by Julian Spivey
The 75th annual Emmy Awards were held on Monday, January 15 nearly four months after they were supposed to have happened in September 2023 due to the actors and writers strikes of last year.
The celebration was dominated by “Succession” in the drama categories, “The Bear” in the comedy categories and “Beef” in the limited series categories, which set some – both viewers and entertainment journalists – to grumbling about the same shows winning all of the awards.
This is a trend the Emmys have seen over the last handful of years with sweeps of the major awards happening more and more often like we’ve seen in recent years with “Schitt’s Creek,” “Ted Lasso” and “The Crown.”
But I don’t quite get the hubbub about it. In fact, couldn’t you argue it’s a good thing that select shows are dominating the competition – doesn’t that prove those shows are the rightful victors of the medium and pinpoint them as the supreme shows of the now and surefire future classics?
HBO’s drama “Succession,” which aired its fourth and final season in early 2023, and the FX/Hulu production “The Bear,” which was being honored for its first season that aired back in the summer of 2022, each won six of the seven categories they featured in on Monday night. The only loss for “Succession” was J. Smith Cameron failed to beat Jennifer Coolidge for “The White Lotus” in the Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category and “The Bear” didn’t have an eligible candidate for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category, which went to Quinta Brunson for ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.”
The Netflix limited series “Beef” won five of the seven awards it was eligible for in the Limited Series categories with only Maria Bello losing out on Supporting Actress in a Limited Series to Niecy Nash-Betts for Netflix’s “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” and both Joseph Lee and Young Mazino losing Supporting Actor in a Limited Series to Paul Walter Hauser for his performance in AppleTV+’s “Black Bird.”
All three shows were considered among the best on television in their respective years of eligibility by critics. Now, critics aren’t among the body that votes for the Emmys, but if they believe the shows are deserving I don’t think you can fault the Television Academy voters for also thinking the same.
So, what’s the deal with complaining?
Is it just that the same shows winning the majority of the awards makes for a boring telecast? If that’s the case, let me remind you that this is an award show for artistic merit and not a sporting event. There was an NFL Playoff game on at the same time as the Emmy Awards that you could’ve been watching and judging by the all-time low TV ratings for the Emmys many people were indeed doing so.
Award shows aren’t about participation trophies. It’s not an Oprah situation where you look around and say, “’Barry’ you get a trophy, ‘Ted Lasso’ you get a trophy, ‘Only Murders in the Building’ you get a trophy.”
If you’re thinking, “I wish my favorite show had won instead of ‘Succession’” or something similar it’s a valid feeling. If I had a vote I would’ve been very tempted to have written down HBO’s “The Last of Us” in the Outstanding Drama Series slot instead of “Succession.” But it doesn’t make it wrong that “Succession” won and it certainly doesn’t mean since it won Outstanding Drama Series that Sarah Snook should miss out on her potentially once in a lifetime Emmy winning moment so Bella Ramsey (“The Last of Us” or Melanie Lynskey (“Yellowjackets”) could win to “spread the love around.”
And if you’re complaining about shows winning awards that you haven’t seen take these moments of domination by “Succession,” “The Bear” and “Beef” as a recommendation that you should probably watch those shows. You may not like them – “Beef” certainly wasn’t my cup of tea – but if something is winning that many honors it must have a lot of love from a lot of people.
At the end of the day if a body of voters are picking the same shows over and over again for awards we should realize these shows must be pretty damn good. There’s no reason to complain about excellence.