Don’t worry if you missed the Emmy Awards this year as it was more of the same old same old.
In 1949, the Television Academy, formerly known as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences up until March of this year, created an annual event to honor the excellence in U.S. television programming from the preceding year. The award was named the Emmy, which is a derivation of “Immy,” as tribute to the image orthicon camera tube which was pivotal in paving the way to modern television. Thus, the name Emmy is, at it’s core, synonymous with innovation. The award should represent an actor, director, screenwriter or otherwise who has participated in the creation of something new and unique to enchant audiences. Something perhaps that redefines the way we see TV.
Bearing that in mind, despite the robust and qualified list of nominees this year, I think the public expected to see someone fresh and new take home a trophy. Unfortunately for any newcomers, the Television Academy favored, with some exception, the same old winners from last year. I am sure that this is not the first first article you have read about the Emmys today, and it may not be not your last, so I will limit myself to discussing what I perceived to be wasted wins and why versus accounting for simply who won.
It is no fluke a committed lifetime actor, such as Bryan Cranston, has taken home the title of best lead actor in a drama series for for his portrayal of Walter White four times in a row, making it his fifth Emmy award overall. My problem with his and other recent wins falls back to the namesake for this coveted prime-time television award. Although innovative in it’s inception, Cranston’s character brought nothing new and unexpected to the table this season. I am not saying it was not a well acted final season, but for “Breaking Bad” to continue to win post series really does a disservice to the current shows of a similar, or perhaps greater, caliber. Were Bryan Cranston, Julia Louise Dreyfus, and Jim Parsons really the best candidates to win this year?
To me, taking a non-network platform, such as Netflix, and bringing it’s original series to the competition is a true display of innovation and should be treated as such. I am not surprised that Jim Parsons can become a fan favorite with his network television prime-time slot. What does surprise me is that the Kevin Spacey led “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black” comprised of a fairly uknown cast can compete with the likes of “Breaking Bad,” “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family,” the big three names that really championed the ceremony this year and last. Even HBO’s “True Detective” falls in the same discounted category. What makes HBO’s and Netflix’s presence on the list of nominees so unique is that they have no innately captive audience. These are pay to stream or watch platforms that have to work doubly hard to attain even a fraction of the viewer-ship that shows like “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” are handed on a silver platter.
My point being, what is the criteria when picking the Emmy winners? Is this award show going to be relegated to being yet another popularity contest where those to-do in television can pat themselves on the back? When will the Amy Poehlers, Taylor Schillings, Fred Armisens, and Peter Dinklages have their day in the sun or, perhaps more appropriately, the moon? Will a requisite for winning be having been a former winner? It sure seems that way from this years awards show.
I think we can all agree that “Breaking Bad,” “Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” are fantastic shows, but it is time for someone new to take home the prize. Otherwise, when will shows like “Parks and Recreation,” “True Detective,” “House of Cards,” and “Orange is the New Black” get the same recognition from their peers in the Television Academy that they have gotten from their fans? I guess we have to just wait until next year and find out.
The wins that I felt most appropriately captured the innovative essence of the award were actually presented at the concurrent 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. They, in my opinion, stayed true to form showcasing new and industry redefining talents such as, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (CNN) for Outstanding Informational Series or Special, “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis (funnyordie.com) for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program, and “Hitrecord On TV” for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media in the area of Social TV Experience.