Diversity Was A Buzzword At This Years' Emmys, But That Didn't Mean More Wins For Diverse Nominees

Despite giving us a literal song and dance about diversity, the Emmys fell short this year.

While opening the Emmys, Kenan Thompson pointed out that this year’s awards have the most diverse range of nominees in its 70-year history. This leads him to conclude that we’ve solved it, and he and Kate McKinnon burst into song.

The song included the line “You’re welcome Asian people, we gave you that one show” and mentioned the fact that Sandra Oh is the first Asian woman to be nominated for a lead actress Emmy. Kenan follows this with, “You see? There were none. Now there’s one. We’re done!”

The whole musical number is like this: tongue-in-cheek, teasing the Emmys for taking so long to reach these diversity milestones, while also poking fun at people who ‘harp on’ about diversity (see: “Checking every box, it’s the ‘One of Each’ dancers!”).

Towards the number’s end, Kenan receives a phone call informing him that he’s spoken too soon, and that we actually haven’t solved it. And considering which nominees actually won awards, the mysterious caller was correct: while the nominees are more diverse, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Television Academy considers those diverse nominees to be winners.

Across 12 acting categories with 77 nominees between them, 23 nominations went to people of colour. Of those 23 nominees, just 3 won: Regina King for Seven Seconds, Darren Criss for American Crime Story and Thandie Newton for Westworld. (Note: Darren Criss has said he doesn’t identify as Asian-American because he “looks more Caucasian”, but he is both white and Filipino.)

Instead of making history by making Sandra Oh the first woman of Asian descent to win a Lead Actress Emmy, the Academy played it safe and gave the award to Claire Foy for The Crown. And instead of making Issa Rae or Tracee Ellis Ross the first black woman to win Lead Actress in a Comedy Series since 1981, they gave the award to Rachel Brosnahan.

The fourth person of colour to win a major award was RuPaul, for Outstanding Reality Competition Series.

The range of people chosen to present awards was more diverse than the Emmys’ winners circle, which is pretty bleak. And many people have pointed out that not only did people of colour lose to white winners, they lost to white stars starring in overwhelmingly white casts. This criticism holds up when you consider how white the casts of The Crown, Barry, Godless, The Americans, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Game of Thrones are.

This year’s Emmys was the most diverse the show has ever been, but that isn’t necessarily a win; if anything, it’s a condemnation of just how bad previous years were in terms of diversity.

23 nominees being people of colour out of 77 means that fewer than 30% of acting nominees were people of colour, while 3 out of 12 winners being people of colour means 25% of this year’s acting winners were people of colour.

In regards to other areas of diversity, things weren’t much better. There were six LGTBQ nominees across the 12 acting categories: Tituss Burgess, Kate McKinnon, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Paulson, Evan Rachel Wood and Ricky Martin. None of them won, but at least RuPaul and Queer Eye did, I guess!

Peter Dinklage is one of the few actors with disabilities to have received an Emmy, and Born This Way, a docuseries about seven adults living with Down Syndrome, was nominated for three awards.

Awards aren’t the be-all and end-all of diversity, but they do give us an idea of what the Television Academy considers worthy, and what institutions deem worthy is a large component of diversity – if the powers that be don’t deem your project worthy, you won’t get funding, support, award nominations, or critical attention.

This has been a consistent problem for marginalised creators in Hollywood, and only now are they really seeing an increase in institutional support. Evidently, that support doesn’t extend to giving them awards. I guess the Academy expects them to just feel honoured to be nominated.

The 2018 Emmys Line-Up Highlights Just How Much Australia's Access To The Latest TV Shows Has Improved

Spoiler alert: it's improved a lot.

As a lifelong television addict, I’ve spent a not-insignificant portion of my life trying to figure out how to watch Emmy-nominated TV shows. And I haven’t been alone in that struggle – remember when Australia kept getting called out because so many of us were illegally downloading Game of Thrones? 

Our bad.

Access to award-winning TV shows has definitely been improving, but exactly how much easier has it become for Australians to watch or stream immensely popular shows? I’ve gone through all the Emmy nominees and crunched the numbers, and I’m ready to present some juicy stats.

Out of the 164 shows and specials I analysed…

27 were available on free-to-air television in Australia, including Killing Eve on ABC, The Handmaid’s Tale and Atlanta on SBS, and This Is Us on Channel Ten.

were available on Amazon Prime Video, namely The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

were available on Stan, namely RuPaul’s Drag Race and Will & Grace.

73 were available on Foxtel, including every HBO title (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Insecure and Barry) and every variety talk show except for Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

40 were available on Netflix, including Black Mirror, GLOW, Stranger Things, and The Crown. Netflix received the most Emmy nominations, with 112 overall.

And just 16 were unavailable in Australia. The majority of these are reality shows like America’s Got Talent and The Amazing Race that we have local versions of, but many PBS programs are also unavailable here.

Emmys prep.

So if you wanted to watch as many Emmy-nominated shows as possible, it would cost you at least $70/month to subscribe to all of those services (not including Foxtel’s setup fees). Thank god for family plans!

In addition to more shows being available to Australians than ever before, they’re also available sooner, with Foxtel now delivering cult shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander at the same time or immediately after they air in the US.

It looks like the Golden Age of Television has well and truly reached Australia.

And here’s a quick guide to where you can watch today’s Emmy winners in Australia:

  • The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)
  • Game of Thrones (Foxtel)
  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Foxtel)
  • Barry (Foxtel)
  • The Americans (Foxtel)
  • Westworld (Foxtel)
  • Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (Foxtel)
  • Saturday Night Live (Foxtel)
  • The Crown (Netflix)
  • Seven Seconds (Netflix)
  • Godless (Netflix)
  • Black Mirror (Netflix)
  • John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City (Netflix)
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (Stan)

Me talking to my TV.


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