TV has made 2020 bearable. The Emmys have never been more important

By Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

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

2020's top honor - 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 Reginald Hudlin told my colleague Michael Ordona 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 Love Lucy" 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.

With Broadway shuttered and cineplexes closed in much of the nation, TV has made it possible to watch major Hollywood features such as "Mulan" without leaving your living room, and for families locked out of the stage craze due to the steep price of theater tickets to stream "Hamilton" for a fraction of the cost.


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