Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crushing The Emmy Awards: Fair & Square, David E. Kelley Style.

It's not exactly a secret that David Kelley is my biggest hero when it comes to tv writing. No other person has managed to win both the comedy series and the drama series Emmys the same year.

As a person who cares a great deal about tv, I think the question that we probably should ask is, how was this amazing feat possible (it happened in 1999) and what was it based on?

Was it based on quality and talent, or was it based on something else? Were these wins deserved or should some other shows have walked away with these awards?

Over the years there have been a lot of shows that have managed to win Emmy Awards - and not always because of the quality of the product. The factors that have played a role have been hype, lobbying, politics and industry back-patting among other things.

For example a sitcom like Will & Grace, won because it was gay (and a pretty bad show). Another show, Arrested Development, mostly won because of the hype - and is probably the most overrated sitcom of all time.

When it comes to drama, Mad Men kept winning because the advertisers loved the show too much, not because it was that well written. Its predecessor The Sopranos largely won because of the back-patting that came from the industry ("we all can write good").

The West Wing's Emmy wins were frankly a bit suspicious too. Thanks to Clinton's sexcapades and Bush junior's selection, The Emmys became the second election day for Hollywood and its liberals to get even with rednecks. How good was the show really?

There have been pretty deserving winners too, though. Drama series like 24 (I think the best drama of the new millenium) and Lost, sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond and Modern Family among other shows genuinely earned those Emmys.

But still, how does one guy _really_ win both major Emmys the same year? Were the Practice and Ally Mcbeal actually fair and balanced shows? Did they have a clear meaning? Were they full of suspense like 24 and funny like The Simpsons?

One might think that there's no way one guy would be able to crush the competition like David Kelley did. He must have cheated, bought votes, must have gotten hyped, pulled a liberal/big money please-vote-for-me like some other shows did.

That's what one might think. But if one actually takes a look at these shows, I think it's more or less obvious that this kind of built-in/outside-influence-stuff wasn't there. He won fair & square without getting much help from others.

[It's hard to imagine anyone lobbying for him & I doubt those epic closing arguments made other writers feel like they're part of the gang]

I mean, when David Kelley manages to bring his A-game - and we all know it doesn't always happen - I think he is close to being the greatest writer of all time. There's soul, substance and entertainment. There's almost nothing more that you could ask for.

In my opinion, these are the qualities that managed to get him the impossible double win. Having integrity, understanding how the human mind works, trying to make the world a bit better place. Being kind and compassionate and humble.

These are also qualities that most people take for granted - which is why none of his shows made to the top 100 series list of all time. The Sopranos #1, Mad Men, West Wing in top ten. The awful Good Wife was there, Even Will & Grace made the list. Not David Kelley though.

That's just depressing and all and says a lot about the industry. Nevertheless, his double win, the miracle of 1999 did happen and it should remind us all to keep fighting the good fight. You never know, maybe one day it could actually happen again.

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