Monday, July 17, 2017

My thoughts on the Emmy nominations

Now that the Emmy nominations are in and Hollywood has had the weekend to crow or grouse about them, I think I would offer my perspective.

Here’s the main thing you need to know: These nominations are not based on quality. They’re based on zeitgeist and who the Academy likes and doesn’t like. It’s as simple as that.

Especially now when there is so much content out there.

THE GOOD FIGHT got nothing. It was every bit as good as THE GOOD WIFE, a show that did get some Emmy love. Why? No one saw THE GOOD FIGHT. THE GOOD WIFE was on CBS. THE GOOD FIGHT is on CBS Access. So without an enormous amount of buzz it toiled in relative obscurity.

The other thing to remember: There is a big disconnect between Academy voters and the general public. Shows are getting nominated that 90% of the population has never heard of. Shows people do watch are ignored.

But I’d say the biggest factor is zeitgeist. And boy is that fickle. How hot was TRANSPARENT just a couple of years ago? How hot was EMPIRE? Not to mention GIRLS. People claim this was a good season for GIRLS. Makes no difference. It’s over. Done. Is that unfair? Maybe. Was it unfair when Lena Dunham was being nominated for everything even when other contenders may have been more worthy?

That’s the playing field, folks.

And the Academy has its favorites. Movie stars doing TV series are generally given a big boost. Jane Fonda is an actress I totally admire, and she has turned in some phenomenal performances. But I’m sorry, she’s not funny. She’s just not. Yet, she was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy. Robert DeNiro got a nomination. You know that was a lock.

Carrie Fisher got a posthumous nomination for CATASTROPHE.  Would she have gotten it anyway?  Your guess is as good as mine.   

If THE MIDDLE, a wonderful show completely ignored by the Academy, changed not a moment of content but just added the following: “From Executive Producer Ryan Murphy” it would receive nine nominations.

The Academy hates Chuck Lorre. It’s not too fond of Dick Wolf either. Once you become your own empire there is Emmy backlash. If you have a “land” after your first name you are not winning Emmy hearts.

And then there’s the backlash when one-time darlings start believing their own press clippings and start thinking they are really geniuses. Jill Soloway leaps to mind. TRANSPARENT is now out and apparently voters didn’t LOVE DICK.

Favorites can extend to delivery systems. HBO and NETFLIX are in. The CW is out.
Another clear theme this year is anti-Trump. Colbert is in; Fallon is out. SNL got more nominations than they’ve had in years -- a staggering 22. And the zeitgeist comes back into play, which is why Trevor Noah didn’t make the cut.

It’s all a high school popularity contest.

Industry people are upset over the snubs. In particular THE LEFTOVERS and THE AMERICANS. On the other hand, back in the day when there were just three networks the big complaint was that the same shows got nominated year after year after year. That is certainly no longer a problem.

Congratulations to all the nominees. I hope to review the Emmycast. It airs on September 17th on CBS with Stephen Colbert hosting. So expect some angry presidential tweets the next morning (if he’s still president).


VP81955 said...

Allison Janney was nominated again for "Mom"...but this time as lead actress (she's won a few Emmys on the series in a supporting role). The Academy must hate Anna Faris even more than it hates Chuck Lorre.

Earl Boebert said...

And I understand Michael McKean (Chuck McGill in "Better Call Saul") was also omitted. Un-effing-believable. One of the greatest acting jobs of all time.

VincentS said...

Okay, it was a long time ago, but wasn't Jane Fonda funny in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK?

Brent Alles said...

Spot on, Ken. But I'll use this space to gripe again that "Bojack Horseman" not getting nominated for Best Animated Program is a frigging crime.

Garnet said...

The lead-actor-in-miniseries-or-movie category's particularly bad. It's five slumming movie stars and Riz Ahmed. It smacks of voters who are just voting for the biggest names they see.

Jeff said...

Hi Ken,

Great post. Will look forward to the review.

Friday Question on Hollywood's internal workings:

We friends were discussing about corruption and kickbacks and one of my friend said this interesting thing that, in Hollywood too kickbacks are given.

This is what he said -

1. If a studio head or someone with power, raises the remuneration of an actor from say 100 dollars to 150 dollars - then the agent gets a hike too. He would get 15 dollars as against 10 dollars. Now this 5 dollars he splits in half and gives it back as a kickback to the decision maker. That's how things work.

Everyone wins. The actor and the agent get extra and the honcho too gets a little something.

2. When a director is famous and powerful, he gets to choose his crew like Cameraman and costume designer etc... Now these people too give some kickbacks say maybe not in cash but in the form gifts to that director.

