The 2012 Primetime Emmy Nominations
July 19th, 2012
While Cultural Learnings has certainly been put on the backburner as I spend my summer studying, my willpower to keep myself from writing about television is at its weakest during Emmy season. While you would think that an early analysis of the leadup to the nominations and a piece on the nominations itself—focusing on Downton Abbey’s successful transition to the Series category—over at Antenna would be sufficient, I found myself hitting the site’s word count limit while still having a whole collection of narratives left to play out.
Accordingly, there are two points I want to make here. The first is the way in which this year’s awards demonstrate the capacity for a show to fall completely off the radar, and the other is what this year’s awards mean for the different networks and channels who are always looking to retain a footing within the race for nominations.
Earlier this evening, my brother directed me to a piece at Slate defending the Golden Globes, something that we don’t see particularly often. Indeed, that is very much the impetus behind Tom Shone’s argument, praising the Globes relative to the Academy Awards for a collection of strong choices that the Academy would undo a month later (such as, for example, the Globes honoring Brokeback Mountain only for the Oscars to choose the turgid Crash instead).
Shone’s argument is interesting, primarily because it does little to hide its anecdotal nature. He argues that while we might contest many choices that the Globes have made over the years, they have done enough good in enough instances to be “worth it” in the end. While some might question the value of their existence, Shone believes that looking at even a handful of examples where they were legitimately ahead of the curve, or where their whims happened to match with how cinematic history would remember a particular year in film, justify any travesties they might otherwise commit.
My brother’s question to me, upon informing me of the article, was whether I would suggest the same could be said for television, a thought that I was preoccupied with throughout tonight’s Golden Globes broadcast. Whereas the Golden Globes line up comfortably as a precursor for the Oscars, the Globes’ relationship with the Emmys is complicated by their differing eligibility periods and voting structures. However, building on Shone’s argument, there was evidence within tonight’s broadcast that some of the Globes’ voting habits that we might otherwise vilify in particular contexts proved to benefit shows that I like, and shows that may not necessarily be lauded to the same degree come September.
My takeaway from this is not necessarily a validation of the Golden Globes or the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but rather an increased belief that our assessment of award shows needs to become more nuanced, both in terms of how we perceive them as cultural entities and in terms of how we consider their industrial – as opposed to cultural – significance as a framework for understanding their greater “meaning.”