It wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy without a little Emmy controversy. So when it was announced this week that McDreamy—err, Patrick Dempsey—ostensibly the lead actor on the show, would be entering the less crowded supporting actor category, where he’d battle for a nomination against the likes of Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser and the cast of Lost, we weren’t all that surprised. Next thing you know, Katherine Heigl will be hoping for another nomination after being given a story line that was purely done as Emmy catnip. (Oh, wait.) Still, nomination shenanigans aside—Mr. Dempsey isn’t doing anything different than Academy Award Best Actress winner Kate Winslet, who was in The Reader for about 35 minutes—what we’re wondering is why Grey’s Anatomy is competing with Mad Men in the first place.
With television shows now more diffuse than ever, the Emmys seem loath to change their rigid structure; like the medium they celebrate, they’re caught in the middle of an unstable landscape without any sense of how to update themselves. For awards consideration, programs are either called “comedies” or “dramas,” and the actors who work on them get placed inside one of those two bubbles. Obviously, most of the time, this works: 30 Rock is clearly a comedy and Tina Fey will, in theory, get a chance to defend her Emmy win from last year in the Best Actress in a Comedy category; similarly Mad Men will be among the five dramas selected for Best Drama. But for shows like Grey’s Anatomy the genre classing isn’t as clear-cut. There are serious elements to Grey’s, sure (read: we cry a lot while watching), but, more often than not, the show eschews preconceived dramatic conventions—it’s basically like an American Telenovela.
Which brings us to a solution: Create a new category for dramedies! That way the serious funnies can meet on a level playing field without infringing on everyone else. The Academy of Television Arts & Science has already given reality television its own separate plot of land, so why not these ’tween hybrids? The time has come. We can’t be the only ones excited at the possibility of a Blair Waldorf–Izzie Stevens bitch-off showdown come Emmy night.