With Emmy voting season in full swing, one Pretty Little Liars actress is taking the opportunity to ask some respectful questions of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the group who votes on and eventually gives out those shiny statuettes. Troian Bellisario took some time out of her busy shooting schedule to ask the TV Academy: why aren’t teen dramas nominated?
“Why is it that with all the different types of shows being recognized this Emmy season, the ones like mine, ‘teen shows,’ are written off as fluff?” Troian asks in an opinion piece featured in The Hollywood Reporter. “Guilty pleasures that are too youthful to exhibit accolade-worthy material. What if they are telling good stories too, just in a different way?”
Troian argues that all good TV aims to express some truth about the human experience, and that teen television is the perfect example of this. She writes, “Many young men and women see something in their favorite teen show beyond the fashion, beyond the hair and the hashtags splattered across the screen: They see a version of their truth, their struggle to feel safe in high school, their loyalty to their best friend, their fear of their first broken heart. When a teenager likes a more mature show we congratulate them on their elevated taste, but when someone older enjoys a teen show, they hide it, they call it their ‘guilty pleasure.’ Why? Weren't you in high school once? Don't you remember what it was like?”
We are totally on board with Troian’s point of view. Both teen and genre television have traditionally been ignored by the Emmys because neither falls into a specific and narrow definition of what makes “good” television — a definition determined by a very specific demographic and forced upon all TV-watchers in an awards ceremony that claims to celebrate the best in the medium. There is room for more reflection on what we consider “good” TV and why, and we’re glad to see Troian doing just that.
Of course, not all shows are created equal, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the performances of these young actors. Troian adds: “Teen shows are called silly and dumb, and maybe some of them are — maybe mine is — but if hyperfunny sitcoms, the darkest dramas — heck! even the musicals — are considered within the context of the style of their show, then why wasn't Gossip Girl? Why isn't The Vampire Diaries? My castmates attack their craft with curiosity and depth. My writers, directors and cinematographers have figured out how to keep their finger on the pulse of an ever-maturing audience. They might be telling stories about an omniscient cyberbullying supervillain (I know, what?!?), but they are also writing about the psychology of adolescence. Just ask your daughter.”
Do you think Troian makes some good points or are you OK with the way the TV Academy currently selects its Emmy winners? Sound off in the comments below!
Catch this episode of Pretty Little Liars Season 4 on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.