Some call this era "Peak TV", while others call it "The Golden Age of Television." Both terms are accurate.
There is a staggering amount of great TV being made and aired across multiple of platforms in recent years.
The Emmy Awards have always been the measure of of excellence in TV. Trouble is, the Television Academy and its voters have been notorious for failing to recognize the best and newest. With this year's nominations, that changed significantly but not entirely.
The list of the 2016 Emmy nominations announced in Los Angeles on Thursday morning indicated more attention to television of great seriousness, bite and cultural impact. While, of course, still snubbing some obviously deserving series or productions.
Actor Anthony Anderson from the ABC comedy Black-ish and Gilmore Girls actress Lauren Graham announced the nominees. After a beaming Bruce Rosenblum, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy talked briefly about the brilliance of so much TV programming these days, the list was delivered.
No wonder Rosenblum was beaming – the Academy is going to get a lot less flak this year for ignoring the freshest and the best.
The big-number picture tells a story. HBO has 94 nominations, while it got 126 last year. FX has 56 nominations, up from 38 in 2015 and Netflix has 54, an increase from 34 last year.
Most of the major broadcast networks – NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox – stayed at around the same level as in 2015.
In the most prestigious category, Outstanding Drama Series, the nominees are The Americans, Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards and Mr. Robot.
The two hugely significant acknowledgements are for The Americans, a series with critical acclaim of near-unanimity, ignored before now, and Mr. Robot, a series of stunning originality, nominated after just one season. In the past, the Academy would have allowed Mr. Robot to run several seasons before granting it a nomination in the top category.
HBO's Game of Thrones led the pack with 23 total nominations, while The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story came in second at 22. That, too, is meaningful.
The People v. O.J. Simpson dominates in the Outstanding Limited Series category and has numerous acting nominations. The sheer audacity of creator Ryan Murphy's take on the O.J. Simpson case made the series the TV event of the year so far.
There are other, welcome appreciations of freshness and fearlessness being acknowledged. Aziz Ansari's remarkably unconventional comedy Master of None, from Netflix, received several nominations. And the brazenly raw, barbarous comedy Catastrophe, which streams on Amazon in the U.S. (on shomi in Canada) got a writing nomination. For its pilot episode, no less.
In the acting categories, Canadian Tatiana Maslany was nominated for the second time for Orphan Black. The series, mind you, was essentially shut out in other categories, giving truth to the general impression that Maslany is the show's core and not much else about it has merit. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are finally getting honoured for The Americans, a show in which they have been remarkable for several seasons already.
It is also notable that the Emmys do not suffer from the diversity problem that rocked the Academy Awards. Actors from all backgrounds are everywhere in the nominations – Ansari for Master of None, Tracee Ellis Ross for Black-ish, along with Anthony Anderson for the same show, Viola Davis for How to Get Away With Murder, Taraji P. Henson for her work as the already iconic Cookie on Fox's Empire, and several others.
Of course, there were major disappointments and surprises when the full list of nominations were announced. The comedy The Big Bang Theory no longer dominates a lot of comedy categories; The Good Wife, often perceived as the best drama on network TV, got very little and even Orange is the New Black did not seem to have a big impact on voters – confirmation that Emmy voters noticed the decline last season.
And there were two bizarre snubs, given the new openness of the Emmys.
The outstanding and deeply serious (but still grippingly entertaining) Netflix drama Narcos got barely a nod. And Outlander, one of the most popular shows on the planet and a genre-bending journey into all manner of historical romance, drama and personal torment, was shut out of the series and acting categories.
For all the meaning that is obvious in the new openness of the Emmys, The Golden Globes are still quicker to give credit where credit is due and be truly open-minded. Expect Outlander and perhaps Narcos to get acknowledgment there.