Why I’m Not Writing 2010 Emmy Nominations Predictions
July 7th, 2010
Like anyone who follows the Emmy Awards, I have accepted that I will derive equal parts pain and pleasure from this particular interest. While I pride myself in remaining objective about the awards, I wouldn’t follow them the way I did if I didn’t get giddy on Nomination morning and if I didn’t spend the hours after the announcement bemoaning the mistakes the Academy has made. While my interest in the awards may be more intellectual than emotional on average, the fact remains that my analysis comes from a genuine love for the flawed and frustrating notion of award shows rather than simply an outsider’s curiosity surrounding a fascinating nomination system.
And so when I sat down to write out my final predictions, I balked: I’ve handicapped the major categories in comedy and drama, looked at the individual changes for a number of series of interest, and chatted about it on Twitter, and I sort of feel like I’ve run out of momentum. I think I have made most of the points I really wanted to make, and staking my claim on particular nominees doesn’t feel necessary or particularly valuable to me personally. It’s not as if I begrudge those who predict every category, or that I feel they are degrading a complex process: rather, the part of the process in which I have the least interest in is trying to consolidate all of the potential circumstances into a set of predictions that will be almost surely wrong.
You wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that I’m effectively copping out of this particular process, but it isn’t because I’m worried about being wrong: rather, I just feel like I’ve written so much already that going into every individual category seems like a daunting task which would make me less, rather than more, excited about the nominees and the process of sorting through the lists seeing how the races are shaping up.
However, since I don’t want to appear to be flaking out too much, here’s my basic feelings heading into tomorrow’s nominations in terms of who I’m hopeful for and who I’m hoping doesn’t make it onto the ballot, which best captures my state of mind as we enter the next stage of the process.
These are the contenders who more or less sit on the bubble of a nomination, part of the conversation without being shoo-ins by any stretch of the imagination. As a result, while I may be pleased to see Michael Emerson, Terry O’Quinn and Lost nominated tomorrow morning, I won’t be particularly surprised, nor am I particularly concerned at this point about their chances. These are the series and performers that I would most like to see break the expectation of Emmy complacency, some of them pipe dreams and some of them realistic propositions which will hopefully manage to come through this time around.
Sons of Anarchy: FX’s drama series showed huge improvement in its second season, delivering a pace which most drama series wouldn’t dare risk out of fear of running out of story ideas and proving darn entertaining in the process.
Parks and Recreation: while I love Community, Parks and Recreation was the best comedy on television this year, and its second season improvement deserves to be rewarded in any way possible.
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad): Aaron Paul was great all season, but Norris was at the heart of some of the third season’s most harrowing moments, and what was once an annoying side character turned into something much, much more.
Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation): The year’s breakout character, Ron Swanson is a true bit of comic genius, as Offerman makes breakfast foods and chair caning into uproariously funny pieces of character comedy which helped define the show’s creative surge.
Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy): Last season, I was disappointed that Sagal didn’t enter the conversation; this season, considering Gemma’s story arc and Sagal’s stunning work portraying it, it will be an injustice.
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad): She’s not my favourite actress on television, but I hope that voters recognize how Gunn stepped up to the plate when Gilligan and his writers finally decided to let Skyler become a real character, successfully negotiating her transformation from nuisance to collaborator.
Khandi Alexander (Treme): while John Goodman is a more likely candidate for breaking the streak of David Simon series earning no acting nominations, Ladonna’s search for her brother was (surprisingly, considering my initial reservations) the emotional center of Treme’s first season, and Alexander was heart-wrenching throughout.
The Spited and Scorned
I don’t mean to rag on these particular series and performers, but the fact remains that there are parts of the Emmy ballot where I become frustrated with their complacency, and where I can’t help but hope they resist these particular traps.
Big Love: after getting nominated as a series but failing to enter any other categories last year, I’m hopeful the Emmys recognize how awful the fourth season was creatively and instead reward people like Chloe Sevigny for rising above the material.
Entourage: I don’t think I need to spend too much time explaining this one, but the fact of the matter is that HBO’s series hasn’t been worthy of Emmy attention for over five years, and it’s about time that voters pick up on this particular fact.
Damages: I don’t have anything against Damages, per se, but so much of its Emmy-worthiness comes from its star power, and the notion that it could be rewarded over Sons of Anarchy or Treme based entirely on that variable bothers me.
The Office: the weakest of the four NBC comedies this year, I want the Office to fall out of the nominations not so much because I dislike it, but rather because I want it to be a wakeup call for all involved that something needs to be done to get the show back on track.
Family Guy: it was clever last year, but this show has no business returning to the dance this year once the novelty wears off…I hope.
Simon Baker (The Mentalist): while The Mentalist remained a hit, any of the buzz surrounding Baker’s performance faded away, and there’s too many great contenders this year for Baker to justifiably stick around.
Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters): I could have put numerous actresses who have been clogging up this category the last few years, but Field won once for the role and the show has become stale to the point where Field just isn’t getting the material to really deserve a spot here.
Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon (Entourage): with big new comedies and strong new supporting actors from much-hyped new comedies, the Academy has no excuse to revert back to contenders quite this tired.
Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live): once a redeeming quality for SNL, Wiig’s characters have been run into the ground to the point where her appearance is a sign of creative stagnation as opposed to a sign of a strong performer.