Award Show Voting: Deconstructed

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Ever wonder how the winners are determined in the major annual award shows? Obviously it’s no secret who determines the winners for the People’s Choice Awards – it’s entirely up to the people. Period. Every vote you cast counts, and the fans with the loudest voices (as translated by mouse clicks, screen taps, Facebook interactions and tweets) ensure that their favorites will win.

But what about the other big award ceremonies?

Having been a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for a few years, I had the pleasure of voting for the Grammy Awards and it was quite a treat. It felt so exciting to receive the ballot in the mail and be able to play a role in determining which deserving musicians would walk away with the coveted awards. As you may or may not know, there are many many more categories than those that are actually televised in the 3 hour annual broadcast. The producers ensure an entertaining show by packing in a plethora of musical performances, but the compromise is that many Grammy winners never get to have their on-screen moment. But they are winners nonetheless, and as a voting member, it was my job to ensure that the results were fair and balanced. And since many of the nominees are often not very well known (how many Classical Compendium nominees do you know), I would take the time to study all the nominated musicians and songs – which was no small task – before casting my votes. And ultimately when I would watch (or attend – which I was fortunate enough to do a couple of times) the big award show, I would feel a sense of gratification when my picks would win… much like I would imagine many People’s Choice Awards voters do!

A friend of mine recently joined the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and as such – you guessed it – he gets to vote for the upcoming Emmy Awards! This is the first time I’ve had an insider look at the voting process for any award show other than the PCAs and Grammys, so I thought I’d impart some of that knowledge. Essentially, each voting member is sent two episodes for each of the nominees in a given category. (They only get to vote in a handful of categories each, rather than all of them – which makes sense since that would amount to a LOT of TV to consume as part of the voting process). So, for example, the six nominees for Outstanding Drama Series are, in alphabetical order, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland and Mad Men. Now of that list, I myself actually watch four of the six nominated shows. However, this friend only watches two. His task now is to watch the episodes provided to make an informed voting decision, based on those two episodes alone. Now, that may sound reasonable at first, but I have to wonder how someone coming into the situation with an existing passion for two of the six nominated shows can possibly be able to set aside those feelings, consume eight episodes of entirely new shows, be introduced to characters and storylines with which he has no connection whatsoever, and then cast a completely unbiased vote. Sounds really challenging to me. And I’d suspect that many members of the Academy are faced with a similar conundrum, unless they are all TV addicts and watch every single critically acclaimed show on the air (not likely). That said, they are all entertainment industry professionals and understand great TV when they see it, so presumably they are able to make the tough choices without letting their individual favorites muddy up the process. And perhaps in the end it all balances out when say, my friend’s two favorite shows are completely different than the next voter’s two favorites, and so on and so forth.

Ultimately, I guess you could say it really is about everyone’s favorites, whether you’re watching the People’s Choice Awards or not! Now voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us, other than the PCAs, which of these awards shows you would most like to be able to vote for:

The Emmys

The Grammys

The Oscars

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