Recently, Billions and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum star, Asia Kate Dillion, released an open letter to the SAG Awards requesting the removal of gender-specific categories. Dillion, who is non-binary, points out that "separating people based on their assigned sex, and/or their gender identity, is not only irrelevant when it comes to how an acting performance should be judged, it is also a form of discrimination." Not only do gendered categories leave out non-binary people, but the term "actress" is redundant. In fact, most performers, no matter their gender, prefer to call themselves "actors" anyway. Since there are so many wonderful performances each year in film and television, we believe eliminating gendered categories would not only be a supportive and progressive move but could also make way for more genre-based categories.
In addition to the fact that gendered categories are antiquated and discriminatory, they've also never felt right in terms of overall performance fairness. A go-to example is Peter Dinklage's four Emmys for Game of Thrones. While his performance in season four more than earned him the prize (that courtroom scene!), it should be noted that his season five award should have gone to Lena Headey, who never once won an Emmy for playing Cersei Lannister. If you were to compare their season five performances, nothing Dinklage did that year came close to Headey's walk of shame in the finale. Now, you may be thinking, "Well, Headey lost to Uzo Aduba for her performance in Orange Is the New Black that year anyway," which is why more genre-based categories are exactly what we need.
Instead of comparing men and women, why not compare performances within the same genre? Within the same show? A suggestion would be to have four categories: Best Actor in a Drama, Best Actor in a Comedy, Best Actor in a Dramedy, and Best Actor in Genre TV (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc). You may think "Dramedy" is an unnecessary addition, but it became clear watching Barry and Fleabag sweep the comedy categories last year that dramedies are thriving and deserve to be set apart. Those shows absolutely deserved their awards, but it's not exactly fair to pit the emotional and dramatic performance of Phoebe Waller-Bridge against a pure comedic performance like Catherine O'Hara's in Schitt's Creek. As for "Genre TV," this would leave room for shows that are often overlooked. It would also make more sense for frequently-nominated shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Watchmen. These changes should be implemented for all categories, not just acting.
This proposal is definitely easier when it comes to television awards, but it's something that should also be implemented in film. The Golden Globes already have Drama and Musical/Comedy categories (although, there are plenty of dramatic musicals, so that choice has never made much sense). If movie awards left room for genre films, sci-fi and horror would finally get the recognition they deserve. While there are exceptions, for example, Get Out winning Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars in 2018, more often than not, films of that nature are overlooked. This is especially true of performances, for example, Toni Collette and Lupita Nyong'o deserved to be nominated for Hereditary and Us, respectively. Eliminating gender-categories and focusing on genre has already proved effective for the MTV Movie & TV Awards, and there's no reason the more prestigious awards shouldn't follow suit. If the Academy Awards can add ten Best Picture nominees, why not four Best Actor winners? Of course, there's a good chance the Oscars would prefer to keep it to two winners. In that case, just having acting categories in Drama and Comedy still makes more sense than gendered ones. We all know that if this was the format, Olivia Colman (The Favourite) AND Glenn Close (The Wife) would both rightfully have Oscars instead of Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody).
How do you feel about replacing gender-specific categories with more genre categories at awards shows? Tell us in the comments!