Why the Emmys are Stupid: The Wire and other reasons, but mostly The Wire

26 Sep

Okay, I hate to spend any time on the Emmys, because they’re at the least silly and kind of stupid, and at the most pretty terrible and detrimental to television, but they’re still regarded as at least something of a big deal, and I should at least explain my thinking.

Well, here’s the argument in short, and while this is the opposite of exhaustive, once you have this piece of information, any additional evidence should just be duplicative:

The Wire, one of, if not the best hour long television programs ever created, got all of two nominations during its entire run, both of them for Best Writing.

That’s it.  Not wins.  Nominations.  There have been lots of theories on why this is, but those are almost beside the point; almost as if to provide excuses.  The show was on a major network, HBO, that had been winning tons of Emmy love for The Sopranos (well earned, I might add), and the show was received with mass critical acclaim.  Perhaps it took a couple of seasons somehow for people to notice it, but the fourth season, for example, earned a 98 on metacritic, the second highest score ever, with reviews in from 21 critics.  To not even generate a Best Drama nomination after that season, let alone a single nomination in any other category?  That’s a complete and utter joke.  A farce.

Here’s the broader view.  The Emmy are an outdated way to determine what the best shows on television are.  You’d be better off going over to metacritic and seeing their list highest rated shows, composed of a formula which combines critics’ reviews.

Emmy voters are like MVP voters in baseball (and other sports). They’re a mix of people, with many still stuck in an outdated way of looking at things who are afraid to make interesting and unconventional choices.  Of course, unlike in baseball, you can’t really make statistically based arguments as to which show or actor is the best but I do think similar to sports,  prevalent ways of evaluating shows or players have changed over time, and the Emmys lag way behind.  I don’t mean the Emmys should even be on any real cutting edge here;  simply a poll of any sampling of 50 critics of newspapers and web sites would lead to an Emmy awards that, even if I wouldn’t agree entirely, I’d think was more credible.  In this way, in addition to the MVP, I think the Emmys can be similar to (new sports analogy!) the Coaches Poll in college football, in which people who don’t actually watch most of the games vote anyway.  Emmy voters who are relying on merely single episodes submitted by Emmy contenders are hardly qualified to judge.

An example of Emmy’s modern irrelevance, Modern Family has won the Emmy for Best Comedy three years in a row.  Unlike Jon Cryer winning for Best Actor in a comedy, which is simply asinine, Modern Family is not a bad show.  Even though it’s personally not my favorite, I understand why people enjoy it; it’s solid.  However, it’s not credibly the best comedy on television.  And even though Emmy says otherwise, most critics and ardent television fans know this to be so, so I’m not exactly sure what the point of the Emmy is.  If the point is to see all of our favorite television stars hobnob and commingle at one ceremony with a chance to poke fun at themselves and each other, well, I understand that in theory, though the ceremonies could be a lot funnier and more entertaining than they are.  But the idea of connoting certain shows and people as some sort of at least vaguely definitive award winners doesn’t make a ton of sense to begin with, and loses whatever sense it makes when it takes serious cognitive dissonance to accept the Emmy award winners nowadays as factually best.  If the Emmys are supposed to be some sort of consensus of what television critics as a group believe is the best, this doesn’t accomplish that.  I’d much rather a fivethirtyeight-like model where qualified critics who actually watch many of the shows regularly have their votes mathematically tallied using some sort of formula if we have to have something.


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