For the first time in Emmy history, a streaming service – that would be Netflix – has more nominations to its credit than any other network. That’s a notable milestone, as our Joe Adalian pointed out, especially since Netflix has only been in the original programming business for five years and HBO has been the reigning Emmy nomination king for the past 17. (On the other hand, Netflix only surpassed HBO by four nominations. Given how much Netflix spent on programming and how many shows they put out in the past year, HBO’s Emmy return on investment is still pretty impressive.)
Still, that narrow victory confirms something that even the most casual observer of the TV landscape has been aware of for a while: that Netflix has become the dominant force in the medium and that viewers increasingly stream their television rather than watch it by traditional means. In other words, the Netflix Emmy triumph is at once significant and a case of the Emmys telling us something that we already knew years ago. The Emmys does that a lot: make moves that suggest the voters are forward-thinking even as certain choices highlight the degree to which they’re still a few steps behind the times and TV audiences.
Look at the field of nominees and you can find multiple examples of this. Voters finally acknowledged that Modern Family no longer should be nominated for outstanding comedy, which is something they should have figured out four years ago at least. On the other hand, that omission made room for three series that were brand new: GLOW, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Barry. On the other other hand, in the same category voters also nominated the reboot of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which, while amusing at times, hit pretty much the same beats the show hit during its original run. (They didn’t nominate another reboot, Will & Grace, that also worked with familiar instruments, which speaks to the Emmys’ lack of interest in traditional sitcoms and an overall inclination away from network TV and toward prestige-y cable and streaming offerings.)
Numerous nominees in the acting categories for ongoing series are people of color, including Sterling K. Brown of This Is Us, Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton of Westworld, Issa Rae of Insecure, Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson of Black-ish, Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, and Zazie Beetz of Atlanta, Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live, Tituss Burgess of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Sandra Oh of Killing Eve, the first Asian-American to receive an outstanding lead actress in a drama nomination. That’s great, and so is the fact that five of the nominated comedies were created or…
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