Mediocre Video Game Show Bandersnatch Wins Emmy

Mediocre Video Game Show Bandersnatch Wins Emmy
Screenshot: Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Bandersnatch, last year’s interactive episode of the anthology science fiction show Black Mirror, won the Emmy for best TV movie. That’s pretty great news, if you put much stock in the Emmys.

The Emmy Awards, created by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in part for the “image-building and public-relations opportunities,” supposedly awards outstanding achievement in television, which does not explain why The Big Bang Theory has 10 Emmys.

It’s not a huge surprise that Bandersnatch won this award, as Black Mirror has dominated this category for the past two years, with wins for the episodes San Junipero and U.S.S. McCallister. What does feel significant about Bandersnatch’s Emmy win is less the quality of the show than the format the show was delivered in.

Bandersnatch was masterfully executed on a technical level. It was a story about a game developer in the 80s slowly losing his mind while developing a choose-your-own-adventure game. It was also presented to viewers as a choose-your-own-adventure game, letting users choose how the story went via prompts on the screen that you could select with your remote control or video game controller. Although it was a clever idea, it ended up being a victim of its own cleverness, too impressed with the initial conceit to do the work of creating a compelling narrative.

While it’s cool to see a video game presented an award from a nationally televised awards ceremony, I try to put things in perspective. While many talented actors, writers and directors have won Emmys, there are just as many missteps and confusing results.

I only have to think back to last year for an example of the latter, where The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel won the award for Outstanding Comedy Series over Barry, Atlanta, Black-ish, Glow, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Mrs. Maisel is fine — my boyfriend’s mum likes it a lot. Fine is different from Outstanding, which pretty much every other nominee actually was. They don’t always pick the best stuff.


  • I quite liked Bandersnatch, I thought it was written in a smart enough way to entice you to want to run through it aha I to get every option, the fact that messing with the game gave you different options (trying to fast forward or rewind scenes, gave alterations that weren’t expected). It wasn’t one of the most dread-filled episodes of black mirror, but I’m actually a little thankful of that.

  • This article doesn’t explain why it needs to have a swing at the Big Bang theory. I mean, you might not enjoy it, but clearly enough did to get 12 seasons out of it.

    Kotaku writers truly are the worst.

    • I think she is swinging at it the same way that she swings at the The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. She isn’t saying it’s a horrible show but maybe a little lowest common denominator. Just because lots of people like something doesn’t make it quality and worthy of an award.

    • I think the Emmys and the Oscars both have a pretense that they’re honouring the best and brightest talents in the industry. They put on an air of importance and ascribe some of that importance to the shows and movies they honour.

      Big Bang Theory isn’t, even in the eyes of its creators, seen in that sort of light. It is a show that I despise, but it is a show that absolutely achieves what it sets out to be. It’s light, mildly sexist, mildly homophobic, mildly reductive comfort television (actually it’s often very sexist and very homophobic and sometimes a bit racist too, but that’s largely besides the point). There’s nothing wrong with that sort of show, aside from the sexist, homophobic, racist and reductive parts in this particular one, but the sort of importance the Emmys try to identify themselves with just doesn’t fit with the series they were honouring.

    • Because a big bunch of dumbasses liking something must mean it’s good right? No. Ridiculous. Big Bang Theory is literally trash and the opinions of anyone who would enjoy it are worthless. .

  • I remember enjoying CYOA books as a 10 yo, and I think that’s where the market lies for this type of thing.
    Bandersnatch perhaps deserved recognition as a technical achievement…. IMO the only thing memorable about it is the format. Same deal with the Bear Grylls equivalent.

  • Surely the energy expended by some Kotaku writers being pissy about nearly fucking everything all the time could be better used elsewhere?

    Like powering a city.

  • Technically it’s worthy of every bit of praise, but the writing was just awful, some of the worst there’s ever been in any Black Mirror episode (and the post Netflix seasons have had some rubbish episodes).
    Maybe I missed something because I lost interest after 2 and a half ‘endings’, maybe one of the paths I didn’t see was actually interesting, but the dialogue was so painful, the set-up so contrived and the structure so awkward in every scene it really just felt like a tech demo thrown together with the bare minimum in terms of creativity. I understand how insanely hard it must have been to make, and with that in mind I don’t think the result was anywhere near as bad as it might have been, but there genuinely wasn’t a single point in the narrative where the motivations behind the protagonist’s actions weren’t just handwaved away by ‘he’s damaged’ or ‘he’s unhealthily obsessed with Bandersnatch’ and everything else in the narrative just crumbled around that weak central pillar.

    God I found it so disappointing.

  • ‘if you put much stock in the Emmys’

    Not anymore (seriously, that trash Fleabag won?), it’s quickly going the same way all music awards did over a decade ago and becoming absolutely worthless, the awards not worth the cost of materials they’re made out of.

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