As we say goodbye to this year’s Emmy season and move on to the next, prepare for an even more crowded competition ahead. There’s no rest for the small screen set, as the recent frenzy of big-budget fantasy TV series has proven.
It’s clear TV Academy voters still tend to fall back on previous winners — which is why this month’s 2022 victories for “Ted Lasso” in comedy and “Succession” in drama were not a surprise. But things are getting even more crowded as a new TV awards season is already well under way.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and Amazon Prime Video’s epic “Lord of the Rings” precursor “The Rings of Power” have already made a splash with their premieres, and according to early reports, have settled in as strong performers. In this TV environment, where it’s nearly impossible to knowingly manufacture a hit, they both feel like wins.
But we also live in an age where ratings are now apples and oranges, and to try and mix Nielsen numbers with streaming data — especially with “House of the Dragon,” which can be consumed the old fashioned linear way, as well as streamed — is difficult. And then comparing those numbers to whatever a platform like Amazon is sharing is impossible. Without that measuring stick, bragging rights may have to wait until the next round of TV awards — particularly in the crafts fields.
During its run, “Game of Thrones” managed to break through the genre barrier at the Emmys, but it was mostly an exception to the rule — just ask those behind shows like “The Mandalorian” and “Stranger Things,” which tend to clean up at the Creative Arts Emmys but not feel the love at the Primetime ceremony.
Nonetheless, “House of the Dragon” and “The Rings of Power” will be surely be front and center next year as the networks and streamers start to map out their FYC plans. Ditto AMC’s “Interview with a Vampire,” part of a new Anne Rice franchise; as well as Netflix’s “The Sandman.”
And now, in 2023, get ready for the Emmy races of all Emmy races. After several years of COVID-related production delays that pushed some shows out of contention and allowed the Emmy competition to breathe, expect next season to be a traffic jam of epic Emmy proportions. FX boss John Landgraf has predicted that this year will end with a record tally of at least 600 original scripted series on TV — and they’re all in the hunt.
New shows are one thing, and there are plenty of them coming. But there are also the Emmy faves that took this past year off for one reason or another: Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Netflix’s “The Crown,” Prime Video’s “The Boys” and Disney+’s aforementioned “The Mandalorian.” Those returnees will be up against favorites that will immediately be back next season like “Succession,” “The White Lotus,” “Hacks,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Succession,” “Severance,” “Yellowjackets” and “Barry.”
And then there are the final seasons of shows like “Better Call Saul,” “Atlanta,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Walking Dead” (another genre show that never got its Emmy due) and potentially “Ted Lasso” — if we’re to believe, as has been hinted, that Season 3 is its last — all of which will also be in the trophy hunt.
But trying to even predict next year’s Emmy race is a bit of a fool’s errand in the streaming era, when platforms often keep their premieres and rollout plans a secret until the very last minute. That’s especially true in the spring, as last-minute premieres pop up in order to make it just under the wire into the eligibility period.
Not only is it a competitive choice, but it also comes out of viewer habits: The earlier you announce a premiere, the less likely that awareness will still be front of mind for audiences when the show is actually available. (Worse, users looking for said show and not finding it won’t bother searching it out again.)
Hopefully we’ll be hearing about long-overdue tweaks to the Emmys’ variety talk and variety sketch categories, the two competitions most in need of an overhaul. But next up, the attention turns to film awards season (where TV still has a presence, because even the film world wants a taste of TV’s dominance)… including the Golden Globes ceremony, which returns to NBC in January.