Sarah E. Mason
Where's the Love for Walking Dead Award Season?
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
It's Official, the ultimate display of Hollywood back patting hath commenced! With the announcement of the SAG award nominations for 2014 and the Hollywood Foreign Press Golden Globe nominations. Per usual, the two lists are similar (as surely the Oscars, AFI awards, DGAs, etc will be), and filled with the usual buzz suspects of the year. It's a time in which Publicists truly earn their keep. The campaigning starts at the beginning of October and does not end until the Oscars are handed out in late February.
I do believe that artists should be awarded and acknowledged, but the hardhitting, neverending seige of promotion during Hollywood Award Season sucks the art out of what really matters to me, the Story. Even if I love the films they are promoting. With every ad and talk show interview you feel that it's not about the talent or the art it's literally just about selling the movie. It's always the same groupings of Hollywood Studio produced and backed films and actors throughout the entire season rendering little independent films virtually invisible. Of course they've got the Independent Spirit Awards but when Matthew McConaughey won an award for Magic Mike, I lost faith in the sincerity of their independence.
Now this year, when we're talking movies, the nominee list is impressive and it does acknowledge a lot of films that are not big box office studio backed, Boyhood and Birdman which are two of my favorite films this year were both nominated. There were some particularly flawless performances, brilliant scripts and wonderful stories, Michael Keaton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Benedict Cumberbatch all nominated. And for the small screen, the last few years has produced an overabundance of creative genius. Cable is having its moment with superior shows like Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, American Horror Story, The Affair, The Knick. Even traditional Broadcast TV despite its impending demise at the hands of streaming content services like Netflix, is having a bit of a Renaissance in terms of creativity and strong content. And streaming content is amazing with the likes of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Transparent and others. So yeah, there's a lot of competition out there and it is hard to argue with some of this year's accolades (minus The Big Bang Theory/Emmy's).
For myself and my co-host at the Harold & Maudecast, we take particular offense to the persistent omission of AMC's The Walking Dead. With the exception of the ocassional Makeup or (in this year's case) a SAG Stunt Ensemble nomination, Walking Dead fans are consistently left scratching their heads wondering why their favorite show has been snubbed once again.
It's the number one show on TV beating out even Sunday Night Football. I'm not suggesting it's popularity should garner critical accolades but ratings aside, The Walking Dead is one of the best shows ever produced on televison. The Walking Dead delivers some of the best writing and acting performances on television. It deserves to be listed in the company of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards, American Horror Story, all the shows that continue to beat it out of nods. Particularly when American Horror Story, which has won a Golden Globe for Jessica Lange, eight Primetime Emmy Awards including acting wins for Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and James Cromwell, a DGA award, a SAG award, an AFI Award for Best Television Show. Altogether the show has won 55 major awards and received 143 nominations. This surely signifies there is some consideration for the horror genre that extends beyond stunts and make up.
So why, why Hollywood!?! Is it that the voters are incapable of seeing beyond the Zombies unfairly lumping it into the Syfy channels repoitire of silly low budget horror films? Having worked in Hollywood, I've seen first hand who controls a lot of the viewing and voting process. In addition to the publicists, it's the assistants who actually watch the programs and advise their powerful bosses what and who to vote for. I gotta believe a vast majority of these assistants (as well as bosses) are watching and appreciating Walking Dead. Maybe it breaks down to Hollywood politics and I don't know the inner workings or facts that leave The Walking Dead, like the Walkers, peering in through the glass windows at the Beverly Hilton trying to get inside to get drunk off the tasty spread.
Truly, I'm stumped on this one. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer received an Emmy nomination for writing for the episode, Hush, which was a a truly awesome episode. As big a Buffy fan as I am, I gotta say Walking Dead shits on Buffy in terms of acting and writing. You could almost pull any episode and be impressed by the performances, writing and directing! Sofia barn reveal episode anyone? And how about Season 4's episode, Clear which boasts two of the finest acting performances on television by series lead Andrew Lincoln aka Rick Grimes and fellow British actor, Lennie James as Morgan. The episode revisits the character Morgan, who along with his son, help Rick navigate the initial stages of the zombie apocalypse. Rick hasn't seen Morgan since heading off down the road to Atlanta on his own to find his family. Now several months/year+ later, Rick finds Morgan in his old hometown, alone, heavily armed, and essentially gone insane after witnessing his son murdered by his wife-turned-zombie. Sure there's some gory Walker action going on in the episode. Carl (Rick's son) and Michonne (sword toting group member), fight off some Walkers, but the core of the episode centers around Morgan's downfall and Rick's attempts to bring him back to reality and take him with them back to their semi-safe base at the prison. The dialogue, and two actors performances in these intense close up scenes are so emotional and raw. It's brillantly impressive and should have been awarded with nominations.
There's other episodes I could single out, bottom line, it's shameful and insulting to fans of the show. And actually, it's an insult to fans of this genre. As if we aren't able to critically determine what's good and what's not. We're still reduced to a bunch of nerds standing in line trying to get an autograph at Comic Con. I'm here to tell ya, you're wrong Hollywood. We know more than you do! We are the true story appreciators. We are comic book readers, and podcast listeners, we know every detail of every character and every story word for word -- don't believe me? Exhibit 1: Stephen Colbert. We are collectors of memorabilia that keeps us telling our own stories within the big stories. We are the keepers of these tales and we are the ones you should be listening to -- you sure know where to find us when you wanna promote something (SDCC).
So on behalf of Walking Dead fans, shame on you Hollywood for once again snubbing a show worthy of as much critical praise and awards as any of the nominees this year or before. Here's our challenge, watch the show. Don't just read the headlines and tweets, sit down, start from the beginning and catch up. If you do not see what we see, quit your job. You just don't get it.
Footnote: This article was written well before The Walking Dead, jumped the shark.