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  • James Kunovski

The Declining Emmys

Television has never been more exciting. On the other hand, the Emmys ceremony which honours prestigious primetime television is not. In recent years, there has been a steady decline in their ratings. However, if you peruse any entertainment-based magazine, journal or even Twitter, there is still chatter generated by these awards. It seems that people are still interested; they just don’t care to watch it play out live over a three-hour slot. This is with fair reason. As television viewership changes, appreciating award shows seems to have been left in the last millennium. In this age where we have ‘too’ many shows to watch, the Emmys provide a kind of shortlist for necessary viewing albeit with some glaring exceptions. Nowadays, where people can view the winners in neatly aligned lists, and skip over the uncomfortable presenter banter, the appeal for award shows suffers.

On top of this, there are faults with the showcase and structure of the ceremony that make it an odd watch. There are twenty-seven categories to be handed out in the main ceremony alone. They are broken up by genre, so in the case of 2019, comedy was handed out first.

Unfortunately, for the eager viewer at home, you have to watch the rest of the ceremony to find out who wins best comedy series. Though you can probably guess early on as voters tend to cling to one series. Every year, with new producers and a network at hand, the Emmys are constantly trying to reinvent themselves. The 2017 ceremony took a certain liking, or disliking, to Tr*mp. The 2018 ceremony was no-frills. There was a clear absence of camera crew and no announcer. Nominees were announced first, then the presenters would come out; then the winner was announced, ushering in a lot of awkward segues. With the Tonys and Oscars, you know what you’re going to get. The format stays the same every year. This year’s ceremony was also similar in terms of camera crew. The producers didn’t hire an orchestra, so instead we had to hear an arbitrary pool of backyard BBQ hits instead of each show’s theme, per tradition. The desperate ploys by the presenters to make the show ‘watchable’ or gif-able are just uncomfortable. Why are you making a Tik Tok, Ken Jeong? The inclusion of Kim K and sister Kendall as presenters echoes this.

There are also clear issues with the nominees and winners that the Academy chooses that make it tedious to watch. Even though this is all subjective, similar sentiments were reflected online regarding Game of Throne’s lacklustre eighth season receiving a record thirty-two nominations. In theory, awards should not define entertainment. It’s a shame and a flaw of the process, that although it took talent to be recognised, the nominees walk away from the night without any further merit.

It is clear that the entertainment industry, especially the American one has an obsession with awards, so this cycle is most likely not going to be given up anytime soon. Still, it remains interesting to discuss where award shows fit in today’s entertainment culture and how producers keep trying to unsuccessfully make them more appealing.

It’s a shame that in the current era of the television we don’t have something that reasonably reflects the advent of streaming platforms and the challenging, cinematic content that is being produced. Despite my quip about reinventing itself, that’s the only option next year's Emmy awards have to keep the show fresh, and to make it a more suitable and justified reflection of the industry it is upholding.


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