2019 Emmy Voting

Wow, another year has passed, and voting for this year’s Emmy Awards has just ended. As a member of the Public Relations Peer Group of the Television Academy, once again it was an honor for me to be able to vote in certain categories for the 2019 Emmy Awards for outstanding television programming. The online viewing site for the nominated programs opened up at the beginning of August, and online voting opened up during the last weeks of August, closing down on the last Thursday of August. The rules for voting require Academy members to view all nominees in a category before voting, but for series or limited series nominees, members only needed to view one episode of the six provided of each nominee in order to vote. Despite some HOA issues and a special project which I will be announcing shortly, this year I was able to set aside one week to view and vote for nominees for six categories.

In the Structured Reality Program category, there were six nominees of programs which provide an informed host or production to guide common folks or known celebrities on a specific issue or journey. Among the six, Antiques Roadshow on PBS is a standard bearer that has been airing for decades, although the last time I had actually seen an episode before this year, I recalled that the antique experts were set up in a single plain studio room to provide background and value to the antiques brought into the show. I was impressed, although not surprised, to see current technology provided a broader range of outdoor and indoor onsite background locations for the experts to interact with the antique owners. The two Netflix nominees, Queer Eye and Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, were focused on a home and personal life expert or group of experts providing assistance to an individual needing it. Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives featured a foodie expert introducing the viewing audience to fantastic small restaurants across the United States. ABC’s Shark Tank was presenting another season of hopeful startup entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a small group of competing investors. However, TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? featured a celebrity taking a journey to discover ancestry and history of the family tree. Even though the focus was on a known celebrity, the understanding of the history that was uncovered brought about a broader perspective to the viewing audience, which is why I voted for this nominee.

For the Outstanding Reality Competition category, five of the six nominees were re-nominations from last year’s list, The Amazing Race, American Ninja Warrior, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Top Chef, and The Voice. John Legend was a new competing judge and coach on The Voice this year, but this was the only variation among the five series from last year. The new nominee for this year was Netflix’s Nailed It!, which was more of a satirical cooking competition as the competitors were more incompetent with their cooking skills. In the end, The Amazing Race is still an admitted favorite of mine, providing a global cultural lesson and perspective to the viewing audience, and therefore receiving my vote.

For Outstanding Television Movie, there were only five nominees again this year, including another NetFlix Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch. At least this year, the Black Mirror episode was longer, coming closer to the hour and a half normal television movie length. The theme of Bandersnatch was more personally internal as an early 80s computer game programmer runs across several yes/no options in the course of a day and the viewer is shown in computer game style the consequences of both options in parallel time. Amazon Prime Video nominee, King Lear, was interesting in presenting Shakespeare’s tragedy in a modern setting; however, the dialogue is still from Shakespeare which doesn’t match with army tanks and urban alleys for the average viewer. HBO nabbed three nominees with Deadwood, My Dinner With Hervé, and Brexit. The one fictional nominee of the three, Deadwood, was a return to the HBO drama series with a dark Western genre flair in a late 1800s South Dakota town. The other two were non-fictional accounts, one about a reporter’s interview dinner and night with the Fantasy Island celeb days before he committed suicide, and the other a behind-the-scenes view of the opposing campaigns leading up to the British referendum on Great Britain exiting the EU. The personal celeb tragedy was dark and very introspective, but I was deeply intrigued by the historical lessons behind the rise of Brexit, which won my vote.

In the Outstanding Limited Series category, only one of the five nominees, HBO’s Sharp Objects, was adapted from fiction, as Amy Adams is a reporter who is sent back to her hometown to cover a murder case, while she has her own personal demons to deal with. The other four nominees are based on actual events. FX’s Fosse/Verdon delves into the historical life of classic power entertainment couple Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. HBO’s other nominee, Chernobyl, looks into what caused the nuclear disaster event and its consequences. Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora unveils the underpinnings that lead to a notorious prison escape. However, Netflix’s When They See Us, which was directed by Ava DuVernay, really affected me deeply with the actions of injustice and coercion towards a group of boys called The Central Park Five, which is why it got my vote.

