Emmy Awards 2013: Is Emmy Awards Coverage Dominated By Men?

The ramp up to Emmy season has begun and with it the predictions and analysis of the shows likely to be nominated come August. The Hollywood Reporter is always at the forefront of the coverage, and this year is no different. Also no different is the dearth of women represented in their series, specifically in their roundtable discussions. The roundtables are meant to be an in depth analysis of television by those working in the industry, looking at everything from trends to the overall quality of television. Apparently The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t think women have a lot to contribute to the discussion.

I will admit when it comes to the actors, the Hollywood Reporter has its bases covered. The leading and supporting actresses are represented alongside their male counterparts. Why then aren’t women afforded the same treatment in categories such as writing, directing, and producing? The publication has a history of excluding both women and minorities from their coverage but perhaps it’s time they join the rest of us in the 21st century. Because whether it means to be or not, the Hollywood Reporter’s Emmy coverage is sexist.

Take their show runners roundtables; of the individuals (six dramatic and six comedic) included in the pre-Emmy festivities, only one is a woman. New Girl’s Liz Meriwether is the lone female representation in what is supposed to be a comprehensive look at television’s best and brightest. Comprehensive is not the word I would use for an organization that wilfully ignores the contributions of women. I say willfully because it’s hard to believe the Hollywood Reporter just happened to overlook women such as Girls’ Lena Dunham, Nashville’s Callie Khouri, Scandal’s Shonda Rhimes and others who lend their talents to the prime time line up.

Perhaps if they deemed these shows unworthy of an Emmy it could justify — barely — the exclusion. After all, it would be peculiar to include shows like Whitney or Pretty Little Liars (both run by women) when the odds are nil they will even get nominated. However, the Hollywood Reporter’s coverage of the Emmys includes features on shows like Scandal and Nashville. Nurse Jackie, which is run by a woman, is a critical darling with a history of Emmy nominations yet Liz Brixus and Linda Wallem are nowhere to be seen. It seems the Hollywood Reporter just doesn’t care to speak to the women who make these shows great.

 It’s not all their fault though, they seem to be a symptom of a larger problem. On screen women seem to be ruling the airwaves. From Homeland to Game of Thrones, strong female characters are something of the norm. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for those working behind the scenes. Writers and directors bear the brunt of the discrimination. The 2011-2012 season saw only 519 female writers out of the 1,722 working for 190 shows. That’s around 30%. Female directors accounted for only 15 % of the total over the same period. In all, women represented only 26% of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography in 2011-2012; a depressing trend that doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

The only way women can really gain ground on television is by getting the same publicity as their male counterparts. Publicity is everything in the Hollywood machine and name recognition can get a pilot green lit more so than a good script more often than not. It’s frustrating then, to see the little headroom women are able to make underrepresented by industry publications such as the Hollywood Reporter. Yes, 26% is an abysmal number, but it’s better than 8%, which happens to be the ratio of women included in the showrunners’ roundtable. I may be holding the Hollywood Reporter up to a higher standard, but somebody has to lead the way in giving women their due course.  

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Melissa Hugel

Melissa is a freelance writer and blogger. She has written for the Scottish Book Trust and regularly contributes to Edinburgh based Illicit Ink. A keen interest in all things pop culture, Melissa studied history and film at McMaster University, and has an MA in creative writing from Edinburgh Napier University.

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