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Guess who won reality TV Emmys yet again? And which new show swept?

Guess who won reality TV Emmys yet again? And which new show swept?
Queer Eye's cast with their 2023 Emmy awards for Outstanding Structured Reality Program (Photo by Television Academy)

Most of the 2023 Emmys were finally presented this weekend, having been delayed by months because of the actors’ and writers’ strikes.

The final prizes, including for reality TV competition show, were presented on the prime-time Emmy telecast on Fox Monday.

All the other reality TV and documentary awards were presented the previous Sunday at the second Creative Arts Awards.

That ceremony happened off-screen on the same night as CBS broadcast The Golden Globes, which is now just a for-profit enterprise. Yes, the very troubled Hollywood Foreign Press Association disbanded and sold the Globes to a subsidiary of Penske Media, the massive company that also owns Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, TV Line, and so many other publications that—surprise surprise—breathlessly cover the Globes and also sell ads to the studios.

A person wearing a sparkly blue suit holds a trophy
RuPaul Charles with his 2023 Emmy for hosting RuPaul’s Drag Race (Image via VH1)

The 2023 Emmy nominations had a few bright spots, but were generally as disappointing as ever, with the Television Academy signaling that it’s uninterested in anything without a celebrity’s name attached.

Somehow, though, Alan Cumming was still snubbed for The Traitors.

The Traitors did, however, win one Emmy! It was for casting, with Erin Tomasello, Jazzy Collins, Moira Paris, and Holly Osifat each taking home a statue. (Last year, I interviewed Jazzy Collins about casting The Traitors and other shows.)

Several Emmys went to people who already have them: RuPaul won for reality TV host for the eighth year in a row. No matter how bored he looks behind that desk, no matter how little he actually hosts, the Academy will keep sending trophies his way.

At the prime-time Emmys, RuPaul’s Drag Race retook the prize for Outstanding Reality Competition Program, after losing last year.

RuPaul accepted and said, “We are so honored to have this award. You guys are just pure lovely for honoring our show and recognizing all these queens.”

He added, “If a drag queen wants to read you a story at a library, listen to her because knowledge is power—and if someone tries to restrict your access to power they are trying to scare you. So listen to a drag queen—we love you!”

Netflix’s Queer Eye won its sixth consecutive Emmy in the structured reality show category. The difference is that this year, the stars won them, too: Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, and Tan France all had producing credits for the nominated season, so they got their first Emmy statues—just in time for Bobby to leave.

Yay for queer reality TV getting representation, boo for boring awards that seem uninterested in examining the wide variety of creativity in the unscripted space.

In the brand-new-to-the-primetime-Emmys game show categories, Jeopardy! won for game show, while Keke Palmer won for the reboot of Password.

Keke Palmer is definitely its best part of the show (and thank the awards gods Jimmy Fallon didn’t win anything). She’s the first Black woman ever nominated in the category, and the first woman to win that Emmy since Meredith Viera in 2009.

A new show, Welcome to Wrexham, won the most awards: five Emmys. It’s a decent show, so I wonder if Ryan Reynolds’ involvement is what brought it to voters’ attention, not its actual content and craft.

And here I go again: thinking awards are based upon quality! Maybe reality blurred can buy its own awards show? While I scheme, here are winners in the major unscripted categories.

2023 reality TV Emmy winners

Emmy statue Television Academy

Below are major reality TV and unscripted categories. The full list of winners [PDF] includes names of nominated and winning individuals, such as producers and cinematographers.

Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program

  • Winner: 100 Foot Wave: “Chapter VI – Force Majeure,” • HBO
  • Secrets Of The Elephants: “Desert,” National Geographic
  • The 1619 Project: “Justice,” Hulu
  • Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Apple TV+
  • The Territory, National Geographic

Outstanding Cinematography For A Reality Program

  • The Amazing Race Series Body Of Work, CBS
  • Deadliest Catch: “Call Of A New Generation,” Discovery Channel
  • Life Below Zero: “The Pursuit,” National Geographic
  • Survivor Series Body Of Work, CBS
  • Winner: Welcome To Wrexham: “Do Or Die”, FX

Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program

  • Judy Blume Forever, Prime Video, Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok
  • Moonage Daydream, HBO Max, Brett Morgen
  • Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Hulu, Lana Wilson
  • Winner: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Apple TV+ Davis Guggenheim
  • The Territory, National Geographic, Alex Pritz
  • The U.S. And The Holocaust, “Episode 3: The Homeless, Tempest-tossed (1942 – ),” PBS, Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein

Outstanding Directing For A Reality Program

  • The Amazing Race: “Patience, Is The New Me,” CBS, Bertram van Munster
  • Queer Eye: “Speedy For Life,” Netflix, Ali Moghadas
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race: “Wigloose: The Rusical!,” MTV, Nick Murray
  • Top Chef: “London Calling,” Bravo, Ariel Boles
  • Winner: Welcome To Wrexham: “Wide World Of Wales,” FX, Bryan Rowland

Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program

  • Moonage Daydream, HBO Max
  • 100 Foot Wave: “Chapter III – Jaws,” HBO Max
  • Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Hulu
  • The 1619 Project: “Justice,” Hulu
  • Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy: “Calabria,” CNN
  • Winner: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Apple TV+

Outstanding Picture Editing For A Structured Reality Or Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race Body Of Work, CBS
  • Queer Eye: “Speedy For Life,” Netflix
  • Winner: RuPaul’s Drag Race: “Wigloose: The Rusical!,” MTV
  • Survivor 43: “Telenovela,” CBS
  • Top Chef Body Of Work, Bravo

Outstanding Picture Editing For An Unstructured Reality Program

  • Deadliest Catch: “Call Of A New Generation,” Discovery Channel
  • Life Below Zero: “A Storm To Remember,” National Geographic
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked: “The Daytona Wind 2,” MTV
  • Vanderpump Rules: “Lady And The Glamp,” Bravo
  • Winner: Welcome To Wrexham: “Do Or Die,” FX

Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special

  • Being Mary Tyler Moore, HBO Max
  • Judy Blume Forever, Prime Video
  • My Transparent Life, Prime Video
  • Pamela, A Love Story, Netflix
  • Winner: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Apple TV+

Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series

  • Dear Mama, FX
  • 100 Foot Wave, HBO Max
  • Secrets of the Elephants, National Geographic
  • Winner: The 1619 Project, Hulu
  • The U.S. and the Holocaust, PBS

Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series Or Special

  • The Light We Carry: Michelle Obama & Oprah Winfrey, Netflix
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, Netflix
  • Winner: Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy, CNN
  • Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi, Hulu
  • United Shades Of America With W. Kamau Bell, CNN

Outstanding Casting For A Reality Program

  • Love Is Blind, Netflix
  • Queer Eye, Netflix
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race, MTV
  • Top Chef, Bravo
  • Winner: The Traitors, Peacock

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

  • Antiques Roadshow, PBS
  • Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives, Food Network
  • Love Is Blind, Netflix
  • Winner: Queer Eye, Netflix
  • Shark Tank, ABC

Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

  • Indian Matchmaking, Netflix
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, MTV
  • Selling Sunset, Netflix
  • Vanderpump Rules, Bravo
  • Winner: Welcome To Wrexham, FX

Outstanding Host For A Game Show

  • Jeopardy!, Mayim Bialik
  • Family Feud, Steve Harvey
  • Jeopardy!, Ken Jennings
  • Winner: Password, Keke Palmer
  • Wheel Of Fortune, Pat Sajak

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Competition Program

  • Queer Eye, Netflix, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness
  • Nailed It!, Netflix, Nicole Byer
  • Top Chef, Bravo, Padma Lakshmi
  • Baking It, Peacock, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph
  • Winner: RuPaul’s Drag Race, MTV, RuPaul

Outstanding Game Show

  • Family Feud, ABC
  • Winner: Jeopardy!, ABC
  • The Price Is Right, CBS
  • That’s My Jam, NBC
  • Wheel Of Fortune, ABC

Outstanding Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race, CBS
  • Winner: RuPaul’s Drag Race, MTV
  • Survivor, CBS
  • Top Chef, Bravo
  • The Voice, NBC

This story was updated Jan. 15, 2024, with details about Drag Race’s win at the prime-time Emmys.

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Happy discussing!

Carol

Thursday 11th of January 2024

Welcome to Wrexham is great quality and deserves every Emmy it received.

Kim

Monday 8th of January 2024

Hey.. No shade on Wrexham.. you can really tell that McElhenney loves the team, and now the people and the city. Maybe because I'm a soccer fan I love it more than an average viewer but season two dove into the deep divide between the women's and men's teams..Something Sunderland never did (did they even acknowledge that women may *Gasp* play football?) It looked at the private lives of players and their families (with some truly heart wrenching stories of child loss and the struggles with autism.) I loved it so much.

I think it is a well deserved win, especially considering it was up against crap like Vanderpump rules. Barf.

Carol

Thursday 11th of January 2024

@Andy Dehnart, did we watch the same show? Not develop the characters well? What?

Carol

Thursday 11th of January 2024

@Kim, I agree too. I think the author of this article has not seen it. It is one of the best reality shows I have ever seen!

Andy Dehnart

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

Fair point about Vanderpump! And I wasn't trying to shade Wrexham as much as I was pointing out that it was yet another example of celebrity equaling Emmy attention for reality TV shows. In this case, well-deserved attention—just as I wish Alan Cumming's presence on The Traitors had helped it get attention.

As to Wrexham itself, I thought season one was good, though it really didn't develop characters well, nor do that well with the football itself. The Emmy was for season one, as nominations and voting happened long before season two even premiered.

Bad Mitten

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

@Kim, I agree with you, Welcome to Wrexham is very deserving of its awards