Monday, September 10, 2007

Poll Results - What Show Should Win The Emmy For Outstanding Comedy?

We have a result for the penultimate Emmy poll of the season and on one thing they're pretty clear: people (or rather the people who voted in this poll) like NBC's comedies. Cappy's comment (American Dad) wasn't entirely helpful, because if I put in a "none of the above" category I suspect it would win every time. (The TV Academy doesn't consider animated shows like The Simpsons or American Dad to be "comedies." They are lumped into the "Outstanding Animated Program" category at the Creative Arts Emmys. The Simpsons lost to an episode of South Park but was up against shows like Robot Chicken, SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar: The Last Airbender.) There were twenty four votes cast. In fifth place, with no votes, is Entourage. In fourth place, with two votes (8%) is Ugly Betty. In third place, with three votes (13%) is Two And A Half Men. In second place, with eight votes (33%) is 30 Rock, but the winner, with eleven votes (46%) is The Office.

The vote – or lack thereof – for Entourage probably reflects both the antipathy that people reading this blog have for cable shows and possibly the feeling, expressed by a lot of reviewers, that the current season of the show is a disappointment and just not as funny as previous seasons. I'm not sure about the result for Ugly Betty. Does the hour-long format hurt it in this group? Is it that the show can sometimes be edge toward being a "dramedy?" Or is it perhaps that the subject matter – the fashion industry – doesn't appeal? Certainly I expected the show to get more votes than Two And A Half Men, but then I expect most shows to do better than Two And A Half Men. I always have the sense that it gets nominated at least primarily because it is wildly successful in the ratings and the nomination is a sop towards commercial success.

Which brings us to the two power hitters in this race, 30 Rock and The Office. Earlier in the month, Ken Levine had a piece in his blog called Stop the hearse! The Sitcom is NOT dead in which he makes the rather compelling argument that the sitcom has certain key advantages for a network – they're cheaper than dramas, they syndicate far better than dramas, and do very well in DVD release. He does stated that "I would amend Sam's statement and say that yeah, the bad, stale, family sitcom with tired rhythms, forced laughs, and bogus characters is dead. I would also add – thank goodness. But the genre perseveres." And he's right; 30 Rock and The Office are proof. The two shows, which ran neck and neck throughout the polling are light-years away from shows like According To Jim (which has inexplicably been renewed for another season after initially being left off ABC's schedule) or most of last season's failed comedies (I admit to having a soft spot for In Case Of Emergency but agree that with its basic premise it could have been so much better). What 30 Rock and The Office both have is superior acting and writing. While the characters on 30 Rock are largely caricatures (but only in the sense that various traits are exaggerated for comedic effect) they have their own sense of internal reality. On the other hand The Office has a very strong grounding in a reality that a lot of people can relate to. Everyone knows a boss like Michael Scott who is thoroughly oblivious to what his underlings really think about him, just as they know the sort of people who work at jobs they don't really like and are filling time for those blessed hours when they aren't working. I personally think that either show is likely to win – and is worthy – but I'll give an ever so slight edge to 30 Rock because it's new and everybody voting knows these characters (and probably don't think that they're exaggerated at all).

Final Emmy poll will be up shortly.

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