The Emmys will finally be celebrating reality TV casting with its own category this year, but which shows will make the final cut? The official 2017 ballot includes a number of beloved Emmy favorites but also has a few notable exclusions. Casting for a reality show has long been one of the most important aspects of the genre. Without dynamic personalities, heroes, villains, and compelling backstories, shows with the best concepts in the world can easily fail. The first season of “Survivor” is a prime example. Would America be as engrossed as they were without huge characters like Richard Hatch, Sue Hawk, Rudy Boesch, and Colleen Haskell? Would “Dancing With the Stars” be half as enthralling without the likes of Bindi Irwin, Nyle DiMarco, and Normani Kordei?
The ballot for Best Reality Casting includes many past and present Emmy nominees for Best Reality-Competition Program, like “Dancing With the Stars,” “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” and “American Ninja Warrior.” Other Emmy favorites like “Shark Tank,” “Undercover Boss,” “Born This Way,” “Intervention,” and “Naked and Afraid” are also included.
Shows not on the Reality Casting ballot that have done well at the Emmys in past years include “The Amazing Race,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” A total of 38 shows are included on the ballot. Of those 38 shows only one was nominated by the Casting Society of America’s Artio Awards earlier this year — MTV’s “Are You the One?” The winner was “Billion Dollar Buyer,” which is not even on the Emmy ballot.
The Reality Casting category is voted on by the Casting Directors peer group, which also votes on casting for comedies, dramas, and limited series/TV movies/specials. Past nominees for those categories have shown almost complete overlap with their respective series categories. In fact, last year’s winner of these casting categories went on to win Best Series in their fields — “Veep” for comedy, “Game of Thrones” for drama, and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” for limited.
As such, the Reality Casting nominees will likely include perpetual Emmy favorites like “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Voice.” Support for shows like “Project Runway,” “Top Chef,” and “Survivor” has waned in recent years, but with other contenders being less known they could easily show up on Emmy nomination morning. Of course, there are so many different types of reality shows listed, from competition shows to “celebreality” to low-budget cable programs that the nominations could conceivably go in any different direction.
It’s notoriously difficult to predict how a person will conduct themselves after they’ve been cast on the show. Unlike with scripted series, where writers, directors and actors can mold their characters to create a satisfying story, reality shows can only work with the personalities than have been cast. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that casting directors choose the best and brightest people who they know will pop on screen. Emmy recognition of this difficult task was long overdue, and now, reality casting directors will get their time to shine in the brand new Best Reality Casting category.
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