The Golden Globes might not be quite as prestigious as the Emmys but they still had good news for Netflix, which received six Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning — including four for drama powerhouse House of Cards, one for Jason Bateman’s work on Arrested Development.
But surprisingly, the summer hit Orange is the New Black only received one nomination, for star Taylor Schilling in the Best Actress in a Drama Series category. And that might be because of the drama part.
Last month, Netflix revealed that the show would be competing as a drama at the Golden Globes and Emmys (putting it up against House of Cards as well as a wide swath of other critically acclaimed series). But the show more accurately falls into the category of “dramedy,” which means it, like series such as Sex and the City and Nurse Jackie, had the option to submit itself for consideration as a comedy series.
Submitting for awards consideration as a comedy instead of as a drama can often improve the chances of a show that does feature elements of both genres, often paying off in trophies. If Orange had submitted itself as a comedy for the Golden Globes, it might have pushed out one of the following nominees: The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Girls, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation — and it’s not impossible to imagine that happening. (Especially Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is a fine show, but only halfway through its first season and comparatively unproven.)
Case in point — Orange fared a lot better in the nominations for the Writer’s Guild of America awards, picking up two nods for television writing: best series and best individual episode (“Lesbian Request Denied”).
House of Cards was also recognized for its writing, racking up three nominations, but here’s the twist: While Cards was nominated as a drama series, Orange was nominated for its awards as a comedy (and did pretty well for itself).
The more abstract question becomes whether Orange leans more towards the comedy or drama side of the dramedy spectrum. Strategically, Orange might find itself getting more awards recognition if it targeted the comedy categories. But that strategy might serve to undercut the show’s more powerful moments and performances, which make the show such a strong fit for the edgy, category-defying programming Netflix has found success with over the last year.
It’s hard to imagine a show that includes sexual abuse and social commentary under consideration as a comedy. It’s also hard to imagine a show that includes a frantic hunt for a chicken under consideration as a drama. The irony is, it is this mix that makes Orange so unique, and worthy of recognition.