Magazine article Variety

Seriously, Emmys? Yes

Magazine article Variety

Seriously, Emmys? Yes

Article excerpt

Jon Weisman The Vote

The quibbles will never cease, but the TV Academy deserve its own kudos for many of its picks

Not gonna lie to you: More than once, I've heard people around the office say (cue voice of J. Walter Weatherman), "And that's when I learned not to take the Emmys seriously."

More than once, I've even had the same thought myself.

It's easy to slide into cynicism about the Primetime Emmy awards during the moments when personal favorites go unrewarded in favor of the seemingly inexplicable or unconscionable. But largely speaking, the Emmys do serve as a worthy barometer of the best in television, and in the end (heck, in the beginning and the middle, too), I take them pretty damn seriously.

What stands out, above all else, is this: The playing field, if not completely level, passes the eyeball test. The size of your distribution doesn't dictate your Emmy chances.

Showtime's Homeland won last year's drama series Emmy, after AMC's Mad Men won the previous four, with typical hourly audiences roughly a tenth of what NCIS averages on CBS. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences might be accused of elitism, but when it comes to celebrating the best, that should be a badge of honor.

Three-time defending comedy series champ Modern Family, on the other hand, is a ratings Andre the Giant, but there was little question about its critical appeal out of the gate. With its 2012 victory, you could hear some grumbling that the ABC comedy no longer deserved such laurels, but many of the murmurs came from such diverse and niche fan clubs - Louie, Parks and Recreation, Veep - that you could explain the Modern victory as one of plurality.

More to the point, as you look ahead to possible successors to Modern in comedy, you'd be hard-pressed to predict which of the following has the better shot: good-humored CBS ratings machine The Big Bang Theory or the ultimate small-aud bee in everyone's bonnet, HBO's Girls.

Perhaps the biggest argument against the Emmys is that they force the TV Academy to walk a tightrope that in many ways is doomed to unravel. On one side are those who believe the Acad hasn't been bold enough with its selections, whether it's ignoring a Sons of Anarchy here or a Dan Harmon-era Community there. On the other come those who find the Academy getting too cute with its picks, at the expense of such popular but intelligent fare as The Walking Dead. …

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