I was going to circulate this little rant among a few friends, but once it's out there, it's out there... So, what the hell.
I logged on to We Love Soaps Sunday morning - before I had my first cup of tea - and what do I see but the following headline: "ATWT Wins WGA Award." That was enough to make me wonder if the judges had been on drugs. But reading on, I come to find out that As the World Turns had beaten out One Life to Live. Then I start thinking perhaps I had woken up in some parallel universe. Or maybe there was some personal/professional/political score being settled here.
I watched every single episode of ATWT in 2008 (and 2007, 2006, 2005...), admittedly with my finger on ff much of the time. And I cannot think of even one ATWT episode from last year that outshined almost any episode I've seen since I returned to watching OLTL this past June. It turns out that the Writers Guild judges read three scripts from each show, as opposed to watching three episodes. Obviously, the judges' perspective differs from that of viewers but I'm having a hard time understanding how there could be such a large disparity between what's on the page and how it translated to the screen. Of course, I'd love to have a look at the scripts and see whatever it was the WGA judges saw.
Okay, I feel better now.
Update: Apparently, i wasn't the only who was curious. A poster at Media Domain, Ty34, went to the WGA site and found the entry requirements.
8. DAYTIME SERIAL
a) Furnish, through the head writer, a precis (covering an integrated period of time) which describes what has been happening on the program and the relationships of the characters. This should not exceed 1,000 words.
(b) Furnish three scripts (not necessarily in sequence) together with outlines for same which the head writer and second writer(s) agree should be submitted for the award.
Each of the three scripts is judged as a part of a coherent whole; the award is given accordingly. It should be noted that often several writers collaborate on the writing of a single script in this category. When submitting the material to be judged, include on the entry form the names of all writers who participated a minimum of 13 weeks in writing the show during the eligibility period.
The bolded material explains a lot about the reasoning behind the process; it makes perfect sense that writers would want to evlauate "a coherent whole," rather than a single out-of-context episode. The Emmys rely on a single episode, not just for the writing team, but for the directing team and best show, as well (see connecting the dots). This is one reason (of many) why fans, never mind everyone else, often have a hard time taking the Daytime Emmys seriously. However, the WGA process, while intended to compensate for the pitfalls of the single episode entry, has created some interesting pitfalls of its own, as ATWT's win over OLTL illustrates.
Interestingly, Mad Men beat out Friday Night Lights. Which makes perfect sense to me, as it would have if FNL had beaten out MM. Not clear from the WGA Rules and Procedures how many episodes the primetime shows submit. I'm guessing one.
Another interesting tidbit from the R&Rs: "Nominations will be based on outstanding achievement. If no script in a category is deemed outstanding, no nomination or award will be made." ATWT and OLTL were the only soaps nominated. Makes you wonder what the other shows submitted.
© 2009 Lynn Liccardo
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