The Emmys: Herein Lies the Problem - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

The Emmys: Herein Lies the Problem

09/04/2008

I was going to direct you to the Web site where you can see a full list of all the Prime-time Emmy Award nominees this year, but I say, don't waste your time. Here's the skinny. You pretty much get the same nominees this year as you did last year in all the major categories.

There are some cosmetic differences. When the nominations were announced on July 17, all the buzz was over Mad Men, a freshman TV series on basic cable, which became the first basic cable TV show to be nominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category. It's the AMC network's first scripted drama. Compared to the previous Emmy list, Mad Men replaces The Sopranos, which won last year in its final year on HBO. Yet, if you take a closer look, you'll see that both shows were produced by Matthew Weiner. Weiner was a producer on The Sopranos. He's now the creator and head writer of Mad Men.

And, herein lies the problem with the Emmy Awards. The same people continue to get nominated year after year after year. There are some quality shows that have been on the air for many years that are worth honoring multiple times, but each year, dozens of new programs premiere, and, quite a few are excellent but never get recognized cause some shows want to be stalwarts, and refuse to step aside.

A few years ago, Oprah had the good and humble sense to take herself out of the Emmy competition. She and her show are very popular. People know it's a good show. The fact that it's won numerous times is proof. Eventually, Oprah realized that she doesn't need the constant validation. How many awards did she need? There are only five slots to be filled. Therefore, by removing herself, she left room for new and different talent to be recognized.

In order to even be nominated, a person from a TV show has to submit sample materials. To those nominated this year that were previous winners and multiple nominees from years past, I ask why. Are you so selfish, or, so vain, that you feel like you need praising over and over again? I say, learn from Oprah. Let someone else have a turn.

In the drama categories, Hugh Laurie in FOX's House is up again for the upteenth time. Emmy-winner James Spader and his show Boston Legal is nominated again. I'm not saying these men and shows aren't quality shows, but I'd like for them for one year to put their egos aside.

Consequently, there are so many TV series that are getting snubbed, passed over, or squeezed out becasue those stalwarts can't stop having the spotlight on them for two seconds so that someone else can shine. The major TV critics cry over the disregard for NBC's Friday Night Lights and HBO's The Wire.

Both shows are hailed, but have been consistently shut out of the major Emmy categories. Over the years, I've tried to make noise over The Shield on FX, Gilmore Girls on the WB, and Smallville on the CW. Despite their snubs, all three programs were some of the best on TV, but overlooked due to the stalwarts never wanting to lose their place in line.

This year, several new shows jockeyed for attention. Some old shows with veteran or long-time actors vied for recognition with no luck. The absolute best of all the new dramas, which was overlooked by the Emmys, was Eli Stone on ABC.

The show premiered in January. It centered on a lawyer in San Francisco who starts having hallucinations and believes them to be prophetic visions from God before he's later diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. The series starred Jonny Lee Miller as well as an amazing ensemble including Victor Garber, Loretta Divine, and Natasha Henstridge. The show was supremely well-written, touching on modern issues like autism and eminent domain, alcoholism, faith and fatherhood.

The final episode, which aired in May, literally had me in tears. The series was truly phenomenal television. It was inspiring, uplifting, emotional, sharp, and at times funny. It was fresh, but the Emmys instead decided to nominate two stale shows that are both four years old, House and Boston Legal. Not to say those two shows don't deserve it, but both shows have been repeatedly nominated and will probably continue to be over and over, crowding out any other shows that hope to be recognized.

Of all the new comedies, Aliens in America on the CW was the absolute best. It focused on a suburban, middle-class family that takes in a high school, foreign-exchange student from Pakistan. The student is Muslim and the family is Christian. Not only was the half-hour series an interesting and funny examination of foreign relations and cultural differences between Pakistan and the United States in this post 9/11 world, but it was also an astute look at contemporary teen life.

The show was highly entertaining and it also had a message, a great commentary on our society. Yet, the Emmys passed it by so it could nominate Two and a Half Men. It makes no sense, if you're trying to recognize and promote good, quality shows, and not the same thing again and again. 

 
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