I remember watching the Emmys in 2011 and seeing those really handsome and interesting people on the carpet I hadn’t heard of before. Sean Bean, sure, he was that human in Lord of the Rings and Peter Dinklage, he was that guy from Station Agent, but apart from that, Game of Thrones didn’t ring a bell with me (and viewers all over the world) yet. I just remember seeing Kit Harrington’s glorious locks of flowing hair and promised myself to take a look at this new fantasy series.
Four years later Game of Thrones did the unthinkable (not really, but still) and became the first fantasy show to win in the Best Drama Category at the Emmys.
Long Emmy nights
I’ve made a habit of watching awards shows like the Emmys, the Golden Globe Awards, the Academy Awards and what else seems fun, every year. I don’t believe that the best series, actors and movies, writers, directors and technicians always win the awards they deserve. Award shows tend to become popularity contests and especially the Emmys are notorious for praising the same actors and shows over and over (when I saw Claire Danes and Kevin Spacey yesterday I actually got annoyed to see them – they’re really good at what they do, but not always brought what it took to “deserve” the award they took home that night), creating a fatigue that shouldn’t have to exist.
– With movies it seems to reach a different level by the way, I might tackle that in its own article another day (hardcore campaigning à la Harvey Weinstein springs to mind). –
But, and here comes my but, award shows (hopefully) are fun to watch, bring attention to matters that matter, if a person with an agenda wins, and apart from the self-aggrandizing character of the whole event, showcase what a great time for TV it is right now. And they highlight shows that otherwise wouldn’t get the time of day – be it from the appearance of handsome actors like the Game of Thrones cast four years ago (what a shallow thing to say, shoot me) or actually honouring shows like Olive Kitteridge and Transparent like last night that don’t get as much attention as “sexy” shows in all matters like Homeland, House of Cards, Mad Men etc.
For me sitting in the filter bubble of my German point of view it was thought-provoking to see how Viola Davis, winning as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for her role as Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, addressed the ongoing lack of diversity on TV shows.
“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line,” Davis said, quoting Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech. “Let me tell you something: the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
This notion was underlined by the surprise and glee the win of actress Regina King for American Crime as well as Uzo Aduba’s recognition in form of a follow-up win for her portrayal of Suzanne Crazy Eyes Warren on Orange is the New Black got last night. Similar to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar win for Boyhood and the attention she drew to a lack of gender equality both in film and real life, Davis’s and King’s speeches draw attention to a lack of diversity in representation. Even if it’s just for snap-shots moments like these, highlighting these issues by speaking uncomfortable (in the best way) truths makes award shows worth their while.
via GIPHY – Viola Davis heading straight for Taraji P. Henson upon hearing that she won for How to get away with Murder
via GIPHY – Kerry Washington for Viola Davis
There will always be the lingering feeling that shows don’t get the attention they deserve. I still have to catch up on The Americans, Orphan Black, The Knick, Mr. Robot and others that don’t get the consideration they deserve. Still, I hold on to my opinion: it’s a good time for television and it only keeps on gaining momentum.
When I updated my boyfriend on my first set of thoughts on the Emmys in our lunch break, he stated: „The wins [of shows like Transparent and actresses like Viola Davis] only show: Give the right people money and freedom to do it and something great will come out of it.“ It might not be that easy, but especially the newer outlets like Netflix and Amazon, but also AMC and HBO have disrupted the traditional TV business in a most brillant way. Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bojack Horseman and even Mad Men or Breaking Bad never drew in the numbers that would have sufficed to guarantee a next season. Still they kept on getting produced and provided for some class A television. So, for what it’s worth, keep on going in that direction. And if for that matter we need some superficial award show, there’s still issues to be tackled and gender and diversity gaps to be overcome and adjusted (and fashion to be discussed).
Now let me check go check on the post-award photos of all the stars eating burgers and fries and pretending to not give a f***.
For all of my thoughts while I was trying to stay awake and focus on the handsome man of my dreams (Jon Hamm), reread my Twitter updates @annimanifesto.
image by Pawel Kadysz, unsplash.com