For the Outstanding Comedy Series, only two of the seven nominees, HBO’s Barry and Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, are repeat nominees from last year, but this is only because the nominee with the most previous wins across all categories, Veep, took a year off last year. NBC’s The Good Place also has received a nomination in a previous year, but does not have a win. Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek has been around for a few seasons and has received comments that it should have been nominated in earlier years, but this season is the first time it has been nominated. The two new series that received nominations were Amazon Prime Video’s Fleabag and Netflix’s Russian Doll. Most of the nominees appear to try and find its comic elements in darker areas and characters, from Barry’s murder for hire main character seeking to become an actor and Veep’s backroom tales of political manipulations, to Fleabag’s non empathetic family members and Russian Doll’s main character’s foul language response to her odd time loop situation. I prefer a more balanced positive view of comic perception, which I find a bit more in the wacky characters of Schitt’s Creek and the odd redemptive purgatory of The Good Place, but is still stronger in the journey of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which received my vote again.

In the Outstanding Drama Series, only two of the eight nominees, HBO’s Game of Thrones and NBC’s This Is Us, are repeat nominees from last year, but AMC’s Better Call Saul has been nominated in a previous year. Even though two series, BBC America’s Killing Eve and Netflix’s Ozark has had nominations in specific categories in previous seasons, this is the first year they have received the main drama category. The last three nominees, Netflix’s Bodyguard, FX’s Pose, and HBO’s Succession, are in their first season, which makes their nominations impressive. However, many of these nominees work within a theme of competition between power characters. The acting in all of these series are powerful, but despite my past concern about the reality stretch of This Is Us, it was the one series this year that was more introspective with more empathetically normal characters, so it received my vote this year.

Last year, one of the nominees in the four categories for which I voted wound up winning the Emmy, so it will be interesting to see how well I match up with my fellow Television Academy members this year. The winners will be announced this year on Sunday, September 22 at the awards ceremony, airing 9pm ET on FOX.

Update: As announced at the 71st Emmy Awards that aired September 22 on Fox, the following Emmy Awards were presented: Structured Reality Program was awarded to Queer Eye, Reality Competition Program was awarded to RuPaul’s Drag Race, Outstanding Television Movie was awarded to Bandersnatch (Black Mirror), Outstanding Limited Series was awarded to Chernobyl, Outstanding Comedy Series was awarded to Fleabag, and Outstanding Drama Series was awarded to Game of Thrones. None of my votes matched with the eventual winners this year.

 

2018 Emmy Voting

Another year has passed, and the voting has ended again. As a member of the Public Relations Peer Group of the Television Academy, I was once again honored to be able to vote in certain categories for the 2018 Emmy Awards for outstanding television programming. The online viewing site for the nominated programs opened up at the beginning of August, and online voting opened up during the last two full weeks of August, closing down on the final Monday of August. The rules for voting remained the same as last year. Academy members were required to view all nominees in a category before voting, but for series or limited series nominees, members only needed to view one episode of the six provided of each nominee in order to vote. Unfortunately, unexpected activity in my homeowners association and a couple of other projects in which I was involved kept me from being able to view nominees in as many categories as I did last year. I was restricted to voting in only four categories this year.

For the Outstanding Reality Competition category, the six nominees were the exact same nominees as last year, CBS’s The Amazing Race, NBC’s American Ninja Warrior, Lifetime’s Project Runway, VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bravo’s Top Chef, and NBC’s The Voice. Some of the nominees had some adjustments that demonstrated considered improvements. In Project Runway, the variation in the models’ sizes may have been a greater challenge to the aspiring designers, but it also showed a broader sense of diversity to the audience. In The Voice, the celebrity judges who compete with each other to get good aspiring singers to take them on as mentors in the competition were given an added button to block a fellow celebrity judge. In Top Chef, the competition took place in Colorado, my current home, and, in one episode, tested the aspiring chefs to create a tasty meal with a campfire on an overnight rugged camp-out. However, the basic concept of these reality competitions as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race focused on a specific skill, while American Ninja Warrior is a straight physical competition of speed, agility, and strength over an elevated obstacle course, but The Amazing Race, still an admitted favorite of mine, provides a global cultural lesson and perspective to the viewing audience, as they watch teams of two race around the world. My vote again went to The Amazing Race.

