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Reality Bites: The 60th Annual Emmy Awards

You do not cut off Patty Hewes in the middle of an acceptance speech.

Come to think of it, you probably shouldn't be cutting off Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Tina Fey, Bryan Cranston, and the aforementioned Glenn Close, period.

But that's just what they did on last night's tedious Emmy telecast, focusing instead on the inane chatter among the five nominated reality series hosts and a plethora of pointless and unfunny filler material.

Sure, the 60th Annual Emmy Awards wasn't as big a fiasco as last year's circular stage debacle, though this year came close with the ridiculous time-waste that was the show's opening twelve minutes or so, cheap-looking on-screen graphics for each category, fruitless use of familiar sets, and awkward "repartee" between presenters and our so-called "hosts."

The few high points for me? Ricky Gervais, for one, whose painfully funny (not to mention cringe-worthy) reminiscing of his in absentia win last year for Extras was absolutely spot-on and brilliant; Tommy Smothers finally getting his writing award from Steve Martin; Kathy Griffin forcing the audience to stand up for Don Rickles; Tina and Amy; Colbert and Stewart's prunes vs. plums debate.

And, oh, yes: some actual love for series like 30 Rock, Mad Men, and Damages, all of which prove that television series don't need to be dumbed-down cookie-cutter programs and that there is a place for smart, compelling, and sophisticated programming on American television.

That 30 Rock (which, incidentally, is releasing its sophomore season on DVD on October 7th) managed to take home awards for writing, best actor in a comedy (Alec Baldwin!), best actress in a comedy (Tina Fey!), and best comedy made my evening (despite the uneven pacing and sub par hosting), as did the best drama award for Mad Men and its writing award for series creator Matthew Weiner and Glenn Close and Zeljko Ivanek (yay!) winning for Damages.

But let's face it: the rest of the awards ceremony was pretty awful. You don't waste time at the beginning by dragging out Oprah to make an introduction and then leave five reality hosts filling precious airtime with unfunny nonsense to then later cut off your actual A-list award winners. Who seriously thought that Cranston would win for AMC's Breaking Bad? I was pretty damn surprised, so I would have liked to have let the man actually finish his acceptance speech... instead of watch Jimmy Kimmel take ten minutes to announce the winner of the new best reality host category. (Yawn.) The less said about Josh Groban's musical montage the better.

But then again, maybe what scared the producers of the Emmys was the fear that network television (save, say, 30 Rock) is completely irrelevant to the Emmy awards any more, given that cable television (and not even HBO at that!) has usurped its position as the home for forward-thinking drama. And, no matter how many reality television hosts you serve up as window dressing (really, the best bit was to have Tom Bergeron and William Shatner strip Heidi Klum?), that's the real issue here?

We might be experiencing, to quote the inimitable Tina Fey, a "turkey-burger economy" right now, but I am thankful to Fey, Weiner, and all of the talented actors, writers, and producers out there who continue to create meaningful, challenging, and stimulating work that not only entertains us but also makes us think. I feel vindicated that series like 30 Rock, Mad Men, and Damages took home some statuettes rather than see some other series (I won't name names here) walk away with the top prizes.

But what did you think? Were you happy with the winners? Saddened by those who went home empty-handed? Bored by the entire proceedings? Talk back.


Anonymous said…
Worst example of a bloated awards show. Typical formula of a long, drawn out beginning, a boring middle and a rushed ending. Why do they always rush the winners that we'd actually like to hear from, only to give us 10 minutes of an embarrassing Kimmel bit. Funny guy, but the whole time suck of the reality host presentation did not work.

Other than that, some quite surprising winners. The Office received no love this year.
Anonymous said…
I was waiting for someone to say something about THE OFFICE not getting any awards and I'm glad it didn't because it shows that this past year was the show's weakest season to date. I am sure that will get the rabid fans going crazy but it's true and it didn't deserve to win anything despite what some fans who can't ever be unbiased about their obsession think. Not a good year for them so only fitting that they walk out without any awards.
joy said…
Wording your entire post. Last night was just the most terrible Emmy awards show production - ever. And I had thought last year's was pretty bad with the circle in the round crap.

