Monday, 24 September 2012

The 64th Annual Emmy Awards

The past many years I have not watched the Emmy Awards. The simple fact is that they are scheduled in a bad time, on Sunday night when the cable channels schedule their best shows. Given the choice between sitting through the awards ceremony and watching Hell on Wheels and Copper, I chose the latter. That having been said, I always read about the awards the next day. This time I must admit that I was a bit surprised.

Quite simply, the long winning steak of Mad Men has been broken. Now I must confess that I did not expect Mad Men to win the award for Outstanding Drama Series this year. I thought this past season was not quite as good as previous seasons and it seemed to me that other shows actually had better runs this year. That having been said, I did not expect the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy to go to Homeland. Of course, I must confess I have never seen Homeland (we do not get Showtime), so I have no idea of how good or how bad a show it may be. While I have never seen even one episode of Homeland, however, its win came as a surprise because I have heard very little about the show. I know a few people who watch it and they say it is very good, but they do not rave about the show in the way that many of my friends have past seasons of Mad Men or the current runs of Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, or Game of Thrones. Yet other people I to whom I talked today had never even heard of Homeland! Indeed, if I had placed a bet on who would win the award for Outstanding Drama Series, it would have been Breaking Bad or Boardwalk Empire.

Of course, given the fact that I was totally taken off guard by Homeland winning Outstanding Drama Series, I was also taken off guard by its other wins. I did not expect Damian Lewis to win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series award. I honestly thought that it might go to Jon Hamm for Mad Men or perhaps Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad. For Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series I thought Elizabeth Moss would win for Mad Men (indeed, while this season of Mad Men was not as good as the rest, Miss Moss's performance as Peggy Olson was as impressive as ever). I did not expect Claire Daines to take the award for Homeland. I do have to say that the awards in the supporting categories went as I thought they would. While I hoped Brendan Coyle would the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award for Downton Abbey, I thought Aaron Paul might win for Breaking Bad. I thought Dame Maggie Smith would win the Outstanding Supporting Actress award for Downton Abbey, for which I was very happy (Violet is my favourite character on the show).

Over all I can't say I was necessarily unhappy with the drama Emmys, although I am certainly confused. This is not the case with the Emmys in the comedy category where I am unhappy. Oh, I have no real objections to Modern Family winning the Outstanding Comedy Series award. My problem is that what are in my opinion the best comedies on television were not even nominated! Does the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honestly believe that a run of the mill sitcom like The Big Bang Theory or incredibly unfunny sitcoms like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls are better than Community and Parks and Recreation? I hope not! It's for the same reason that I was not happy that Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men was even nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award, let alone won it. Two and a Half Men is a run of the mill sitcom and one that isn't even as funny as it once was. Why wasn't Nick Offerman nominated for Parks and Recreation? Of course, Community and Parks and Recreation were snubbed in the other acting categories for comedy series as well, although at least those awards went to cast members of Modern Family.

While I was disappointed in the awards in the comedy category, I must confess I am utterly puzzled by the Miniseries or a Movie categories. Since when are Sherlock, Luther, and American Horror Story miniseries? By definition a mini-series is a television programme with a limited number of episodes. Miniseries by their very definition, then, do not have successive seasons (or in British television jargon, series). Given both Sherlock and Luther are on their second seasons and there is going to be a third season of both, I would say that they definitely are not mini-series. For that reason I am not going to complain about Game Change (a true miniseries) winning, even though I adore Sherlock and really like Luther.

Over all, then, I have to say this year's Emmys were a mixed bag for me. I was not really unhappy with the awards in the drama category, although I am a bit puzzled that Homeland won. As usual I am fairly unhappy with the comedy category--I fully expect next year that Parks and Recreation and Community still won't be nominated, but Up All Night  and Whitney will be.... I also think the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences need to change their definition of "miniseries" to the same as everyone else has. If a series has a second season, then it is not a miniseries!

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