With the recent success of Bojack Horseman on Netflix and Inside Out at the Box Office, is it time for the major categories at the Emmys and the Oscars to take note. Both projects are experiencing some of the best reviews of any TV show or film in recent circulation this year, with Bojack Horseman Season 2 currently standing tall at 100% ‘Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes, a particular success considering it’s debut season only achieved a 53% ‘Rotten’ rating on the site, while Inside Out is currently on 98% ‘Certified Fresh’, level with Mad Max: Fury Road as the most critically acclaimed film of the summer. But how did animation get this good. It appears that, as far as I’m concerned, it’s due to the focusing on the issues that other live action shows and films are afraid to do so, what sadness is and how one deals with their emotions. Despite being aimed towards polar opposite audiences (Inside Out is Rated U in the UK, while the ratings of Bojack Horseman episodes mainly range from 12 to 15, while one episode is an 18), this reflection on sadness, as both a character and an emotion, brings the projects together, as well as both becoming the best that the industry has to offer currently in terms of entertainment.
The main question is, though, is why animation has been mainly ignored by the major Academies in entertainment, the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards. In terms of the Emmys and the Best Comedy Series category, where Bojack Horseman would most likely be eligible, it is a breakthrough year as for only the second time in Emmy history has a traditional sitcom been missing from the Best Comedy Series line-up, with the only other year being 2010. The Emmys are able to embrace new sitcom styles, in particular the shows with no laugh track, something that has been increasingly successful since the turn of the century, yet it still has a problem with animation, with only one show, Family Guy, receiving a nomination for Best Comedy Series, which was for it’s 7th Season in 2009, where the Emmys also embraced shows like Flight of the Conchords, Weeds and How I Met Your Mother for the first and only time. I’m not saying that Bojack Horseman should have been nominated for it’s debut season, but it’s sophomore season is so good that it should be impossible to ignore for next year’s Emmys in 2016, a time where this year’s nominee Parks & Recreation won’t be in the discussion as it has finished and Modern Family could, like The Big Bang Theory, miss out on a nomination as the Emmys look to give newer shows a chance and get rid of the default nominations. This year’s lineup is one of the best yet at the Emmys, with the incredible Transparent going head-to-head with HBO’s biting political satire Veep for the title of Best Comedy Series. It would be nice to see a show like Bojack Horseman be in with this crowd as it deserves to be. It’s funny, sad, incredibly intelligent and is just as successful at parody as it is at taking on serious subjects. That being said, it won’t be taken seriously as it’s just a cartoon about a horse.
A project that stands a much better chance at breaking into the main race at it’s major awards ceremony is Disney Pixar’s latest film Inside Out, a terrific film that is all but guaranteed to make you smile, but is also just as likely to make you cry. It’s sort of a way of introducing a younger audience to films that they’ll spend the rest of their lives watching, one that is simply a film for adults about psychology and depression and adaptation, but told through animation and a simplistic plot structure so a younger audience can understand, like a parent teaching their child through puppets. It’s a real work of genius, cementing Pixar as the kings of animation, but it should also show that they are the kings of film-making, as no filmmaker, aside from people like Christopher Nolan or Richard Linklater, is showing how to make original films entertaining. Does it have a chance at getting a Best Picture nomination? Well, I currently have it in 9th place in my predictions, so it stands a real chance unless the Academy decide to go crazy again and nominate 8 like they did last year. Inside Out could face more of a struggle to get voters watching it, as the quality is there for it to be among the best 10 films of the year. After all, only 3 animated films have ever been nominated for Best Picture (Beauty and the Beast, Up and Toy Story 3) with no previous winner of the trophy being an animated film. It could also have a great chance at the Golden Globes, especially if it gets put in the Comedy/Musical category, where Toy Story 2 famously took top honours in 1999. Here’s hoping the Academy embrace it, and not just in the Best Animated Feature category, instead of just seeing it as a colourful kids film.
To answer my question, yes, both the TV Academy and AMPAS do need to embrace animation more, may it be giving them more nominations aside from Best Animated Series/Feature, and embracing Bojack Horseman and Inside Out would be a great place to start.
Bojack Horseman Season 1 and Season 2 are currently streaming on Netflix. Inside Out is in Cinemas now.