The 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards aired on Aug. 30, 2009, on the CW network, and I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Of the many Emmy nominations that were handed out, PBS got the most with 56, but the CW only got one and it was for a technical award that no one cares about.
The CW is a new network. On Sept. 18, it will celebrate its third birthday. Out of its two years on the air, the Emmy Awards has traditionally snubbed the broadcast channel, which has been mainly geared toward teens and college students. The Emmys has never really been about appealing to that crowd, so I don't understand the reason to air the award show on the CW.
People who would normally watch the Daytime Emmys wouldn't watch the CW and vice-versa. The move might cross-pollinate the two audiences; either to get the Emmy audience to acknowledge the CW or give the CW audience a taste of something else. I'm not sure.
Ratings for all award shows have been dropping over the years. The CW is the lowest rated of all the broadcast networks, yet has the most varied and young. An argument can be made that the Daytime Emmys wanted to diversify its viewers, but more than likely the major networks didn't want to lose any of theirs by airing this least important and least exciting award show.
Robert Rorke of The New York Post commented on May 15 about the Daytime Emmy nominations. He remarked how soap operas, a staple of daytime TV, have "received another nail in their collective coffin." The Emmy Awards nominated only three in the major category. In years past, we've seen four or five.
The reason is obvious. Just this past year, two soap operas have been cancelled. The once abundant source of juicy drama is now coming up short. Ratings are low for the sexy serials. Perhaps, it's due to the fact that the shows simply aren't as sexy as they used to be. Yes, there are still plenty of beautiful people, bikini-clad babes and shirtless hunks still abound, but, the number of sex scenes depicted on daytime have diminished. Because of the economy, the core audience can't afford to sit at home and watch soaps. Plus, thanks to the Internet as well as cable and satellite, people have much more options.
Nevertheless, daytime dramas could not be more controversial. Many of them just within the past month have undergone what I've dubbed a gay explosion. This summer, eight gay characters have appeared, almost out of thin air, in continuing storylines on three different daytime dramas. Homosexuality, which has been called sinful and a reason for going to Hell on only one soap opera, Guiding Light, is now becoming a mainstay on the airwaves where your children are watching.
Last year, As the World Turns made headlines when it featured the first gay male kiss on daytime TV. All My Children also got a ton of press when it aired the first lesbian wedding earlier this year. With its core audience eroding, perhaps the networks feel they should try to attract a new audience, a gay one.
It's perhaps part of a trend that includes the Daytime Emmys nominating Here! TV for the first time with its program Ribbon of Hope Celebration. Here! TV is a digital cable channel available through subscription that fosters only gay or gay-friendly content. Founded in 2002, it is one of two digital channels solely designed for gay audiences. Both have produced original content for nearly a decade, but this is the first time either has been recognized by the Emmys.
What this does is open the door for recognizing alternative content. When the Daytime Emmys first started back in 1974, there were only dramas, game series, and talk shows on the four major networks that got recognized.
A few years ago, the awards added the category "Outstanding Special Class." This category basically honors those TV shows or programs that didn't fit the drama, game or talk show mold. Within the past two years, the awards have created "Outstanding Legal/Courtroom" as well as "Outstanding Culinary Program." Each category acknowledges alternative shows that have been growing in syndication and on basic cable.
Perhaps the best example of the Daytime Emmys' attempt to branch out and be more inclusive and open to alternative things is the "New Approaches" category. According to Paul Pillitteri of the Emmy Awards, the "New Approaches" category recognizes the use of the Internet.
The standout this year has been Sesame Street. The long-running children's series was honored for SesameStreet.org, which includes flash-based games and activities to help children prepare for school that are of course associated with the TV show. There's access to nearly 3,000 classic and current Sesame Street videos, as well as a highly interactive component that guides users to live events and a regular podcast.
However, the "New Approaches" category has also bridged some gaps between mainstream TV and what we've all come to know as YouTube. YouTube was established as a way for friends to share home videos to other friends but has since become a rebellion against mainstream TV. YouTube is a way for people to generate their own content and not be dependent on the major networks.
This year, the Emmys have decided to recognize YouTube, giving it two nominations. The first was for I Met the Walrus, which was also nominated for an Oscar earlier this year. The second was for Imaginary Bitches, which is a web series that has its webisodes posted regularly on its site as well as on YouTube. The series features actors and actresses from daytime soaps.
I don't know how popular this web series is, but with this "New Approaches," it could be TV heralding its own end. It may not be one of fire and brimstone, but an evolution. Companies like Comcast and Verizon already offer TV and Internet services combined, all available through one wire. How long till both mediums are completely interchangeable and literally become one?