Here’s something worth having a cow about: a cartoon gets an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nomination for the first time since TV’s stone age – “The Flintstones” in 1961 – but “The Simpsons” doesn’t make the cut.
Let’s get something straight: “Family Guy” deserves its nod, particularly after a season that saw its irreverent humor reach new heights (or depths, depending on your view – the episode in which Peter was injected with the “gay gene” was enough to permanently split hardcore fans from casual viewers).
But there’s a certain injustice that “The Simpsons,” which just finished its 20th season, is on the sidelines in the comedy competition. The show is the longest running comedy in TV history, and helped clear the prime-time path for “King of the Hill” and “Family Guy,” among other shows. “South Park” and the whole Adult Swim lineup also owe “The Simpsons” a debt for proving adult comedy can be potent and profitable in a kiddie format.
But it’s not about – and shouldn’t be about – the history. “The Simpsons” is coming off a strong season. “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse,” ranks among the best “Treehouse of Horrors” segments ever, and Lisa’s foray into the crossword championships – complete with a cameo by New York Times puzzle master Will Shortz – is a classic in the making.
“Family Guy” benefitted by the expansion of the comedy category to seven nominees. The competition is tough: “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Weeds,” “Entourage,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Flight of the Conchords.”
It’s good company, in which “The Simpsons” belongs. (We can quibble, but “How I Met Your Mother” over Bart & Co.? Aye carumba!)
“‘The Simpsons’ should have won in the Nineties,” Seth MacFarlane, the creator of “Family Guy,” told “Access Hollywood.”
He added, “In some ways, I feel they should have been the first.”
“The Simpsons” did notch five nominations overall, including Outstanding Animated Program, an award the show has won 10 times. But “The Simpsons” is a lot more than just a cartoon – it’s one of the best comedies in TV history, thanks to its consistently sharp satire of a country and pop culture of which it has become an inextricable part.
The show has been renewed for two more seasons, and hopefully the quality will stay strong. We’ll see if Emmy does right by the crew from Springfield next year or just keeps handing them the cold end of the Squishee.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.