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TV Awards Season-Costume Categories


Emmy voters need to have more than just ordinary fashion sense when itcomes to judging the costuming categories for series, miniseries andvariety, reality or musical show.
Mary Rose, governor of theacademy’s costume design peer group, says voters should look for threethings: The costumes need to enhance the story; how hard the costumerdesigner had to work to achieve the look, and how real a portrayal ofthe character the costumes achieve.
Rose, who was costume designeron the classic series Fantasy Island as well as many other TV shows,says that if a show’s clothes are merely pretty or dazzle by theirbeauty, but cannot boast these other elements, then they may notnecessarily be worthy of an Emmy.
Betsy Potter, co-governor of thecostume design peer group, weighs in on behalf of costume supervisors:”How the designer has portrayed the character should be the maincriteria — difficulty of character, whether contemporary or period, arethe issues you try to judge on.”
Rose offers this technique as asort of test: “If I can show someone a costume from a show, and theycan identify the character from the costume, then we’ve done our job.”
AsEmmy voters, there are certain seductive practices voters should beaware of when casting their vote, the main one being that period shows,and their costumes, tend to attract a lot of attention.
“Contemporaryclothing always gets the short shrift,” concedes Potter. Both Rose andPotter know from their own accumulated experience in costume designthat to dress a contemporary show can be equally as creativelychallenging as to dress a period show.
Rose conjectures that theremight be a need for a new category to differentiate between periodshows and contemporary shows. “How can Tudor, for example, compete witha half-hour sitcom featuring everyday people? It’s unfair, but I don’tknow how to fix it,” she says.
Potter agrees: “When the nature of a show is so different, how do you judge them against one another?”
Anotherimportant element that voters should consider is the look of the wholeseason of a show, rather than award the Emmy solely for the episodethat has been nominated. This is because, for example, producers havebeen known to scrimp on episodes during a series season and then chooseone episode to dress lavishly — for example, all the characters inelaborate cocktail dresses or ball gowns — in hopes of garnering anEmmy nomination, and this tactic often works. Therefore, voters areencouraged to understand that though a particular episode is nominated,it is influenced by the series’ overall look.

Written by Paige Donner

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