2020 Emmy Voting

This year has affected a lot of us, health-wise, financially, socially, and politically. For me, my plans and ideas to promote my new novel have been disrupted, as well as my hopes to have a few more exploratory road trips. However, I know that I have still been in a better position than many others on this planet. As a member of the Public Relations Peer Group of the Television Academy, I have been more aware of how much this year has affected the entertainment industry, upending television production for new broadcast and streaming shows during a time when people are looking for comfort in isolation. It also slightly affected the process and timeline for the nomination and voting for the 2020 Emmy Awards. The announcement of this year’s official nominations came out in late July and the online viewing platform for the nominated programs opened up in mid-August, creating a tighter timeline for viewing and voting, since the voting deadline was August 31. 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. In the end, I had time to view and vote for the top four categories.

In the Outstanding Television Movie category, there were five nominees this year, all of them basically within the 90 minute to 2 hour range that I feel fit within a standard television movie length. HBO’s only nominee was Bad Education, a historical drama based on the true story of an embezzlement scandal of taxpayer money in a Long Island school system in the early 2000s. The other four nominees were all from Netflix with two of the nominees being post series wrap-ups, with El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie providing a rough escape thriller from the AMC drama series, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend providing the comedy series with a comic wedding and rescue fun ending. Netflix’s third nominee, Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones, was another country-style heart-tugger in the same style of previous Dolly Parton network special stories. The final Netflix nominee, American Son, was an interesting adaption of a play which takes place in one location in a basically extended single scene, a police station waiting area late at night where a recently separated mixed race couple is desperate to find out about the event in which their eighteen-year-old son was involved during a police interaction. Even as the agonizing argumentative interaction between the characters and eventual surprising unveiling of truth provide a much more complex grey perspective, the story’s theme still touches on the current social conflict on policing and race, which encouraged me to give this nominee my vote.

The Outstanding Limited Series category also had five nominees this year from Hulu, Netflix, FX Networks, and HBO. The two Netflix series both centered on a young woman within an unequal power situation. In Unbelievable, a young teenage girl is unfairly pressured by police and friends to admit that her claim of being raped was a lie. In Unorthodox, a young woman seeks to escape the Hassidic Jewish culture and a forced marriage in New York City, secretly flying off to Berlin. In both series, the thematic perspective is subtly presented. In Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, the complex perspectives of trying to resolve racial and wealth inequality subtly powers the story line. In a more historical tale, FX Networks’ Mrs. America delves into Phyllis Schlafly and her campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 70s. All four of these nominees have very important themes and issues behind their storylines, but HBO’s Watchmen with its DC comic universe background to present its racial and political conflict perspective more powerfully attracts its audience, encouraging me to give it my vote.

Eight nominees landed in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, but NBC’s The Good Place was the only broadcast network series to get a nomination, a continuing sign of the way that streaming era has upended the electronic video entertainment universe. Even more telling is this was the final season of The Good Place which gained this nomination. Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek was also nominated for its final season, while FX Networks’ What We Do In The Shadows also provided a boost to basic cable programming. HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insecure demonstrated how premium cable programming seeks to produce comedy without sexual or language restrictions, making it edgier. Netflix’s Dead To Me and The Kominsky Method provided more balance to its comic storytelling, but once again, Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was still stronger in providing a more balanced positive view of comic perception, which is why it received my vote.

For the Outstanding Drama Series, there were also eight nominees, but only one was new to the nominee list, Disney+’s The Mandalorian, a series that impressively brought Star Wars action and thrills, even though each episode was only a half hour long. Dark themes continued to play within AMC’s Better Call Saul, BBC America’s Killing Eve, HBO’s Succession, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, whereas Netflix’s three nominees found a little better balance: The Crown with its strong historical perspective, Ozark with a slightly lighter touch in its criminal theme, and Stranger Things which continued to maintain its sci-fi fantasy balance with its young protagonists in the retro 80s, even with its darker end to its third season. Stranger Things pulled in my vote for this year.

It has definitely been a trying time for the entertainment industry this year, so it will be interesting to see how my votes match up with my fellow Television Academy members this year, when the Primetime Emmy recipients are announced at a more pandemic virtual Emmy Awards Show airing on ABC, Sunday, September 20.

Update: It was an interesting pandemic awards ceremony on ABC, Sunday, September 20, with host Jimmy Kimmel standing alone in the main theater while nominees and other guests connected in from home or other locations, a most interesting virtual show. The awards for three of the categories I voted in were presented during this show, while another category award was presented on the last night of five Creative Emmy Awards shows, which aired on FXX on Saturday, September 19. The Outstanding Television Movie Emmy, presented during the Creative Emmy Awards show, went to Bad Education. During the main Emmy Awards Show, the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy went to Schitt’s Creek, and the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy went to Succession. The only Emmy Award winner that matched my vote was in the Outstanding Limited Series category, in which the Emmy went to Watchmen.

 

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.