I won’t attempt to claim that I am any different than the myriad of television writers out there: I was never going to “like” the outcome of the Emmy Awards. My cynicism was front and center when it came to reacting to the winners, and even the more positive moments were passed off as exceptions to the rule, not a sign of changes to Emmy’s usual stagnation.
But even weighing this predisposed opinion regarding the validity of the ceremony, last night’s award show was perhaps the most emotionally manipulative in some time. By the end, it actually had us cynics doubting the most well-established prediction of the entire evening: The Sopranos winning Best Drama Series. Of course, David Chase’s departing HBO series won that Emmy, but I actually for a second doubted that.
And I don’t know if it’s good or bad: the emotional rollercoaster that the night represented hit so many inversions that anything seemed possible. Perhaps I am simply extremely malleable, but I was right along with them with my own emotional corkscrews and loop-to-loops. And, as such, I use those emotions to feature the highlights and lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Awards.
Disbelief – FOX Pre-Show Uses Britney to Push Ratings
This rumour that Britney Spears would appear and apologize for the VMAs incident fascinated me. Not because I was interested in Britney, of course, but rather I was fascinated that anyone actually believed it. The fact that FOX would prey on that public misconception throughout the pre-show, as if they didn’t know whether she was present, shouldn’t surprise me…but that was the reaction it elicited. [Sidenote: Why was there no actual Countdown on the Countdown to the Emmys?]
Discomfort – Awkward and Inappropriate Jokes and Cuts
Early on, the Emmys hit a rather unfortunate stride: an awkwardly impersonal opening animation act from Brian and Stewie from Family Guy, a questionable cut from a joke about Isaiah Washington to T.R. Knight within said segment, and then Neil Patrick Harris’ unfortunate jailbait joke regarding Hayden Pannetiere – all within about fifteen minutes. It continued on into the rest of the night (Brad Garrett, anyone?), and even Seacrest had some borderline “humour” in his repetoire.
Nostalgia – Emmy Rewards People for the Past
Terry O’Quinn. Jaime Pressley. Katherine Heigl. Conan O’Brien. These four are, amongst others, representing a particular trend: deserving performers who really should have won their respective awards in previous years. O’Quinn was robbed for his turn on Lost’s first season, but remains deserving this year, and the same can be said for Pressley even if my heart was with Jenna Fischer. And Late Night with Conan O’Brien had never won a single Emmy, so its victory in Writing was a long-deserved one.
But Heigl, despite her radiance and grace on stage, really deserved to be recognized for last season’s arc with Denny, as opposed to this season’s whiny George/Izzie period. Her character became one-dimensional and one-note, and even if she remained strong I don’t see that as a worthy winner of this award.
Confusion – The Sopranos go Broadway
I am still trying to decipher just why we had a musical tribute to the Sopranos from the cast of Jersey Boys. The music didn’t particularly relate to the series, and it seemed like a simple video tribute (Maybe asking various stars their thoughts on The Sopranos) and then the curtain call would have been both shorter and more fitting. The theatrical and broad is not, although FOX may disagree, necessary in every single situation.
Anger – Tony Bennett defeats Stephen Colbert
It is not aimed at the 80+ year old Bennett, but I can’t help but be a little bit angry at the Individual Performance in a Variety/Comedy category. It appears that as long as beloved American singers take part in self-appreciative specials, a man providing brilliant social and political satire four nights a week just won’t cut it.
Vindication – The Amazing Race makes it a fivepeat
It has gotten to the point where entertainment writers are turning on The Amazing Race as shows like American Idol or Top Chef continue to get overlooked by Emmy voters while Jerry Bruckheimer’s reality series marches to yet another win. I don’t get this: in terms of consistency and development, The Amazing Race is at the top of its field. It is a reality series not dependent on personalities, but on the race itself; even if that element of the show has hit a few rough patches lately, it remains a better construct than anything Idol could pull off.
[Sidenote: Kanye vs. Rainn Wilson was enjoyable, if perhaps a little overlong, and was an example of a much better attempt at freshening things up than the musical numbers.]
Disappointment – Ricky Gervais defeats Steve Carell and Alec Baldwin
Ricky Gervais is a very cool winner, but it was the wrong place for Emmy to pick an obscure long shot. In doing so, both Steve Carell’s fantastic three seasons of work on The Office and Alec Baldwin’s show-stealing turn on 30 Rock are left out in the cold on TV’s biggest night. I’m not disappointed in who was honoured, but rather at the fact that there is no representation from NBC’s fantastic Thursday Night comedy lineup in the acting categories.
Ambivalent – Sally Field’s Emmy Speech
Watching on CTV in Canada, Sally Field’s much-talked about Emmy Speech was incredibly normal: anti-war sentiment, impassioned plea spoken in stilted speech, strong reaction from liberal crowd. In the U.S., meanwhile, FOX broadcasters cut Field from the broadcast as soon as she started to say “god-damned war.” My ambivalence is simple: it was not even an issue to me, and has now exploded onto the internet. No matter the result of this conversation, on a personal level, I don’t understand the censorship.
Disgust – James Spader Steals an Emmy
He is the epitome of an Emmy darling, winning his third Emmy, but even James Spader knew he was stealing James Gandolfini’s Emmy. My disgust is due to the sameness of it all: at least with Gervais he was a wildcard pick, Spader was as safe as it gets (And was taking Michael C. Hall’s spot on the nominations list). He addressed the theft in his speech, and gave a funny little speech, but that Emmy belonged to Tony Soprano or Gregory House.
[Sidenote: The love for ABC was quite interesting – they took home four of the “Big 8” acting prizes (Field, O’Quinn, Ferrera, Spader)]
Glee – 30 Rock wins Outstanding Comedy
When Arrested Development won for Outstanding Comedy, the American viewing public were confused: what was this show, and why did it just beat Everybody Loves Raymond? I, unfortunately had the same reaction, and only a year or two later did I finally discover that comic gem.
Well, I’m ahead of the curve with 30 Rock, but I can only hope that NBC is able to take better advantage of this Emmy than FOX did with AD. My glee is admittedly somewhat unbecoming, I’m sure, but it single-handedly made my night: even with Ugly Betty and The Office winning other major awards, it was Tina Fey’s brilliant comedy that rose to the top. And I like that.
Security – The Sopranos wins Best Drama
After getting shut out in the acting categories (That means losing five Emmys), but taking writing and directing, The Sopranos picked up the biggest award in television for only the second time. And my reaction was somewhat strange, perhaps, in that I felt secure.
That security was due to the fact that Emmy, after all of the emotional manipulation it rendered upon me, were in fact predictable at their core. The idea that the Emmys were becoming progressive, honouring new shows and deserved performers, would have been too much to take; there is something comforting about unbridled cynicism being considered the proper response to an Award Show.
So when David Chase took to the stage, I knew I would sleep well knowing I could be cynical in the morning without any concern for whether it was the right response: heading into the future, cynicism shall forever remain the proper post-Emmy emotion.