Boring shows + fancy dresses = boring shows

In lieu of a Stupid Tuesday Question this week, I’ll write instead about a subject I will readily admit is, if not frankly stupid, then at least deeply frivolous.  I’m talking, of course, about this past Sunday’s Emmy Awards.

For us awards show devotees, the Emmys are an oasis in an otherwise parched desert of gown-free programming.  It’s the sole high-profile show in the fall, with most of the good stuff coming in mid-winter/early spring.  As an unabashed fan of shows in which famous people wear clothing and accessories they don’t own while pretending to be humble, I was looking forward to the event.

Meh.  It was a big pile of meh.

I was sincerely excited by the prospect of Jane Lynch as host, given her obvious talent, sense of humor and improv ability as evidenced by all those Christopher Guest comedies she’s done.  And she was OK, certainly much better than the brouhaha they had a few years ago when a quintet of reality show hosts emceed jointly and proceeded to die on stage.  (It was awful, people.  They tried to make a bit out of how they had no material, which merely highlighted how terrible an idea it is to take the stage with no material.)  But she’s kind of relying on her Sue Sylvester schtick a bit too much these days, and that’s a taste best enjoyed as a side dish rather than a main course.  (That’s free advice for you too, “Glee” writers.)  She just wasn’t as witty or fun as either Neil Patrick Harris or Jimmy Fallon.  The humorous asides made by an off-screen announcer as winners took the stage were genuinely amusing, but hard to hear and easy to miss if you didn’t know to listen for them.

There was a funny-enough video segment featuring stars of various TV shows doing “The Office”-style faux documentary monologues.  There was an ill-conceived production number that transposed an obscenely hilarious video onto the stage without a decent set-up, thus rendering it a gigantic “WTF?” moment rather than an amusing diversion.  The acceptance speech by the producer of “Modern Family” for Best Comedy (natch) was funny, starting out with an anecdote about a gay couple lauding the show for its promotion of tolerance and spinning it into praise for a “loving committed relationship between and old man and a hot young woman.”  But all in all, kinda of a shrug of a show.  (Still a hell of a lot better than last year’s Oscars, though.)

As for the winners, I don’t watch a lot of the winning shows, including “Mad Men.”  (I know, I know.  I live an impoverished life.)  “Game of Thrones” fans — a just win for Peter Dinklage?  Anyone else think Steve Carell was robbed?  Will “Friday Night Lights” be missed?  I was annoyed that “The Amazing Race” (which I used to watch religiously) won Best Reality Show yet again.  Why no love for “Project Runway”?  Is it because it seems increasingly like a 90-minute product placement for HP, Piperlime and Garnier?

The one unexpected moment of awesome came as the nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy were called.  Amy Poehler’s name came first, and rather than staying in her seat as usual, she walked up on stage and began to sway nervously, as though awaiting a prize fight.  Unfazed, the presenters continued naming nominees, and as each name was called the actress would take the stage and hold hands with the others a la the finalists in a beauty pageant.  It was hilarious, and a stunt that deservedly garnered a standing ovation.  It was a good reminder that these women clearly have a lot of affection for each other, and that they’re successfully comedic actresses because they’re genuinely funny people.

I don’t know who needs to drive a dump truck full of money up to Tina Fey’s house, but I really wish someone would convince her to host one of these gigs.  Neil Patrick Harris can’t host them all, and it looks like the people who are really good at it are thin on the ground.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. You are indeed impoverished if you haven’t seen Downton Abbey. Far from perfect, but best show I’ve seen in a long time. Mad Men is way overrated, but still better than most shows. Currently into Breaking Bad, although it’s losing steam.

    Is Modern Family worth it?

    • It won’t rock your world, but it really is a very well-written, well-acted show that (up until now, at least) has managed to hit the sweet spot where funny meets endearing without becoming cloying.

      • Yeah, I keep waiting for them to trip.

        The characters are archetypes pretending to become boring stereotypes and the writers have done a remarkably commendable job of trolling the stereotype side for set ups while coming back to the other side for the punch line. That’s hard to do forever.

  2. Peter Dinklage was a great choice. The only criticism I could make is that he was so amazing, he made a character we should be a bit ambivalent about completely sympathetic.

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