Television viewing has spiked since shelter-at-home orders went into effect in March, prompting people to seek out new shows and binge older ones. With so many other pastimes sidelined, TV has become one of the few reliable commodities that people can share.
At the same time, the act of the entertainment industry celebrating itself can seem a little frivolous and irrelevant in the face of such dire events. Although people are still looking for distractions and entertainment, striking the right tone isn’t easy.
Adam Sharp, president and CEO of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which presents the Daytime Emmys, said everyone is undergoing a learning process. With last month’s Daytime Emmys, that included having each nominee pre-tape an acceptance speech. Over the weekend, the organization featured more than 100 live remote feeds for its awards honoring children’s, animation and lifestyle programming, and will apply those lessons to the Sports Emmys in August.
The two academies have been “comparing notes,” Sharp said, adding that when it comes to producing award shows, “Covid-19 does not lend itself well to long-term planning. There’s going to have to be a lot of adaptability as they look ahead.”
For the primetime Emmys, interesting themes could emerge beyond the customary scorekeeping concerns, such as the ongoing battle for awards prestige between HBO and Netflix, which interrupted the pay service’s streak as the most-nominated network in 2018. (HBO and CNN are both part of WarnerMedia.)
The unknowns in the voting could be as hard to read as the general mood of academy members amid these uncertain times, in a year that has prevented the splashy events normally associated with Emmy campaigning.
The awards will also be closely watched in terms of representation regarding people of color, at a moment when the entertainment industry joins other institutions in seeking to address its record of diversity and inclusion.
That might somewhat reduce the pressure on this year’s awards, and whatever stopgap measures host network ABC can engineer. While the old adage “The show must go on” has become somewhat debatable in the age of coronavirus, it will.
The Emmy Award nominations will be announced July 28, and the show broadcast Sept. 20 on ABC.