Question: I was absolutely thrilled with the Emmys, both the show itself, plus the recipients of the awards were for once not terrible to watch. But a couple of questions remain. I was probably happiest that Jim Parsons received the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy, though I wish the show itself would have gotten recognition. I know that you have discussed previously why Big Bang Theory wasn't nominated and probably won't be, but do you think that Parsons' win could possibly change that? The show seems to be on a continuing upward spiral, and I hope that the Academy will maybe recognize that next year.
My mom and I were discussing the Emmys the morning after, and I told her that Modern Family had beat Glee in the comedy series category. She couldn't fathom how Glee would possibly be considered a comedy (she's probably seen about half of its episodes). I tried to explain to her that if Glee had gone in as a drama that it would have had absolutely no chance, and that putting Glee and, for example, Mad Men on the same playing field would be absolutely ridiculous. Maybe you could help better explain why Glee is a comedy, and why it's not a drama? — Alex
Matt Roush: First, Big Bang. This is going to be such a pivotal year for the show. If it makes the proverbial splash, or bang, on Thursdays, and if the show stays as hilarious as it has been, it's hard to imagine even the Emmy voters ignoring it, especially in the wake of Jim Parsons' overdue win. Success is often its own reward, and many shows (popular or not) have had to look beyond the Emmys for acknowledgement of their quality. But the bias against multi-camera sitcoms is foolish, especially in this case. Hoping the show breaks through next year.
With Glee, it's a tricky situation for hybrids like this, but despite its hour-long format and its moments of drama, this show fits pretty well in the category of classic musical comedy. I think that's how the show's creators see it, that Glee's ultimately optimistic tone and inclusive message more than compensates for its more serious or melodramatic (or on occasion even tear-jerking) content. And you're absolutely right that asking it to compete against the heavy-hitters in the drama category would doom it to failure.
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Question: Please tell me what needs to be done for the TV Academy to give Michael C. Hall his long-overdue Emmy for his outstanding work on Dexter! I figure Dexter can't be on forever and probably has a few seasons left. This year there were a lot of second and third consecutive wins, and it is my fear that if that trend continues he will never ever get his Emmy! I was also interested in your thoughts overall of the Emmys. How do you think Jimmy did as a host? What do you think of the winners? I know you might cover this in another separate Emmy-related column but I figure I'll ask anyway. — Dwayne
Matt Roush: You can find my morning-after take on the Emmy show and winners here, and I was as surprised as you when Michael C. Hall didn't win after this last season. He had won a few other significant awards this year and figured it was his — or at least somebody other than Bryan Cranston's — turn. Which is no slam on Bryan Cranston. I admire him and his work on Breaking Bad without reservation. But the strength of that category (where Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie have yet to win after multiple tries as well) begs for the voters to start spreading the wealth. The good news (though not for Breaking Bad fans) is that Bad's next season isn't projected to premiere until next summer, which renders Cranston ineligible for the next Emmys, opening the door for someone else to win. Now we have to hope that Hall has as strong a season. I've seen the first few episodes of the new Dexter season, and he's very good in putting across Dexter's grief and guilt in the wake of you-know-who's death, but the season and his chances may suffer by not giving him an adversary as memorable as John Lithgow's Trinity.
Question: I will admit that I wasn't surprised that Chris Colfer did not win an Emmy for his performance in Glee. Not that I do not think he deserved an Emmy, but because I feel he was wrongly put in the supporting comedy category. True, his character does have many funny scenes, but I think he really shines in the more dramatic moments. That's why I think he and other actors from Glee — though not Jane Lynch, because her role is more funny) will have a difficult time getting awards, and I don't see that really changing. — Frances
Matt Roush: There's an argument in some corners that actors in the comedy category actually stand a better chance if they're given big dramatic moments from time to time. Certainly worked for Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco, although her industry cred from The Sopranos also worked in her favor. Your point is well-taken, though, that Kurt's most Emmy-worthy moments tend to be dramatic — or musically dramatic, as in his interpretations of "Defying Gravity" and "Rose's Turn" last season. But his real problem is that, for the foreseeable future, he'll be facing all those great comic talents on Modern Family in the same category. Eric Stonestreet won by giving the most outlandish comic performance in the category, but if that show holds up, it's only a matter of time before the brilliant Ty Burrell takes home the gold as well.
Question: If Breaking Bad aired on HBO, would it have won best drama? — Mike (via Twitter)
Matt Roush: Once upon a time, you might have thought so, but that sort of reasoning doesn't really hold up these days. HBO no longer dominates in the series categories, although being on HBO tends to increase your chances of being noticed. (And next year, there's no question but that Boardwalk Empire will be a front-runner.) AMC has done a masterful job, as has Showtime and (to a lesser degree, especially lately, but not for lack of trying) FX in being able to break through the clutter and be taken seriously as Emmy contenders. For Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul's performances to be honored this year is a sign the show is taken every bit as seriously as if it were airing on HBO. The puzzlement here, as some of my colleagues on Twitter noted on Emmy night, is that Mad Men keeps winning the big prize and writing awards while none of its actors ever win. Whereas Breaking Bad keeps winning for acting, but the writing and the show itself, not so much. Very odd.
