Any chance we have to ooh and ahh at our favorite celebs and over our favorite entertainments is welcome, particularly as we recover from the cavalcade of distressing news we got this week. Enter the Emmy award nominations.
But these noms should also inspire some amount of awe for putting on display the tremendous shifts happening on the boob tube.
First, we have the talk of the town: Netflix. The one-time snail mail DVD service (and Qwikster… remember that?) has made history with a best drama nomination for its original series House of Cards. In fact, it earned a total of nine nominations, including recognition for acting. It helps when you’ve got Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in the cast. The fact that a Netflix series can attract that kind of talent speaks to the depth of broadcast entertainment and the willingness out there to try something new.
“[T]he fans of ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Arrested Development’ could tune in wherever and whenever they pleased on any device with a decent Internet connection — so long as they also had a Netflix subscription,” says The Washington Post. “And while that may not seem revolutionary in a world with more than 1 billion smartphones, the nominations highlighted the weakening hold that traditional distribution systems have on the wallets of viewers.” The article goes on to say that the nominations will likely prompt others, like Amazon, to create their own shows. Netflix got a total of 14 nods, including three for Arrested Development and two for a horror show called Hemlock Grove. Another Netflix program, Orange Is The New Black, is already getting positive advanced attention.
Also among the nominations are a huge number for cable programming, continuing a trend that started a few years ago. Names we’ve come to know like Mad Men, Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones are all too familiar. (We’ll try to ignore the fact that The Walking Dead was totally and unjustifiably snubbed.) Businessweek suggests that network television is now only excelling at comedies (Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, for instance), but Veep, Girls, and Nurse Jackie would argue differently.
Finally, it took nearly 20 years, but an African-American woman has been nominated for lead actress: Kerry Washington got the nod for playing DC fixer Olivia Pope, based on a publicist (!!) , Judy Smith.
“I’m really excited that a show that is as inclusive and diverse as our show, with regard to not just race, but ethnicity and sexual orientation and age and gender, is able to succeed in the United States and now abroad as well. I’m proud to be part of a show like that,” said Washington in a call with The New York Times. Indeed, this kind of diversity reflects where we are as a culture and where we’re heading. It’s not going to take nearly as long to see even more inclusion and greater shifts in TV and the accolades.
For publicists, it’s important now to stay on top of these shifts and trends. There will be all sorts of opportunities opening up for a wide variety of clients now that television isn’t tethered to the old model.