As you may or may not know, yesterday (September 22, 2013) was the 65th edition of the Primetime Emmy Awards. A night dedicated to honoring “the best” in American primetime television, the Emmy’s has become must see T.V. for those who simply must see T.V.. And as is the case now with all major awards shows, the day following the event is dedicated to recapping the night’s biggest winners and losers. Now while I lack both the style and expertise to comment on who wore what better, and the time to touch on every nominated show at length, I can tell you with complete certainty that one clear loser on the night was diversity.
An issue that becomes more glaring with each year that passes, a lack of diversity is nothing new for the Emmys or Hollywood. Despite the growing number of actors and media professionals emerging from a variety of cultural, social and economic backgrounds , the diversification of talent has not translated to the awards show stage. And lets just say the apparent lack of diversity is not going unnoticed.
But for all of the frustration that was voiced about this year’s Emmy’s, a look at the new Fall television lineup doesn’t inspire much hope for anything different come next years awards. With Kerry Washington and her Emmy nominated performances in Scandal, not a single new show for the fall centers around black or minority protagonist. Simply put, you can’t expect an awards show to be diverse when primetime isn’t.
Now while it is difficult to see the Emmys drastically changing any time soon, that does not mean that change is not coming. The reluctance of Hollywood to diversify not only presents a direct opportunity for digital and independent content creators but also for audiences to redefine what type of work deserves recognition. If the most watched content ceases to be produced by major studios and is no longer found on television both Hollywood and the Emmys cease to be the primary forces for determining quality in mass media. And while this may seem like a fanciful notion, one only has to look at the success of content creators like Issa Rae and the investments that companies like Netflix and Google have made in original digital content to see Hollywood’s loss will most certainly be the internet’s gain.
But until this change occurs, we all better pray that Scandal and Kerry Washington get renewed for season 3.