Thoughts on the 63rd Primetime Emmy Nominations, Part 1

Let me preface this by saying that these aren’t my predictions. If I were filling out an Emmy scorecard, I’d probably choose differently. However, if I had an official ballot in front of me, this is how I’d be voting.

Outstanding Drama

Impressive nod to Game of Thrones in its freshman season. Obvious nods to Mad Men, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire. Friday Night Lights is in its final season, and hasn’t won yet, but for the show to go home with the big prize would still be somewhat of an upset. This season of Dexter hasn’t lived up to the marvelous plot-twisting of last season. Mad Men, on the other hand, is a show that ages like a fine wine. My vote:

Mad Men

Outstanding Comedy

30 Rock and The Office are well past their prime, though The Office gets a boost for last season being Steve Carrell’s farewell. Glee and Modern Family, the two breakout comedies of 2010, lost a bit of their freshness in 2011. Modern Family went home with the Emmy last year, but Season 2 was much more uneven. On the other hand, voters and viewers love the show. (Spoiler: I love the show as well.)

The Big Bang Theory is a solid middle America lowbrow pleaser, with a considerable geek cachet. However, it’s not amazing television, and not nearly as smart or inventive as the other nominees. I’d take last season’s How I Met Your Mother over last season’s The Big Bang Theory any day, even with the increasingly delightful Miyam Bialik. Parks and Rec is an underdog, but an underdog that has been gaining speed and viewers. It’s a simple, fresh comedy that has a unique voice. My vote:

Parks and Recreation

Outstanding Animated Program

It’s a truism that the Emmy ballot looks roughly the same every year. Perhaps it’s no truer for any category than it is for Outstanding Animated Program. In a genre with characters that rarely age and longstanding longevity generated by DVD sales, the same shows do tend to be nominated over and over again.

It’s jarring to realize that South Park‘s reputation has far eclipsed its beginnings as  a rebellious upstart show with toilet humor and a penchant for annoying celebrities. Now, its nomination is expected. South Park is definitely part of the television establishment now, especially with this latest nomination. The past season was lackluster, but like The Simpsons, South Park has achieved a consistently high quality, so much that voters ignore the specific achievements of each season.

Futurama‘s nomination should also come as no surprise, with the show’s predilection for heartwarming tear-jerkers. Honestly, the only show in the bunch that has really been making creative strides in recent years is Robot Chicken, an underrated show that has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception. My vote:

Robot Chicken

Outstanding Children’s Program

I can’t vouch for any of the shows, as I’m not familiar with current children’s programming, but I have to point out one. Degrassi, the over-the-top teen soap, submitted a particularly potent episode this year. In “My Body Is a Cage,” a character deals with his transgender identity, first through self-harm, but later through support from family and friends. In the same episode, a teen becomes a class clown in an effort to get a higher grade. It’s this duality of serious, controversial issues and ordinary sitcom fare that makes Degrassi a culturally important television program.

 

More discussion to come in a later post. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Emmy noms. Comment away!

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