“It’s as much a win for Internet television as it is for the content creators.”
Those were the words uttered by Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer of Netflix, after this year's Emmy nominations were announced Thursday morning.
OK. Hold on. Wait a minute. Before we move on, I must ask you to forget. To forget the bullet-point heavy rundown of what the nominations mean that this blog has provided in the past. To forget the analysis that we typically offer around this time of year regarding what we should expect when the trophy show takes center stage. To forget, in essence, what popular culture has asked us to know for years and years and years when it comes to television consumerism. And, of course, for the love of God, to forget precisely how unfunny and snarky a single blogger can be (that's me!).
Forget it all. Why? Because all that stuff is yesterday's news at this point. Because this isn't any normal awards show season. Because this year's ceremony is going to feature something it has never, ever featured before. Because, after about 30 months and more than 200 posts about what was slowly but steadily happening to the television industry, it finally feels like a shift within the fabric of the mainstream is right before our eyes.
Because yes, web-based original programming has officially been called up to play in the majors.
"House of Cards," the Kevin Spacey-starring reboot of a 1990s British series that has become, for all intents and purposes, the poster-child for the advent of quality Web TV, sent waves through the tele-verse when it landed nine -- nine! -- nominations for this year's prime-time Emmy Awards ceremony. Oh, but that's not all. The much ballyhooed fourth season of "Arrested Development," another Netflix venture, managed to land three nods, the most notable of which going to the show's de-facto lead, Jason Bateman. And Hemlock Grove, the only Netflix series I haven't bought into (and yes, it's probably going to stay like that) was also recognized with a couple nominations as well.
As the news began to trickle out into the Twitterverse yesterday, I couldn't help but be filled with an inexplicable amount of joy. Not only does it justify the existence of this blog (which was something, of course, that Ms. Emmy definitely had in her mind as she made these decisions), but it also will single-handedly go down as the Moment Things Began To Change. Groundbreaking is the cliche, but it's also the correct word.
Netflix's refusal to release any tangible numbers on the successes of the shows has kept a lot of its encouragers in the dark, and, frankly, a lot of its skeptics front and center. Big Red turned around Thursday morning, grabbed its crotch, made an inappropriate gesture, and without mincing words, told those detractors to shut up, not without the use of an expletive. It's sooooo easy to criticize in today's fickle and disinterested version of popular culture (and trust me, the zeitgeist seemed to take an inordinate amount of glee in thrusting said criticism toward both "Cards" and "Development"). Therefore, it's got to feel sooooo good to have something positive now present itself to an approach to TV that has been questioned and scoffed at almost relentlessly for days, weeks, months and years.
And while "House Of Cards" and Netflix were the ones making the bigger headlines throughout each of the last 24 hours, there was a slightly ignored development that could prove to mean just as much to the medium moving forward: This blog's favorite 15-minute, Web-based show about famous people driving around and gulping up outrageous amounts of caffeine, Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," is up for an award in the short-format nonfiction category.
Boom, as we like to say, goes the dynamite.
We can wax poetic all we want on how monumental the news is, but in its simplest form, the whole thing goes like this: 2013 will forever be remembered as The Year Internet Television Broke Through, what with this acclaim, the growing success of the addicting "Orange Is The New Black" (yeah, expect a love letter to that thing in the coming weeks), and, of course, the rise and expansion of Aereo, the antennae-based Web TV startup that just won't quit. Until Thursday, you could have made a solid argument for how far away the niche is from becoming the norm. After Thursday, however, it's going to be just a little bit harder to ignore the sea change that is upon us. It's one thing to develop a business model and then throw it into the masses for consumption. It's another to be recognized by the business model's top-level peers for its impressive amount of fundamental competency.
It's become increasingly hip to ditch traditional cable television packages in recent years, sure, but now the whole cord-cutting thing is working its way into becoming genuinely desirable from a practical level. How did the demand for HBO become so intense? Somebody gave birth to Tony Soprano. It would be both unfair and impossible to lay the same type of expectation at the feet of Francis Underwood, sure, but every network needs an "Oz" before it can land a "Sopranos," remember. Foundation is key to building anything sustainable.
And from "House Of Cards" to "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," it's now clearer than ever that the base of this movement is as sturdy as anything the world of television has ever seen. All thanks to Netflix. All thanks to a house build with far more than a mere deck of cards.