For Outstanding Television Movie, there were only five nominees, and like last year, one nominee still challenged my definition of a television movie. It was a new episode from the Netflix anthology series, Black Mirror, which focuses on futuristic stories centered within the digital universe. The nominated episode, USS Callister, about an inhibited corporate tech partner who generates digital genetic clones of his co-workers in a “Star Trek” like digital universe to gain superiority over them, was only a few minutes over an hour long, which does not meet my expectation for the length of a television movie. In fact, some of the Outstanding Drama Series episodes were longer than this movie nominee. In addition, unlike the uplifting twist of last year’s nominated Black Mirror episode, USS Callister was a basic good versus evil plot. Fellow HBO nominee, Fahrenheit 451, shares the sci-fi stage as an updated adaptation of the Ray Bradbury literary classic with a genetically digital climactic ending. The other three nominees find their basis connected to actual events. HBO’s The Tale, about a woman documentarian whose short story she wrote as a teenager is found by her mother and sent to her bringing up repressed memories of a sexual encounter with a mentor, begins with a disclaimer that the story is based on actual events experienced by the executive producer and creator of the film. HBO’s Paterno has Al Pacino portraying the famous Penn State head coach during the time when the sexual molestation scandal of his assistant coach reaches its zenith. Flint examines the Michigan city’s water crisis and the women advocates who uncovered the scandal and forced the city and state to take action. It was the positive story of advocacy that encouraged me to vote for Flint.

The Outstanding Comedy Series had eight nominees to view, but only four of the nominees were repeat nominees from last year. ABC’s Modern Family, the series I voted for last year, was not one of those four. The returning nominees were FX’s Atlanta, ABC’s black-ish, HBO’s Silicon Valley, and Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Just like last year, Atlanta appeared to me to be more dramatic that comedic, despite its solid themes. The remaining four nominees all have a connection to the entertainment culture. HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s satirical series of Hollywood culture, may not have been nominated last year, but it has been nominated in previous years. HBO’s Barry, Netflix’s GLOW, and Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are new series, so it is an honor for them to be nominated in their premiere season. Barry, a series about a hitman who decides to join an acting class and change his career, and GLOW, a series on hopeful actresses who audition and become female wrestlers, also are based in the Hollywood culture. However, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, set in New York City in the late 50s, enthralled me with the hyper-active, take-care-of-everything young wife and mother out to help her husband become a star comic while raising their young children, who suddenly finds out that her husband was cheating on her when he walks out on them, which leads to her finding herself on a journey that shows she is the better comic talent than he ever was. I voted for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

In the Outstanding Drama Series category, five of the seven nominated series were repeat nominees from last year. However, the two nominees not on last year’s list were not new to Emmy nominations. In fact, one of these two nominees, HBO’s Game of Thrones, has been a constant nominee in past years and has the most nominations in all categories for this year. It was not nominated last year because it did not have a season last year, keeping fans guessing on which characters would survive for some time. Yet, the series hyper-power competition of fantasy medieval kingdoms is a bit too strong for me. FX’s The Americans, a series of a family of Russian spies living undercover in a Washington, DC suburb, had also been nominated in previous seasons and earned its nomination for its final season. The category’s repeat nominees were Netflix’s The Crown, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix’s Stranger Things, NBC’s This Is Us, and HBO’s Westworld. This Is Us continued its strong path of wrapping audiences within its emotional family drama twists, even if it pulled at reality in its way. The Crown still appealed with its historical foundation of the life of Queen Elizabeth. Both The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld had turned darker in their second season, while Stranger Things still maintained its sci-fi fantasy balance in the retro 80s in its second season. I voted for the balance in Stranger Things.

Once again, my votes last year were not the eventual winners, but I still remain truthful and fair in my considerations. Maybe this year, one of my selections will wind up receiving the Emmy this year during the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on September 17 at 8pm ET on NBC.

Update: As announced during the Emmy Awards that aired on NBC on Monday, September 17, one of the shows I voted for, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for Outstanding Comedy Series, did wind up receiving the Emmy. The other three shows I voted for did not wind up receiving the Emmy. RuPaul’s Drag Race received the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Series, Black Mirror: USS Callister received the Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie, and Game of Thrones received the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. I applaud all of the recipients of this year’s Emmys.