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Here's Why The 2021 Emmy Nominations Represent A Turning Point For Comic Book Shows

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic left its mark on the entertainment world over the past year. Movie theaters shut down, on-set protocols had to be drastically altered for the safety of all involved, and delays plagued studios' release schedules on the big screen. As a result, there wasn't a lot to enjoy by way of movies relative to the usual slate, giving streaming services and long-form television productions a chance to step up and keep the masses occupied throughout all of the panic and confusion.

This entire situation paved the way for the superhero genre to enjoy a landmark run on television. Marvel Studios unveiled the likes of "WandaVision" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" via Disney+, Amazon Prime's "The Boys" continued its reign over the streamer, now alongside animated favorite "Invincible," and Netflix got in on the action with an adaptation of "Jupiter's Legacy." Most of these titles and numerous others have performed incredibly well on their respective platforms too, making it abundantly clear that the superhero boom isn't going away any time soon.

With that being said, the nominations for the 2021 Emmy Awards arrived on July 13, 2021, hyping everyone up for the ceremony on September 19. When looking at the overall list of nominees, it's evident that comic book-based programs have reached a collective turning point in their long, storied history. 

The Emmys are finally recognizing the artistic value of the superhero genre

To say that the comic book world has taken over the 2021 Emmys would be an understatement. First and foremost, the aforementioned "WandaVision" has secured a whopping 23 total nominations, with "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and "The Boys" receiving five apiece. Additionally, "The Umbrella Academy," "Doom Patrol," and "Lucifer" all received nominations in below-the-line categories — rounding out a history-making year for a brand of programming that the award scene has never quite given proper recognition, as noted by Entertainment Weekly.

For nearly as long as there have been television sets, superhero adaptations have graced their small screens. Heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and later Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Punisher, to name a few, captivated viewers of all backgrounds and media preferences, leaving behind pop culture footprints that endure to this very day. However, those who were calling the shots on the award show circuit refused to bat an eye, resulting in these projects being omitted from the nomination conversation. 

Up until recently, the comic book genre has been considered "low-art" that doesn't really have anything meaningful or profound to say. Look no further than Martin Scorsese's controversial comments about it from 2019 for evidence of this widely-held outlook. 2020 marked a major shift away from this belief though when Damon Lindelof's "Watchmen" adaptation for HBO won a total of 11 Emmys — including that of Best Limited Series — by combining the mass appeal of superheroes with a biting commentary on the history of racial violence in the United States.

This blend of entertainment and societal analysis clearly alerted the TV Academy of its past mistakes, hence the inclusion of many well-made and inventive comic book shows in the 2021 Emmy lineup. To put it succinctly, it's about time, and hopefully, some of the many superhero series in contention will take home a win on September 19.