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James Hibberd



The Emmys Haven’t Started and They’re Wrong Already

September 16, 2007 11:45 AM

Critics are quick to assume the Academy is incompetent/corrupt/archaic whenever there’s a schism between their favorite shows and the Emmy nominations, which is more than a little unfair.

Any system based on polling a select group of insiders is highly likely to result in a few unpopular and unconventional (or overly conventional) choices. A perfect system would result in an awards show that was entirely predictable and, therefore, entirely dull (well, moreso).

So the Emmy Awards is the like the joke about the restaurant patron who complains about the terrible food and small portions. Viewers and critics slam the Emmys for not honoring the most obvious artistic choices and for being too predictable.

That said: Before the show begins, lets recall a few of this year’s most surprising choices:

  • The Academy might as well have nominated Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” for best drama considering how much they flummoxed critics by choosing ABC’s “Boston Legal.”
  • Flip side, same coin: The absence of NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” from the drama category sent critics into a depressive spiral. How many drums do they need to beat for people to pay attention to this show?
  • The ongoing snub of Sci Fi’s “Battlestar Galactica” and HBO’s “The Wire” for best drama also resulted in ‘oh the humanity’ hair pulling. A far bigger surprise would be either of show receiving major nominations considering their feeble ratings. Why do their ratings matter? Well, if most viewers don’t watch a show, then most Academy members probably don’t either. And it’s a tall order to expect somebody to honor a show they don’t regularly watch over the many shows they do.
  • The earnest-but-flawed HBO miniseries “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” receiving 17 nominations, more than any other program; USA’s “The Starter Wife” receiving 10. The admittedly egregious byproducts of movies and miniseries having their own separate categories while fewer-than-ever eligible productions are being made.
  • Acting snubs: Kyle Chandler of “Lights,” Michael C. Hall of “Dexter,” Mary McDonnell of “Battlestar,” Ian McShane of “Deadwood,” and so on. As The Bard wrote: “I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space.” Great performances on low-rated shows make for uphill Emmy battles.

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