The ‘Pand’Emmys – How did the 2020 Emmy Awards compare to years past?

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Hannah Steyn, Special Assignments Reporter

The Primetime Emmy Awards ran differently this year, marking 72-years since its creation. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s event was the least viewed Emmy Awards show of all time.

Speculation has risen about whether this was due to the virtual environment of the show, or are people losing interest in award shows altogether. 

For Stacy Phelps, office manager at the Office of International Education, it seems to be the latter. According to Phelps, lack of interest is due to the ease of accessing the best content after the show on social media.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching award shows, even if I haven’t seen all the films or shows that’ve been nominated,” Phelps said. “I think as I’m becoming older, I’m watching them less because everything can be so easily found on YouTube or other social media after.”

Assistant Director for College Engagement Jason Francey agrees, but for different reasons. He says he used to watch all award shows religiously, but as he’s gotten older he too has become less invested in them. 

“It just feels like a bunch of people with money praising themselves,” Francey said.

New “pandemic habits” might be to blame for the low viewership, said Kim Landon, professor emeritus of journalism. One can’t apply ordinary measures in terms of viewership numbers to such an unusual time though, as people are watching media differently and turning more to streaming than ever before.

The award show looked vastly different this year to what it previously has been. There was no red carpet and viewers were initially tricked with a large, fake audience that eventually disappeared to show Jimmy Kimmel on stage at the Staples Center arena presenting to a crowd of cardboard cutouts. 

Landon, who generally watches award shows for the host, was initially drawn in by Kimmel, but curiosity played a large part in it too. 

“I saw a promotion for it on network television and I just had to watch it to see how they pulled it off in a virtual nature,” Landon said.

Some, including Francey, were surprised that it even took place, given that the United States is in the midst of a pandemic. However, he was still impressed and gave the show credit for finding a way to go on.

Phelps agreed that the Emmys were done well given the circumstances and says that it gives a good glimpse into what award shows in the near future might look like. 

She said that while she missed the red carpet, many celebrities posted on Instagram what they would’ve worn. According to her, celebrities’ casual outfits were great too, as it gave them more authenticity.

Canadian show, Schitt’s Creek, made Emmy’s history, becoming the first comedy series to win all four major acting categories in a year, as well as the first comedy series to win all seven major awards in a single year. 

“I was very excited to see Schitt’s Creek dominate the comedy category,” Phelps said.  “Not only is it one of the most genuinely funny shows that’s out, it also has such a loving story and celebrates diversity.” 

To find the list of winners, click here.


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