Question: I'm sure I'm not alone at wondering what will be a hit among all the new shows in the fall schedule. How does one know what to watch? What are your recommendations? There's nothing worse than starting to watch a show at the beginning of the season, truly enjoying it, and a couple of months, sometimes only weeks later, finding out it's already off the air due to low ratings. How do we avoid that from happening? — Patricia
Matt Roush: Good timing. TV Guide Magazine's annual Fall Preview issue will hit stands this week, and you'll get the lowdown on the shows — and in each case, a pithy mini-review from yours truly on which shows caught my eye. (This year, unlike last fall, not very many, I'm sorry to say.) Your first question asked me what I thought would be a hit, and that's different in many cases from my recommendations. I think most of CBS's new shows have a very good chance of succeeding, even if (in the case of something like the very broad The Defenders) it's not my kind of show. Hawaii Five-0 is likely to be huge, and I enjoyed much about the pilot, but am not sure if it will be on my weekly menu. I'm intrigued by The Event and No Ordinary Family, but have problems with their pilots. My favorite pilots were on Fox — Lone Star for drama, Raising Hope for comedy — and I'm definitely going to keep my eye on Blue Bloods (CBS), Nikita (CW), Undercovers (NBC), Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), and I'm eager to see the first episode of Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC). But overall, this is a pretty formulaic lot that to me is especially disappointing after a season when the networks swung the bat with shows like Modern Family, Glee, The Good Wife, Community and The Vampire Diaries and came up with a new generation of quality/fun shows. As for the experience of falling in love with a new show only to have it be canceled: That comes with the territory. The failure rate on TV is very high, but this time of year, hope springs eternal.
Question: I have, not by choice, caught almost every episode from this season's The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. (I have a 15-year-old). Anyhow, I have come up with a few observations/questions (the first one would be WHY am I still watching). Who writes this show? The dialogue and actions of the teens really do not represent a true-life, average American teenager. The adults are there just to provide housing, food and clothing, and a foil to disregard anything an adult says to these teens. I have come to this conclusion because I am a parent of a very social, outgoing 15-year-old and most of her friends are at my house most nights and I do know a bit of their lives.
Second: Does Molly Ringwald get to direct her character's actions? It seems her character is just a grown-up version of Sam/Andie/Claire from her 1980s movies. Instead of teen angst, we're getting an adult with teen angst, LOL! The show seems to poorly represent a real American teen, come on, when do these kids actually spent time in the classroom? Do the writers have teens? It makes one wonder. What do you think? — Lori
Matt Roush: I have little to add to this, having broken up with the show early on, finding nothing about it remotely realistic or relatable, although I am amused by the faux nostalgia generated by Molly Ringwald's presence, reminding us of a time when these kinds of teen-romance stories resonated with some actual truth, memorable bite and honest humor.
Question: I have been watching Huge and loving it. It is very refreshing to see overweight actors on television. The writing has been quite good and I hope that ABC Family gives the show a pickup for additional episodes. Any news on that front? — Lisa
Matt Roush: Sadly, no news yet. Huge, like its wistful outcast characters, is very much an odd duck in the ABC Family family, and is by no means a runaway hit like the gimmicky Pretty Little Liars or the preachy Secret Life, so didn't get an instant renewal. We may have to sweat this one out, and I won't be surprised either way. (I'm gearing up for disappointment, to be honest.) Also complicating matters is a change at the top of the network, and anything can happen during a regime change. Doesn't always bode well for on-the-fence shows at times like this.
Question: I know you haven't been a fan of Weeds for the last few seasons (and with good reason). I was wondering what you thought about the new season? I think it has a good portion of its original spark back and crackles with some energy and wit that have been missing. I hated to lose Elizabeth Perkins and her clan (and it would have been interesting to see her try to be a version of drug-dealing Nancy), but cutting the fat out of the cast seems to have streamlined and focused the show. What do you think? — Kevin
Matt Roush: Pretty much still thinking this show has gone way past its natural expiration date. I did not enjoy the first on-the-road episodes at all — and find the running joke of Shane's homicidal tendencies a huge turn-off — but I did find last week's episode, in which the grown-ups (such as they are) took humiliating menial jobs in a hotel, more painfully humorous than it's been in a while. But I'm still not sure this is a show I would actually choose to watch. (Tuning in now more out of habit, and because I've invested this much time, than out of any enjoyment I'm getting.) Curious to see where this is going, and how long it will take before the people seeking Nancy and the baby find them, but I find myself wishing at times that Weeds had simply ended with the metaphorical image of Agrestic going up in flames, leaving us wondering what would happen to the Botwins afterward.
Question: I am livid that I wasted my Saturday nights this summer on Persons Unknown, which each week promised that, by summer's end, all would be revealed. Nothing was revealed. What was this company? Was it our government, a global conspiracy, a private company? What was the purpose of their experiments? What were they trying to accomplish? (Apparently, nothing.) Why were those people in outdoor cages, and what happened to them? And, most of all, why should anybody care??? Thank you for allowing me to vent. — Mary Ann
Matt Roush: Every single piece of e-mail I got about this show in the last week has read just like this rant (some at more length) — and I can't say I'm surprised. I gave up on this one around the time it moved to Saturdays, in part because of travel and work, and also because I figured whatever answers we were going to get weren't going to be particularly satisfying. Some high-concept shows are just too wacky for their own good. Or, in this case, for the viewers' good. What seems to have irked everyone is the promise in the promos that accompanied every episode from the start that this would be a close-ended miniseries that would answer all the big questions. Apparently not.
Question: It seems that every show on the air is this "this season's #1 show." They can't all be #1, can they? Or is it the #1 show on TNT at 9 PM on Tuesday — very finite? This happens mostly on cable, but I have also heard it mentioned on the broadcast networks: The Glades, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, White Collar. What gives? — Diane
Matt Roush: What gives is the never-ending gift of hype. Network researchers are notorious for finding some spin that gives their shows bragging rights, however tenuous. Some shows rank higher in overall viewer numbers, some rank higher in the favored demographics, some do well with men, some with women or young girls or whatever the target may be, some numbers (as you suggested) may be specifically geared to the night or even to the time period or to whether it's airing on broadcast or cable, or who's downloading it or watching on demand. All that really matters — to me anyway — is if you enjoy the show, and if there's some way to justify its continued existence.