Regularly scheduled programming: How streaming platforms are changing the TV landscape

A golden Emmy Award statue stands between actress and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and talk-show host John Oliver
Graphic by Elaine Yang

Every year, on a designated day in September, TV lovers (including myself) get to park themselves on the couch for three-plus hours and watch the biggest night of winners, snubs and stars: the Primetime Emmy Awards. 

The 71st Emmy Awards were on Sept. 22 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The two biggest awards of the night, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series, were given to “Fleabag” and “Game of Thrones,” respectively. 

The Emmys are always a night of celebration, and for some, disappointment, but it begs for discourse on how watching TV has dramatically developed and changed the fairness of award shows. After all, of the more than 100 awards given out during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards, 46 went to shows from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. 

The first Netflix original series “House of Cards” premiered in 2013. Since then, Netflix has released more than 200 original shows. Other platforms such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO have come out with their own unique content as well. 

Streaming shows clearly have more freedom when creating their content, allowing them to be more experimental and provocative. Network sitcoms (like “The Good Place” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) usually fall between 20 and 25 minutes, with the exception of special season premieres or finales, and have restrictions on obscenity and profanity.

Streaming comedies, however, (like Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) have the ability to average around 45 minutes and can include more cursing and nudity. This greatly changes the way shows are made and can lead to them being judged on an uneven playing field. 

Streaming companies’ ability to reinvent TV production makes them interesting — viewers and judges are much more likely to tune into something that’s never been done before.

The increase of streaming platforms has also changed the popularity of network shows. It’s not uncommon for me to extensively recommend a show to a friend and have them check out when I say it’s on “real” TV. 

Some viewers are less patient and dread having to wait a week to find out what happens next. Despite it not being long since watching TV weekly was the only option, binge-watching is now an integral part of TV culture, and watching every episode of a season in one night is common practice. 

When I watch award shows, I often haven’t heard about many of the shows nominated, which can be alarming for such a big TV fan. I feel better when I remember that it’s mainly because streaming platforms make so much original content that it’s hard to keep up, let alone recognize every single show. 

Therefore, it’s necessary for the Emmy Awards to change with the times and the development of TV, and I think this year’s ceremony is a step in the right direction. 

The definition of a winnable show has changed, and shows like “Modern Family” can no longer conquer the award show stage with one-liners and dad jokes. 

The Emmys needs to give all kinds of shows a chance to win. The good thing is that the increase in awards for British TV, shows created by and about women and original streaming content proves that there’s not much to worry about in the future of TV.

And the increase in streaming services isn’t a bad thing. It’ll take some getting used to. But in the words of Bryan Cranston at this year’s Emmys, “television has never mattered more and television has never been this damn good.” 

Claire DuMont SC ’23 is TSL’s TV columnist. She’s an intended American Studies major from Manhattan Beach, California. She loves her dogs and cats, Kristen Bell, Reese Witherspoon and talking about TV (obviously).

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