Viewers Disappointed With Quality Of Awards Show

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards hosts,  Saturday Night Live ’s Colin Jost and Michael Che, performed their duties adequately in the eyes of at least one viewer (me). |  Michael Buckner / Variety

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards hosts, Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che, performed their duties adequately in the eyes of at least one viewer (me). | Michael Buckner / Variety

At a minimum, awards shows — from the Dundies to the Oscars — must accomplish the following:

  • Mention awards nominees

  • Announce award winners

  • Allow winners to give acceptance speeches

These are the basic requirements. Most of the ones we see on TV also include a host monologue, presenter banter, moderately funny bits, segues, and a tasteful montage honoring the deceased. Anything more is probably a bloated affair.

Monday night, the 70th Primetime Emmys delivered precisely the list above. Nothing more, nothing less. The show was over a crisp three hours, moving at almost breakneck speed from one award to the next. Speeches were relatively brief and mostly heartfelt, and one even included an unprecedented live on-stage proposal. What more could you possibly want?

The popular shows didn’t win most categories (it’s possible The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has more awards than viewers) but, uh, spoiler alert, that doesn’t matter. At all. The future of your favorite drama did not hinge on an Emmy win.

If you missed the show, headlines might have you thinking NBC aired an anti-family pet, pro-voter suppression hybrid rally with a live-streamed root canal as intermission. A recap from The Hollywood Reporter, presented as a back-and-forth between two TV critics, stomped into the room with a scathing opening sentence: “Was this the worst Emmys telecast in decades?”

Quite a lede! Maybe they’re just caught up in the moment, or hungry for clicks. Hottest reaction take wins, after all.

Let’s see if cooler heads prevail among the critic dudes:

Daniel Fienberg: Tim were you so grateful that the Emmys ended basically on time that you're willing to call the show a triumph?

Tim Goodman: No. It was the worst Emmys telecast I've ever seen.

Holy smokes, Tim. Surely you must be exaggerating, or at the very least you’ll concede that you’re unable to recall every Emmy’s broadcast you’ve ever seen.

Tim Goodman: That's not hyperbole.

Tough crowd!

There are plenty of reasons why a viewer might feel disappointed by an awards show telecast, this one in particular. Perhaps the hosts weren’t energetic enough, the jokes and skits didn’t appropriately address Hollywood’s tense year, the “wrong” performers and shows won awards, the set wasn’t sufficiently ornate, etc. There are potential letdowns at every turn.

But what’s the difference between a good awards show and a bad one? Slight variation in the (subjective) quality of the traits above? All the awards were handed out, all the speeches were given. Why else do we watch?

Drastic changes would necessarily come at the expense of, you know, the purpose of the show. Lengthen speech times and the program runs long. Solemnly address social issues every other segment and it ceases to be a celebration. Secure universally loved hosts and well that’s impossible Tom Hanks isn’t interested.

Truly, what else should we expect? It’s a television awards show, a format virtually unchanged since the invention of the medium. I’d venture to guess the 71st will be about the same, give or take a marriage proposal. Set expectations accordingly and you won’t be disappointed. |ES|

Tim70th Primetime Emmy Awards