Monday, August 25, 2014

The Emmys

Yeah, TV may be experiencing 
a “Golden Age,” but so what?

     Seth Meyers told a joke about the 1976 Emmys, which was that four of the drama series that year were cop shows so the choice depended upon what hat the lead character wore.  It was cute, but I’d bet (and win) that a greater share of the TV
audience had seen those nominees (Police Story, Baretta, Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco) than the ones this 

year (Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, True Detective).  Meyers also didn’t point out the incredible collection of comedies, drama specials (only Lifetime and HBO seem to show original stand alone movies) and variety specials (gone the way of the Dodo bird and replaced by an endless number of tacky, self-aggrandizing reality competition and reality performance shows) that were offered in the mid-1970s.

     Even with all the great shows on TV that pretty much only a couple of million people watch, you can depend on a couple of things.  Julia Louis Dreyfus, Allison Janney, and The Amazing Race will usually win, Maggie Smith won’t show up, the show that had a great season two years ago is more likely to win yet again than the newer show that actually electrified its audience.  The Golden Globes are much more au courant than the Emmys, even with all the liquor consumption.  It a show is on cable, it’s more likely to win than on a major network since the jury’s out on streaming services.

Louis C.K. with Sarah Baker
     It was great to see Louis C.K. win an Emmy since he’s been nominated for a gazillion in the last four years.  Louie’s latest season was amazing, especially the “And the Fat Lady Said” and “Elevator 1 – 6” episodes.  Without being able to turn to the freedom of animation, Louie was surreal, self-referential, somewhat unreliable about its entire back-story, and dangerously, painfully funny this year.  Shout outs this year to the incredible female guest stars this year (only American Horror Story:  Coven had such depth and that was because they had larger recurring roles):  Ellen Burstyn, Eszter Balint – I haven’t seen her since 1984’s Stranger Than Fiction, Yvonne Strahovski, the lovely and poignant Sarah Baker – she looks like more people watching TV than those on TV, and Pamela Adlon as Louie’s one and only.  

Pamela Adlon
     Adlon played his wife in HBO’s Lucky Louie, a show that Neil and I loved, but which was cancelled after one season.  Where Louie unsettles, Lucky Louie shocked.  It ended abruptly when Adlon’s character walked out, though she hadn’t seemed to hate him until that episode.  On Louie, Adlon was passive-aggressive, adoring, and a ball-breaker.  Here’s hoping she sticks around for a while on season five (unlike all the boyfriends on Hot in Cleveland that are dropped every couple of weeks).

     Let’s also remember shows that friends of ours love even though they may not be award worthy:  The Middle, Suits, The Mindy Project, Property Virgins, House Hunters (in all its incarnations), Burn Notice, Orphan Black, Major Crimes, Call the Midwife, Ray Donovan, Conan, among many.

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