What came first - the critical acclaim or the personal adoration?
This is the kind of question that rolls around in your brain once you notice that all your favorite shows of the year continually get Emmy nominations, when apparently the masses of the world could care less.
Recently, Variety reported the results of a survey (posed to five hundred adults over the age of 18) which revealed that the majority of people have not seen or even heard of the shows nominated at this years Emmy's.
Is the The Handmaid's Tale really going to infiltrate the culture and lead to change? Well that change might come at a tad slower pace, because apparently only 5% of those polled had seen the show. [Hopefully when the show wins Best Drama tomorrow night, more people will tune in.]
In a result that surprised no one, out of all this year's nominees, Modern Family fared notably with 56% of the group reporting they had tuned in to the ABC hit.
The show that fared the worst in these results was Master Of None, where 76% of those surveyed had not even heard of the show. Here I was living my life thinking that delightful Aziz Ansari was a household name and everyone was hanging out with their friends debating the merits of the Thanksgiving episode of Master Of None vs the season opener that is inspired by The Bicycle Thieves.
Much like Jon Hamm in that classic episode of 30 Rock [Oh, wait, that's another show no one watched! Although, if you are actually reading this, odds are you get the reference.], or last year during the election, I have brutally come to the conclusion that I am in a bubble. This time though, it's an entertainment bubble - definitely a less harsh bubble to find yourself in once reality cruelly pops it.
This gets back to the main question - do cultural-a-holics like myself indulge in critically acclaimed shows just to stay up to date on what will get award nominations or does this small group of the population actually enjoy the shows that gets nominated? The "are you just trying to be smart and cool?" question.
I can only speak for myself and the answer is, yes, I honestly am obsessed with nearly all of the shows that are nominated for Emmy's this year. It's just a coincidence that I've seen almost all of them and I don't simply tune in because other people tell me I should like it. Seriously.
So, what makes these critically acclaimed gems not as interesting to the masses?
The popularity of nominees like Modern Family and This Is Us prove that most people are still sticking to what is found airing on one of the four big networks (ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS). These are two shows that can be comforting, funny, sweet, and moving. If you've had a rough week and can only watch a few shows regularly, it totally makes sense that most people would gravitate towards this kind of entertainment.
But don't people know we are in the "Golden Age Of Television"? For those that are willing to trod off their usual paths, there are endless shows to consume that might make you look at life a little differently. Some may be deemed "quirky" or deal with intense subject matter, but for anyone who has extra time, it's worth expanding your viewing habits.
That's what I try to do - dabbling a little in the obscure and what is trending in the popular realm. I'm here to rave about Riverdale just as much as talk about how Feud: Bette and Joan is one of my favorite things to ever air on television.
I also don't want to be here to just hate on hits like This Is Us, because it is a perfectly fine show. And yet, I will always be bitter that it is getting the high ratings and critical acclaim that Parenthood, a much better crafted family drama, should have received. Each episode of This Is Us begins with the promise of something great, and while the acting is across the board terrific, the writing never fully delivers. I desperately want to see what others see in that show (including the crying every week!), but it continually disappointed in how the stories unfolded. Also, I'm a real serious crier at movies and tv, not just a casual crier, and I only teared up a couple times throughout. Yet another thing people promised me that didn't happen.
There is always going to be differing opinions, and really, with the expansion of new channels and streaming services, television has developed to look more like the music industry. There will always be something for you, whether you like Top 40 or are more into the underground indie music scene. Who can be angry with that?
This year's Emmy's did a solid job of including shows from all over that spectrum. With Game Of Thrones out of contention this year, there were slots open for other shows and people, and that might be the only reason that House Of Cards is still part of the mighty elite. Serious question: does anyone still consider that a delight to watch?
When it comes to specific nominees, like usual, I'm repping hard for Elisabeth Moss (nominated for The Handmaid's Tale), who between other shows like, Mad Men and Top Of The Lake, continually proves that she is one of the finest actors working today. I'm also rooting for Donald Glover (Atlanta), Judith Light (Transparent), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), a win for Stranger Things, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Billy on the Street.
Also (feeling like a pattern year after year), can anyone breathe after reading the nominees in the Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries category? Who could pick one? It's impossible and insane! All my favorites of the year are rounded up in that category:
Carrie Coon (Fargo), Felicity Huffman (American Crime), Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), Jessica Lange (Feud: Bette and Joan), Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies), and Susan Sarandon (Feud: Bette and Joan).
Carrie Coon should really be nominated for Best Actress from The Leftovers, but she definitely was also a highlight in this latest season of Fargo. It is also a bummer that American Crime was cancelled. That show is easily the most challenging and truthful examination of our culture being done by any form of entertainment today. It was really fantastic while it lasted.
For the full list of nominees, click here, and don't forget to watch tomorrow at 8 p.m Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific. Or tune in to E! sometime in the early afternoon and watch them struggle to fill a whole day of coverage with limited resources.
Maybe one day I will crawl out of the bubble, but for now, shhhh, I have too many shows to watch.
Until next time.