Unlike most awards shows, the Emmys are usually a somewhat enjoyably produced show. The montages are usually OK, the presenters and notably the hosts usually do the most with what they’re given (Jane Lynch had her moments, and Conan O’Brien did a stellar job years back.) The telecast misses the mark, however, on the most important thing: selecting the winners. Steve Carell joined the club last weekend. He’s in good company… Jackie Gleason, Jason Alexander, Elizabeth Montgomery… I could go on.
It’s the “No Emmy Love” club, and it has a long-standing history of welcoming new members, it seems, after each Emmy telecast. Rosh Hashanah may be around the corner, but it felt more like Passover nearly a week ago when The Office’s Carell was overlooked in his last chance to take home the gold. As Michael Scott, the actor created one of the most iconic characters in television history, and gave such amazing depth to a character who was essentially a clueless, lovable and often well-intentioned idiot. Carell didn’t deserve one Emmy for his role — he deserved at least three for his performances through the years. But, it never should’ve come down to his last year on the show.
Year-in and year-out, Carell delivered the goods and naturally did in his last year. Specifically, he shined in his swan song (the episode producers submitted for Emmy consideration — how can only one be selected anyway?), but it was just prior to that which truly showed the wonder of his Scott. The character’s marriage proposal to the love of his life Holly (Amy Ryan) was among the best in recent TV history, and showed the wackiness and heart of Scott in full force. On the basis of that episode alone, Carell should’ve bested Jim Parsons for Big Bang Theory, who also won last year in the category. But, as we know, he didn’t.
That’s one constant problem Emmy voters have had through the years — balancing between showering the same people with trophies and overlooking others. It’s black or white — little gray. Dennis Franz always won for NYPD Blue, but his co-star Jimmy Smits never did. Jason Alexander was snubbed seven times in a row for his iconic Seinfeld role as George Costanza, but his co-star Michael Richards won three times. It goes beyond co-stars.
If you’re a repeat nominee, on an already celebrated show, or an acting legend, you have an upper hand on all the rest in the category, I believe, no matter what performance you delivered in a particular year, a returning winner has a better chance. Perhaps Emmy voters feel an iconic character on TV is created when you constantly give them Emmy’s? Who knows. I’m not saying Bryan Cranston isn’t deserving for Breaking Bad, but Hugh Laurie surely has deserved at least one of his three for House. At the very least, he deserved one of James Spader’s Boston Legal gold guys.
The other problem Emmy voters have is by “surprising” audiences with out-of-left-field winners. I’m not sure if they feel they can make stars out of some, but it certainly feels that way. Taking nothing away from Michael Chiklis and his stellar work on The Shield, but 2002, in my opinion, belonged to either Kiefer Sutherland for 24 (he’d win later in the show’s run) or Peter Krause for the often overlooked Six Feet Under. I still remember that sadly. A similar scenario played out last week when voters chose to do to Kyle Chandler what they couldn’t for Carell: giving him a win for his body of work on Friday Night Lights. Jon Hamm should’ve won for Mad Men, but my guess is Emmy voters figured they’d wait to do so later in the show’s run.
That makes me wonder if waiting is a constant option for Emmy voters. They’ll choose a someone one year with the logic being they’ll honor the other the next year but never do. There’s no rhyme or reason I’m sure. That would explain why “The Fonz” never won Henry Winkler a statue or J.R. Ewing never brought one for Larry Hagman.
I’m also certain that this entire column is just me venting on too many years watching my own favorites lose (The Practice’s Holland Taylor over The Sopranos’ Nancy Marchand. Really?) I mean, the Emmys do sometimes get it right — Mad Men winning its fourth Best Drama award and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell winning made my night last week.
What do you think? Am I off base or do your favorites often miss out or get over saturated with Emmys?
Either way, just for fun I’m going to predict next year’s Emmy wins just because it’s never too early to predict the predictable.
Predicted Winners of the 64th Annual Emmys:
Best Drama: Breaking Bad
Best Actor – Drama: Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
Best Actress – Drama: Julianna Marguiles – The Good Wife
Best Supporting Actor – Drama: Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
Best Supporting Actress – Drama: Christine Baranski – The Good Wife
Best Comedy: Modern Family
Best Actor – Comedy: Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock
Best Actress – Comedy: Laura Linney – The Big C
Best Supporting Actor – Comedy: Ed O’Neill – Modern Family
Best Supporting Actress – Comedy: Betty White – Hot in Cleveland