ByHeather Snowden, writer at
Lover of bad puns, nostalgic feels and all things Winona. Email: [email protected] Tweet: @heathbetweetin
Heather Snowden

Reese Witherspoon is right, it has been an incredible year for women on television, and you only need to take one swift peek through the list of winners at this year's Emmy's to underline that fact.

Ladies swept the floor at the award show, which celebrates the best in US prime time TV: The Handmaid's Tale dominated in every category it was nominated for, including Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actress (Elizabeth Moss), and Best Director for Reed Morano — the first time the award has ever gone to a woman. Big Little Lies followed in suit, scoring Outstanding Limited Series and Best Actress for Nicole Kidman. The award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series went to Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the sixth time in a row, smashing Candice Bergen's record for most Emmys won for one role, and tying her with industry veteran and all-round queen Cloris Leachman's record of eight wins as an individual performer. Additionally, Master of None's Lena Withe is now the first black woman to win an award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

The records don't stop there. Alongside women in the often ignored categories stood people of color and LGBT folks. On top of Withe's win came Donald Glover as the first black winner ever to score an Emmy for Directing a Comedy Series for Atlanta, and The Night Of's Riz Ahmed became the first man of asian decent to win an Emmy for acting. Sterling K. Brown was also the first black man to win a Lead Actor in a Drama award in 19 years with This is Us. And Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror episode "San Junipero," which depicts a loving relationship between a same-sex couple, won Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, snowflakes.

Yet before we don our best '80s gear, stick on Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" and drive off into the sunset weeping tears of joy, this mammoth success is not a laurel on which to rest. That's not to say we shouldn't let those happy tears flow, but working for equal representation is far from over, and it goes further than Nicole Kidman's plea for "more great roles for women, please.” It also limits Witherspoon's appeal that women should be made the "hero of their own stories."

Because, you see, every single award for writing went to a man. And while I personally found The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies among the best — if not the best — televisual journeys gifted to us this year, both shows were written by men. And a man's interpretation of a female narrative is just not good enough for me. Sorry, not sorry.

As the LA Times reports, among the 114 writers nominated within the various categories — comedy series, drama series, variety series (which holds the largest percentage of female writers), limited series, TV movie or dramatic special — only 21 are female. 18%. And what's more, ladies only account for three out of 25 nominations in the directing categories, too. The report continues:

Adding to that, all three female directors — five-time nominee Leslie Linka Glatter ("Homeland") and Emmy newbies Kate Dennis and Reed Morano (both up for "The Handmaid's Tale") — are competing in the same category, directing for a drama series.

As for cinematography, only one woman was nominated here, but she didn't win. And that's fine; this is not a campaign that hollas for preferential treatment, that women should win purely because of their biology. I'm not going to take to the streets and burn my bra over the fact Morano lost out to Veep's David Miller because his camera wielding skills were deemed better by an academy clearly striving for progression. No, it's about the inner workings of the industry still being a boys' club, even if it's making waves on the surface. And that needs to change.

So, while I'm in full support of Witherspoon message, and how touching Kidman's Best Actress acceptance speech was — and it was, BFF goals all the way — it's important to remember that in order for women to be heroes of their own stories, they have to be a part of making them.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.


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