Eric Deggans

Like everything else, the ongoing pandemic and the nation's civil rights reckoning has completely upended this year's Emmy awards.

And it may be the best thing that has happened for the contest in quite a while.

Most years — held back by groupthink, star worship and Hollywood's unending popularity contests — the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences overlooks quite a lot in its nominees for TV's ultimate awards, the Emmys.

Which is why, years ago, I created my own TV honors, called the Deggys.

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Thanks to the ubiquity of super powered metahumans flying through the air to smash box office records and scoop up Emmy nominations, it is easy for non-geeks to roll their eyes when a new comic book hero-centered project emerges. Not again, you think. We've seen this all before.

But in the case of Amazon Prime Video's The Boys, you really haven't. At least, not how things evolve in the show's more expansive second season premiering Friday, Sept. 4.

The GOP lost the TV ratings race this week, as prime time viewership for the Republican National Convention was consistently below figures for the Democratic party's virtual convention last week, according to figures released by Nielsen.

Watch actor Sterling K. Brown, and one of the first things you may notice is his eyes.

In a scene from the last season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Brown plays Reggie, a hard-nosed manager who fires comic Midge Maisel from the opening spot of a major tour.

As Reggie explains his reasons in an emotional speech, tears well up in his eyes. His language is rough, but his eyes reveal something more: He's feeling guilty and defensive.

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Let's talk now about talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has built her show around being welcoming. Have a listen. This is from her acceptance speech for Favorite Daytime TV Host at the People's Choice Awards.

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Finally today, Beyonce's long-awaited visual album "Black Is King" dropped yesterday on the Disney Plus streaming service. It includes a song Beyonce released earlier as a music video called "Already."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALREADY")

In avoiding one racial controversy, Emmy voters created another one.

Voting for 2020 Primetime Emmy nominations got underway in early July, just as the nation was focused on the anti-racism reckoning begun by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The general public was seeking out films and TV shows centered on Black people and issues to learn more; TV critics like me wondered how that dynamic might affect the Emmys.

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If you've already watched the hit Netflix gameshow Floor Is Lava, you know the rules: "Don't fall in," host Rutledge Wood warns contestants, as they enter an obstacle course filled with 80,000 gallons of gurgling goop, "because the floor ... is ... lava!"

It's a goofy grown-up take on a kids' playtime staple, rebranded for adults as "the hottest game show in history." Successfully traverse a chamber without falling into the sloshing "lava" below, and teams of three earn points. Fastest team wins a $10,000 prize — and a lava lamp. That's it.

For a guy who has spent more than 35 years handing out answers as host of the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek holds back a lot of them in his new memoir, ironically titled The Answer Is ...: Reflections on My Life.

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TV Review: 'P-Valley'

Jul 12, 2020

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Ramona Gray Amaro has a spot in reality TV history. She is the first Black woman to compete on CBS's unscripted hit series Survivor, which took 16 people and isolated them on an island in Malaysia, vying for a million-dollar prize, on the show's first season in 2000, Survivor: Borneo.

But when she saw how she was depicted in the show, which takes footage filmed on the island and edits it into episodes aired months later on network TV, Amaro also felt she was also one of the first Black people stereotyped by Survivor.

America's reckoning on race has come to TV animation, as stars Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell, who are white, have agreed to stop voicing characters who are biracial.

And while some fans may be disappointed to see their favorite performers leaving TV shows they enjoy, the moves also end a subtle way in which actors of color have been marginalized. It's an attention-getting moment when performers have recognized their white privilege and moved to end it.

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The classic TV legal drama "Perry Mason" gets a major makeover from HBO in a miniseries which debuted yesterday. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it bears minimal resemblance to the buttoned-down original.

If there is one emotion that hangs over our world these days — other than fear and anger, perhaps — it is grief.

There's the grief that comes from watching the death of George Floyd captured on a bystander's video, pleading for his mother and his breath, while a police officer kneels with a knee on his neck.

There's grief over what that moment said about police and the policing of black people, along with grief over the protests and violence in some American cities as people demand answers.

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ABC may believe it has faced down some criticism by naming Matt James as the first black man to star in its dating "reality TV" franchise The Bachelor. But its challenge in dismantling the show's racist and sexist elements has only begun.

My longtime criticism of the Bachelor franchise speaks to the heart of the show's design. It is a princess fantasy, built around the idea of a woman finding fulfillment by landing the perfect man, filtered through an upper-middle class, predominantly white lens.

Since 1989, Cops has made riveting television from verité footage of arrests and emergency calls — often capturing scenes of police interacting with clueless suspects — filmed by riding along with police officers.

But the long-running unscripted show has been canceled after 32 seasons. The Paramount Network dropped it amid widespread protests nationwide about policing.

The show's 33rd season was scheduled to debut next Monday.

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