Emmys Gone Wild

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Everyone complains that the Emmy Awards—heck, most Award shows—are staid, over-long affairs that just don’t earn their three-plus hour block of prime time anymore. Viewers (not to mention reviewers) look for anything that’s remarkable—whose dress sucked (Hayden Panettiere), who made the best unscripted quip (Elaine Stritch), and who brought the funny (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who gave non-attendee Ricky Gervais’ Emmy to their friend Steve Carell).

There. Those were your Emmy highlights for 2007. That took less than 30 seconds. So the question is: how do we make the whole thing worth watching? Here’s how:

1) Don’t censor the damn thing. We’re all big people, here. Let the stars talk—better yet, let them let loose with a torrent of id the likes of which we haven’t seen since Robin Williams quit cocaine. And besides, the censorship anymore is completely hypocritical. If the writers of Real Time with Bill Maher can pretend that they’re having sex in a men’s room, and Brad Garrett can make umpteen jokes about co-star Joely Fisher’s breasts, and two (count ‘em!) gay men (Neil Patrick Harris and Ryan Seacrest) can make references to Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere now being “legal”…then I think we can handle Sally Field saying “this goddamned war." Or was that censored because of the anti-war sentiment? What are we watching, FOX? Oh, that’s right. We were. Which leads me to suggestion #2…
2) Get the Emmys off the Free-Air Networks. Put it on HBO, where no one has to worry about language, or even wardrobe malfunctions. Who cares, seriously? When pay-cable TV shows like The Sopranos, Entourage, and Weeds are winning a good portion of the awards available, then it’s obviously not inappropriate for one of them to carry the show giving those awards out. And besides, if those shows are among the most popular shows on TV, then who are we kidding anymore by limiting the show to what used to be the “Big Three” plus Fox? The point here is that the successful awards shows in the past 20 years have gotten that way by being unexpected—and everyone knows that you don’t expect the unexpected at these faux-formal events. As for the argument that if it’s on pay cable, fewer people will get to watch it? No one is anyway—the ratings for this year were among the lowest ever.
3) Accept that Glitz is Dead. Yes, red carpet, I’m looking at you. The thrill of celebrity-sighting is pretty much gone, now that I can log into the computer and for a small fee see pretty much anyone in their birthday suits. Where once it was interesting just to catch a glimpse of a star acting “natural”, we now have far too much of that. I know all about who Jennifer Aniston is dating, about what Brad Pitt thinks about being a Dad, about which kid Angelina Jolie is carting around this week like a Prada purse. Hell, I know whether or not Britney Spears has had a bikini wax or not each week, and I’m not even trying. So yes, the mystery is dead, Hollywood. So now, can we stop pretending that it’s not, and move on?

So there’s the solution: the Emmys need to get real and go wild. Truly reflect the face of the medium. Television ain’t about glamour—never really has been. And to pretend otherwise is, well, an act worthy of an Emmy. Or a Daytime Emmy, at least.

-- Teague Bohlen

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