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Why #EmmysSoWhite and Persistent Sweeps Reveal Larger Problems With Emmy Voting Procedures

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At Sunday’s Emmy Awards ceremony, the mood may have been #EmmysSoWhite, but the dearth of non-white winners this year is not the only critical issue the Television Academy needs to address.

All award shows are at a crossroads. Viewership is declining, the wants and needs of consumers are not being heard nor understood by the industry, and the push for diversity is still met with hostility and an ignorant interpretation in some quarters in Hollywood. Awards shows, for better or worse, are the forum where we see these tensions sometimes play out in public — like the look on Kerry Washington’s face when she realized that Michael K. Williams, the beloved character actor who died Sept. 6 at age 54, did not prevail in his supporting drama actor category. It wasn’t solely that POC hadn’t won any acting categories that infuriated spectators. It became clear to the viewers that voters just went “down the line” on their ballots for the same shows in every category. And with the TV Academy having a simple honor system for voters to attest that all the shows were watched in a given category, the establishment seemed to have chosen the shows they were familiar with and names they knew.

The frustration at the lack of winning actors from BIPOC backgrounds was evident on TV Twitter, especially among creatives. But the issues for the TV Academy seem to be as much wrapped up in the nitty-gritty details of who among its 20,000-plus members gets to vote for what makes it into the Emmy competition. And on top of that, there is the “Too Much TV” factor that may be overwhelming some voters with too many shows to consider. Who has the time to watch and evaluate the entirety of 133 dramas, 68 comedies, 41 limited series and 41 television movies? Those were the actual number of submissions that were made for the Emmy nomination voting round this year. With that many contenders, that helps explain the kind of sweeps we’ve seen lately, with “Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” dominating this year and “Schitt’s Creek” last year.

Gloria Calderón Kellett, showrunner of “One Day at a Time” and the upcoming “With Love” on Amazon Prime, tweeted during the show “to the ‘allies’ who told me that they are losing jobs to diversity & there is too much diversity in TV PLEASE look at the winners of........

© Variety

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