The Emmy Awards are utterly bullshit. If you follow them with any regularity, you know that much is true. The people who win, more often than not, do so because they've been around long enough that the Academy voters recognize their name, making them the easy choice since the voters rarely watch any of the shows nominated. Anything that's not a cop, lawyer or medical show is looked upon with suspicion and scorn, or it would be if it weren't ignored entirely. Anything fresh and new is an "unsafe" choice, so let's let it stay on for a few years before we give it any recognition. Case in point: 24
, a genuinely inventive, creative show won Best Drama last night for the first time in it's five years on the air.
Now, granted, things are occasionally different. Lost
won last year, despite being decidedly weird, though I suspect that had a lot more to do with it's out-of-nowhere powerhouse ratings than it did with the show's actual content. And, every now and again, a performance truly worthy of recognition get's it's due; Gillian Anderson on The X-Files
and Andre Braugher for Homicide
are the only two I can think of off hand.
So, what of this year's ceremony? Have things changed? Well, for one thing, the voting process has finally, finally
been called on the carpet for being the sham that it is. The tipping point? A Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series nomination for Ellen Burstyn, who appeared in the movie Mrs. Harris
for a grand total of 14 seconds. Not exaggerating. She had literally 14 seconds of screen time and said exactly two sentences. There is no question that she was nominated because she's a well-known actress who always does quality work and the voters simply checked her name on the ballot because it was there. Ridiculous is the word for it, I believe, and it calls into question almost every single winner from the last 2o years. Hopefully something will change within the Academy to fix this egregious error, but, as I've said, change is feared. So not likely.
Okay, okay... but was it any better this year? Occasionally, yes. Things weren't awful, or as awful as it could have been. But they weren't great either.
Herewith the high-and-lowlights...
-Conan O'Brien hosted this year and was, as always, great. It's so weird to think that I've been watching him since I was a smart-assed fifteen years old and that he's now become my generation's Carson. The whole bit he did last night with Bob Newhart was classic, as was the opening number, which leveled a multiple gutshots at his own network, NBC. Ballsy and funny.
-The Drama Awards: 24
won, which is deserved, though I'd argue that it wasn't the best drama on TV this year (that would be the unnominated Lost
). Keifer Sutherland won his first Emmy for his performance on the aforementioned, which is cool too. He's done consistently great work on 24
and it's great that he finally got some love for it. Personally, I would have loved to see Peter Krause or Denis Leary win, just because it would have been something different (and Krause was phenomenal, if not entirely depressing, on Six Feet Under
) but I have no beef with Sutherland. Same goes for Dramatic Actress winner Mariska Hargitay, who won for Law and Order: SVU
. She's been good on that show for years, and I have no particular love for any of the other nominees, so there you go. I'm told the real winner should have been Mary McDonald from Battlestar Galactica
, but that's unconfirmed. The real bullshit happened in the supporting categories for Drama, or so I'm told. Alan Alda won for The West Wing.
Now, I love Alda, so I'm happy for him, but I'm told that Gregory Itzin was super-amazing as the evil Prez on 24
and it's pretty much ridiculous that he didn't win. Again, clearly the "Hmm... he's been around for awhile" factor is in play. Same with Blythe Danner winning for Huff
. I'm sure she was good, but Jean Smart, again on 24
, supposedly gave the hottest performance of the year. She however isn't as well-known as Danner, so there you go.
-The Comedy Awards: Here, we have some problems. The Office
won, which I'm okay with. Otherwise, not so much. The biggest travesty is Tony Shaloub, who won for the third time in a row as Monk,
with a performance that can, at best, be described as "cute." It is, however, showy, and to the Emmy voters, the most acting is often the best acting (case in point: John Lithgow winning over and over for 3rd Rock from the Sun
). The fact that Shaloub beat out Steve Carrell, who's turned in a deeply funny, nuanced and crafted comedic performance in The Office
is just embarrassing. The Best Actress category was a complete and total mess; Julia Louis-Dreyfuss won because she used to be on Seinfeld
. For Supporting Actress, Megan Mullaly won for Will and Grace
. Yes, she's funny, but she's won before and Jamie Presley (My Name is Earl)
and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm
) were much more deserving. The lone bright spot in the Comedy category was Jeremy Piven's win for Supporting Actor on Entourage
. He's been funny for years and he's brilliant on that show.
-Like the Emmy's themselves, I'm running a bit long here, so let's skip to the biggest disaster of the evening. Here are the nominees: Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Hugh Jackman and Barry Manilow. The winner... I'll give you a hint: He writes the songs that make the whole world sing. That's right, Barry Manilow. That sound you hear is a million people gagging in unison. That right there is the strongest evidence you need that something is clearly amiss in Hollywood.