One of the best shows on TV will premiere its 4th season on Jan. 12. So just as Hollywood awards season gets underway this month, what better time to point out that Showtime‘s "Shameless," which tracks a struggling Chicago family, never gets much Emmy love (save 3 noms for "guest actress" Joan Cusack, who has never won)? True, the show isn’t always easy to watch. The Gallagher clan’s innovative survival tactics are shameless at best, despicable at worst. It can be exceedingly dark and sad—but also often hilarious. And that may be part of the problem.
"I say it’s a comedy, and I think that’s one of the reasons that Emmys probably aren’t in our future because we’re classified as a drama," series star William H. Macy, who plays delinquent dad Frank, told me at a red carpet event this summer to trumpet the show to last year’s Emmy voters. "You know, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, clearly. And the Emmy voters are all my age. They’re not young folks, and I think our show is for younger people."
So will the Academy finally recognize Shameless in 2014? No one’s placing any bets. Emmy Rossum, who plays eldest daughter and surrogate mom Fiona, put it to me this way: "We’re not one of those shows that people are going to talk about and vote for just because it sounds familiar. You really have to watch the show… It’s a challenging show. It’s in your face. It’s not a show that’s background noise."
Shanola Hampton, who plays Fiona’s best friend Veronica, said the series’ comedy-drama mix could be a factor, but "I really don’t know why we haven’t gotten award love because I am such a television-a-holic, and I find it to be one of the best shows on television." Increasingly, audiences agree, with S3 having averaged 5.4mln viewers per ep, up 12% over S2. Will Season 4 be the charm for this under-appreciated gem? As series regular Zach McGowan told me, "I think we stand out from the pack." Let’s hope Emmy voters realize that sooner than later.
ED NOTE: This column originally appeared in CableFAX Daily. Go here to subscribe.