So I worked fast to get the acting awards out before the Emmys, but have now been dragging my feet in posting the two big awards: Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series. I thought about just rushing through it like actual Emmys did, pushing through the two most important awards as fast as possible because Al Pacino decided to filibuster his acceptance speech for an award no one cares about. But instead, I’m going the other way, and spending more time with these two than the others. Because if you read me at all, it isn’t because of my tendency to be brief. Or timely.
And now for the one of the big awards…
Outstanding Comedy Series
The 2009-10 season was a great one for comedy, with many new shows making an immediate impact, and a couple second year shows making the leap. As a result, none of the three shows that have been my top three for the past few years (The Office, 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother) are nominated here. Partly because new shows have risen to bump them off their perch, partly because all three had down years. Here’s hoping they all get back on track to make this a really loaded category next year.
The nominees are…
Better Off Ted
The only repeat nominee from last year, I miss Better Off Ted already (I’m holding off on watching the final two episodes until they’re released on DVD, so I still have something to look forward to). When the rest of the world finally discovers this gem on DVD in a few years, they’re going to be pissed when they found out that ABC cancelled it after two seasons.
If it gets the chance to last a few seasons, and finds a larger audience, Community has the opportunity to be a generation-defining show. Its meta-humour and references perfectly encapsulate the way my generation has formed a culture basically by recycling those that came before it. Certainly, the show is about more than just reference humour, with some of the best comedic chemistry on TV, but that reference humour is so representative of our media-saturated culture that I can’t help but feel like it should be the next big thing. Sadly, it’ll probably just get crushed by The Big Bang Theory instead.
I was thrilled when this won the Emmy, since it was my only nominee to make the Emmys list, and thus easily the best of that flawed list of nominees. A lot has been made about Modern Family is reviving the family comedy, which is true to the degree that it’s certainly a show a family could get together to watch (unless, you know, your family is hateful). But since the family comedy became less popular due to their tendency to suck, I’m not sure I want Modern Family to revive that moribund genre. Instead, I’m happy with it being the outlier.
Parks and Recreation
I’ve already given it the award for Outstanding Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actor, and Outstanding Guest Actor, plus a couple of other nominations. I think we know where this is going.
At this point, Party Down has become the modern day equivalent of The Velvet Underground & Nico: only a few thousand people may have watched it, but they all wrote about it on the internet. On the one hand, I think that exclusivity may have lead some writers to overpraise it to a degree (a common problem when critics become cheerleaders for a ratings-struggling show, turning their critiques into pleas in attempts to save the shows they love). On the other, I am also a guy who watched the show, now praising it on the internet as one of the six best comedies on TV in a year with a lot of great comedies, so obviously their praise isn’t too far off.
United States of Tara
My spot for best non-comedy that lists itself as a comedy goes to United States of Tara, edging out Nurse Jackie and far ahead of Weeds and Hung. I already wrote a lot about why my opinion of this show turned around dramatically here, so go read that if you’re interested in what makes it a top six “comedy” in my opinion (thus keeping another show I wrote about in more detail from getting a nomination).
The award goes to…
Parks and Recreation
Maybe Greg Daniels and company just need a six episode warm-up. It may not be the best model from an economic standpoint, but when the results are the second season of The Office (one of my all-time favourite seasons of television) and the second season of Parks and Recreation (which could potentially be another all-time fave after enough time has passed to decide), it might be worth it (although NBC would probably disagree, given that P&R isn’t on their fall schedule). If you haven’t caught up on this show, you don’t even need to bother watching the first six-episode season (unlike The Office, which at least sets up some of the emotional stakes of the second season). At best, it had promise and wasn’t awful.
The second season picks up on that promise and makes the necessary changes to become excellent. Chief among them were:
- Figuring out the Leslie Knope character, making her a highly capable spazz instead of another bumbling boss, making use of Amy Poehler’s natural excitable charm
- Abandoning the pit to expand the scope of the Parks & Rec office and introduce a bunch of new stories
- Promoting Chris Pratt to the main cast and emphasizing his affable idiocy while downplaying his douchebaggery
- Pairing Pratt and Aubrey Plaza to bring out the softer side of each character and give the show a romantic pull that draws viewers into a serialized element
- Four words: More Ron Fucking Swanson
Fixing those key elements of the show made the most of the talents of everyone involved in the show. It’s fairly common for comedy series to get better after their first seasons as the actors and writers find the rhythms of the show and the creators work to the strengths of its cast, but I’m not sure I can think of a show that made this dramatic a leap or so fully capitalized on its potential this quickly. Not even The Office. Given that we don’t know when it’ll be back, you still have time to catch up; so what are you waiting for? (Um, besides the DVD release, that is).
Up Next: Best Drama Series