It's time for Emmy voters to stop being reality TV snobs
It's good to be Bertram van Munster. While so many reality show producers use this time to buy billboards promoting their Emmy-thirsty shows, van Munster needs only to wait by the phone for the inevitable call informing him that The Amazing Race — the show he has executive produced for CBS since 2001 — has earned yet another nomination in the Outstanding Reality Competition category. (If it happens, it will be the show's 17th nomination. It already has 10 wins).
It's not exactly a challenge to predict which shows will make the cut for Emmy's reality show categories (the others being Structured/Unstructured Reality and Outstanding Host), because the field of competitors rarely changes. The Voice, Top Chef, and RuPaul's Drag Race will almost certainly be announced July 13 as nominees in the Reality Competition category while Queer Eye and Shark Tank should be back in Structured Reality. Naturally, RuPaul and the Queer Eye hosts will vie again for best host.
No slight to the impeccably dressed kings and queens of Netflix and Paramount+, but it's time to acknowledge the other people who made the genre a reality in the first place. It's time to recognize The Bachelor. And the Real Housewives. And even the publicity-shy family known as the Kardashians.
What is it about these shows that makes voters want to pinch their collective noses? They certainly can't claim ignorance: No set of shows have commandeered the zeitgeist more than the (mostly) married women of Bravo and the single ladies from ABC. Ditto for Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which practically deserves the Governor's Award for taking a family with no perceivable talent and turning it into a global brand. And yet the only trophies that these shows earn come with names involving critics, MTV, and the choice of people while the snobs at the TV Academy continue to nominate (safe) structured reality shows like A Really Brady Renovation (c'mon) and the 87th season of Antiques Roadshow.
Don't talk to us about lack of buzz, either. I don't remember any of you going on about last season's Black Swan on The Masked Singer, but everyone had something to say about The Bachelor this year — for good reasons and bad. (We'll get into that later). Voters only rely on buzz when considering nominees for the scripted series categories. No one has time to watch hundreds and hundreds of dramas and comedies; they rely on publications like EW to tell them what's hot and what's not. But when it comes to the reality categories, the less chatter the better, it seems.
Actually, let me amend that: the less negative talk the better. A reality show that earns a lot of its attention with bad behavior is almost certainly going to be ignored by voters.
It's unfortunate the actions of Chris Harrison derailed what could have been an effective For Your Consideration campaign for The Bachelor this season. While other competition reality series went dark, series creator/EP Mike Fleiss and his team worked wonders with the bubble format and made the Bachelor mansion obsolete. The world travel was missed, but at least we got to visit the gorgeous Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania, where gals got to rappel down the chateau with the show's first Black bachelor, Matt James. Inspired! Even with the controversy surrounding the now-ousted Harrison, Bachelor is more talked about now than it was 20 years ago when it premiered. Now the only chance of a Bachelor mention on the Emmy stage this September will be in someone's punchline.
Or maybe it all comes down to shame. As one longtime voter tells me, "Maybe Academy members are worried that if they vote for it, they have to admit they watch it." Hogwash, I say. Voters gave Jon Cryer an Emmy for co-starring on the low-brow Two and a Half Men; surely they can acknowledge how delightful it is to watch Kyle Richards and Dorit Kemsley spar on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Acknowledging good production value is one job of the Emmys but so is a show's ability to tell an engaging story to its viewers. Because that's the ultimate goal of reality show producers, right? They're hired to provide entertainment value for lots and lots of people.
Maybe it's time to give an Emmy to a reality show for that.