Since the show began, it had been nominated in that category every year except 1993 and 1994, when they tried to compete against the big boys in the Outstanding Comedy Series category. After failing to even get nominated both years, thanks to the Emmy's well-known 3DPD bias, they returned to the Animated Program category in 1995, where they were typically seen as the cartoon to beat. "It is a light thrill to beat Garfield every year, but it's getting a little old,'' quipped Matt Groening in 1992.
Showrunner Al Jean claims they were snubbed:
You know you've been emmy snubbed when you're not even mentioned in articles about emmy snubs. Kudos to Harry Shearer and our sound mixers!— Al Jean (@AlJean) July 10, 2014
Re-recording mixers Mark Linden and Tara A. Paul were nominated for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation, and Harry Shearer - the only main cast member to never win an Emmy for his performance - was nominated for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.
While the show itself regularly made fun of award shows, the producers don't hesitate to mention their massive trophy case whenever its quality is called into question. During a nasty spat with Shearer in 2004, Jean rattled off a list of their recent awards:
I am responding to recent comments by Harry Shearer regarding the current quality of the Simpsons. In the past year and a half, our show has won every award it could possibly have won, including emmys for best animated program and voice-over actor (Hank Azaria), four Annie awards (show, writing, directing and song--a feat the Simpsons had never accomplished in the previous 13 seasons) and a writers guild award, which the show had also won never won before. Yesterday I was informed that Dan Castelleneta had won an emmy for his work in the episode "Today I Am A Clown" and we are nominated for three additional emmys (including best animated program) again this year.Luckily, this obnoxious argument will have to be retired if they can't even get nominated.
How did this happen? Having learned nothing from the time they submitted "Treehouse of Horror VI" under the belief Emmy voters would be blown away by seeing Homer in 3D, the show submitted their overhyped LEGO commercial. Jean jokingly (?) points the blame squarely at The LEGO Group:
@Gran2 I blame Lego!— Al Jean (@AlJean) July 10, 2014
Well, they can always make their own Emmy out of LEGO bricks.
Of course, there may be another reason for the show's recent Emmy drought. Their last win in the Animated Program category was for "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" in 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration. Could President Obama be behind this...?