Ray Richmond is a contributor to AwardsLine
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has received a lot of criticism from the TV industry over the past decade for the way the Emmys have dealt with the explosion in reality and unscripted programming. Primary among the gripes are the fact there are too few categories, too many contenders, and too much of a one-size-fits-all framework.
“Everything is simply too lumped together for Emmy consideration,” charges one reality producer. “You’re putting Jersey Shore in the same category as Storage Wars. It makes zero sense.”
In defense of the academy, it hasn’t been easy keeping up with all of the sub-categories and sub-genres that have evolved since the unscripted boom began. And as primetime has changed, it’s worked to keep up. It added the Outstanding Reality Program category in 2001, Reality-Competition Program in 2003 and Reality Host in 2008. That’s in addition to categories honoring top Nonfiction Series and Nonfiction Special.
Related: EMMYS: Reality Competition Overview
And in May, the TV Academy’s Board of Governors voted to approve the creation for the first time of a Reality Peer Group. The move “speaks volumes for the academy’s sense of importance and critical mass that reality has achieved as an industry,” believes John Leverence, the academy’s longtime senior VP of awards.
The denigration aimed at the academy over how it groups and measures reality programming remains a hot button for Leverence. He stresses that the notion that there isn’t a depth of commitment to adequately recognizing the unscripted world is “a misperception. Going back to honoring Arnold Shapiro for Scared Straight in 1979, there’s been a presence and a place within the Emmy Awards for reality programming.” (more…)