Monday, September 22, 2008
Reality Bites: My Thoughts on the Emmys
The opening monologue of last night’s Emmys was so painfully bad, I actually suspect sabotage.
Think about it: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences must hate reality TV. I mean, they must despise it, right?
After all, it takes away jobs from writers and actors—and makeup artists and costume designers and stunt men and special effects coordinators and actor’s assistants . . . well, you get the idea.
They’ve been patiently waiting for the reality TV phenomenon to die a natural death—but it’s not going away!!!! (If anything, it seems to be multiplying—we are now stealing crappy shows from Japan.)
So this is what the Emmy masterminds decided to do: They decided to send those reality TV hosts out there without a life boat (i.e., no teleprompter)—just to show American how incompetent they really are.
“Just get on stage and, you know, riff for five minutes,” the producers told the gang, as Jeff Probst ran off to find a dictionary and look up the word “riff.”
“If things get really bad, you can always discuss the Bush doctrine,” they added helpfully.
But here’s where their nefarious plan backfired: Yes, it was as bad as you would expect it to be. Long awkward pauses. Howie Mandell “prattling” obnoxiously. Jeff Probst thinking dimples are a substitute for personality. Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron looking vaguely pissed. Heidi Klum looking like a giraffe trapped in the headlights. But it went to some place beyond schaudenfraude— it was the kind of bad where you actually felt sorry for people you normally hate.
But wait! The Emmy producers had a backup plan: They decided to have Tom Bergeron finish the job, by killing Heidi Klum!
Seriously—was there any version of that drama/comedy bit that didn’t leave everyone’s favorite German übermodel black and blue? If you drop a statuesque German, does she not bleed?
Okay, so maybe Emmy wasn’t trying to kill the reality TV stars. But they clearly don’t “get” reality TV. How do I know this . . . ?
1. They didn’t nominate Kat Deeley from So You Think You Can Dance. I happen to be a bit of a reality TV “expert” around these parts. And I can tell you, she is the best host in the biz. She’s a gorgeous goofball who seems to really love her dancing charges. She once got on the floor—all 7-feet-in-heels of her—to fix a contestant’s broken shoe. Better still, she once popped a contestant’s tin foil grill in her mouth (“spit and all” she said gayly), just to make us laugh. And laugh we did.
2. That Howie Mandell guy does not host a reality TV show. He hosts a game show. Big difference. And while I have some vague recollection of him being funny back in the 80s, now he is just flat-out creepy. Make him go away.
3. They keep giving the damn award to The Amazing Race. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 7 times, shame on me. As Tim Gunn is my witness, every year I think Emmy is going to finally come to its senses and give the award to Project Runway. And every year, it’s the goddamned Amazing Race death march to the podium. Okay, I admit it—I don’t watch The Amazing Race. Friends tell me it’s a good show. But I’m sorry, The Amazing Race is not water cooler fodder. The Amazing Race is not of the zeitgeist. The Amazing Race is not nit-pickingly obsessed over by the New York literati. It’s about as hip as your average episode of Boston Legal. (Come to think of it, another Emmy fave.)
4. Jeff Probst. Really, Emmy? Probst? I was sure this thing was going to go to Seacrest. The guy hosts a live three-ring circus that happens to be the most popular show on TV. And he deals with the unholy trinity of snotty Simon, loopy Paula and useless Randy. For that alone, the man needs an Emmy (and perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize). What does Probst do? He wears puca shells and cargo shorts and repeats “The tribe has spoken, the tribe has spoken.” Seacrest, check your Slomin's Shield, 'cause you wuz robbed!
Oh well, we’ll always have Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey.