Emmys: Time for TV to Get Over Its Inferiority Complex

Emmy Rule Changes Bring Overdue Order
Lester Cohen/Wire Image

Despite all the pieces heralding this as a golden age of television, the Emmys — or more accurately, those who mounted and attended them — still haven’t gotten over their infatuation with movie stars, or retired their age-old inferiority complex. And while people are to be forgiven for ogling Matthew McConaughey, the cumulative weight of all the attention he garnered from the stage went from cute to unseemly, as if nobody could believe a recent Oscar winner would deign to attend their party.

Not only does this fly in the face of history — movie stars aren’t exactly a new feature of Emmy voting — but it does a general disservice to those who have rightfully garnered praise for their television work. Besides, Bryan Cranston just won a Tony for the play “All the Way;” should people be doing cartwheels that he found time to show up?

Yet there was McConaughey on the red carpet, being asked by “Access Hollywood’s” Billy Bush about doing a TV show in the midst of his suddenly thriving movie career. McConaughey allowed that the fine work in TV rivaled features, which sounds generous, until one tries to name movies with which he was associated before “The Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wolf of Wall Street” that would have ranked alongside this year’s best drama nominees; or one of his romantic comedies as funny as “Modern Family” or “The Big Bang Theory.”

This is by no means intended as a knock on McConaughey, who was sensational in “True Detective” and gracious through awards season. It’s rather a commentary on a hard-to-shake mind-set, evident even in smallish cues during the show that spoke to this lingering star obsession, including an on-air tease that said, “Julia Roberts in 10 minutes,” heralding that she would soon be presenting an award.

All this would be understandable — hey, Julia Roberts, for heavens sake! — if you didn’t have to think all the way back to, oh, last year, when there were headlines like “Movie Stars Invade the Emmy Awards,” and viewers were treated to the sight of Michael Douglas making out with Matt Damon. Or ignore names like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Helen Mirren, who have all found quality TV roles in recent years.

McConaughey was certainly a ripe target for jokes on Monday — including Jimmy Kimmel’s crack about having to sit through his quirky acceptance speeches — but the cumulative effect of all the attention was a sense that TV, in its own collective mind, still hasn’t shed its second-class-citizen status.

As McConaughey himself might say, “Alright, alright, alright. Now time to get over it.”

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  1. Mario500 says:

    Why did the author or editor of the article use the word “name” as a synonym for the word “person” in this part of the article:

    “All this would be understandable — hey, Julia Roberts, for heavens sake! — if you didn’t have to think all the way back to, oh, last year, when there were headlines like ‘Movie Stars Invade the Emmy Awards,’ and viewers were treated to the sight of Michael Douglas making out with Matt Damon. Or ignore names like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Helen Mirren, who have all found quality TV roles in recent years.”

  2. Jacques Strappe says:

    …or just maybe it’s time for the film industry to get over its superiority complex, The small screen has at times appeared far bigger than the big screen in its risk taking and creativity. Television’s smaller budgets and quick turn around times relative to theatrical movies can indeed yield brilliance. Me thinks much, if not all of the movie star fawning on display at the Emmy Awards was delivered tongue in cheek. After all, even the most famous and jaded movie stars know that Comcast is going to be the new overlord of the entertainment universe.

    • nerdrage says:

      Movies are all superhero spandex nonsense now. Some are certainly better than others – for every Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy, there will always be Michael Bay bullshit – but none are anything approaching great art. That’s all on TV now. What’s wrong with that? We can all see what we want.

      I think this trend will continue. What used to be called “movies” – fiction viewed in theaters – will merge with the video game and amusement park businesses. In the future, we’ll see Guardians of the Galaxy in VR, not 3D, and be immersed in the action.

      That’s what will motivate people to leave their homes, where they will have increasingly superior home theater setups to stream what used to be called “television” – long-form fiction focusing on storytelling values of character, theme and plot. The two will continue to diverge until they become completely distinct.

  3. Peggy Allen says:

    Yes TV is pretty good entertainment lately. But, Film is an ART form. Movie stars are different than TV stars it was quite obvious last night. Compared to the Oscars, the emmys were like a yard sale. The sorry state of movies is mostly due to the number of ex-TV executives and writers who moved over to movies over the last 25 years. Don’t believe me, where did most of the most famous filmmakers come from? TV shows. They’ve turned the movie world in a giant sitcom cesspool. If TV is so great, why is it right after the movie actors start doing TV, they end up in TV commercials??? They need to stop slumming in TV and get back to film. Because no matter how they try to make it seem, TV is a down grade from film. It’s the minor leagues. Just like the New York Times is the paper of “record”, Film is the artform of our time. Not TV. If you want to “matter”, you make films. Not TV shows, especially the ones that have to pause every 15 minutes or so to sell butt wipes.

  4. Mike says:

    I think you are making a bigger deal about this than the Emmy’s did.
    If anything, they were a little resentful that he almost stole an Emmy from Bryan Cranston and Breaking Bad just because of his name over performance.

    All I saw was the ENTIRE ACADEMY’S STANDING OVATION for Bryan Cranston when he won.

    • John says:

      He should have won for a brilliant career-changing performance that was more novel than Cranston winning again, not because “of his name.”

  5. David says:

    Listen, in the late 90’s when indie films were at their creative peak, I would walk out of the theater in awe and recommend them to anyone who would listen. Now this happens on a Sunday night after I watch the Leftovers or Masters of Sex. The creative mojo has moved to TV. Period. And for the record, I thought Dallas Buyers Club was underwhelming, to say the least.

  6. Ideation20 says:

    Golden Age of TV Production,Golden Age of TV technology. Not the Golden Age of the TV business that had to be in the 70s&80s. When there was far more channel owners and far more independence. It’s an owners business.
    The freedom is totally up to the talent making the right demands, and thank them for that. A show without unqualified notes is usually a better show.

  7. Keep it up bro or men thanks for understanding ALL

  8. Kristi says:

    Should be noted, Jessica Lange,movie and tv actress, won for AHS. Oh, so did Kathy Bates, movie and tv actress.

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