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Do Emmy voters watch TV?

The Emmy voters and I must watch different television shows.

Actually, I’m not even certain the Emmy voters watch television.

Just think of all the great shows that they’ve overlooked over the years (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Community, Friday Night Lights, etc., etc., etc.) and what/whom they do nominate. (Charlie Sheen has been nominated four times, yes four, and that’s only about a fourth of all the nominations his show has received). Sure, things like Mad Men and Modern Family get nominated, but to a TV addict lover like me, it’s hard to trust the Emmys as a guide to good television.

Which is why I like to celebrate my best in television. I may have my own biases, just like the Emmys, but at least I watch more TV than they do!

Here are my awards for the 2011-2012 television season:

Best New Evening Soap: The L.A. Complex (MuchMusic)
The creators of Degrassi have successfully translated their addictive story-lines to twenty-somethings struggling to make it in L.A. Like Degrassi there is a great diversity of characters and story-lines, but because the characters aren’t teens, they address more mature issues. My favourite storylines: the romance between the two black male hip hop artists, and the positive portrayal of the adult film industry.

L.A. Complex

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Best Retro Show: Portlandia (IFC)
The dream of the 90s is still alive in Portland! So they tell us in the opening musical (!) number and it is indeed awesome! It reminds me of the heyday of the Kids in the Hall with its skit format. A bonus for those of us who fondly remember 90s riot girl music: Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney is one of the show’s leads (along with Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live fame). My favourites: the hipster ethical eaters getting way too involved in the background of the chicken they’re considering eating, and the women’s bookstore sketches. “All the hot girls wear glasses,” the Dream of the 90s song promises and, yea, it is good.

Portlandia

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Best Gender Play: Dean Pelton on Community (CityTV/NBC)
The hilarious community college sitcom would not be the same without its outrageous dean (played by Jim Rash). There have been plenty of hints that the character is queer (such as his map featuring truck stop ratings) and he’s always wearing a new and crazy outfit (of course he’s been Lady Gaga for Hallowe’en). My favourite: his half-man, half-woman outfit tailor made to deliver good and bad news.

Dean good news bad news

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Best New Female Led Show: Scandal (CityTV/ABC)
Created by Shonda Rhimes (who is responsible for the great Callie/Arizona relationship on Grey’s Anatomy), this show about political intrigue is sexy and addictive. Kerry Washington stars as the fantastically named Olivia Pope, head of a crisis management firm. She’s someone you believe can actually fix problems. Not only is this a great female led show, it’s also the only U.S. network show with an African American lead. (The ridiculous lack of diversity on television is a topic for another whole column! Or five.). Though there are no lesbian relationships on this show yet (although there are gay male characters and there was a storyline about a gay man in the military), with Rhimes at the helm I suspect we won’t have to wait long.

Scandal

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Best Lesbian Subtext: The B in Apartment 23 (CityTV/ABC)
This fun comedy, starring Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker as NYC roommates, is reaching Xena levels of overt subtext. Of course, as a black comedy, their dynamic is less romantic than Xena and Gabrielle’s and more grudgingly affectionate. Still, it was fun to watch them pretend to be a lesbian couple in one episode; it works because one of them doesn’t realize the other is pretending that they are one, and then isn’t upset when she learns. This show’s success (it’s renewed for next season) makes me feel better about NBC’s cancellation of the also subtextual Best Friends Forever.

The B in Apartment 23

And since these are my awards I can also give out some Razzies:

Worst Theme of the 2011/2012 Season:
The Cancellation of So Many Great Female-Centric Shows

Not only did the soapy Desperate Housewives say goodbye this year, but so many promising shows about women were quickly cancelled. I always find networks’ twitchy cancellation fingers ridiculous (you need to give audiences more than two episodes to discover the show so you can build your audience!), but its especially frustrating when they cancel promising female-centric shows such as The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, Ringer and Best Friends Forever. Don’t promise me lots of shows about women and then fail to deliver; give us time to get into them… and to tell our friends about them!

Worst Sneak Cancellation of a Show: Being Erica (CBC)
Did anyone hear that this past season of Being Erica (its fourth) was its last? Some heads up would have been nice! CBC underplayed this by saying it “had been scheduled to end” … a “fact” they announced months after the final episode had aired. I’m still feeling blindsided that such a great Canadian show ended with no fanfare. Good-bye to a fascinating show that explored the psyche of a strange but wonderful woman. Check out this great reflection on the show.

Being Erica

Obviously, these are just a few of my favourite and not so favourite things from the 2011-2012 television season. What are yours? What did you hate? What did you love?

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*The Emmys will air this year on Sunday, September 23, 2012.

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