The Emmy Awards are silly.
I wouldn't bother to share this insight, but I tripped over the fact, just now, that today was the "official release of the Emmy nominations," a showing of pomp and circumstance meant, like all things Emmy, to emulate the actual suspense around the reveal of the Oscar nominations; TV still suffers from movie envy.
If you want a quick indication of the pointlessness of the Emmys, here's a few obvious examples: Mariska Hargitay's umpteenth nomination for SVU, long past the point the show, or her performance, is anything to write home about. Or the "so sorry about Charlie Sheen" nomination for Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men, nobody's idea of a brilliant comic performance.
How about this? The program with the most nominations of any show is Mildred Pierce, HBO's bloated remake of James M. Cain's noir potboiler, which premiered to dismal reviews and compares weakly to the 1945 film (or, as we like to call it, Joan Crawford's Oscar). Even if it's decent (I haven't seen it, and I'd bet Downton Abbey, the BBC miniseries for masterpiece actually wins), does it deserve 21 nominations? I'm guessing no.
And those 21 categories are just the tip of the Emmy iceberg.
It's an odd moment for television; I can't remember a time where so much good episodic television is being produced, nor a time when network television was as generally poor. The great work of producing television, really, is off the network path, whether it's the cable channels that mimic network like TNT and USA, or the higher end efforts of HBO and Showtime, or even the upstart work of mini-net the CW. The options are so wide and varied, it is, in some sense, no wonder that the Emmys can't possibly take it all in. What's sad, and has always been sad, is that the Emmys rarely reflect the boldest, or most innovative efforts in series television, going back to, say Twilight Zone or Star Trek - reflecting a general failure to respect science fiction - up through ignoring shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Emmy Awards generally play catch up, or reward, as is often noted, movie stars willing to slum on the small screen.
This year, among the overlooked: Burn Notice, Southland (now on TNT), Rizzoli and Isles, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Archer, RuPaul's Drag Race (tell me, really, how So You Think You Can Dance is better). That's just off the top of my head, and the top of my viewing interests. Yes, the Emmys were quick to recognize Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire (both of which I'd like to see), and recognized the bright spots of NBC's comedy lineup as welll as the obvious necessity to reward The Good Wife. But still; the Emmy Awards continue to reward industry darlings, movie stars, and marketing ploys. Want another example? How about Betty White's forgettable performance in Hot In Cleveland, an altogether pointless excuse for a sitcom? It's embarrassing, and as I said, it becomes silly to try and take the nominations seriously, never mind the awards.
I mention all of thie because it's a good moment to plug a couple of blogs I read for entertainment news. One, most obviously, is Deadline Hollywood, which still showcases the genius and reporting godlike qualities of Nikki Finke, along with a new band of hardy coanchors. Nellie Andreeva is their main TV reporter, and she is generally great, though her Emmy coverage is depressingly conventional, and tends to accept the status quo.
The other blog I feel compelled to mention is Alyssa Rosenberg's new effort over at Think Progress, which is devoted to "cultural criticism", the kind of blog idea that makes me slightly green with envy... except that, as good as she is, Rosenberg's blog is interesting only in starts and fits. She's settled into too many TV series recaps (her Burn Notice recaps seem especially poorly conceived), and her overall insights on film and television are, too often, pedestrian and kind of obvious. Still, she's a bracing feminist critic and she's clearly passionate about the material, if muddy on her overall concept.
But here's the thing: I expect, as with Deadline, that Rosenberg will take apart the nominee lists, pick her favorites, and generally cheerlead the run up to the awards. And I think that's giving the Emmys a seriousness that they just haven't earned. When they do, if they ever can... that's an interesting question. And one worth pondering. For such a pretty award, it's a shame it's just so... silly.