If anyone needs proof that peak TV is a global phenomenon, then a glance at the nominees for the 2018 Intl. Emmy Awards should provide enough evidence.
This year’s nominees come from all five continents — from Amazon Studios’ Indian cricketing drama “Inside Edge” and Spanish hit “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”) through to Netflix’s Mexican comedy “Club de Cuervos” (“Club of Crows”) and BBC Arabic’s Syrian war documentary “Goodbye Aleppo”.
“International television is booming,” says Bruce Paisner, president and CEO of the Intl. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which hosts the Intl. Emmy Awards on Nov. 19.
Paisner says there were 1,400 entries to this year’s awards, a 20% jump over last year. The quality of the entries is rising, too, he believes.
“Great TV is partly a question of enough money, and as more and more money has floated towards these countries, it has floated towards TV and TV has got better and better,” he says, citing the impact of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon on local production, as well as the fact that countries from Brazil to China are spending more money on original TV programming.
Paisner adds there has been an increased investment in on-screen talent, as well as locations, writers and directors. The “explosion” in production values has only aided in the quality of content. However, not all shows have to be big-budget to catch the attention of the Intl. Emmys — nor do they even have to have been produced with a global market in mind.
“Man in an Orange Shirt,” which is nominated in the TV movie/miniseries category and “Apple Tree Yard, which sees an actress nom for Emily Watson, were both produced by the U.K.’s Kudos Film & Television for local audiences. The two shows are, in the words of Kudos chief executive Diederick Santer, specific stories — “Man in an Orange Shirt,” for example, is a two-parter about a British gay love triangle.
“But in the specific, there is a universal. Yes, it is a gay and British story, but it is a universal story about falling in love with the wrong person,” he says.
Both series ended up resonating internationally, with “Apple Tree Yard” selling to 149 countries and “Man in an Orange Shirt” to 80.
Alex Pina, the creator, producer and writer of the most watched non-English language show on Netflix, Atresmedia and Vancouver Media’s “La Casa de La Papel,” has a similar take. The story of an audacious heist on the Spanish Royal Mint, saw “wholly unexpected” success beyond Spanish borders, says Pina.
“As more and more money has floated towards these countries, it has floated towards TV and TV has gotTEN better and better.”
“It is an ensemble series — including 20 very emotionally strong female characters — and the point of view is not masculine but feminine,” says Pina. He notes that the focus on character could be the draw for many audiences, as could the “disenchantment toward government” theme. He does not believe there is a secret formula for standing out in such a competitive era.
“We create characters that are very powerful, very controversial, excessive, iconic, disturbing, addictive, neither good nor bad but both. We tell highly emotional stories that take risks and transgress,” he says.
Creators all over the world are becoming more ambitious about the content they make for TV and are not afraid to embrace complexity in their storytelling. And Santer believes the change is only just beginning for worldwide TV.
“I’ve just come back from Mipcom where I was talking to German, Swedish and Norwegian producers [who] are all talking about moving away from soaps and procedurals in their market, and moving towards bigger scale dramas that are more filmic and that resemble the big shows coming out of the States and the U.K.,” he says.