World News

What the Oscars Can Learn from the Royal Wedding

Posted May 19, 2018 8:59 a.m. EDT

Red carpet coverage for awards shows, particularly the Oscars, is strained, frequently sexist and often cringe-worthy — yet it persists. But if the varied and even decent live coverage of the royal wedding has anything to teach us, it’s that moving off the red carpet is the way to go.

Three hours of breathless coverage before a wedding even starts is … a lot.

But starting at 4 a.m. ET, every major outlet and several minor ones began broadcasting, but because no one was interviewing the actual high-profile guests, there was a lot less fawning.

Instead, the BBC broadcast had a brief discussion of the value of poetry with George the Poet, who, yes, is a poet. There were explanations of heraldic iconography, and interviews with people who run charities supported by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The U.S. networks, too, were largely genial, discussing floral design, Princess Diana, naves and what defines a “morning suit.” Everyone gushed about celebrity guests and Oprah’s early arrival.

And it all felt so civilized, not because it’s British but because it’s remote — Al Roker was interviewing civilians celebrating on sidewalks, not nudging anyone toward the mani-cam. Talking about fashion is fun and interesting when the people talking about it are fashion experts, not just celebrities. Backing far, far away from the 45-second “you look beautiful tonight!” schtick lead toward more naturalistic chatter among the various anchors. Pleasant! Breezy!

Yes, there were some dumdum segments, and yes, we would have all been fine had these broadcasts been two hours shorter. But the shift to a color-commentary model from a locker-room interview one is something all red-carpet coverage should embrace.