At first glance, Sunday’s Emmycast looks particularly treacherous.
Who among us is looking forward to a 10th-consecutive variety series win for “The Daily Show,” a fifth-consecutive drama series win for “Mad Men” and the annual Jeff Probst Reality Show Host Award?
But this year is going to be — different!
For starters, we can state with absolute certainty that this will be the first Probst-acceptance-speech-free Emmy show since the creation of the best reality series host category. The “Survivor” host, who has won that competition every year since it began in 2008, is not nominated this year.
No one’s quite sure how it happened. Probst has said he did not step aside like a gentleman to give some other deserving reality series host a chance, as some had assumed.
Pushing Probst out of this year’s running: Betty White, who hosts NBC’s cringe-inducing old-people-are-so-cute-when-kicking-youngsters-in-the-groin candid camera series “Off Their Rockers.”
Should White actually win the Emmy, it would be something new for the category, though scarcely what you’d call progress. But for Emmy experts, the non-nomination of Probst back in July was like the sight of the first crocus peeping through the snow in early spring.
A world in which Probst does not win the Emmy for best reality series host is surely a world in which it’s possible for “Mad Men” to not win a fifth-consecutive Emmy for best drama series, they reasoned — out of earshot of “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, of course.
There’s a good chance they’ll be proved right Sunday night. Because, for the first time, “Mad Men” competes with “Downton Abbey.”
This year the TV academy’s rules committee pronounced that PBS’s “Downton” could no longer compete in the race for best miniseries — the category it won last year. This year, “Downton” must compete as a drama series.
It’s a well-known fact that Emmy voters are notorious snobs. If there’s one thing they love even more than a ’60s-set ad-agency drama series wallowing in handsome men with brilliantined hair and sharkskin suits, smoking non-filtered cigarettes, it’s a crunchy-gravel drama populated by characters delivering their lines with proper British accents, headlined by an actress who has “Dame” in front of her name and is written by a Baron Fellowes of West Stafford who has a seat in the House of Lords.
If “Downton” proves to be this generation’s “Upstairs/Downstairs” — the British crunchy-gravel PBS show that the TV academy passed back and forth between the drama and miniseries competitions back in the ’70s — things could go badly for “Mad Men.” “Upstairs/Downstairs” won the Emmy every year it competed, no matter where the academy pigeonholed it.