Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy Wrap

I haven't had a second to wrap up the Emmy nominations today, but Roommate Mark and I got up on gChat about it, and Mark was industrious enough to toss it up on his blog, so please go read it there. [P.S., for those of you wonder where all my outrage on behalf of Battlestar and Friday Night Lights is, I'll tell you I left it in my other pants. The pants that thought there was even the slightest chance the Emmy voters would have suddenly started watching these shows after several years of steadfast avoidance. Wasn't ever going to happen.]

One thing I did forget to mention in our chat was how surprised I was that January Jones got frozen out for her role on Mad Men. I'd have thought for sure this was her year. Other than that, the day was spent with much rejoicing over Jeremy Piven's awesome snub. And who do we put the blame for that one on? At the risk of being unpopular, I believe that one's on you, the viewer.

Okay, not YOU. But so much was made in the last day or two about the change in nomination procedures, from the screening panel/Council of Learned Elders winnowing the categories down to 10 finalists (like last year), to a straight-up popular vote of Academy members. We kept hearing how this was going to open doors for less esoteric, more highly-rated shows to finally make their presence known.

I really -- really -- don't want to pick on Movieline, and in fact I think the revamping/Defamer-izing of Movieline has been one of the best developments on the internet this year. But this post from yesterday kind of sums up what a lot of the Emmy pre-coverage had been saying:

the "blue-ribbon" voting procedures that saw a select few singling out little-watched, critically-acclaimed series like Breaking Bad in recent years has been replaced by a return to voting by the entire Academy membership. To balance it out, they’ve added a sixth nomination to every major category. Bottom line: Shows that actually get ratings are bound to have a better year. Big Bang Theory could easily pull a Best Comedy Series nomination and Best Actor in a Comedy Series nomination (it’s not for nothing that Parsons was paired with triple-nominee [Chandra] Wilson), and How I Met Your Mother might finally crack the shortlist.

Like, it's not all wrong -- Parsons and HIMYM did both get nominated. But that little-watched, critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad saw its lone Best Actor nomination from last year joined by a Supporting Actor AND a Best Drama nod this year. Big Bang and Two and a Half Men (TV's highest rated comedic blah-de-blah) both got snubbed in Best Comedy in favor of Flight of the Conchords. Hardly a mandate for the Nielsen winners. There was much talk of buzzy, highly-rated True Blood (Anna Paquin was a LOCK) racking up a bunch of nominated. Well it got shut out in favor of Big Love because, as ever, family dramas trump sexy vampires when it comes to awards voters. It's not right or wrong, but it's a tendency that doesn't go away just because there aren't any more blue-ribbon panels.

Now, there were some crazily unexpected nominations today. But for every mainstream breakthrough (Family Guy, certainly), there was one more-niche-than-niche entry (Jermaine Clement!). The nomination that actually sums the whole thing up, for me, is Sarah Silverman getting a Best Actress nod for her Comedy Central show. It's certainly not a business-as-usual Emmy nomination, but is it really evidence of a popular vote shining a light on more popular shows? (Certainly, Silverman's show pulls in far lower numbers than the unnominated America Ferrera's Ugly Betty.) Or is it just further evidence that the television landscape had widened and flattened itself so much that Emmy voters are finding their choices in places they haven't before?

[Of course, one Emmy tendency that stayed consistent this year has been its commitment to being solidly 2-3 years behind the times, always. Great that "How I Met Your Mother" and "Weeds" cracked Best Comedy. Their best seasons were two years ago. The Best Drama, Drama Actor, and Drama Actress categories are near carbon copies of last year. Entourage endures. The list goes on.]

But think of all this next time you read somewhere that Star Trek and Harry Potter and godblessed TheHangover are suddenly Oscar contenders because Best Picture just went to 10 nominees. Just like the television academy didn't suddenly start liking vampire shows just because they were allowed to vote at an earlier stage, don't start expecting Oscar voters to suddenly develop a fondness for grossout frat humor just because they've got five more slots to fill.

Anyway, enough of that intellectualizing. Kristen Wiig is an Emmy nominee! Let's celebrate, Lawrence Welk-style!


Jenn said...

My main two reactions to the nominations are a) who did Cat Deeley tick off in the academy to get shut out again? and b) I wish I'd been in the room with Katherine Heigl when she realized that after throwing a tantrum, gaining a reputation as a brat, and enduring an unbearable hand-picked ghost-sex storyline, she still didn't get a nomination.

Joe Reid said...

Oh lord, not more Katherine Heigl. All I'll say is there's a decent chance she's not all that torn up by not getting a nomination considering she voluntarily removed herself from consideration last year.