If Unscripted Television wants so badly to be accepted, boot them off of the Emmys, give them their own reality show awards show, and give those don't consider reality a valid art form a freakin' break.

OTOH, yay for the academy for recognizing Mad Men and Damages!
Although I am thrilled to bits that some of my favorite shows (30 Rock, Mad Men, Damages) took home awards the show itself was a complete bust. Thank god for Tivo and the few talented people (Ricky Gervais, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, etc.) who at least injected a little humor into an otherwise lackluster evening.

And to waste so much precious time on the inane reality host bit while cutting off some of the most talented writers, actors, and producers in television was a sin.
Anonymous said…
I can't believe that the most clever bit they could come up with for the reality "hosts" was to rip Heidi Klum's clothes off. For shame.
Anonymous said…
I will agree with you about most of this, but not all...

I, for one (or many, as I talked to a lot of people who agree), thought Groban's medley was one of the highlights, if not THE highlight. I thought it was awesome, especially since I am so NOT a Groban fan. He's more than just a good voice - who knew? And since it was the 60th anniv, I thought this was one place in particular where they wisely took time to pay tribute to 60 years of tv (unlike, sadly, the painfully unfunny Laugh-in tribute).

I agree with your highlights - Gervais, Smothers, Kathy G, etc. All good.

I think my favorite speech moment was, I think it was Laura Linney, who made the subtle/not subtle comment about the value of community service. I also loved Colbert's speech because it so went against what I expected it to be.

I definitely enjoyed the show more than you, though. I liked all the show tributes, represented by replications of their sets. And the stage was gorgeous.

Opening was painful, but I enjoyed the reality host award bit. It was dead-on, and let's face it - reality is a huge part of tv, and it's not going anywhere. It may be the red headed stepchild, but it doesn't mean it deserves less time (unless, of course, the hills ever wins. God forbid). I wish they'd spent less time on the other bits, but I didn't mind this bit. I am sure by this point in the show it felt like a drag, but the audience in the Nokia ate it up.
The CineManiac said…
Loved Gervais and Carrel's bit, and I too loved Groban, his south park was perfect and though some of the songs were strange picks, I really, really enjoyed it.

Also loved the 30 Rock love.

But other than that I was disappointed. My biggest disappointment was that of all the bits to cut they cut NPH & Kristin Chenoweth! Come on those two together and it's cut! I was as bitter as they were.
Anonymous said…
why is every one going on about stupid 30rock? wh o even watches that fucking show but liberalfreaks in cAli and nyc???????
Anonymous said…
@anonymous. Are you seriously that stupid? I don't live in New York or LA and I watch 30 Rock because it's a smart, well written, and fantastic show! Get a clue, dude!
Anonymous said…
30 Rock and Mad Men were justly honored. With all due respect to John Adams, do we really need to have all those awards for a miniseries included in the main Emmy's ceremony? How about just "Best Miniseries," and "Best Actor & Actress in a Miniseries." and give out the rest during the Creative Arts Emmys? We the audience want to see the stars of the shows we watch across the entire season, not just a couple nights of a miniseries. Likewise the Reality Awards, and most especially, the Award that the Emmys always gives to the Oscars for best Variety Special or whatever? What a self-congratulatory joke, and how disgraceful that the director of the Emmys took so much time for his acceptance speech for the Oscars broadcast. Naturally he did not hesitate to bring up the music to drown out the acceptance speeches of the people we really wanted to see.
Anonymous said…
Oh, I forgot to congratulate anonymous and all his conservative freak friends for the collapse of the American financial system. Maybe people who are intelligent enough to like 30 Rock in NYC and Cali and the rest of the country also happen to be intelligent enough not to have voted for the disastrous conservative administration that is destroying America.
Melissa said…
Can't really contribute what hasn't already been said about the terrible hosting idea. When they got to the actual category, I was thinking to myself, "none of people deserve an award for what they do, they are simply script readers." What they need is an award for reality show writing, oh, oops, they aren't scripted...

Here is my new idea for Emmy hosting, each year, have the winner of the OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN A VARIETY OR MUSIC PROGRAM award host the following years Emmy telecast. That way, next year, we'd have Don Rickles.

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