TV to the rescue: Thank you for making 2020 bearable

  • TV
  • Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

2020's top honour - the award for Keeping Us Occupied During the Worst Year Ever - belongs to television itself. Photo: Pixabay

No matter who or what dominates the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, there's already one clear winner rolling up to Sunday's (Monday local time) virtual ceremony.

2020's top honour - the award for Keeping Us Occupied During the Worst Year Ever - belongs to television itself.

Thank you, television, for soldiering forward with prestige programming, total mindless junk and everything in between while the rest of the planet was forced to shut down and isolate in the face of Covid-19, deadly weather events and one political crisis after the next.

Through environmental catastrophe and social unrest, no one medium has done (or is doing) as much to keep us as entertained, connected, informed and distracted as you have since the sun set on malls, hair salons and leaving one's own home in March.

You stepped up when cinemas, live concerts, sporting events, museums and theater had to step back, providing comfort for the anxious, stimuli for the stir crazy and babysitting services for parents suddenly faced with homeschooling. I know we complained a mere nine months ago that there was too much to watch, on too many platforms, across too many screens, but please forgive us. What seemed overwhelming in the Before Times is now a godsend.

If there's any one time when the entertainment industry deserves to pat itself on the back without looking like a total self-centered jerk, it's this year's Emmy Awards.

"We get to celebrate television in a year that it really deserves to be celebrated because television's gotten us through this year in a lot of ways. It has really been one of the unifiers," Emmy telecast producer told my colleague of this year's ceremony.

Hudlin is right. From cable and broadcast networks' round-the-clock programming to the infinite offerings of digital streamers and subscription services, television has saved us from ourselves.

Tiger King was ready to pounce in March when "shelter in place" became a household term. It mercifully showed us a world more dysfunctional and perhaps more creepy than our own. See, things could be worse.

Too raw? Comfort-food sitcoms like Friends and I are more accessible than ever thanks to the expanding universe of subscription viewing. Audiences with too much time on their hands finally had the opportunity to catch up on volumes of peak TV, from Emmy nominees like Succession, Better Call Saul and Schitt's Creek to the bottomless list of must-see shows they missed when it was still safe to step outside.

Television's done more than just keep the masses entertained. Those of us who've wanted to stay engaged amid all the pandemonium have had just as many if not more options. National and cable news outlets continue to cover more, with less access, via Zoom, socially distanced news conferences and masked reporters in the field.

Friends. Photo: FilepicFriends. Photo: Filepic

But the award for most impressive metamorphosis in impossible times has to go to late-night TV and its hosts, including, and. They all of a sudden found themselves broadcasting from their home offices and backyards, minus an audience and pre-Covid-19 grooming. Yet they still managed to skewer the news, and, with eviscerating accuracy.

The industry's ongoing push to diversify, and its sprint to create content for increasingly hungry "niche" audiences, has also resulted in a wealth of programming that feels made for the moment – not least limited series Watchmen, this year's most-nominated programme, which confronts the history of systemic racism and police brutality through a sci-fi lens.

Now it's the turn to transform a formerly in-person event into a compelling virtual celebration. The ceremony will be hosted and broadcast virtually from the homes of nominees across the country and around the world when it airs Sunday night on.

Just as radio provided an escape during the Great Depression, tapped its way across the silver screen during World War II and music became a mouthpiece for social revolution in the 1960s and '70s, television pivoted from a passive form of entertainment to a powerful expression and reflection of our time.

Television is hardly a first responder, but it has been on the frontlines of the pandemic, fighting to keep us afloat. And the are a small way to say thank you. – dpa

The live telecast of the 72nd Emmy Awards airs tomorrow (Sept 21) at 7.05am on FoxLife (Astro Ch/unifi TV Ch 455).

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