Emmy Nominees Make a Statement8 Jul, 2010 By: John Latchem
The 2010 Emmy nominations as unveiled July 8 by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences consisted of the usual list of perfunctory nominees that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Looking at the list, it’s hard to quibble with a majority of the selections (unlike the asinine winners list from the recent Saturn Awards).
Sure, I would rather have seen “The Big Bang Theory” up for best comedy instead of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which was probably nominated on the gimmick of its “Seinfeld” reunion. But I’m glad to see “True Blood” up there on the list for best drama series. And it’s nice to see Hugh Laurie nominated again for “House” in the best actor category, which he should have dominated the past few years but has never managed to win, and probably won’t win again this year.
Beyond the major nominees, however, are a few selections that really stand out to me.
First, in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series category, is the nomination of “The Tonight Show.” But not the Jay Leno “Tonight Show.” It’s “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien.” That’s right, the redoubtable redhead gets a bit of vindication following his very public ouster by NBC earlier this year (he returns in November on TBS, which mounted the Emmy campaign on his behalf).
But I think more interesting is the Outstanding Animated Program category. “South Park” picked up its 10th nomination in the animation categories, which isn’t a surprise since the show has won four times, including the past three years. The amusing thing about this particular nomination is that it’s for the two-part episode “200/201,” which is the infamous episode that was censored by Comedy Central for fear of offending certain religious groups, then yanked from the Internet so fans couldn’t watch it there either.
From what I understand of the Emmy process, nominations are based on the submission of individual episodes, rather than the show as a whole. This isn’t always apparent since the best comedy and drama series and acting categories are listed by show and not episode (that’s why some mediocre shows can make the list if they have a couple of standout episodes). The animation category actually lists the specific episode because one-shot specials are also eligible for the category.
To further simplify the process, only one episode of an animated show can be submitted for the category in a given year, so the producers and network have to make that determination.
Ergo, Comedy Central, after demonstrating their confidence in the episodes “200” and “201” by censoring them, later submitted them for Emmy consideration (though I suspect creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone had more to do with the selection of the episode to present for the Emmy).
Looking at the nominees list, there’s really no reason it shouldn’t win, either (though “The Simpsons” has won the category 10 times and is nominated again this year). But to simply nominate the episode after such controversy demonstrates courage, and is a positive statement in support of free speech — the very statement the episode was trying to make in the first place.