“The Crown,” “Ted Lasso,” Streaming in Quest of Emmy Glory
Will “The Mandalorian” bow to “The Crown” as best drama series? Can Wellness Comedy “Ted Lasso” Make Its Way To Freshman Glory? Will Jean Smart be honored as best comedy actress for “Hacks”? (She goes.)
But there’s so much more at stake when the television industry – or a slice of it constrained by the pandemic – comes together to honor the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
The ceremony (8 p.m. EDT, CBS) is a snapshot of a business transforming into its 21st century form; that we see or don’t see on the small screen, and the rapid bursting of television and its viewers.
The obvious winners and losers are those who will be revealed in 27 categories during the show hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. But there is more at stake than personal victories and criteria for success or failure beyond trophies.
Here are some of the results and trends to watch out for, both up close and wide.
ROW ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT
The streaming services are set for a triumphant night that will cast even more shadow over the status of broadcast networks, including the Big Three ABCs, CBS and NBC, and once-dominant cable channels such as HBO and Showtime.
âThis is the year that streamers will officially take over Hollywood,â possibly earning the honors for Best Drama and Comedy Series for the first time, said Tom O’Neil, editor of the Gold Derby predictions website and author of “The Emmys”.
Premium cable’s encroachment on once-owned broadcast turf has been gradual: HBO was launched in 1972 and waited two decades for its first Best Emmy Series Nod, won by Garry Shandling’s comedy “The Larry Sanders Show”. It was not until the 2000s that âSex and the Cityâ and âThe Sopranosâ won the best series awards.
On the other hand, streaming advances with a speed comparable to that of Ferrari, especially since the services multiply and spend a lot of money for programs aimed at seducing paying customers.
In 2017, Hulu’s âThe Handmaid’s Taleâ became the first streaming series to win Best Emmy Drama. The following year, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won a comedy-matched victory for Amazon, which won again in 2019 for “Fleabag”.
Victory is possible for Netflix’s âThe Crownâ or for the Disney + series âThe Mandalorian,â which topped the nods with 24 apiece. For Netflix, which launched its on-demand service in 2007 and featured the first nominee for the drama series, âHouse of Cardsâ in 2014, patience would finally pay off.
For Disney +, the victory would be quick and sweet: it launched in November 2019. Apple TV +, which arrived the same year, could take its first major series award with âTed Lassoâ. a punch in the comedy and drama categories.
The push for diversity has evolved at a significantly slower pace than the digital revolution, but this year’s list of nominees was unimaginable just a few years ago.
Of the 96 acting nods for the drama, comedy, and miniseries, nearly 44% – a total of 42 nominations – went to people of color. According to 2020 census figures, White Americans make up just under 58% of the population.
Among this year’s pioneers: Mj Rodriguez of “Pose,” the first trans performer to be nominated in a lead actor category, and Bowen Yang of “Saturday Night Live,” the first Asian American to compete for the best supporting comedy actor.
The best categories of dramatic actors are particularly inclusive, and strikingly compared to a decade ago when the 12 nominees for Best Actor and Actress were white, with Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”) and Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”) the winners.
It was in 2011, it is now. Black men make up the majority of nominees for lead theater actors, four out of six, including former winners Sterling K. Brown for “This Is Us” and “Pose” star Billy Porter – the first openly gay man to win. category, in 2019.
Half of the six best actresses are women of color. Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”) and Uzo Aduba (“In Process”) are black, and Rodriguez is Afro Latina.
If the final test of inclusiveness is who wins, the story might be different. “The Crown” stars Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin are seen as trailblazers for their portrayals of their hapless royal companions, Charles and Diana.
PANDEMIC, PART 2
Constraints can breed inventiveness.
Last year’s all-virtual ceremony featured a defining lockdown moment: Hazmat-clad trophy runners who hung out outside contestants’ homes until their categories were called out, either handing out the award or handing over the award. disappointingly removing it.
“Someone mentioned (the idea) in a meeting as a kind of joke, and then it constantly needled us and we decided this might be a great way to do it,” recalled Guy Carrington, a producer for the 2020 Emmy.
This year, around 500 nominees and guests will gather under a glamorous tent in downtown LA, with COVID-19 precautions, including a vaccine requirement and testing. There are big names among the presenters including Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Dolly Parton and Awkwafina, but at least one star, Jennifer Aniston, has been outspoken about staying away due to virus concerns.
Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart, executive producers of the broadcast, said they saw the drop in attendance as an opportunity.
Instead of being confined to a theater seat, guests will be at tables and part of what looks like an oversized dinner – with drinks and snacks allowed – and encouraged to mingle.
âFor the industry to come and sit down together and see each other, it’s a celebration,â said Stewart.
HELLO, IS THERE ANYBODY?
Ratings for awards, from the Oscars to the Grammys, have steadily declined in recent years and reached new highs during the pandemic. Despite honoring the TV shows that kept us company in the darkness of COVID, the Emmys were not immune.
After hitting an audience record of just under 7 million in 2019, last year’s television broadcasting fell further to 6.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Part of that is just an overload of awards, with dozen-dollar ceremonies taking the shine away from bigger ones, including the 94-year-old Grand Dame Oscars and the Emmys, which turn 73 on Sunday.
Then there’s the sheer length of the shows. A quiet three-hour broadcast, including commercials, was expected and tolerated in the old world of television. In the new, viewers are more likely to check out the highlights of an event online and at will.
But as Hudlin sees it, social media can give as well as take.
âIf you put on a show that works, if people say, ‘Oh, do you watch the Emmy thing? That’s pretty cool, ‘all of a sudden people tune in because you talk about it like,’ Yo, that’s crazy, ‘”said Hudlin.” So we like to stay crazy. “
The details were under wraps, but there will be music: Reggie Watts, frontman of “The Late Late Show with James Corden”, is the DJ for the evening.
The producers of the event also recognize that niche cable and streaming shows may be unfamiliar to many viewers, especially those who prefer network shows such as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” or ” CBS’s The Neighborhood â- the latter starring Emmy host Cedric the Entertainer.
âWe went to see a lot of these actors, actresses and people well known in the industry to be presenters to reflect popular television,â said Stewart.
AP Entertainment writer Marcela Isaza contributed to this report.