Waiting Pool: The 2009 Emmy Nominations

Trooping for an Emmy, fighting off The Simpsons

The 2009 Emmy Award nominees were announced today, and the big news is that the picks are slightly more diverse and interesting than in past years. Big Love, Breaking Bad, Flight of the Concords, and Family Guy, idiosyncratic all, were nominated in the Outstanding Drama and Comedy categories, while underappreciated supporting players like John Slattery of Mad Men and this year’s brilliant Emmy host, Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother, were deservedly recognized for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the Drama and Comedy categories, respectively I hope that NPH wins, and that he has a song and dance number already planned for his victory speech, and that he will rhyme something with “sucks to be Rainn Wilson.”

While it’s nice to see these shows and actors acknowledged, somehow their victories feel slighted by the fact that the number of nominees in each category has expanded, with seven nominees in the show categories, and six in the acting categories. The Emmy voters didn’t replace the old standbys; they just globbed on some extras in an attempt to draw a wider array of viewers and thus bring in more advertisers. The point surely, is to bring in a cooler demographic without jettisoning the loyal viewers who want to see House and Lost nominated every year that they’re on the air. Heaven forbid we don’t nominate Steve Carrell or Alec Baldwin for best actor in a comedy-as much as we love them, shouldn’t there be term limits on these things? After all, do their roles really change that much from year to year? If Meryl Streep played that scary nun in every movie, would they keep nominating her for Oscars? Maybe that’s a bad example. The Oscars are going to have ten nominees for Best Picture this year because they were worried that too many Meryl Streep holocaust pictures were being overlooked.

Charlie Sheen, God love him, has been nominated for Outstanding Actor in a comedy series, but his popular show doesn’t always deserve him. Hopefully Jermaine Clement from Flight of the Concords will win and sing a song about how great a host Neil Patrick Harris is. 30 Rock’s 22 nominations are padded by five separate “best guest” actor or actress nominees, which really should go to the show’s casting director or to Jenifer Aniston’s agent. Tina Fey has been nominated both for best Actress on 30 Rock and for her guest actressing as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Maybe they’re hoping Tina Fey will collect enough Emmys to do an
episode of 30 Rock in which the whole cast complains about the awards while using Emmys as backscratchers and paperweights.. This might raise the ratings for next year’s Emmys.

The bitterest pill to swallow for some is that Family Guy is the first animated show since the Flintstones in 1961 to be nominated for a Best Comedy Series Emmy—The Simpsons has never been nominated, and after 20 years it’s still on the air. The Simpsons has seen better days, but the infinite store of good karma provided by Milhouse, Bumblebee Man, and Kent Brockman, to name only three tertiary characters, should have given it an edge over Family Guy, which in recent years has devolved into a clearing-house of undigested references to other shows. Boo-urns.

I don’t know how to predict the Emmys, but I hope that Gabriel Byrne wins Best Actor in a Drama for In Treatment, because he seem to have convinced a lot of my friends that he’s an actual therapist. Byrne is just barely cooler than the super cool John Hamm of Mad Men, who is also nominated, and a lot cooler than Simon Baker of the Mentalist, which seems like an extraordinarily silly show. Brenda Blethyn, Carol Burnett, and Ellyn Burstyn are all nominated for guest appearances on Law and Order: SVU, but I wish they weren’t, because I’d much rather picture them in Secrets and Lies and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore than sobbing in a courtroom drama spinoff. If Project Runway and Heidi Klum don’t win the awards for Best Reality Competition and Best Reality Host, I’ll go dancing with the amazing American Chefs, or maybe just switch off the Emmys and watch season two of PR again. No matter what mistakes the Emmys make, Andre and Santino are forever.