5 Emmys Moments That Gave Women in Television Hope

The Emmys always prove to be a bit of a problem for me and it’s not only because I rarely agree with their winners (Amy Poehler has still not won an Emmy, so there’s that). It’s more the Emmys contentious relationship with women. I say contentious because, in my years as an avid Emmy viewer, women have not received the same accolades as men. From writing to directing, women have still not broken down the barriers. However, at each show there is always a glimmer of hope and 2013 was no exception. Here are the five best moments for women at this year’s Emmys:

1. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, Just Generally

The opening gag was funny – hosts of the past coming back to haunt Neil Patrick Harris. (Actually it was a little depressing as it put the show’s most recent hosts side by side showing us just how few women have held the honor). However, when you add Fey and Poehler to the mix, the laughs increase exponentially. Their brilliant heckling of Harris made me wish – almost – the Emmys had followed the lead of the Golden Globes and hired these two to host. They didn’t though, and Harris did a good job. Still, Fey and Poehler definitely stole the show.

2. Best Writing for a Comedy Series

Is it any coincidence that this moment also involves Tina Fey? As one of the funniest women on television it’s easy to forget she’s also the comedic genius behind the scenes and a pioneer for women in television. Fey and Tracey Wigfield’s win for best writing comes in a banner year for female comedians, especially on television. And it was a fitting way for the Emmys to honour Fey, without whom the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Mindy Kaling, and even Amy Poehler would not be gracing screens everywhere. 

3. Best Directing for a Comedy Series

More funny women, more awards. Gail Mancuso’s win came in one of the few behind the scenes categories dominated by women. Of the five director’s nominated, three were women. That her win comes from one of the funniest female centric shows, Modern Family, is a promising sign for women in television. I’ve previously written about the lack of women behind the scenes in Hollywood, but if those like Mancuso keep it up this issue could change sooner rather than later. 

4. Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington

Apparently the Emmys were all about dynamic female duos. Presenting the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, these two pioneering women took a little time out to celebrate one another. Carroll was the first African American to ever receive an Emmy nomination, so she was very much a predecessor for Washington – the first African American woman to headline a network show since 1974. Seeing these two women on stage together was a reminder of how far we’ve come (and how far we have to go).

5. Abi Morgan's Win

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie was Behind the Candelabra’s to lose. Almost no one predicted that a miniseries written by a woman from the UK would beat out the HBO juggernaut. Morgan beat out some big names, including David Mamet, to give women a near clean sweep of the writing categories. It was especially surprising given the fact that the show Morgan won for, The Hour, was cancelled by the BBC. Nevertheless, Morgan was nothing but grateful, proving that she has class to go along with her hardware.

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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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