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The Unbearable Whiteness of the Emmys

The Unbearable Whiteness of the Emmys

9/21/2021 12:05:00 AM

The Unbearable Whiteness of the Emmys

It would appear awards shows are back to their worst habits

I Will Destroy You, a powerful and finely-wrought depiction of sexual assault and its aftermath, was nominated five times but won only once, when Michaela Coel made history as the first Black woman to win for outstanding writing.In her speech, Coel dedicated her award to survivors of sexual assault, but also succinctly described what it must feel like to be not white in Hollywood: “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success,” she said. As a commentary on the Emmys’ attempt at visibility—wherein many of the nominees were not white, but the winners themselves were—it is cutting, but only if you’re paying attention.

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Of the two shows that won the most awards on Sunday,Ted Lassofeels emotionally similar toModern Family, a long-running network sitcom that won 22 Emmy Awards over the course of its 11-year run. It’s easy to watch and makes the viewer feel good. Much like

, which walked away with a few big awards in 2019, the shows are very white and not at all challenging, easy to consume.The Crown, which handily swept most of its nominations, is cut from the similar cloth as awards-show favoriteGame of Thrones: a sweeping melodrama with an enormous budget, lavishly specific costumes, and a plot that necessitates the long-view. Though

Game of Thronesis set in a land where dragons are real and sorcery exists, both shows are rooted in the reverential worship of ancient relics, and that sort of drama is irresistible to awards season voters. In particular,The Crownis a careful consideration of the problems of a bunch of white people anointed to the top of a very white social hierarchy by virtue of their bloodline.

Frankly, it is exhausting to continue to think about the lack of diversity in the winners of awards season, because it’s exhausting to be disappointed year after year. Shows like the critically-acclaimedLovecraft Country, which merged Lovecraft-ian horrors with the real-life terror of racism in the Jim Crow south, are passed over in favor of the same old stories that now feel a little bit like they were made in a factory designed to create winners.

Mare of Easttown, another limited series that swept the categories it was nominated in, is refreshing in that it focused on a blue-collar community and allowed Kate Winslet to talk about, but still centers the age-old awards fodder of the spectacle of dead girls, as seen in other critical darlings like the first season of

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Oh please! Are you insinuating that there were works & performances more deserving of being nominated who would have won if they’d been nominated? It, (the Emmy's, as are most of american cultural affairs) are following it's designed intent. It celebrates what they want. We invest value in it because we want to fit in where we're not wanted. 🙄🤨

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