Why the 2014 Emmy Nominations Really Matter

The 2014 Emmy nominations are out, and they’re proof that times are changing—for the better. History was made today when Laverne Cox became the first ever transgender person nominated for an Emmy. Cox is among the nominees in the “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series” category, for her gut-wrenchingly brilliant portrayal of Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black. Hers was one of 12 Emmy nods for the female-driven Netflix series this year.

In the male-dominated world of television, where diversity has long been sidelined, and women make up only 28 percent of those working behind-the-scenes, this year’s impressively diverse nominations hopefully mark the beginning of a new era.

Aside from Cox, other actresses up for Emmys include Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, Edie Falco, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Taylor Schilling in the comedy category. Kerry Washington, Lizzie Caplan, and Robin Wright all got nominated for actresses in a drama series, plus Michelle Dockery, Claire Danes, and Julianna Marguiles.

Just as exciting, and groundbreaking are the women making headway behind the scenes in television, the ladies creating and shooting and editing and writing acclaimed television shows. Jenji Kohan and Liz Friedman were nominated in the Comedy Writing category for Orange Is the New Black. Moira Walley-Beckett scored a nomination for her writing in Breaking Bad. Mandy Moore got a hat tip for her choreography work on So You Think You Can Dance and Jodie Foster got a directing nod for Orange Is the New Black. In the Variety Series Writing category, where men traditionally have a stronghold, there were the usual suspects, but Carrie Brownstein and Amy Schumer—along with almost a dozen other female writers—broke through with nominations. .

It’s also worth noting how many of the major heavyweight programs nominated from the past year have nuanced female characters, from Veep to Girls to American Horror Story: Coven.

And as for Cox, the much-deserved nomination is an encouraging sign of progress, both within the industry and among viewers.

“Today, countless transgender youth will hear the message that they can be who they are and still achieve their dreams – nothing is out of reach,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in the statement. “Laverne’s success on a hit series is a clear indication that audiences are ready for more trans characters on television.”

Here, here.

Featured image via EllenTV

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