Television has been America's constant companion amid an unyielding virus and whirlwind of racial reappraisal.
But will the Emmy nominations arriving on Tuesday (US time) reflect the times or retreat to the familiar?
The announcement itself was forced to bow to health safeguards, going virtual and without the usual mini-swarm of reporters and anxious publicists on hand at the TV academy's Los Angeles headquarters.
How September's ceremony airing on ABC will look is anybody's guess. As MC Jimmy Kimmel said in June, it's unknown where, how or why it will be held, "but we are doing it and I am hosting it."
The first major entertainment awards of the pandemic era clearly is a traveller without a map.
"Everything is different," said Tom O'Neil, editor of the Gold Derby awards website.
Among the changes: "For your consideration" promotional events to woo Emmy voter support were abandoned out of Covid-19 concerns.
With isolation-forced time on their hands, TV industry members may have been more diligent about searching out potential nominees that otherwise would have been overlooked. That also required adjusting to the academy-mandated switch from series DVDs to online screenings (aimed at saving resources).
"We have to be prepared for everybody to be blown away by lots of surprises on nominations morning," O'Neil said, quoting a veteran Gold Derby prognosticator.
Which may be a good thing. Newly expanded categories and the departure of last year's dominant series winners, "Game of Thrones" and "Fleabag", opened the door for newcomers and under-valued series, among them the inclusive comedies "Ramy" and "Insecure".
The academy has ground to make up in diversity. In 2019, less than a quarter of the acting bids went to people of colour, down from more than a third of the nominations in 2018. Last year's ceremony proved groundbreaking in one regard, as "Pose" star Billy Porter became the first openly gay winner of the top drama acting trophy.
The 72nd annual Emmy nominations, if not ultimately the awards, could make progress because of the racial reckoning that's underway, said Eric Deggans, TV critic for National Public Radio and author of "Race Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation".
"A lot of Black creators are talking up 'Insecure' now, hoping that the moment combined with the show having a really good season" will earn it deserved nods, Deggans said.
Since its 2016 debut, "Insecure" has just one top Emmy nomination, an acting nomination for Black creator-star Issa Rae.