The freedom of cable TV allows creators to come up with edgier, more adult material, and that's just the sort of thing Emmy voters are going to be checking boxes for. Popularity of a given show doesn't always translate to awards, but it definitely helps a series to get noticed. In thinking about how a stuffy upstairs/downstairs PBS drama like "Downton Abbey" got to be so popular, I came to the conclusion that viewers are appreciating these shows for the same reason I always have--the variety of human experience.
Britain hasn't exactly been untouched by tabloid journalism and obsessions with thinness and physical perfection. Fortunately, this hasn't transferred completely into their films and TV, where less-than-perfect people are still allowed lead roles and romantic storylines. I think a lot of viewers don't even realize why they are so attracted to a British series. But that emphasis on building a character, someone with flaws and virtues and yes, even a big nose or freckles, gives us people we care much more deeply about. Physical perfection is nice to look at, but hard to identify with, and rarely sucks us in the way a truly unique character does.
Want to read more about the British actors and series nominated for Emmys? Head over to my Yahoo! omg! piece: "Britain is the New Sexy--Dramatic UK Actors Scoop Up Emmy Award Nominations."
PHOTO: Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Season 2 of "Downton Abbey," screencap c2011 Carnival Films, ITV, PBS. Fair use.