Any group of awards bestowed by one group of humans on another will inevitably be considered arbitrary, political, meaningless, myopic or absurd (unless, of course, you win one, at which time they become shiny symbols of wisdom and insight).
That has begun to change. Although the Emmy telecast still does not draw the audience of the Oscars, the critical and public outcry over perceived Emmy snubs intensifies every year, as do the Emmy campaigns that now precede and follow the announcement of nominations.
Yet even as the newfound artisanal nature of the medium has made the Emmys more important (hey, Vince Gilligan matters, people, and in a larger sense), its ever-increasing diversity and sheer volume make the awards process even more random: How on earth do you compare an eight-episode, hard-R cable show to a 23-episode, censor-overseen broadcast series?
Many people (myself included) have offered half-hearted suggestions about how to make the process more "fair." Creating subcategories in both comedy and drama based on episode number is a popular solution. But even that misses the bigger point: The television academy seeks to reward the very best in television without actually watching television. Or at least, without watching series the way an audience does, which is to say in their entirety. Virtually all the judging is based on a few, or even one, episode, which is like judging a film based on its trailer.
That may be a situation impossible to rectify, but perhaps the academy could create a few awards that reflect the realities particular to television. A few suggestions:
Outstanding sad and untimely death of a major character
Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), "Burn Notice" (That's what a mother does, Michael. She sacrifices.)
Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), "The Walking Dead." (I still can't talk about it.)
Outstanding death of a major character we could not wait to see go
Walter White (Bryan Cranston), "Breaking Bad" (I know, I know, awesome performance, but honest to God, what a horrible, selfish, weak, narcissistic guy.)
Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), "Game of Thrones" (I think we all agree he did not suffer nearly enough.)
The entire cast of "American Horror Story: Coven" (If only to see how they would all resurrect.)
The thank-you-for-not-being-exclusively-about-a-troubled-white-guy-even-though-it-clearly-limited-your-Emmy-chances achievement award