Emmy Nominations: Nobody Knows How to Watch TV Anymore

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For starters, let me put on my old hat. This won’t be a column full of complaints, but there will be some. That’s because the Emmy nominations came out this week, and while they offered all the usual happy surprises and vicious slurs, they also contained something else: the names of many shows that came out more than four months ago, and a few surprising ones from the source.

Back in my day (see? silly), most shows came out in the fall and people had months to get into them. Premium cable networks and streaming services changed that, airing shows willy-nilly or at times when network programming was on hiatus and more likely to be noticed. This year, things have reached a whole new level with tons of great shows starring A-list talent—Showtime’s First ladyApple TV+ The Essex Snake—landing in spring. Generally speaking, enjoying new television in the spring and summer is a pleasure, but this year there was too much and many viewers threw in the towel.

Not just casual viewers, but also members of the Television Academy. “I just don’t think there’s any way a single voter can really take a stab at watching at least one episode of anything,” one member said Vanity Fair earlier this month. Not that anyone should care that what the Emmy voters think — “like what you like,” I always say — but when even the people whose job it is to watch television can’t follow, there’s a problem.

Last month, my colleague Jason Kehe said that nobody knows how to watch movies anymore. He is right; people now just look at things in weird areas, sneaking in viewing areas wherever they can. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it leaves everyone with a handful of half-finished—and often never finished—shows. It is not surprising, then, that many newcomers last year were like serials Northerners and Yellowjackets which came out in the fall and winter and came out once a week, which allowed for a slow hype. If you discovered them two, or even four weeks late, you didn’t feel like you missed out entirely. (Also, Northerners and Yellowjackets they’re really freaking good.)

Honestly, I don’t know if any of this rises to the level of a problem. If nothing else, it’s a distraction, and no one complains about too much good television. It’s just, well, so much is lost. How is it Reservation Dogs, Our flag means deathand We Are Lady Parts no Emmy nominations? How is it The Staircase get only two? No offense Euphoriafrom the world, or Ted Lassos, but this is depressing. Maybe it’s time we all started our annual TV marathon in the fall.

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