Welcome to the Emmys, Where the Wrong People Always Win
I turned from the joy of a Bears rout of the Steelers to a musical number that sounds like a rendition of “Copacabana” written by Barry Manilow while high on quaaludes and living in a pop-up camper. That is what the Emmys like to jam into a four hour awards presentation for “levity.” A beloved, buzzy actor – Neil Patrick Harris! Nathan Fillion! – joke about how goddamn long this whole thing is. Then it resumes, and like a murder suspect trying to run out the clock, you start yelling at the TV: “CHARGE ME OR RELEASE ME.”
The Emmys: as mystifying as they are ineffable, there is no known knowledge for their existence and survival, yet they continue. Do people still eat Cracker Jack? That product, too, is still made, and yet Cracker Jack differs in a crucial way from the Emmys: there is a guaranteed prize at the end.
About twenty people in the entire country win something from the Emmys. The next echelon is reserved for presenters who say things like, “this LADY, as SEXY as she WANTS TO BE, Carrie Underwood,” reading off a teleprompter. Their smiles are fixed, like that clown game at every arcade whose teeth you have to shoot out with skee-balls. Some poor harried person holding a clipboard has to say to each presenter being shuttled off : you’re not reading off a teleprompter. You’re bringing something NEW and FRESH to the ceremony. And there is certainly a good reason for you to do so. Now go give Aaron Sorkin that boost of self-esteem he so desperately needs.
Don’t worry about the outcome. The wrong people will always, always win. Jim Parsons, from The Big Bang Theory, would be condemned as a plague-bringer in any decent country and be forced to live in a rowboat, yet in America, will be praised before millions. If the right people win, it will be for the wrong thing. Jeff Daniels, a fine actor, will win for something called The Newsroom, which is a 5th-grade civics project from about 1995, made by a kid who was told Bill Clinton is a good idea. And the right targets will only be found in the wrong firing range; just take the American remake of House of Cards, the most ill-considered, inept remake of a hit original since our second attack on Iraq.
Further down the totem pole are all the people in the room who are sweating nacre from the nerves of knowing they’re not going to win. You can identify them by the slight, distracted smile that flags on their face when Jimmy Fallon comes out to talk like a pirate or whatever extremely hifalutin gag he’s going to smirk his way through. The wrinkles on their faces practically contort into the Mark of the Beast as the horrifying truth dawns on them: “I’m going to lose an award for acting excellence to CLAIRE DANES.”
Below these sad failed nominees, are all the people about whom even the lowliest couch-dweller like me can chortle at. “Haha! How’s it going Seth MacFarlane? Any chance you’ll contract dysentery on camera to keep me watching?” Or worse, the mandarins who year-in, year-out, will still inhabit their lofty perch in the Hollywood pecking order. “Nice reaction shot of Lorne Michaels, surveying the stage with utter contempt.”
And below all of those? Me. And probably you. Eating delivery on our Sunday night, in sweatpants, wondering: “Jesus, what time can we go to bed?” Not yet. Let the Thai food settle. Think on it in the morning. Maybe next year you’ll have something better to do. Or at least watch.