Thirty years ago, "Magnum, P.I." received its second of three straight Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series. With all due respect to Tom Selleck's mustache: TV dramas have come a long way, baby.
You see, we are currently living through a Golden Age of Television, with networks and cable channels producing dozens of original drama series each year in an unprecedented output of quality. In short, TV is better than ever. (Of course, TV is also worse than ever, with trash TV at an all-time high, but that's a whole other story.)
And yet the Emmys still only name six nominees for Outstanding Drama Series each year, and only named five up until 2008. That might have been fine back in "Magnum's" heyday, when there were only three TV networks (!) and cutting-edge content was effectively muted by strict network standards. But in light of the recent explosion in cable and streaming content, six slots seem woefully inadequate to represent the best TV has to offer.
There is a solution, though. The Oscars have recently expanded their Best Picture category to include as many as ten films each year; a transparent attempt to make room for audience-friendly blockbusters, maybe, but one worth exploring by the Emmys. After all, none of last year's Drama Series nominees topped 5 million viewers a week. So why not throw ten shows into the mix? It'll only bring more attention to all the great TV out there, and encourage the fans of those shows to tune into the Emmys broadcast. And that can't be a bad thing, right?
(Notice we're not advocating for a similar expansion to the Outstanding Comedy Series category. While excellent TV dramas are almost too plentiful these days, TV comedies are in an odd lull at the moment. And we all know "Modern Family" is going to win anyway, so we'll leave that one alone for now.)
To illustrate our point, let's walk through all of the TV dramas that deserve attention from Emmy this year. And as you'll notice, the list goes way past six.