TV Land: The Apathy of the Emmys


There were so many better things to do on Sunday night than watch the Emmys. I had homework, there was a Choco Taco in the freezer ready to be devoured and it was high time I showed the spider making its home in my room who was boss. I live an exciting life. Sadly, I accomplished none of these. That spider — let’s call him Steve — continues to mock me from his ever-expanding empire atop my bookshelf, the Choco Taco remains uneaten and what do I have to show in place of these momentous, missed opportunities?  I saw Michael Bolton dressed as a pirate.

I’m trying to not be cynical, which is difficult when you’re 90 percent pessimistic and 10 percent blubber like I am. Michael Bolton, festooned in dreads and eyeliner, is certainly a sight to behold. But, I can’t help myself when it comes to award shows and especially when it comes to the Emmys. Occasionally, the Oscars shell out a shocking surprise. And, the Grammys have their own flair — mainly in the form of meat dresses. However, the Emmys remain exceptional in their ability to be both consistently predictable and completely dull. Even Steve the spider was yawning, which is saying something for a creature who dwells in my dusty collection of Civil War letters.

Between the obligatory musical opener and the shots of Ashton Kutcher’s vaguely serial killer-esque beard, I sat puzzled, wondering who the fuck is even watching this? Honestly. For a program that claims to celebrate television, there’s a serious absence of entertainment involved in the Emmys that not even Michael Bolton’s guyliner can salvage. Perhaps the problem resides in the fact that award shows are supposed to be banal — just lists of prizes with a momentary montage of dead people.But, somehow the Emmys are different.

People still make Oscar pools, the Grammys at least have some noteworthy performances and the Tonys have Hugh Jackman, I suppose. What then do the Emmys have to offer? Besides a chance to see Sofia Vergara’s breasts or Charlie Sheen “winning,” there is little incentive to watch. And, it’s not the Emmys’ production that is troubling. Jane Lynch was a suitable host, as most of them (sans Ryan Seacrest) are. The bits were mildly amusing and everybody loves to see Kate Winslet win awards. No, the Emmys’ problems lie beyond the mediocre writing and lukewarm reaction. The Emmys, more than the Oscars and the Grammys (the Golden Globes remain the lowest on the rung), are inherently irrelevant.

Perhaps, this has always been the case. I can recall major Academy Award upsets. Remember when “Crash” won? Yuck. But, for the life of me and Steve the spider, my memory is blank when it comes to memorable Emmy moments. I’m never shocked when “Modern Family” wins Outstanding Comedy or “Mad Men” wins Outstanding Drama. Those shows don’t need the recognition of multiple awards in addition to their abounding critical acclaim. They’re accessible programs with outstanding writing. Nothing to complain about.

So why shouldn’t “Modern Family” and “Mad Men” win an Emmy? Because they’re spoiled brats who already have enough? Because there are more deserving series nominated? No, that’s not a satisfactory reason. They should win, but why should we, as viewers, care?  Simple answer: we shouldn’t. Not that anyone cared to begin with because people don’t need an award to justify their appreciation for a certain TV show. The Emmys work backward from the Oscars in this manner. People didn’t start watching “30 Rock” because it suddenly started winning Emmys. People were already well-attuned to Liz Lemon’s antics, with the Emmy acting only as an afterthought, a redundancy.

Even though it’s pleasant to have a show you love gain recognition and see Rob Lowe in a tux, the Emmys are unnecessary. Television is a populist platform where every the lowliest of people, or spiders in the case of Steve, can decide they like “Modern Family” not because of an award, but because it’s funny and Sofia Vergara has great jugs.