With the Emmy nominations out and absorbed by all of the media outlets and entertainment pundits, here are your top seven “need to know” statistics, and a few observations from my personal, industry-informed crystal ball:
a. International is the new normal
Squid Game is not only the first non-English language series to get nominated, but Korean filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk’s creation earned 14 total nods, elevating it from a “token” nomination, to a bonafide competitor and contender
b. Dysfunctional Families Always Score
Succession, HBO’s thinly veiled Murdoch-empire parody, blew out any other series with its massive, record-breaking collection of 25 nominations, easily outpacing any other series or stand-alone special – – with 14 nominations alone in the acting categories. Whether it’s The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, or the various houses in Game of Thrones, messed up families always attract Emmy love.
c. Comedy isn’t dead
Ted Lasso, the pandemic’s feel-good wonder from Apple TV+, equaled its 20 nominations from 2021, making it the favorite going into Emmy night, despite vital competition from Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Only Murders in the Building, Hacks, Abbot Elementary, Curb Your Enthusiasm and What We Do In The Shadows. Much has been written about the “death of comedy series,” particularly at streamers such as Netflix, but these nominations remind us what a deep bench of comedy there is, across all platforms (streaming, cable and indeed, network as well)
d. Sketch Comedy Is Alive, Barely
SNL (Saturday Night Live) broke its own record as the most-nominated show in TV history, earning an Emmy nomination as best Variety Sketch series, the show’s mind-blowing, historic and unbeatable 315th nomination. The venerable stalwart will compete against HBO’s Black Lady Sketch Show, the only other series in the category nominated
e. Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer at HBO and HBO MAX, should be immortalized with a statue of himself, in front of Gate 2 at Warner Bros Discovery
When tallying up which network/streamer/cable TV provider performed best, the combo platter of HBO/MAX easily outpaced the competition with 140 nominations (up from 130 last year.) Netflix
f. Mandates Work
Women had a banner year, earning half of all directing nominations, proving once and for all that when studios, networks and other platforms prioritize “D.E.I.” – – diversity, equality and inclusion – – positive change occurs
g. Broadcasting Continues to Mock Itself by Airing The Emmys
Despite broadcasters once again getting clobbered, the NBC network (along with its streaming partner, Peacock) will air The Emmys on September 12, ironically underlining their own irrelevance as they celebrate streaming and cable, by far America’s choice for quality content (not NBC – – boy, remember when NBC was “must see TV”?)
There’s already heated debate going on in the corridors of the TV Academy and at most major studios as executives, producers and publicists decry the over-dominance of familiar titles like Succession and Ted Lasso, in the face of literally hundreds of deserving titles that are simply less “popular.”
Critics and experts agree that the most memorable, high quality content is being made for TV today, versus the cinema, and one can prove this anecdotally by attending any dinner party, watching fellow diners trade their lists of “favorite streaming shows”, fearful that they’re missing out on so much quality story-telling. When was the last time you went to a social event and desperately asked, “What movie have you been to lately?” Few can even remember what won Best Picture earlier this year (Spoiler Alert: it was CODA.)
One thing is certain: the tide has finally turned and TV content is no longer the ‘also-ran’ in the world of prestige entertainment. The Emmy can come to be as meaningful as The Oscar, if the TV Academy works harder to create a tent, or tents, large enough to manage fire hose of excellent content being made and eligible for awards, each season.
Should Streamers have their own Emmys? Should cable? There was once a “Cable Ace Award” that stood apart from The Emmy.
Experts mutter that the 20,000 TV Academy members are simply too lazy, overwhelmed and put-upon to discover gems like Maid or Pachinko. Some are advocating for multiple, separate nights for the Emmys – – for example, an entire night dedicated to International Content, another for Comedy Content, another for Drama content – – with sub categories akin to what The Golden Globes and A.F.I. celebrate, such as “Best New Comedy” or “Best New Drama” versus having returning shows competing against newer fare. (The Emmys already have an entirely different awards show, one week earlier than the main event, that is dedicated largely to the “crafts” of TV production.)
Perhaps even more nights, more specific categories and thus more Emmys should be awarded for a medium that has finally, and perhaps forever, outpaced its cinematic and Broadway competition.