Does awards season count as a spectator sport? In my household, it does, and I suspect it might in many others. We have pools; we have awards-watching parties; we go to battle for our proverbial “teams” — the shows, the actors, the writers.
And then we kvetch about the snubs — which may in and of itself be a sport: quibbling over those who were egregiously overlooked, or those who snagged noms for the gazillionth time for series that have become so long in the tooth it’s a wonder they’re still on the air (I’m looking at you, Modern Family). I don’t mean to begrudge anyone their hard-earned honors — everyone works hard, and good for the actors, the writers, directors, editors, EVERYONE, for having their work recognized. But my inner five-year-old says, “You already had your turn!” TV has been so exceptional that the fields have never been more competitive than in these past few years. There are no throwaway nominations, so voters: Don’t throw those votes away.
We viewers want to cheer for those honored, be they repeat nominees or those new to the party. And there are so many worthy contenders. I, like many critics who’ve been blogging and tweeting throughout the day, am thrilled to see Kerry Washington get a shout-out for Scandal. Who isn’t happy to see Tami Taylor, I mean, Connie Britton (though I’m admittedly one of the few who gave up on Nashville, which is kind of a yawn — and I say this as a fan of country. T Bone’s rendering, anyway)? How I would love to see Jane Krakowski finally nab an Emmy for her genius turn as one of the most perverse characters ever to appear on a network sitcom. And I was crossing my fingers till they turned purple for American Horror Story: Asylum, which brilliantly and boldly balanced social justice with camp and wonderfully deranged story-telling, especially as Ryan Murphy took on the Catholic Church—more mercilessly and angrily than Almodóvar before him. And the incredible performances — by Zachary Quinto, Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson —subversive, terrifying, haunting, searing, and so incredibly affecting I still can’t shake them all these months later. And lo and behold, Emmy came through.And Mandy Patinkin, that sexy Semitic bear—it’s about effin’ time. I could go on. Okay, just a few more: Veep’s Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky, Louie; Adam Driver for Girls; and Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks, my favorite fixer ever. I guess I was happier with the nominations than I realized.
But that’s not to say I didn’t notice the glaring — GLARING! —omissions. Where is Noah Emmerich? Or Keri Russell, whose eighties-era icy suburban mom by day/KGB spy by night on The Americans is so scrappy and tough, that she beat the crap out of Margo Martindale (who did nab a nom), all but erasing Felicity from our minds. Even the series itself deserves a nod. I mean, if you’re going to reward an entire season Homeland for a half-great season — it started out well and then quickly derailed into a trainwreck — why not reward a series that was consistently entertaining from the outset? And Hannibal, a show that uses gruesome as set design for its true horror: Hannibal’s rare, brilliant manipulations, as he gets under your skin and into your mind, gaslighting his victims and convincing them of anything, not least of which, that they’re insane. Or if things go, let’s say, less well—if they’re in his way, or onto his game (sorry for the inadvertent pun), he’ll kill the, and not in vain, for they will be served up exquisitely, in a preparation that would make Grant Achatz jealous.
I’m positively mad for Mads — and Mr. Danes (a.k.a. Hugh Dancy), too. John Slattery made a nearly unbearable-to-watch season of Mad Men, well, bearable to watch, with his comic genius and his all-around poignant performance — where’s his proverbial thank-you? And year after year, Park and Recreation’s Nick Offerman is overlooked. What would curmudgeonly Ron Swanson have to say? Well, nothing —he hates award shows. That is, unless he’s being rewarded for his fine woodwork.
Will I lose sleep over these snubs? Well, no, but I am serious about my devotion to these shows and these performances — and my subsequent annoyance about the Academy of Television of Arts & Sciences’ oversights. Here’s hoping the Golden Globes will pick up the slack. Still, it’s an Emmy tradition — really, an awards-season tradition — to overlook, and, of course irritate the viewers and critics, get us talking, debating, kvetching, shaking fists at the TV.
Of course, inevitably, once the song-and-dance is over, we put it behind us, likely even forget who won what, until the next awards show, and tuck into the next season’s offerings. Because at the end of the day, we just want to watch our stories.