and Reg E. Cathey are among the nominees in supporting and guest acting categories, and we could go on about the awesomeness of Woodbine in Fargo, Ali and Cathey in House of Cards, Brown's portrayal of Chris Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson and all of the above.
Fresh Off the Boat star Constance Wuwould have been a deserving addition to the best actress in a TV comedy bunch (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is everything, but maybe she could have been swapped out this year, since she's already won for Veep four times?), but the fact that the same shows and certain stars tend to score nominations year after year (after year) is another issue.
That, at least, is one problem the Oscars doesn't have.
The 2016 Emmys takes place Sept. 18 at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater.
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