It could've made for some epic television -- the kind of moment that lives forever in boob tube history, and that's not a Christina Hendricks reference. People would've been talking about it for years, possibly even decades. But, Emmy voters blew it like they always do. I am, of course, referring to the missed opportunity of awarding Conan O'Brien an Emmy for Best Variety Series over Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.
While there's no question The Daily Show deserved the award (so did The Colbert Report for that matter), it would've made for a classic television moment if the ousted late night talk show host received an Emmy on the very network that kicked him to the curb. The speech would've been kick ass I'm sure, but we'll never know. Suffice to say, it's pretty standard in Emmy history.
Missing golden opportunities is nothing new for an award show that celebrates TV, but never makes for good TV. Unlike other award shows like the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, The Grammy's or even the Tony's, which always have some kind of "OMG" factor, the Emmy's rarely do. There are several factors holding the Emmy's back. For starters? It needs to be on cable. All the quality shows that win seem to be on AMC, HBO, or Showtime anyway. Second, and more importantly, voters need to stop living in a world where quantity overshadows quality. Too often the same talent and shows win. Maybe voters feel adding more gold each year will ensure a lasting television legacy. Decades from now, will people will be talking about how Doris Roberts won four Emmy's -- not just one -- for Everybody Loves Raymond? No. Doubt it. Instead, they'll be saying "Wow John Goodman never won for Roseanne" or, it seems sadly, "Steve Carell never earned a gold guy for The Office." It's more WTF than OMG with the Emmy's.
(To totally contradict this entire piece, I do commend voters for recognizing underdog Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer and Modern Family as best com last night.)
Keeping with this, repeat offenders lead to a sense of predictability. Last night one huge highlight was George Clooney's acceptance of the Bob Hope Humantarian Award. Why? Because it wasn't scripted. It felt new. It was inspiring. On the flip side, when Bryan Cranston's work on Breaking Bad was honored again, and it was like "Oh that's nice, but..." Cranston's brilliant and seems like a genuinely nice guy, but if you watched House last year, you'd know Hugh Laurie delivered his best work to date. What's that guy got to do to win an Emmy? Sell meth?
Similarly, was Mad Men really the best drama again last year? Probably, but season two still stands as the best, and Lost is gone forever -- it might've been nice to recognize that groundbreaking show on its last year of eligibility. I think a Lost farewell speech would've been more memorable than Matthew Wiener's somewhat arrogant speech.
Another reason the Emmy's fail to resonate is because some wins are just plain sloppy. Years from now will viewers really remember Medium as Emmy worthy? How about My Name is Earl? Probably not. Yet both of those shows won big a few years back with respectively Patricia Arquette and Jamie Pressley cleaning up. Personally, it kills me that Jason Alexander never got honored for Seinfeld, and that's over a decade ago.
Sloppiness and repeat winners have long defused any kind of pure enjoyment. It happens even with great hosts like Coco or last year's Neil Patrick Harris. On a related note, Jimmy Fallon had his moments last night, but his main highlight was a brilliant opening Glee number. To peak in the first three minutes is a rough start.
So how do we fix the Emmy's? A new voting system might help bring less predictability to the winner's circle. So will, again, moving to cable. Let some drinks flow, F-bombs fly like the Golden Globes, and hire Ricky Gervais to lead a real celebration of television. Look what that guy did with six minutes last night!