Is it true, does this form of corruption exists in Hollywood?

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

VincentS asked if Jane Fonda was funny in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.
The answer is, "No."
She played the straight person in the production.

Then again Neither is Robert Redford, who also was the straight person. He's amiable.

But Neil Simon is very funny. Especially back then. Especially as plays.
BAREFOOT is just quick, clever writing. The film is mostly the televised play.
It is largely forgotten movie because it's a little film.
But worth the read by anyone who hasn't read the play.

Like almost all Simon stories, the supporting cast is extremely funny.

Shelly said...

When you were nominated for EMMY how was the experience. Were you expecting it? Who gave the news first. Share your happiest moment Ken.....

blinky said...

If the Leftovers was nominated I would be in total shock. It was one of the best shows in the last three years, but it was awesome in a totally batshit crazy kind of way. I am just grateful it got made. Some shows just should not be popular.

Frank said...

Yeah, Better Call Saul got a lot of attention, but overlooking Michael McKean is inexplicable. Rhea Seehorn arguably deserved some love, too.

Scott H said...

Trevor Noah not getting nominated has nothing to do with "zeitgeist". He's a bad performer, and he ruins jokes nightly. There may be some great writers left on the "Daily Show" staff, but overall, the show is the host, and the host is bad at his job. He's not "not Jon Stewart" bad, he's just plain bad. Every joke gets stretched out to twice or 3 times its proper length, explained and "acted out" to the point of tedium. We get it, he does accents. Now if he only did comedy.

Jim S said...

You're right about not hearing of these shows. There's a show called "Love Dick"? I sort of heard of "Transparent" but that is it.

To be fair, I know there are good shows out there. I watched five minutes of "Rectified" on its classy cable channel. Could tell it was an intelligent show written by smart people for smart people. I am no genius, but I think I have decent taste. I never watched another five minutes of the show again.

It was just so heavy. I have problems, and I actually like shows that entertain me in a smart and fun fashion. That's why I loved "Justify" and why I love "Better Call Saul."

Gary said...

The Emmys lose all credibility when you consider the past greats who never won one, such as Jackie Gleason, Desi Arnaz and Andy Griffith. More recently, Jason Alexander and Steve Carell.

Andrew said...

@Gary: Jason Alexander was a good sport about it. He said he had no problem losing (repeatedly) to Michael Richards or David Hyde-Pierce, and was glad to be nominated alongside them. He also said that he much preferred a Tony to an Emmy.

Cap'n Bob said...

My reaction to the Emmys: YAAAWN!

Chucky Jones said...


I think it's sorta a chicken and egg situation in MiniSeries/TV Movie category,name actors and movie stars are mostly offered these roles cause HBO in particular want to boost their Emmy total's. DeNiro's performance in Wizard Of Lies is actually pretty good,that said I wonder how awful Wizard Of Lies would have had to be to not get nominated in tv movie when a Dolly Parton Christmas movie sequel was able to make top 5.

Astroboy said...

The Middle getting overlooked every year for an Emmy, always irks me. But Eden Sher (indomitable Sue Heck!) never getting recognition for her wonderful work is a straight out sin.

Kosmo13 said...

The Emmys: is that still on?

McAlvie said...

I did wonder about those shows aired via network subscription. First, I think people are really, REALLY tired of having to log on to every blessed thing; second, 1 show is not going to make you change your mind about that. If they want me to subscribe, they need a complete line up that will make it worth my while; and if they can do that, they can put it together for regular broadcast.

Honestly, I watch little tv these days because there are only a handful of shows worth watching. They tend to be the shows that I was watching 10 years ago, or a small handful of shows that are of the same caliber, like Madame Secretary. I know the whole anti-hero thing has been big on cable, and likewise there's been a market for dark serial dramas. But (a) I'm not a fan of either*, and (b) of those, only one or two have been really good and innovative. The others have just been jumping on the bandwagon.

*My reasons for not being a fan are: I think it's kind of lazy writing (bad guys being more fun to write and there's no end to what you can have them do); when I watch a show, I am basically inviting those characters into my living room, and why would I want to hang around with people I don't like?; and staying up with the story arc gets old.

Ralph C. said...

Mystery Science Theater 3000 should've received at least one Emmy nomination. :-)

Bob B. said...

I still don't understand why Netflix, Amazon, etc are eligible for Emmys. They're not television, they're computer.

Charles H Bryan said...

I always remember that CITIZEN KANE did not win Best Picture and that THE WIRE never won Best Drama. Time will be the ultimate judge.

That being said, Michael McKean and Rhea Seahorn got rooked.