Why Donald Trump may have a big impact on the Emmys


For someone who purports to hate the Emmys, Donald Trump has given the awards show a lot of attention over the years. As The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report, Trump has been a member of the TV Academy since June 2004, six months after his reality show The Apprentice premiered. That program generated massive ratings for NBC, but it never clicked with Emmy voters. Its first two seasons were nominated for reality competition series, but it lost both times to The Amazing Race and was never nominated again — to Trump's everlasting fury. "I got screwed out of an Emmy," he said of his first loss during an Apprenticeepisode a decade later. "Everybody thought I was going to win it. In fact, when they announced the winner, I stood up before the winner was announced, and I started walking for the Emmy. And then they announced the most boring show on television, The Amazing Race. Piece of crap."

Over the ensuing years, Trump became a relentless critic of the telecast: "If the Emmys want their ratings back, they have to pick shows that deserve it" (2010); "Fewer people watch the Emmys each year, and for good reason ...; they choose the wrong shows" (2011); "The Emmys have no credibility ...; all politics" (2012); "The Emmys are sooooo boring! Terrible show. I'm going to watch football!" (2013); and "Which is more dishonest — the #Oscars or the Emmys?" (2014). In 2015, Trump declared his candidacy for president, and at the final presidential debate in 2016, Hillary Clinton stated, "He didn't get an Emmy for his TV program ...; and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged," at which point Trump interjected — to laughter from the audience — "Should have gotten it!"

22 PHOTOS
Best And Worst Dressed At 2016 Emmy Awards
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Best And Worst Dressed At 2016 Emmy Awards

WORST: "Veep" star Anna Chlumsky took a fashion risk -- and it didn't pay off. Ladies and gents, this is what we like to call a garbage bag dress. She was all over the place with this blush colored, bubble dress that did nothing for her figure.

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WORST: Charo definitely grabbed attention for her bright blue Emmys dress. The 65-year-old singer showed off her tiny frame in a dress that closely resembled a figure skater's costume with a massive ruffle on the bottom. The barely-there look was definitely a fashion miss.  Sorry, girl. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

BEST: "Quantico" star Priyanka Chopra practically stole the show in this jaw-dropping red gown with a simple slit across the shoulder. The silk-chiffon number was a total hit -- we can't stop staring.

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WORST: Actress Sarah Hyland's gown looked like a showstopper from the back -- but then the look fell flat when she turned around. While she was trying to sport an edgier look in the Monique Lhullier number, we're not in love with the black pants she's wearing underneath.

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: She sure knows how to make an entrance! Unlike her "Modern Family" costar, 18-year old Ariel Winter made heads turn in a sparkly silver gown with a sexy slit. Winter revealed picking out her look for the big night was the "quickest decision." Hey -- when you know, you know!

(Photo: Getty)

WORST: Actress Alia Shawkat showed us just how unflattering florals can be. The bizarre look with weirdly placed ruffles certainly doesn't do her figure justice, while the pattern looks totally outdated. 

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BEST: "Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clarke literally turned heads in a sparkling nude Atelier Versace dress with a draped neckline. The dress hugged her physique in all the right places. 

(Photo: Getty)

WORST: Actress Hari Nef turned heads for all the wrong reasons! The celeb donned a red Gucci dress with naked babies -- yes, you read that right.

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: Olivia Culpo's optical illusion dress was one of the best of the evening. We're blown away with the unique look.

(Photo: Getty)

WORST: Where do we even begin? Between the polka dot netting and the horrendous cutouts -- TV personality Stacy London was a walking fashion disaster. We expected more from the former "What Not To Wear" host ...

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: Laverne Cox struck a high note in a see-through gold gown with sequined details and an eye-popping neckline. This is a timeless look we'll be in love with for years to come!

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WORST: TV personality Nancy O'Dell's black dress featured eyebrow-raising mesh cutouts that did nothing for her fabulous figure. 

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: Model Emily Ratajkowski made a surprise appearance at the Emmy Awards in a midnight blue, mermaid style Zac Posen gown with structural and ruffled detailing.

