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The Winners At The 2017 Emmys Prove That TV Is Moving In A More Progressive Direction Than Films

By Usama Masood ⋅ Posted on September 18, 2017 at 12:20pm

TV has been evolving constantly for the past couple of years. The Emmys, which were once considered inferior to the Academy Awards, now hold the same magnitude of importance as the Oscars. And as the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards showed, they are also miles ahead of the Oscars in terms of diversity and dare I say, quality of storytelling. But it isn't just the Oscars the TV awards usurped this year, the #Emmys of 2017 were a glaring reminder of how the Academy of Television Arts is not compelled to stick to the tired old format of its older days, and has in shorted bested both the Oscars and the Emmys of yore.

TV has always been more progressive than films. It's a fact that's true, but seldom acknowledged. I'm not talking just about the so called "Peak TV" but rather the everyday shows that we watch and love. TV, with its myriad numbers of shows on all sorts of streaming and cable platforms, covers far more genres than movies do, and it covers them well. Producing top-notch shows in everything from sci-fi, horror, to fantasy and superhero shows, TV has consistently outshone movies in every possible way. And that has been consistently reflected in the Emmy nominations each year.

Unlike #Oscars, that hardly recognize genres like sci-fi and fantasy in major categories, the Emmy Academy has come to fully embrace them, not even shying away from nominating shows like American Horror Story, as macabre as it may be. Sure, the Emmys have their own faults too — they have shown no interest in nominating everyday shows like The Walking Dead, which has resulted in sinking viewership — but the Award show's flaws are heavily outweighed by its merits.

The Diverse Emmys

'69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards' [Credit: CBS]

Just last year, a large of LGBT actors won Emmys for their performances, and this year it has been more of the same, with Kate McKinnon taking home the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Lena Waithe becoming the first black woman to win the Emmy in Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Master of None's "Thanksgiving" episode. #BlackMirror's GLAAD-approved San Junipero also took home the trophy for Outstanding Television Movie.

But it wasn't just a big night for #LGBT winners: Asian descent actors like Aziz Ansari and Riz Ahmed won Emmys for best writing and best actor in a limited series, respectively, with the latter becoming the second Asian to ever win an acting Emmy. Sterling K. Brown also became the second Black man to win the award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in #ThisIsUs, almost 19 years after Andre Braugher, for Homicide. One may argue that Emmy's have been diverse for some time, and it's true. The TV Academy didn't need an '#Oscarssowhite' campaign to get them to wake up, and as last night's awards show proved, it's not just black people the Emmy's are inclusive of.

The Year Of The Women

'69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards' [Credit: CBS]

Let's not forget tonight's big winners: women. Whether it was in Outstanding Drama Series or Outstanding Limited Series, the women were the queens of the 2017 Emmys. Both #TheHandmaidsTale and #BigLittleLies focused on the oppression of women in society (albeit a fictional society in the case of The Handmaid's Tale), and their stories were ones that resounded with the critics and fans.

Both series had some of the best actors working in Hollywood right now and the awards that each show got were all well won. But the success of The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies also showed a shift in the Television Academy's criteria for wins.

The Shift in Emmys

'69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards' [Credit: CBS]

In the past, the trifecta of a celebrated showrunner like Ryan Murphy, some veteran actors and a show about the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood would have swept the Emmys. And yet this year, FX's #Feud failed to win any award. Mind you, this pandering to the awarding body's cultural history is still quite popular with the Film Academy, and would have easily earned the show a dozen or so Oscars, had at it been a film. But with the competition so high and TV constantly evolving, it's good to see that the Television Academy isn't falling for the same old guard choices anymore.

Indeed, this year's Emmy's were filled with such good actors that the #TV Academy didn't even bother putting last year's lead actor winners in the nomination list. Which only goes to show how much tougher winning an Emmy has become particularly in a landscape where streaming is as big, if not more of a player then in films. Anyone needing proof of that can just look at The Handmaid's Tale's win in the Best Drama category.

TV has been praised quite a lot for its diversity both in front of and behind the scenes. But as the 69th Emmy's proved, TV (unlike films) is also all about the change and thankfully, finally, it's starting to show in the wins. And as Stephen Colbert stated at the very beginning of the show, which the night's big wins clearly reflected, everything really is, "better on TV".

Tell us in the comments: What do you think, is TV more progressive than films?

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