So the Emmy Awards happened this last Monday. A lot of people probably didn’t care. Other than catching a glimpse of Lena Dunham’s gawdawful getup under the headline “Don’ts” on the cover of next week’s People magazine, most folks won’t even notice the ceremony’s passing. Which is weird. We’re supposed to be living in the Golden Age of Television. For the most part, television is better, smarter and more well-made than it ever has been. So why aren’t the Emmys getting better?
Sure, the 66th annual Emmy Awards telecast had its moments. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston scored the evening’s most tweetable moment by giving a shout-out to a kiss they shared back on “Seinfeld.” Whether they win or lose (lose, as it turns out), it’s always a party when Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey show up. Seth Meyers is no Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but he’s a very nice guy with some cute jokes. And it’s not that any of this year’s winners were undeserving, per se. But here’s what went wrong with this year’s show.
First of all, the Emmy nominations seemed to be embracing a few new shows. “True Detective” got in there. “Masters of Sex” made an appearance or two. “Fargo” came out of nowhere with a bunch of nods. But when it came time to hand out awards, it was mostly business as usual. Jim Parsons took home his fourth Emmy for “The Big Bang Theory.” Admittedly, the guy does manage to inject some desperately needed energy into the show’s utterly generic punch lines. But four times is probably enough. Other people are doing better work in much better shows. By the same token, “Modern Family” took home its fifth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Comedy. Who didn’t see that coming? Heck, Allison Janney took home Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The lady is great, but how about spreading some of that wealth around? Obviously Emmy voters love consistency. The ultimate proof comes in the form of “The Amazing Race,” which took home its 10th Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition. It’s only lost out on the trophy two times since the category was invented back in 2003! There’s consistency, and then there’s boring predictability.
What with cable, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon streaming, television is a whole new ball game these days. It sure would be nice to see an Emmy telecast that reflects that.
Look, it can’t be argued that “Breaking Bad” didn’t deserve the five statues it went home with this year. Everyone involved totally earned those honors. Anyone who saw Bryan Cranston make that phone call home to Anna Gunn in the episode “Ozymandias” knew right then and there he was going home with the gold. And it was a great capper to the show’s magnificent six-year run to go out on such a high note. (And to see the people involved still giving love to New Mexico in their speeches.) But it’s almost a relief that the show is off the air. Maybe now the Emmys can start to embrace (or at least acknowledge) some of this new media that’s shaking up the industry.
What with cable, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon streaming, television is a whole new ball game these days. It sure would be nice to see an Emmy telecast that reflects that—not simply in the variety of awards it hands out, but in the directing, hosting, writing and staging. For the foreseeable future, though, it’s looking like the same-old same-old.