The Emmy Awards were this Sunday. Did you
watch? More importantly, did you know they were on? Chances are
that you answered ‘no’ to both questions. When a Sunday
night lineup includes “The Simpsons,” the season
premiere of “C.S.I. Miami” and football on ESPN, the
Emmys aren’t exactly a priority for most people.

Doug Wernert

It’s supposed to be television’s biggest night of
the year (after, of course, the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the
“Friends” finale). It’s supposed to be “a
magical night” where “the stars come out.”
It’s supposed to have all the trappings associated with all
the other big awards shows.

Before settling in to watch, I wasn’t exactly optimistic.
When compared to the Oscars and the Grammys, the Emmys are kind of
the runt of the awards show litter. The Oscars have Billy Crystal
and that whole “larger than life aura” about them, so
they feel like a must-see event and the Grammys are always chock
full of solid performances. What do the Emmys have? There are no
emotional speeches thanking the Academy and it seems like the same
shows win every year. So why watch?

For this year, at least, the answer was simple: The Emmys got it
right. The atmosphere was perfect, but most importantly, the
winners were well-deserved.

The Emmys have had problems in past years. Last year, for
example, there was no one person hosting the event, as 11 people
assumed the master of ceremonies role, causing a disjointed show
with no real flow. Fortunately, Garry Shandling returned to his
hosting duties this year and provided the right combination of
humor and humility, especially in the hilarious skits throughout
the program.

Still, the funniest of comedy can’t save the Emmys when
the wrong shows win. In past years, it seemed like all the biggest,
most popular shows each get their year at the top and then rotate
so everybody gets to win. That’s how “Friends”
won for Outstanding Comedy Series a few years ago, and it’s
how Jennifer Aniston won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy
Series the same year. “Everybody Loves Raymond” and
“Frasier” have each had their year on top as well. It
seemed like this year would be more of the same.

However, the biggest surprise of the night occurred when the
Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy did not go to “Sex in the
City.” Instead, it went to the FOX series “Arrested
Development.” This was big. It was the last season for
“Sex and the City” and the next-to-last for
“Everybody Loves Raymond.” Instead of giving the award
to one of them for closure’s sake, the Academy chose a series
that’s brand new. It puts the highly acclaimed show on the
map and gives it credibility.

Of course, the departing shows got their moment to shine, but it
was at the right times. Sarah Jessica Parker won for Outstanding
Actress in a Comedy Series, but she was the right choice as she was
the face and the heart of “Sex and the City.” Following
with the well-deserved trend, David Hyde Pierce and Cynthia Nixon
won in the Supporting Actor and Actress categories for
“Frasier” and “Sex and the City,”
respectively.

However, there was still that pesky Outstanding Drama Series
Emmy to be given out. For the past four years, “The West
Wing” had taken home the honor, undeservedly so in the last
couple of years. “The Sopranos” was poised to win. They
knew it. I knew it. “The West Wing” probably knew it.
But did the Emmys know it? Yes, they did, as “The
Sopranos” took home the night’s top honor, capping off
a night where old favorites got their glory, and newer programs
claimed a spot at the top of the television mountain.

All things considered, the Emmys were a success. It hit the all
the right notes and re-established itself as an award show worth
watching. Thank you, Academy.

Join Doug’s petition to get Tiffani Thiessan a Lifetime
Achievement Award. E-mail him at
“mailto:dwernert@umich.edu”>dwernert@umich.edu.

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