(Forbes) – Considering the vast amounts of quality television airing at any given time, there are bound to be a number of would-be snubs or omissions even in a year then the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences got much right. For every “Constance Wu from Fresh Off the Boat was robbed!,” there is an “Andre Braugher got nominated for Brooklyn Nine-Nine!.” But there is one rather surprising omission yesterday in the form of the almost complete dismissal of Fox’s Empire. The show failed to make the Best Drama cut and received only two Costuming nods along with the all-but-required Best Actress nod for Taraji P. Henson for her show-stealing turn at Cookie Lyon.
It’s not just that the critically-acclaimed and ratings-rich new drama lost out to shows like House of Cards which even its fans will admit had an off-year. It’s not even the whole “diversity loses” since Orange is the New Black got in even with the new rules that unwillingly pushed the one-hour dramedy in the drama category. It’s that a showing for Empire was a chance for the Emmys to acknowledge and reward the notion that network television still matters.
As I’m sure you know, the Terrence Howard/Taraji P. Henson musical drama premiered in January to stellar ratings. But more surprising, those ratings kept going up over pretty much the entire thirteen episode run of the first season. Its premiere had around 9.9 million viewers while its season finale had around 17.6 million viewers. It was basically the most successful run for a new network series since Grey’s Anatomy back in 2005. This kind of growth is unheard of in modern Nielsen tracking times and it is frankly all-but-impossible in today’s fragmented television demographics. It became an instant pop culture item, with a scorchingly popular soundtrack (which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts against a new Madonna album back in March) and the kind of social media buzz usually reserved for HBO shows or AMC dramas.