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RD_a.JPG

Why No Award Season Love for 'Reservation Dogs'?

By James Field | TV | December 13, 2022 |

By James Field | TV | December 13, 2022 |


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We’re not talking much about the Golden Globes. That’s because despite recent changes, the Globes are still this weird little self-congratulatory moment that serve as a prelude to actual award ceremonies. Their monochromatic judging panel paired with open bribery and a toxic environment that looked past sexual assault led to a year-long hiatus before this year’s nominations, including 5 for almost everyone’s favorite new comedy, Abbott Elementary. This is great, because Abbott Elementary is great! Kaleena can’t say enough good things about it, and she’s right. Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, and the rest of the writers, cast, and crew deserve every bit of recognition they get. But their wealth of nominations does beg the question - what’s it going to take for Reservation Dogs to get the same respect?

To be clear, this isn’t a battle between two of the best comedies on television. There’s room enough in our hearts and award ceremonies for both. They’re both beloved by critics and audiences alike, as their respective Rotten Tomatoes scores (99% for RD, 98% for AE) demonstrate. Nor is The Hollywood Foreign Press Association the only organization to ignore Reservation Dogs; the Television Academy has also ignored the series when it comes to Emmy nods. In 2021 Emily In Paris was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. Emily In Goddamn Paris! I love trashy television as much as the next guy with a 40-second attention span, but to call Emily In Paris an outstanding comedy while leaving Elora Danan, Cheese, Bear, and Willie Jack out in the cold wastes of Oklahoma makes no sense. The Globes gave two nominations to Wednesday; Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy, and Jenna Ortega for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy. I liked Wednesday more than Isabel — again, I like trashy TV — but it’s not Best Anything.

I’m well-established as a huge fan of Reservation Dogs, and I don’t deny it. But it’s not just me. Roxana Hadadi over at Vulture wrote a fantastic analysis of the show’s second season — plus a fantastic interview with Zahn McClarnon everyone should read. It made everyone’s Year End list. FX in general doesn’t get much respect on the award circuit, though The Bear was nominated for the Globe’s Best Comedy and lead actor. 2021 and 2022 Emmys ignored both shows while finding room for up to 4 Ted Lasso actors in the same category. Ted Lasso’s great. But at a certain point, it becomes about hype more than quality, and that’s frustrating when brilliant slice-of-life shows exposing audiences to cultures they’ve never experienced are dismissed in favor of yet another workplace comedy. I can’t help but wonder how much the bad press around the HFPA’s ethnically-challenged makeup led to Abbott Elementary dominating the list of nominees. This is also frustrating, because it’s legitimately great, and deserves praise on its merits.

I recognize this is a lot of griping about an award ceremony that I’ve established doesn’t matter much. But the stories told by Reservation Dogs do. The small tragedies and joys. The honest depiction of reservation life. Its cast would too often be relegated to bit characters anywhere else, but here they take center stage. Sterlin Harjo’s show is a goddamn masterpiece, and both critics and audiences recognize that. It’s time the HFPA and the Television Academy do the same.