The 2006 Emmy Awards
Usually when I sit down to watch television with my husband I have my fingers positioned on the TiVo remote, not only to fast forward through the commercials, but also to rewind the parts of a show I can’t hear because he is too busy yelling in outrage at the actors. We’ve had endless arguments about his habit of doing this — and also about my habit of forcing him to watch really terrible television — but he’s finally reached a point of self-control where he will ask me politely to pause a show so that he can verbally berate a script writer without inhibiting my ability to keep up with the dialogue. That is our compromise: he gives a heads-up that he is going to interrupt a show and I don’t break his kneecaps with the remote.
Awards shows are the hardest for him because there is always so much material to be upset about, so many awkward moments that are harder to sit through than an unmedicated birth. Last night we had only watched three minutes of the Emmy pre-show when he looked at me from across the couch and said, “If I am not allowed to comment at will then I will be dead before the host gives his opening monologue.” I couldn’t argue with that prediction because even I was so uncomfortable during the red-carpet interviews that the muscles in my face were involuntarily recoiling. At one point Billy Bush was asking Jeremy Piven about which celebrity babies he had seen — Baby Violet? Baby Shiloh? what about mythical Baby Suri? — when Piven whipped around and said directly into the microphone, “You need another job. I mean, you have potential as a human being. This may not be right for you. Seriously. Can you focus on other things?” Before the show had even started we’d witnessed that eagerly anticipated NASCAR moment: the one where four cars crash into a ball of fire, and we cannot help but stare as they pull out the mangled, headless bodies.
I understand Piven’s point, although it came across with less oomph because his bulging ascot got in the way, and it must be frustrating for people in show business to show up to an awards show and be asked not about their work but about the cheeseburger they had for lunch, was it good? Did it come with fries? But without those thorny moments awards shows are nearly unbearable to watch, and with the exception of Piven’s moral outrage, last night’s Emmy show was one of the most forgettable things I have ever watched on television, more forgettable than every episode of Real World: Paris when no one slept with anyone else.
Even the fashion was disappointingly boring, and not a single outrageous outfit scarred the red carpet, not a ballerina outfit or a bird costume to be found and lovingly discussed for years to come. Only two women stood out to me, the first being Heidi Klum dressed in a flowing, full-length red gown. She is four or five months pregnant, and the precision with which she pieced everything together — the hair pulled high on her head, the glow in her face, the perfectly long flash of leg through the slit in the front of her dress — the woman looked as if she was presiding over the entire universe, as if she were the standard by which all beauty on Earth is measured. I think if women were guaranteed to look like that during their third pregnancies that we’d hear a lot more men complaining that all they ever do anymore is have sex.
The other stand-out was Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy whose dress was the only thing during the entire evening that made me pause the television. Both my husband and I went from lying down on the couch to sitting up straight and leaning toward the television to get a closer look. “Her hair looks nice,” he said dryly in a very poor attempt to convince me that it wasn’t her gigantic, glistening chest that had sent a shiver up his back. I told him that this was one of those instances when he was allowed to look below the woman’s chin because something that stunning shouldn’t go unappreciated. Her dress was the color of liquid gold, and it hugged her body like the hand of God. “If it makes you feel any better,” my husband said reassuringly, “I bet the only reason her chest looks that amazing is because right before she walked on stage a thousand tiny fairies appeared and licked an ocean of cocaine off her breasts.” Yes. That makes me feel so much better. Not only is her chest flawless, but it is also magical.
Most of the major awards were won by people and shows that I’ve never watched, some I’d never even heard of. Alan Alda won for the West Wing which I’ve never seen; Blythe Danner won for Huff which I thought was just a verb from a nursery rhyme. The Amazing Race won its second straight Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program, which is sort of frustrating because it’s the only reality show I haven’t studied like I was facing a final exam. 24 won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama, and this only makes my life harder because now, since everyone seems to love it, I have no choice but to go back to the beginning of season one, hour one, and work my way up chronologically to the present. It would be so much easier if 24 were a reality show because then I could just jump in at any time and know without having seen anything before that everyone is mad at everyone else, and the only reason that the annoying man with flesh-eating chest hair who keeps stealing everyone else’s food hasn’t yet been voted off is because the producers know he’s great for ratings.
The show did have the opportunity for a spectacular explosion in a couple different places, the first one when Farrah Fawcett walked on stage with her Charlie’s Angels costars during the tribute to Aaron Spelling. I know I’m not alone when I say that I was totally hoping she was drunk. But she wasn’t, and sadly, everything that came out of her mouth made sense. The other instance was when host Conan O’Brien joked that Bob Newhart was being held in an air-tight container with only three hours of oxygen inside, and that if the show went long as it usually does that Bob would inevitably die. Newhart was the perfect choice for a gag like this, his long face excruciatingly sad as if he were taking it seriously. But they let him out of the container well before the show was even over, and a potentially hilarious moment was ripped right out from underneath us. Why not leave him in the container to the side of the stage and let him react as one winner after another gives an acceptance speech as long as a Victorian novel? Or better, why not slowly fill the container with water and see if he ever learned how to swim? Because if he hadn’t, wouldn’t you rewind that part?