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Women at the Emmys: The Behind-the-Scenes Nominees We’re Rooting For

Progress happens every year for women working off-camera on great television, and this year, there are some real (potential) winners.

Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer in "UnREAL."

Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer, “UnReal”

James Dittiger/Lifetime

Discussing the representation of women in Hollywood is never, you know, a fun topic, especially when it comes to below-the-line departments. In 2016, there are still glaring examples of a lack of progress for women.

While an improvement over years past, here’s just a quick sampling of accomplishments women were not recognized for: narration, music composition, writing in many categories, stunt coordination… There are plenty of categories, as well, where only one or two women were nominated, often with a male partner — such as Writing for a Comedy, where the sole female nominee is Sharon Horgan alongside Rob Delaney for “Catastrophe.”

But rather than dwell on that, let’s acknowledge some of the accomplished nominees who have a chance to be recognized for their achievements this year. Because regardless of gender, they’re awesome.

Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine; Tom Hollander as Major Lance Corcoran; group - The Night Manager _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Des Willie /The Ink Factory/AMC

Susanne Bier, “The Night Manager” (AMC)
Outstanding Direction for a Limited Series

Coming from the feature world, Bier brought polish and grace to this John le Carre adaptation, while never skimping on the violence and action. Directing all six episodes herself, the result was a coherent whole that still had a sequential feel, leading to a meaty package that transcended genre for one of the year’s most intriguing rides.

Santino Fontana and Rachel Bloom in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"Santino Fontana and Rachel Bloom in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW)
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Original Main Title Theme Music

Fun fact: This is actually not Golden Globe-winner Rachel Bloom’s first round of Emmy nominations! (Bloom was nominated last year as one of the writers of short-form animated program “Robot Chicken.”) But while “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” went unrecognized by the Academy in major categories (despite Golden Globe nominations and a win for Bloom), the below-the-line love Bloom and her collaborators Adam Schlesinger and Jack Dolgen have gotten for this singular, silly and sincere musical dramedy is nice to see.

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Kelley Dixon, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For a Drama Series

Interestingly enough, while all the nominees in Single-Camera Editing for Comedy are male, women dominate the Drama category. One woman in particular, Kelley Dixon, is nominated twice for the “Better Call Saul” episodes “Rebecca” and “Nailed” (which she co-edited with Chris McCaleb). Dixon has been nominated eight times for both “Saul” and “Breaking Bad” — the latter of which she won for in 2013 — but she’s up against some tough competition, specifically last year’s winner, Katie Weiland. Weiland won in 2015 for the “Game of Thrones” episode “The Dance of Dragons,” and this year she’s back, nominated for “Oathbreaker.”

Michelle Dougherty, “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix)
Main Title Sequence

While nominated alongside several other artists from studio Imaginary Forces, Dougherty is the listed Creative Director behind this beautiful and moody descent into the world of Marvel’s most troubled superhero. Her first shared Emmy nomination came in 2002 for the credits sequence for “Band of Brothers” and she’s been nominated several times since. In fact, this year she’s also nominated in the same category: for the opening to HBO’s “Vinyl.”

her story

“Her Story.”

The Women of “Her Story” (YouTube) 
Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

Katherine Reed Fisher and Eve Ensler are the named producers nominated for “Her Story” (Eve Ensler! That’s crazy!), but creator/star Jen Richards is the real force behind the YouTube-distributed dramedy about transgender life and relationships. It’s the “Cinderella story trans creators needed,” according to IndieWire’s Jude Dry, and it proves to be a reminder that recognizing inclusion can also mean great storytelling.

"Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride."

Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride.”


Suzie Lavelle, “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride” (PBS) 
Outstanding Cinematography

After beginning in film, Lavelle is a well-established DP in the UK television industry, including several episodes of “Doctor Who” and “My Mad Fat Diary.” But the “Sherlock” holiday special offered a unique challenge in pushing beyond the show’s established contemporary setting to capture Victorian England with a sooty, gaslit eye. Say whatever you like about the controversial episode (we kinda loved it), but the look was unmatched.

ADELE LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY -- Concert -- Pictured: Adele -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Beth McCarthy-Miller, “Adele Live In New York City” (NBC)
Outstanding Direction for a Variety Special 

After conquering the challenge of capturing the live feel of Adele’s first concert in five years for NBC — both the power of her music as well as her charismatic stage presence — McCarthy-Miller received her tenth Emmy nomination. Previously, she has been recognized for everything from “Saturday Night Live” to “The Sound of Music Live” to “30 Rock,” and while she’s going up against Beyoncé herself (who shares directing credit for “Lemonade” with Kahlil Joseph), McCarthy-Miller deserves at the very least a little respect.

UnREAL Season 2 Episode 10 Finale Shiri Appleby & Constance Zimmer

Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, “UnREAL” (Lifetime)
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

One of our favorite surprises on Emmys morning was that “UnREAL” got some recognition for what was one of the best written pilots of 2015 — a tight and packed first episode that did a brilliant job of hooking us on the rest of the series. Noxon and Shapiro getting recognized for it is the sort of nomination we always want to see happen but know way better than to hope for… Except this time, it happened!


Jill Soloway, “Transparent” (Amazon)
Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series

Jill Soloway’s unique, organic directorial style was in fine form during the selected episode, “Man on the Land,” which followed the Pfeffermans as they attend a women-only festival. Each character gets an opportunity to explore new attitudes and ideas, while also confronting personal demons that linger on, including ancestral memories that still haunt them. Soloway was able to draw some truly raw moments from her cast out in the woods, unlike anything we’d seen before.

Voting for the 2016 Primetime Emmys closes Monday, August 29. 

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