(Photo: Getty)

WORST: "Homeland" star Claire Danes hit it out of the park with her glittering gold gown -- but it was her tan that ruined the look. The unflattering hue of her tan is all we could look at!

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BEST: Leggy lady! "America's Got Talent" judge Heidi Klum showed a ton of skin in a sequined, white Michael Kors dress with a thigh-high slit and a cutout along her rib cage. 

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WORST: Perhaps Gwendoline Christie should've taken some fashion tips from her "Game of Thrones" costars. Christie failed to impress in the bizarre LBD. The awkward ruffles on the bottom and tacky bow on the neckline is reminiscent of an '80s prom look gone wrong.

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: "Scream Queens" actress Niecy Nash looked ridiculously gorgeous in an all-white strapless gown complete with a long train. She accented her classic look with silver accessories.

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WORST: Amy Poehler's beaded olive green number underwhelmed. We sure love a vintage look, but it looks like she grabbed this dress from her grandmother's closet -- in a bad way.

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: Actress Felicity Huffman dazzled in a nude number that she paired with stunning chandelier earrings. Sorry Kim Kardashian, this is one nude look we can certainly get behind!

(Photo: Getty)

WORST: Sarah Paulson wore an emerald green, sequined gown with a down-to-there neckline, but it seems as if she's celebrating Christmas a couple months early. Add a couple ornaments on her bright number and she's ready for the holidays!

(Photo: Getty)

BEST: Va-va-voom! Sofia Vergara stunned in an asymmetrical, form-fitting blush gown with bedazzled embellishments. She paired the look with some snake-like wrist jewelry and oversized earrings.

(Photo: Getty)

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Now that Trump has won an even greater prize — the presidency, which some think he wouldn't even have pursued had he gotten a trophy — there's reason to believe he might actually have more of an impact on the Emmys than when he was in contention. One must acknowledge that the oddities of Trump's first months in office have altered the compass of what seems normal and crazy — on TV and off. Veep, which won best comedy in 2015 and 2016, is all about outrageous ineptitude in and around the White House; now, at a time when a press secretary berates the press for questioning demonstrablystatements and a president walks out of an executive order signing ceremony without having signed an executive order, it's harder to come up with fiction that's stranger than the truth (something Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has noted). Similarly, House of Cards, a show about brazen corruption in the White House that earned drama series nominations for its previous four seasons, seems far less shocking than it once did.

Another problem for shows like these: Voters, like many in the public, increasingly prefer to avoid altogether the depressing subject of White House politics when they turn on the tube. At the same time, shows that deal only indirectly — and critically — with Trump-related issues may be getting a subliminal boost. Suddenly of broader interest are topics like hacking (Mr. Robot), Russian spies (The Americans), misogyny (The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies), racial intolerance (Black-ish and Atlanta), LGBT issues (Transparent), undocumented immigrants (American Crime), Wall Street greed (Billions and The Wizard of Lies) and, yes, a female president (Homeland).

Of course, some prefer escapism, which might explain the popularity of comedies (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) or glorified soap operas (This Is Us) or period pieces set safely in the past (The Crown) or shows that might be called otherworldly (Stranger Things).

As for individual contenders, their public stance about Trump could have a redounding effect. The Late Show's Stephen Colbert went after Trump ("The only thing [his] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster") and surged in the ratings past The Tonight Show's apolitical Jimmy Fallon, who infamously fluffed Trump's hair prior to the election, which some criticized as a "normalizing" gesture. Last Week Tonight's John Oliver, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah, Full Frontal's Samantha Bee, Late Night's Seth Meyers and Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party's Martha Stewart also went after Trump and could see a similar boost in Emmy buzz. Meanwhile, Feud's Susan Sarandon won't be helped by the fact that she has been unrepentant about arguing that there's no difference between Trump and Clinton.

Lest anyone think that considerations like these — what one might call the "send a message mentality" — don't factor into voting, look no further than last February's Oscars. The Iranian film The Salesman had no prayer of winning best foreign-language film until Trump declared his "Muslim ban," at which point the film's director, Asghar Farhadi, said he would boycott the Oscars; Hollywood rallied against Trump's plan by rallying behind Farhadi, and The Salesman won.

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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