“Stark Raving Fan” is a column about one man’s love for all things involving popular culture – television, movies, and all facets of pop culture from here to there. Of course, it’s not the kind of love that unites a group of people like a bunch of hippies. More like the kind of love someone has when they’ve blown a gasket and have something to say. After all, aren’t we all just driven mad by fanaticism sometimes?
Every year, fans slog through both the Academy Awards in February and, a half year later, the Emmy’s in September. Both are the biggest awards of all, one for film and the other for television. Well, okay, television has expanded by leaps and bounds into cable and now with streaming. After all, when a streaming service such as Netflix racks up 95 nominations for their shows – especially for a show of epic pop culture proportions such as Stranger Things – people are going to notice. When the nominations were announced, I near fell over backwards out of my office chair. The unsung heroes of television finally looked like they were going to get their day. Better Call Saul had a legitimate shot (FINALLY!) to take home Emmy gold. Sure, there were your usual powerful dramatic performances from the critic darlings, but a good 80 percent of the nominees were for shows in the nerd pantheon. And I was more than ready to see something different walk away with that coveted gold.
Rewind back to yesterday evening. I’m running around the house trying to catch up after working the whole weekend through in what we call in the retail world “clopen.” (You close a shift, sleep a handful of hours, turn around with a large cup of coffee and open. It’s as no fun as you would imagine.) I’m trying to clean, do laundry, pack for a beach vacation, all the while my tablet is gearing up to watch my late-night hero Stephen Colbert host the Emmy’s. My world grinds to a halt as his monologue begins, a fluffy song-and-dance routine that’s as adorable as you’d imagine. After all, a dancing demogorgon? Ah, c’mon, can we get that in season two of Stranger Things? Pretty please?
But then the winners started to trickle in and, as stellar as Colbert was at hosting this shindig, I felt a wave of disappointment start to form in the back of my head. You could tell everyone in their seats was enjoying themselves. Young and old, grumpy or blissful, all had some sort of grin on their face. Yet, the list of awards just looked a little too good to be true. No no, the voters wouldn’t let the fans down. Would they? Could they? Why on Earth would television shows from the science fiction genre strongly dominate the nominations this year then? I mean, this was their year after all. If there ever was a time to see a series like Stranger Things surprise the hell out of everyone and steal the spotlight from the incumbents, 2017 had to be when the stars all aligned and not for the end of times. Right?
Yet, just when I thought I couldn’t contain my glee anymore and was more than ready to see my favorite shows a nerd could love win a bigger category for a change…my hopes faded. Anne Dowd won for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. My heart sunk. I heard my id laughing at my ego inside my brain. No no, there was still time! We weren’t even at 10PM yet. If not Stranger Things winning one of the major awards, then surely Bob Odenkirk would finally get his comeuppance for Better Call Saul. C’mon voters, you can’t pee in my lemonade, no, let the poor guy win for a change! He’s a national treasure and everyone knows it! (Well, if you don’t know, then you need to know.)
Nope. Then Sterling K. Brown won Best Actor in a Drama Series for This Is Us.
I didn’t power down my tablet because of that win. Well, that may have been the icing on the cake, you got me there. But yet again, just when you sit back and think that things could change from the previous year’s ceremony, like a bucket of ice water doused on your head, you’re thrown back into the same calamity as 365 days ago. Do you go for the clicker to change the channel and just let your fingers do the talking on social media? Suddenly, the first posts you see on Twitter or Facebook you begin to vent about how predictable the victors were. Oh of course voters wouldn’t go for Kevin Spacey again, he’s won before! Of ccoouurrseeee Julia Louis Dreyfus walks away with Best Actress in a Comedy…again…because, why not? Most importantly though, the winners have to go completely against trend. You can’t be wholly vanilla with the winners, then the press will certainly be screaming for blood! GADZOOKS, ALL THE WINNERS ARE OF ONE COLOR!
The Primetime Emmy Awards may be starting to finally acknowledge its white problem and looking to silence the good ole boys who still vote – congrats especially to Riz Ahmed and Donald Glover on your well-deserved wins if I may gush – but what about working on being a bit more lax on who you vote for? Why do we need to see the artsy fartsy shows get all of the damn acclaim? Oh gee, let me have a spot of tea and sit cross-legged on my recliner as I’m watching The Crown. Maybe I’ll plop a box of 200-count tissues in my lap as I sob into my pillow watching This Is Us. No damnit, no. Enough is enough! You voters all clearly grew tired of The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s outlived its fifteen minutes of fame and has an annoying spin-off debuting that makes me contemplate blocking CBS until late night. (I hate Sheldon, and we don’t need to see young Sheldon. God, no.) You voters all clearly want something different, someone different to win. So why not vote for them? Why, because you’re afraid that your peers may be think you’re an imbecile for going against the crowd? Pfft. Come on. Give me something refreshing and out of left field!
You know what’s going to happen next, right? Logan is already the first screener sent out to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That’s right, the good ole Academy Awards, and they’re already coming up in March 2018, just under six months away. And you know that Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Logan is going to garner some nominations. Best Actor? Best Supporting Actor? Best Director? Dare I say…Best Picture!? Ooh, I can feel my anticipation and excitement brewing deep within my belly. (Probably just hunger actually.) But being nominated for all that would mean as much as dried goose crap in your office’s parking lot if the voters go for something with more dramatic pomp and flair. The voters don’t care about the underdog, the little guy, the movie that shocked and wowed audiences. The voters, many of them anyway, are crusty old birds who think they know art when they see it on the big or small screen.
