Monday, August 28, 2006

There's no I in the Emmys

There is a me (and a my!) in the Emmy Awards, I suppose, but that doesn't mean that they're in any way representative of what I as a viewer feel merited recognition on Sunday. Category after category, the Emmy voters seemed to make bizarre and inappropriate selections.

Alan Alda? Hell to the no. Tony Shalhoub? Might be okay if he hadn't already won twice and weren't running against Steve Carell. At least we didn't see Stockard Channing picking up a trophy or I might be writing this post from the great beyond.

Alan Sepinwall, in his always excellent column, put it best when he applauded Conan for a solid performance (Conan and Jon Stewart are my personal favorite awards show hosts) but chastised the voters for their choices. By awarding so many actors from cancelled shows, the Emmys continue to prove that, despite all the updated nomination procedures, they're an anachronism that doesn't reflect the state of quality television today.

I'm not saying I know exactly what's worthwhile about television today. I haven't watched great shows like The Sopranos or Deadwood, and I know my tastes run towards the cult-ish more than the predictable or procedural. But I think when you fail to recognize so many quality performances and scripts from shows that are beloved by viewers or almost universally praised by critics, you're missing out on a big part of what's great about television.

Sure, the Emmys are an institution, a tradition. But part of being traditional means that what's new and cutting edge will get ignored. It also means that, sometimes, people will continue to take part in a tradition, just because they're expected to, even when it no longer has any meaning.

Okay, so they did get it right twice: The Office as outstanding comedy and Jeremy Piven as outstanding supporting actor in a comedy. (Even a broken watch is right twice a day.) Still, if you want to hear appropriate office-related squeeing and gleeing, head over to Jenna Fischer's MySpace page, where you can revel in the joy of being one of the few winners they got right.


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