2012 Emmy debate: Why are ‘White Collar,’ ‘Suits,’ and USA ignored?

Can’t “White Collar” have a little love?

Now that we are done with our 2012 Emmy preview series, we are going to be looking at TV’s biggest awards night from a different sort of viewpoint — trying to understand some of the traditional snubs.

While we talk often about a few shows that are almost constantly ignored (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Community,” and “Fringe” are notable in this case), USA may be a case of an entire network routinely getting the shaft. Not since the days of “Monk” and Tony Shalhoub has USA (who we know via their “characters welcome” banner) really been able to land any sort of consistent love from the Emmys, and it’s unlikely that we will see any major change to this coming up despite a strong lineup of shows including “White Collar,” “Suits,” “Burn Notice,” and “Necessary Roughness.”

So what is it that is making the Emmys forget that USA exists? There are what we believe to be two primary reasons behind it, and it has more to do with the mindset of Emmy voters more than the actual quality of the shows.

1. Genre – “Monk” was successful largely in part because it managed to be classified as a comedy — and shows that provide both laughter and a little drama tend to do well in that category. However, “Psych” is really now the only show eligible in that field for the network, and it’s really too young and scattered with pop-culture references for voters to get it.

From “Royal Pains” onward, most of USA’s programming is firmly within the hyper-competitive Drama Series category, even though there are some funny moments here and there. The fact that some of these shows don’t always take themselves incredibly seriously likely hurt their chances here, and it also doesn’t help that they are thrilling summer programming up against the likes of “Mad Men,” anything on HBO, and “The Good Wife.” Emmys have a mindset of how dramatic a drama series should be, and they don’t seem that interested in changing it.

2. Format – It also doesn’t help USA that outside of the guest-acting categories, most of their nominees for dramas come from more serialized fare. “The Good Wife” is the only likely nominee for the top prize that occasionally has procedural elements, and they are woven in more to a long-term narrative.

The one thing that Emmy does fail to grasp at times is that you can still be a fantastic show with a different story every week and the ratings for many of these shows prove the fanbase is there.

Even in spite of these problems, the good news is that the culture is changing. Patrick J. Adams of “Suits” scored a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and Callie Thorne got some Golden Globe love for “Necessary Roughness.” Both of these shows — who have drifted away from a procedural tone established in the network’s past — could be darkhorse contenders to get a nomination or next month. The same goes for “White Collar,” a routinely underrated show anchored by the worthy Matt Bomer. While “Burn Notice” is not going to be eligible for season 6 until next year, its move after many seasons to a more serialized format could help it. (If nothing else, give some love to Bruce Campbell.) USA is subtly changing its culture for fans and awards shows alike, and now the real question is if voters will take notice.

Is there one USA show that you would love to see nominated, and why do you think this network has such a hard time getting Emmy love these days?

Photo: USA

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