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Kerry Washington To Test Primetime Emmy History With 'Scandal' (A Drought For Black Actresses)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 31, 2012 at 12:18PM

It's Thursday, and you know what that would've meant if Scandal season 1 wasn't yet over. I'm sure some of you will soon start showing symptons of Scandal withdrawal. My cure? I say give Damages a try if you haven't watched any of that FX series yet. It's one hell of a show, and worthy of all the accolades; and dare I say, it's what Scandal COULD be, if the envelope was pushed a bit more, and the show took more risks.
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It's Thursday, and you know what that would've meant if Scandal season 1 wasn't yet over. I'm sure some of you will soon start showing symptons of Scandal withdrawal. My cure? I say give Damages a try if you haven't watched any of that FX series yet. It's one hell of a show, and worthy of all the accolades; and dare I say, it's what Scandal COULD be, if the envelope was pushed a bit more, and the show took more risks.

Maybe they will in season 2.

Damages, which is going into its 5th and final season, stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. It's dark, gritty drama. I'm catching up with it (just finished season 1).

So anyway... there I was on Deadline's website last night, and saw what you see in the image above. Specifically, the "For Your Consideration" ads for Scandal, plastered all over the main page. 

And then I realized, oh yeah, the Emmys! Specifically, the Primetime Emmy Awards; it's that time of the year again, when the process begins - nominating ballots will be posted on the Primetime Emmy Awards website in less than 2 weeks, and about a month after that, July 19th, the nominations in all categories for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced live; and 2 months later, September 23, ABC will telecast the live awards ceremony at the Governors Ball.

So, obviously, and certainly as you'd expect, ABC has begun pushing Scandal as a contender, in all categories. Good!

And based on the available categories, I'd assume that Scandal's potentials include: Outstanding Drama SeriesDirecting for a Drama SeriesWriting for a Drama SeriesLead Actor in a Drama Series, Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesGuest Actor in a Drama Series, Guest Actress in a Drama Series, as well as categories under the Creative Arts Primetime Emmys section.

It's a tad early to even start thinking of what its chances are; but I'll say this and then let you guys talk amongst yourselves:

First, Mad Men has dominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category, winning in that category every year since 2008

Next, the last time a broadcast network (not a cable TV network) won in the Outstanding Drama Series category, was Fox's 24 in 2006. HBO and AMC have dominated that category over the last 6 years.

Anf finally, and maybe most significantly, I'm sure all eyes will be on the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category for Kerry Washington. And why not? A black actress has NEVER EVER won the Primetime Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Never, in the award's 60+ years! Sure, there've been a few nominees... well 4 of them in total: Debbie Allen was nominated 4 times for Fame in the 1980s; Alfre Woodard, once for St Elsewhere; Regina Taylor, twice for I'll Fly Away; and Cicely Tyson, once for Sweet Justice in 1995 (wow, how many of you remember that show? Tyson played a Wall Street Lawyer who returned to her Southern hometown to work at a progressive law firm; It ran for 1 single season; I'll have to go look for it on Netflix).

Granted, it's not often that there are primetime hour-long drama series with black women at the lead. So this shouldn't be a big surprise. 

As an aside, I should mention that BET is jumping into that space with its own hour-long drama series, with a black woman at the center - Being Mary Jane with Gabrielle Union starring. It debuts next season; not that I'm stating that it'll be a contender at next year's Primetime Emmys, but I'm sure BET would love to get some looks its way for a change.

But back to Kerry... so the last time a black actress received any recognition for her work in a leading role in a primetime drama series was 17 long years ago. Talk about a drought.

In addition to the fact that history isn't quite on her side, Ms Washington will have some tough competition in that category (assuming she even gets nominated) from recent past winners like Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (she won in this category last year), and Glenn Close in the aforementioned Damages (she won this award twice, back-to-back, in 2008 & 2009). Both shows are still on the air, although maybe without the same fire they once had - more-so Damages than The Good Wife.

Of course, there'll be other competition in this category as well - likely one of the actresses from Mad Men, as well as former winner, Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: SVU.

I'll also add that first-timers aren't favored. More often than not, the winner in this category has gone to an actress in a show that's past its first season in the year that its nominated for. This was Scandal's first season, as well as Kerry Washington's first try.

We'll find out in about a month and a half when the nominees are announced!

This article is related to: Kerry Washington, Television, TV Features


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