Why the 'Modern Family' Kids May Never Win an Emmy

Yahoo Contributor Network

View photo

.
ABC's "Modern Family" boasts a huge ensemble cast and nearly half of them are kids. So why is it that, come Emmy time, none of the show's younger cast members are ever recognized? Unfortunately, you can bet your Pritchetts (sorry) that it probably won't happen any time soon.

The 65th Primetime Emmy nominations included a slew of "Modern Family" cast members. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell Julie Bowen, and Sofia Vergara were all nominated this year, and the only adult cast member who wasn't -- Eric Stonestreet -- didn't feel at all snubbed. Check out his tweet: 

Of course, he's won twice in the past so that eases the pain.

But while the hit sitcom is once again nominated in the Outstanding Comedy Series category (it's won the past three years in a row), the glaring omission is the names of its scene-stealing young stars, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Rico Rodriguez from the Emmy rosters. (Note: Hyland is 22 years old, but she plays a teen on TV.)

Emmy voters haven't exactly been kid-friendly in the past. In fact, it's been nearly 30 years since a minor has won a Primetime Emmy, and nominations for the under-18 crowd have been few and far between.

In 1984, 14-year-old Roxana Zal won an Emmy for her starring role in the TV movie "Something About Amelia." She remains the youngest Emmy winner in history, and there haven't been many chances for anyone to steal her title.

The closest would be "Cosby Show" kid Keshia Knight Pulliam and "Wonder Years" star Fred Savage. Pulliam nabbed a Supporting Actress nod in 1986. She was only 6 years old at the time, and she was up against her TV sister, Lisa Bonet. Both girls lost to "Cheers" star Rhea Pearlman, while their TV bro, Malcolm Jamal Warner, lost out on the guys' side to John Larroquette. Yeah, it stunk to be a Cosby kid that year.

Fred Savage was nominated in 1989 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Kevin Arnold on "The Wonder Years." The 13-year-old was up against Richard Mulligan, Ted Danson, Michael J. Fox, and John Goodman. Mulligan won, although Savage was adorable as he took the stage as an Emmy presenter.

See Fred Savage at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards:

Back in 1978, Melissa Sue Anderson received an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy nomination for her role as Mary Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." While it's impossible to comprehend that the show's other Melissa (Gilbert) never got an Emmy nod for her role as the show's main character, Laura Ingalls, in the end, 16-year-old Anderson lost out to "Family" star Sada Thompson.

Anderson later said in an interview, "It was an honor, a great honor to be nominated. I was the youngest person ever to be nominated in the Leading Actress category for an Emmy at the time, I believe. I didn't think I was going to win -- as executive producer, Michael Landon felt that I should have been nominated in the Supporting Actress category… I might have had a better chance if I'd been a Supporting nominee, but it was still an honor to be nominated."

Of course, Melissa Sue Anderson was also up against a "Charlie's Angel" and "The Waltons" mom, so the young actress never really had a chance. The consolation prize here is that Fonzie actually read the nominees.

See Melissa Sue Anderson at the 1978 Emmy Awards:

In 1995, at age 16, Claire Danes received an Outstanding Lead Actress nomination for her role as Angela Chase on the ABC drama "My So-Called Life." Kathy Bates ("Picket Fences") beat her out, but 15 years later, an all-grown-up Danes won an Emmy for her role in the HBO biopic "Temple Grandin," and in 2012, she won for her role on "Homeland." (She's nominated again this year.)

So maybe it was all for the best that she didn't win the Emmy back in 1995. After all, Danes's speeches have improved vastly since her teen years. While she did win a Golden Globe for "MSCL" that year, she ultimately snubbed her parents in her acceptance speech, talked about her "bestest bestest friends," and said "um" a lot.

"It's a huge honor to be acknowledged at such a young age," her sweet 16-year-old self said at the time. Yeah, tell that to Emmy.

Fifteen-year-old Frankie Muniz was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2001, but his competition was no joke -- Kelsey Grammer to Ray Romano were on the roster that year ("Will and Grace" star Eric McCormack won) -- but the teen star told Variety he was honored just to be nominated.

"Since [the nominations], my phone's been ringing off the hook nonstop. I've heard from people I haven't talked to in years, grandparents I didn't know I had. It's pretty wild," he said. "I'm really, really, like really honored, because they're putting me against people I'm huge fans of. I don't consider myself even remotely as good as they are. I just do what I do; they're hilarious."

As for "Modern Family," the talent really is all in the family. Manny's scenes are as memorable as, say, Jay's, so let's hope Emmy one day breaks the dry spell when it comes to young talent and starts giving out some pint-size prizes. And if it's any consolation, none of "The Brady Bunch" kids ever got nominated either.

"Modern Family" Season 5 will premiere in September on ABC.

Check out the biggest surprises and snubs from the 2013 Emmy nominations: 

More from this contributor:

'Modern Family' Finale: Can a Death in the Family Be Funny?

Did You Spot the Familiar Faces in the 'Modern Family' Finale?

101 Best-Written TV Shows: 4 One-Season Wonders That Made the Cut

View Comments