While their nominations might not get quite the same amount of speculation and attention as do the noms for comedy and drama series or individual actors, reality programs are still part of the Emmy Award night. And with reality shows appearing to have outlived all the “This is just a fad” predictions, and finding themselves fairly firmly entrenched in nearly every network's schedule, the competition for the gold statuette can be just as fierce as any Survivor
Reality television awards are divided into two categories, Reality-Competition Programs, and plain ol' Reality Programs. The nominations for each category bring some heavy-hitters, some old contenders and a couple of new faces.
In the Reality-Competition category, the nominees are The Amazing Race (CBS), American Idol (FOX), Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Project Runway (Bravo), and Top Chef (Bravo).
In this contest, The Amazing Race is the Goliath to beat. This award came into existence in 2003, and The Amazing Race is the only television program to ever win it. With the combination of strong production values, thoughtfully-created challenges, a casting practice that usually results in a diverse and interesting group of Racers, and a strong host in Phil Keogh, the show has maintained a quality level that is hard to match. However, will this year's slightly disappointing All-Stars edition finally be the show's Achilles' Heel?
Certainly the creators and talent on American Idol must be hoping so. Like The Amazing Race, they've been nominated every year the award has existed and, obviously, have lost every year to The Amazing Race. Losing again this year would make it a five-year streak and worries about being the Susan Lucci of reality television must no doubt be at the edges of the American Idol producers' minds.
Project Runway is another entry with several nominations and no wins. The show has been on the list twice before. Since the show is very consistent, without much variation in format or style, it would seem that if it hasn't won before, it will be dependent on the other nominees' weaknesses to help it get to the top spot.
Another Bravo show, Top Chef, made in on the list but seems to be a long shot. Structurally and stylistically, it is nearly a clone of Project Runway. Ergo, it seems unlikely that either the strength of the specific subject matter, contestants or hosts would be enough to help win it the gold statuette.
Dancing with the Stars is making an appearance on the list for the second year in a row. The show is a wildly popular hit with broad appeal. Will the kitschy fun of the show be enough to charm enough Academy voters?
One notable absence from the list? The granddaddy of reality television: Survivor. It has been nominated every year, but this time, it didn't make the cut. Was the crushing repetition of the early Haves vs. Have Nots episodes of Survivor: Fiji the nail in the coffin?
In the other category, the nominees are Antiques Roadshow (PBS), The Dog Whisperer (Discovery), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC), Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo) and Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (Showtime). Extreme Makeover is the show to watch in this category, having won the past two years. Penn & Teller's show is possibly on its way to being the Susan Lucci of this category, having been nominated three out of the past three years and never winning. Antiques Roadshow is on their heels, with two nominations prior to this one and no wins. Kathy Griffin's show was also nominated last year but did not win. The Dog Whisperer was also nominated last year. That's right, they're the exact same five nominees all from last year.
The 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 16, and will air on FOX at 8:00/7:00pm.
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Emmys.org)