The 2009 Emmy Award Nominations came out last week and I'm pretty excited for a few different things. I'm not as big a TV watcher as I used to be, though I do religiously follow some shows like Mad Men, Pushing Daisies (sniff), and classy-reality TV.
Here are a few of what I consider the highlights of a surprising set of nominations:
1. Mad Men sweeps Dramatic Writing...almost: Nabbing multiple nominations in a category can be difficult. Fortunately, Mad Men - probably the best show you're not watching every week like you should - is that well made and intelligent. Matt Weiner's pet project filled 4 of the 5 slots this year, which only makes me wonder why my professor Bridget Bedard got shut out last year. Sure, she co-won the Writer's Guild Award for the debut season, but Matt Weiner purposely submitted her mostly-solo episode as one of the elligible shows because he was convinced she would win (hence why he changed a few lines and added his name). But I digress. Congratulations on the almost-sweep, Mr. Weiner - you deserve it.
2. Sarah Silverman is Magic: Probably the closest thing to a sitcom I watched regularly was The Sarah Silverman Program. I've been hooked on her since I caught a screening of her film Jesus is Magic and consistently find myself engaged by the entire cast's screen presence, charm, and timing. It's incredible to me that in a year where Tracey Ullman could conceivably have been nominated for playing everyone in America, Sarah Silverman is up for Leading Actress in a Comedy for playing Sarah Silverman. It's bittersweet, as the show should have easily gotten in for writing and arguably for the wonderfully natural performance of Sarah's real life sister Laura in Supporting Actress, but I'll take it. Hopefully this might help ensure a season 3 or even bigger and better roles for Sarah Silverman.
3. And Elisabeth Moss Gets In, Too: Now we just need Christina Hendricks and Vincent Kartheiser to get one of the big nominations for Season 3 of Mad Men and all the major players will have been nominated for fantastic work; of course, by then, more of the office players will almost assuredly have juicy meaty moments as Matt Weiner's no dummy. Moss as Peggy Olson is stunning. I was not the only one surprised that she did not receive Golden Globe or Emmy nominations for her work on the show up till now; shoot, I doubt I'm not the only one who was surprised she was passed up for a fantastic performance in Broadway's Speed-the-Plow revival. But the drought is over: Moss gets in, joining Golden Globe nominee Jones, Emmy/Globe winning Jon Hamm, and Emmy/Globe nominee John Slatterly on the Mad Men big-award acting spree.
4. Family Guy and The Flintstones: While much ire has been cast over Family Guy's inclusion in Comedy Series (what, too many weed and queef jokes in Sarah Silverman? funny racist humor in State of the Union?), I'm excited. Animation seems to be slowly but surely gaining credibility in America and Family Guy's nomination is the latest step in adults recognizing the relevance of the medium to those more than a few years out of diapers. With the submitted episodes, it would seem the bird is the word as the Annies went mad over I Dream of Jesus. This does not mean that The Simpsons is considered an inferior show: tastes change, and animation is on the rise. It's not a slight to Matt and Trey that 10 minutes of Surfin' Bird got in over a tightly wound parable on the American economy. It is what it is: Family Guy is nominated in a category it most likely will not win, but the nomination might open the door for superior animated fair like American Dad or South Park to squeeze in down the line.
5. MacFarlane Must have Found the Golden Turd: American Dad, the better MacFarlane animated series, benefitted from Family Guy's crossover act, as it was finally nominated for Animated Series. The episode, 1600 Candles, is far from the best the series has produced, but it is very funny, at times touching, and rife with humor not dependent on a strong background in 80's films and television programs. Watching Roger say "my fanny is so high in the air right now" or Steve scream "fi-yah! (fire)" are genuinely funny moments justified by the context of the scene. And the needle jokes don't grow old, either. Who knew that eliminating the ratings-killing golden turd multi-episode sub-plot would make that big a difference?
6. I Can Do Whatever I Want with my Tap-Dancing Condoleeza Rice: Listen, we all know it will take the single greatest awards ceremony man has ever known for the Tonys to be recognized at the Emmys ever again. So, I'll accept the multiple-nominations for You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush as a welcome substitution. A filmed Broadway show being nominated in more than special event? Get out. Wonderful. Very happy. Too bad that Passing Strange documentary/filmed stage show is doing the limited theatrical route before PBS airs it, as it could probably pull out more nominations.
7. Mythbusters? A Reality Series?...shhh...let's just go with it: A smart people show (nerd-programming, if you will) being nominated in Reality Programming? While that makes me think the category has too broad of a definition (Antique's Roadshow and Intervention and Kathy Griffin? really? all the same type of show?), seeing some love for one of my old stand-bys makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
So, 7 reasons why I love the Emmy nominations. 8 if you count True Blood being mostly shut-out. I'm over vampires, and racous vampire sex isn't going to change that.