Award Season, Month Seven
I’ve spent a good deal of time on this blog railing about the uselessness of award shows. A decade of bad Oscar choices and shameless campaigning have gone a long way towards creating the perception that they don’t actually predict the quality of films. But as movie awards become irrelevant by the hour, TV ones might actually be starting to matter. At least, they do once every seven years.
The Emmy nominations came out yesterday, and the results were quite interesting. The award show has fallen into a pattern where, when a show wins an award, it often has a tendency to keep winning every year. Case in point, the last six years have been dominated by Veep in the comedy categories. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won Best Actress in a Comedy for each of the six years it’s been on the air, and the show is always the frontrunner for Best Comedy Series.
But Veep ended this year. So did Game of Thrones. When these awards-dominant series come to an end, everybody else sees an opening. Every network is desperately trying to position its best series for awards contention this year, because next year the races will suddenly be up for grabs. It creates a unique phenomenon where the Emmy Awards are usually quite boring, but suddenly become fascinating once a decade.
Russian Doll. Barry. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Fleabag. If these shows can start winning awards in the next two years, suddenly they become frontrunners for the next ten. And this is happening at the same time that Emmy Awards matter more than ever. Why? Because there’s simply too much to watch. There’s so much TV, and so much of it is actually good, that nobody has enough hours in the day to avoid missing every can’t-miss show. People need reasons to pick a show over everything else, and awards are a great reason to do that. And it becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as data shows that even Emmy voters don’t watch every show on the air. They often end up voting for the shows that they have seen, even if better options are out there. You win an award to get people to watch you, and then people give you more awards because they watched you. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.
So yes, I may hate award shows, but this year’s Emmy’s will be fun. The usual frontrunners are wrapping up, and the comedy category is as stacked as it’s been in my lifetime. My picks? Barry for best comedy, Ted Danson for Best Actor, and Natasha Lyonne for Best Actress.
Come back in a few months for my angry blog about how those three all got robbed.