I’ve known about the existence of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association for a while now, and it’s always struck me as a bit odd. Seemingly an alternative to the Television Critics’ Association, although some of the members actually hold membership in both organizations, the BTJA “has been formed as a collective voice to represent the professional interests of those who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences as well.”
This sounds all well and good, but it seems pretty obvious to me that someone like TV Line’s Michael Ausiello doesn’t have any issues getting access to either stars or content, and the same goes for members representing TV Guide, AOL, or Access Hollywood. For these people, the second part of the BTJA’s mandate seems like the true raison d’etre: “BTJA will also present the Critics’ Choice Television Awards to honor the finest achievements on networks and channels big and small.”
The nominees for the first annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards were released this morning, and my Twitter stream lit up with excitement over nominations for shows criminally overlooked by the Emmys in previous years. I saw tweets from excited bloggers, excited fans, excited executives, and even excited nominees. And yet, when I went to actually look at the nominees, my response was more apprehension than excitement.
Now, my issue is not so much with who/what was nominated, but rather how those people/shows were nominated. Essentially, I consider the Critics’ Choice Television Awards to be a large-scale extension of “Dream Emmy Ballot” pieces, an outlet through which an individual or group can increase their own profile by pandering to fans of particular programs by including them and pointing out that the Emmys will never do the same. This is not an effort to create a more transparent or accurate nomination process, nor does it place any pressure on the Academy to revamp the Emmy Awards process: all it does is use the lure of awards glory to gain our attention.
And while it’s nice to see someone pandering to my demo for a change, that doesn’t mean that we should be partying in the streets.
More “Not Boring” Than Usual:
Surprises Elevate the 2010 Primetime Emmys
As a whole, the Emmy Awards live and die on surprise: sure, there’s always favourites, but the idea that “anything can happen” is what keeps us watching a show which so often punishes us for becoming emotionally involved. For every pleasant surprise there has been soul-crushing complacency, and so we watch hoping that something will cut through the pain in order to give us some sense of hope for the legitimacy of these awards.
And while we eventually leave each evening lamenting numerous mistakes, comfortable in our superior knowledge of what is truly great in television in a given year, I don’t want that to obfuscate the moments of transcendence. Sometimes, moments come together that defy our cynical expectations, moments that find the spontaneity in the scripted or make the spontaneous feel as if it was planned all along. And while I remain the jaded critic that I was before the show began, any chance of carrying that attitude through the entirety of the show was diminished at the sight of Jon Hamm booty-dancing towards Betty White, and all but gone by the time Top Chef finally ended The Amazing Race’s reign of terror over Reality Competition program.
It was a night filled with surprises, whether in terms of who was winning the awards (with a huge number of first-time winners) or in terms of emotional moments which resulted from those winners – sure, there were hiccups along the way, and there were still a number of winners which indicated that the Emmys are still stuck in their ways, but there was enough excitement for me to designate these Emmys as “not boring.”
In fact, I’d go so far as to say they were more “not boring” than usual.
Why I Write About the Emmys
August 27th, 2010
On her Twitter feed, the illustrious Maureen Ryan (soon to be of AOL TV) posted the following:
This would likely be a common sentiment amongst TV critics: they write about the Emmys less because they care about them and more because they’re a major television event which their employers (whether they be print or online outlets) feel they need to have coverage of. There’s a general cynicism towards the Emmys, with many critics writing posts which question their validity or offering their own alternative ballot to better reflect a more objective (albeit decidedly subjective) survey of the year in television.
However, in my unique position without any sort of employer, I am able to write about what I want to write about, which begs the question: why, precisely, do I write about the Emmys as much as I do? I don’t have to predict the nominations, or analyze the submissions, or break down each individual category, but I choose to do so. I had originally planned to just predict Comedy and Drama series and be done with it, but there’s been enough talk about how and why we cover the Emmy Awards floating around that I wanted to offer my personal perspective before we head into the weekend.
Lead Acting in a Comedy Series
August 25th, 2010
There is nothing particularly progressive about the Lead Acting awards on the comedy side: with Modern Family’s cast choosing to submit in supporting across the board, and with Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison both submitting poorly, the big comedy battle of the year really isn’t relevant here, which means that we’re left with less interesting battles.
Or, more accurately, some less heartening battles: the reality is that these awards are unlikely to go to new faces, with previous winners dominating both fields. I’d like to believe that someone like Amy Poehler or Jim Parsons could walk away with these awards, but only the latter really has a chance, and even then something big, boring, and potentially enraging stands in his way.
Supporting Acting in a Comedy
August 24th, 2010
When it comes to the supporting acting awards in comedy, it’s an interesting microcosm of the larger comedy race: while 30 Rock is unrepresented in a competitive fashion, both races boil down to a showdown between the freshman contenders, Modern Family and Glee.
The problem is that what works from a series perspective won’t work from an acting perspective: the overwhelming positivity of Glee, or Modern Family’s rekindling of the family sitcom tradition, won’t be as evident in acting submissions. However, it will be a part of the process when Jane Lynch’s position as frontrunner is tested, and where we see whether the men of Modern Family can deal with vote-splitting.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
- Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
- Jane Lynch (Glee)
- Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)
- Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
- Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)
- Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)
With Supporting Actress, Lynch has been the frontrunner from the beginning despite the fact that she’s yet to win anything: with SAG not recognizing supporting players, and with the Golden Globes lumping her in with far more substantial roles like Chloe Sevigny’s, she has yet to found a platform where her comic role could be recognized. It’s a broad, juicy comic role, which makes it an ideal fit in this category. While Glee as a series could prove divisive, everyone seems on the same page that Lynch’s scenery-chewing is some really strong work, and any problems people have with the role are regarding how the writers use her as opposed to Lynch’s performance.