For example, just a small sample of last night’s victors. Melissa McCarthy winning for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series? Absolutely. She was gold imitating the bouncy bullshitting Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. But Elizabeth Moss over both Robin Wright and Claire Foy for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series?
Or – wait for it – The Handmaid’s Tale beating out Better Call Saul? Westworld? STRANGER THINGS?!
I get it, I get it, The Handmaid’s Tale is very much in tone with what could happen in our country, men controlling women like they’re sexual prized possessions who adorn a mantle for all to see. …wait, what. Actually, I’m sorry, my fact checker’s on the line saying that already exists in our day and age. Hmph. Well, let’s try this angle then. Yes, the Hulu show (and 1985 book) is set in a world where a fundamentalist regime rules society with fear-mongering whilst combating environmental disaster and nosediving birth rates. Almost sounds much like our current clim…what? Oh, I’m being advised again that our country isn’t fully there yet, oops, my apologies again. (Except the plummeting birth rate, that’s a lie. Babies keep having babies here, y’all!) Still, House Of Cards, to me, has consistently been one of the best dramatic programs on air currently alongside Better Call Saul. Fans love both shows, aghast at what either Francis Underwood or Jimmy McGill will resort to in order to maintain their lifestyles. Yet, a dystopian show gets all of the love? Why?
That’s rriigghhttt. Actors just love to dip their mittens into the political waters. And can you blame them? Especially with how 2017 has turned into an absolutely landfill fire with Trump in office? Every single day there’s a new tweet that draws the ire of critics, pundits, actors, and everyone who has a fire in their belly. In my 33 years on this little azure planet of ours, never have I seen society come to such a head with split views and raging desires. No one can agree on a single thing anymore. People are turning against their friends. Protests fill the city streets. The feuding and fighting. The social media trolling. I’m just, maybe I’m at a total loss of words. And while overlooking the problem isn’t going to help solve the problem, there’s one facet of society that has no problem in tackling these subjects – and that would be Hollywood.
Hollywood is very liberal, save for a couple of fringe right-wing folks who don’t associate with the crowd. (See – Tim Allen. Sorry about your show, but I guess you weren’t the last man standing. Zing.) They don’t respond well when backed into a corner. They particularly don’t enjoying seeing the many cultures and creeds of American society and values being impeded upon. Because the power of film and television is so mighty, when Hollywood responds people from the Atlantic to the Pacific usually halt in their tracks. What’s George Clooney saying about the environment? Dave Chappelle’s hosting Saturday Night Live, God, what’s he going to say about Donald Trump? Trevor Noah’s about to flip his lid on The Daily Show, ooh, we gotta turn Comedy Central on. You get the picture. And while nothing has changed at all – well, we’ll leave that one to the press – Hollywood sure is having a blast lambasting the GOP.
But with changing political tides comes a change in flavors of the week too. Voters voted for the show that seemed to make more a splash and statement than most of television’s other offerings. Sure, Veep is based upon a political backdrop, but was on the air long before the ascension of Trump to the White House. The Handmaid’s Tale is a tonally different beast. Besides, if a show that is rooted amidst an uneasy political climate automatically becomes the favorite to sweep most of the major categories, than why bother nominating any of the other genre shows at all? What’s the point of having HBO’s Westworld in there? What, because Game of Thrones wasn’t eligible this year and the Academy needed a space to be filled? That’s horse puckey! (Hey, I’m trying to curb my cursory here, alright people?) What of Stranger Things? What, the show that took the nation by storm last summer and racked up 19 nominations was only put on the board to appease fans across the nation? If anything at least Stephen Colbert got to showcase to his peers in the Academy why he’s number one in late night currently. Even he spent a good quarter of his monologue going after POTUS! Alas, that’s the climate we live in currently. Until things change in Washington, Hollywood isn’t going down without a fight. And fight for the voiceless they shall.
Though, there really should be one question to be asked. And that question is actually for me. On what grounds should I be able to bemoan The Handmaid’s Tale for stealing everyone’s thunder last night? Why, that’s a damn good question. I actually do have a good answer to that one too. See, just like every single member of the Television Academy, I didn’t invest a single second into the Hulu show. I mean, if most members of the Television Academy invested NO time at all into The Handmaid’s Tale and simply voted on their ballots like they were selecting numbers blindly for Powerball, then what right do I have to say one show is better than all of the others?
You tell me, folks. Who should have really won last night? What show or actor are you livid lost out for a chance at the podium. I wanna know. And until next time Fan Fest family – and not next year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, since I’m officially throwing in the towel for watching this farce come September 2018 – you keep reading them and I’ll keep writing them.
Jerrold spent his childhood in southeastern Pennsylvania ingesting far too many TV shows and movies, thus creating a stark-raving mad geek. He’s a movie aficionado, binge-watches Netflix, and is a total TV junkie. His addiction has led to an unhealthy and rabid obsession of various geek pantheons – Star Trek, Star Wars, both DC *AND* Marvel,
cult 80’s and 90’s television, Supernatural, The X-Files, Doctor Who, and, and…holy overload. He’s still waiting to run away in a 1967 Impala or a blue police box.