Emmy reality TV nominations: predictably lazy but with new categories

For the second year in a row, the Emmy nominations for reality TV’s major categories remain nearly unchanged, though two new categories have offered some new entrants–and new reasons to wonder why voters make the decisions they do.

There were 57 people eligible for a reality show host nomination, yet we ended up with basically the same people who were nominated last year. Last year’s nominees for reality show host dropped Phil Keoghan in favor of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, while this year’s replaces Ryan Seacrest with Jane Lynch, who hosts NBC’s fun Hollywood Game Night. Yet once again, Betty White has been nominated for NBC’s now-cancelled Off Their Rockers, which only makes sense as a vote for her, not her work on the show, which is not worthy of recognition. Ditto Anthony Bourdain’s nomination as alleged host of The Taste.

The nominations are disappointing in that tedious and boring So You Think You Can Dance was again nominated while increasingly exceptional Survivor was ignored. Project Runway and Top Chef do their thing, but what about other fantastic competitions on cable? Of course, I just want validation for the shows I like, appreciate, and consider to be well-crafted.

The unstructured and structured categories offer more diversity than the earlier “Outstanding Reality Program” category, and for that I’m grateful, but many of these aren’t shows I would have selected as the best of last year (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Million Dollar Listing New York and its bad acting?).

The nominees:

  • Outstanding Reality Competition Program: The Amazing Race, Dancing With The Stars, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, The Voice.
  • Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program: Betty White’s Off Their Rockers‘ Betty White; Dancing with the Stars‘ Tom Bergeron; Hollywood Game Night‘s Jane Lynch; Project Runway‘s Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn; So You Think You Can Dance‘s Cat Deeley; The Taste‘s Anthony Bourdain.
  • Outstanding Structured Reality Program: Antiques Roadshow; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; MythBusters; Shark Tank; Undercover Boss; Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program: Alaska: The Last Frontier; Deadliest Catch; Flipping Out; Million Dollar Listing New York; Wahlburgers; Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan

Here are the other nominees in nonfiction-related categories; I’ve only included only documentary or reality TV nominees. For other nominees or to see specific episodes that were nominated, see the Emmys full list of nominations.

  • Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program: Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee; COSMOS: A National Geographic Deeper Dive; I Was There: Boston Marathon Bombings; Jay Leno’s Garage
  • Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special: JFK (American Experience), PBS; Paycheck To Paycheck: The Life And Times Of Katrina Gilbert, HBO; Running From Crazy, OWN; The Sixties: The Assassination Of President Kennedy, CNN; The Square, Netflix; Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, HBO
  • Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series: American Masters; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; Pioneers Of Television; The World Wars; Years Of Living Dangerously
  • Outstanding Informational Series Or Special: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; Inside The Actors Studio; Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman; Vice; The Writers’ Room; The Amish: Shunned (American Experience); Brave Miss World, Netflix; Hillsborough (30 For 30 Soccer Stories); Life According To Sam; ; ;
  • Outstanding Writing For Nonfiction Programming: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; JFK (American Experience); The World Wars; Years Of Living Dangerously
  • Outstanding Directing For Nonfiction Programming: The Amazing Race; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; Project Runway; Shark Tank; The Square
  • Outstanding Art Direction For Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; The Voice
  • Outstanding Choreography: Dancing With The Stars Derek Hough (for Human / Ameksa / Too Darn Hot); So You Think You Can Dance Christopher Scott (for Trigger / Sand / The Gravel Road), Mandy Moore (for Edge of Glory / Feelin’ Good / I Can’t Make You Love Me), Tabitha Dumo and Napoleon Dumo (for Puttin’ on the Ritz / Gold Rush / Run the World), Travis Wall (for Hanging by a Thread / Wicked Game / Medicine)
  • Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; The Square; Vice
  • Outstanding Cinematography For Reality Programming: Alaska: The Last Frontier; The Amazing Race; Deadliest Catch; Project Runway; Survivor; The Voice
  • Outstanding Picture Editing For Nonfiction Programming: American Masters; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; The Sixties: The Assassination Of President Kennedy; ; The Square
  • Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming: The Amazing Race; Deadliest Catch; Naked and Afraid; Project Runway; Survivor Cagayan; The Voice
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For Nonfiction Programming (Single Or Multi-Camera): The Amazing Race; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; Vice; The World Wars
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Variety Series Or Special: The Voice
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming: The Amazing Race; American Masters; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey; Deadliest Catch
  • Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic): Dancing With The Stars; So You Think You Can Dance; The Voice
  • Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Series: America’s Got Talent; Dancing with the Stars; The Voice
  • Outstanding Hairstyling For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special: Dancing With The Stars; The Voice
  • Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control For A Series: Dancing with the Stars; The Voice

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.