The Emmys Were Radical with their Awards for Just One Year

This year’s awards were a shadow of what came before.

So the Emmy Award winners have finally been revealed and it was back to being as predictable and bland as ever. Last year the standard was set incredibly high. The biggest shows were those who dealt with politics and/or feminism in some way. Black Mirror won for its amazing twist of the bury your gays trope, The Handmaid’s Tale triumphed for depicting a right wing totalitarian regime and Big Little Lies won a string of awards for its portrayal of intimate partner violence. This year’s event was largely forgettable.

The Emmy’s had no choice last year but to get political with their awards choices. Trump was in his first year and the sheer volume of political content to the biggest shows made them impossible to ignore. Everyone applauded as political content finally won big and audiences started to believe that maybe change was coming. This proved to be far too optimistic.

This year, the Emmy’s could retreat. Game of Thrones was back and it was Claire Foy’s last chance to win for playing the Queen. Capitalism won out. The sheer size of Game of Thrones made it so easy for the Emmy’s to lurch back to the obvious winner regardless of the depth (or lack thereof) to its content. It is the biggest show in the world, and that is awarded every day in the amount of money it produces. Perhaps the Emmy’s should go just a little bit further in their reach. Claire Foy’s win also felt like a jab after last year’s awards. The Queen is a figure of imperialism, of the middle class and of an entirely out of touch establishment. It was the most shallow win of the night.

All of the acting in the shows is brilliant. The production, the way that they are styled – we are in a glorious age of television. But the awards shows should not focus on capitalism but the depth of the material that we are given. The Emmy’s ran from that the second they could. Perhaps jibes at the President were only good for Twitter on the night, but not actually when it came to recognising who should win out.

There was some joy. Thandie Newton finally got the recognition she deserved and so too Samira Wiley for winning best guest actress with The Handmaid’s Tale. Black Mirror also surprised to win again, with an episode that was a brilliant takedown of misogyny in white geek spaces. These wins gave some hope among the banality. But overall, the Emmy’s felt like they had taken two giant leaps backward. It’s not enough for political shows to be awarded when there is no choice. The Emmy’s should help to lead content from the front. This year, it showed it has no appetite to do so.

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