How the Emmys Adopted Groupthink

When the Emmy Award nominations are announced on July 12, don’t be surprised if the acting categories are dominated by performers from a handful of shows – potentially Heir, Ted Lasso, Saturday night live, White Lotus, Strange things, Miraculous Mrs. Maisel, Happiness, Yellow jacket, Squid game and Dopesick.

Yes, this is the era of “Peak TV,” with more quality shows earning Emmy Award recognition than ever before, but Academy of Television members in recent years have split the number equally. Their acting nominations among shows are almost the same as they did decades ago. only a handful of networks broadcast Emmy-eligible content.

In that bygone era, the miniseries Rich Man Poor Man in 1976 and Roots in 1977, each achieved 13 acting noms, still a record for that show format (some of the acting categories they were nominated for were discontinued). Meanwhile, the record number of actions for a series goes on, for many years to be nine – that’s the number obtained from Hill Street Blues 1982 (there was no guest acting category that year) and Law of LA 1989 – until West Wing reached 12 points in 2002.

So how, all these years later, with exponentially more content on TV, a select few shows can amass nominations in that same niche?

For example, last year, hundreds of programs qualified across 119 categories, but only 12 chains and 12 networks/platforms accumulated more than a handful of single-digit nominations. But those programs and networks/platforms completely dominate.

In specific acting categories, Saturday night live reached 11 noms (including four of five comedians, three of seven comedians, two of eight comedians, and two of six comedians); The story of the maid score of 10 (four out of eight TV series supporting actresses, three out of eight TV series supporting actresses and two out of five TV series guest actresses); Crown earned nine (three out of eight dramatic supporting actresses and two out of six dramatic actresses); and Ted Lasso earned seven (four out of eight comedians and two out of seven comedic supporting actresses), as well Hamilton.

One could look at this situation and reasonably hypothesize that members of the Television Academy are able and/or willing to watch only a finite amount of content, no matter how much. there. But I believe the clusters have more to do with the fact that in 2017 the Television Academy stopped handing out a fixed number of nominations and instead started instructing members to nominate as much as possible. achievement in a category like “you’ve seen and felt worthy of a nomination.”

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Even if voters are watching more shows than in decades past, not all are watching similar show, so this selection process clearly benefits a few “reputation shows” – those from popular networks/platforms that have strong and important word-of-mouth campaigns behind them. later – which all, or at least most of the members are watching, because of the cumulative potential most nomination ballot.

No one is arguing that the 2021 nominees are excellent, but they simply don’t reflect the depth and breadth of the year’s quality television. If you are a voter and you are given only six lines, you are more likely to weigh your options and spread the vote than if you were asked to choose as many options as you feel. worthy, this increases the probability that you are helping the program to be famous.

Unless and until the current nomination process changes, the current sample will repeat.

This year, I expected that the supporting comedy and guest acting categories would once again be overwhelmed by her talent. SNL (Bowen Yang, Kenan Thompson, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Manh, Aidy Bryant and a series of presenters), the supporting actor race in the drama will once again overwhelm the members of Heir population (Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun and Alan Ruck) and the comedy supporting actor race will once again feature members of the cast Ted Lasso (Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Brendan Hunt, Phil Dunster and Jeremy Swiftt).

White Lotus will in all likelihood take up a large portion of the fields for supporting actresses / anthologies / limited dramas (Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario and Natasha Rothwell) and supporting actors (Murray Bartlett, Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn), the latter a catalog in which some stars of Dopesick (Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Will Poulter) may also be included.

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The TV series’ supporting actress category can be filled almost entirely by performers from just three shows: Heir (Sarah Snook and J. Smith-Cameron), Happiness (Sydney Sweeney, Maude Apatow, Hunter Schafer and Alexa Demie) and Strange things (Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown). And half the field of drama actresses can appear from Yellow jacket (Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis and BILLIONHealthy Cypress) alone.

As a result, the path to an acting candidate for prominence from similarly deserving but less qualified candidates (Pachinko, Good fight, Julia, We own this city or Survivor) has never been coarser.

This story first appeared in the June 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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