It goes without saying that the biggest breakout show of this past television season was FOX's musical comedy smash, Glee. With it's great one-liners, the fabulous Jane Lynch and spectacular musical numbers, the show was a journey into territory never before seen in television. That is unless you count Steven Bochco's dramatic musical flop Cop Rock. Now, the show is poised to rack up quite a number of Emmy nominations when the nods are released on Thursday, July 8 and it probably will receive a bundle of them, especially with nods in the "Creative Arts" categories. But when it comes to winning in major categories, especially Outstanding Comedy Series, this show's chances start to fade.
Now, this is all assuming the show actually makes it into the Comedy Series contest. The Emmy voters are notorious, not just for their attitude when voting for the winners, but also in who they choose as the nominees in each category. The nominating process has been adjusted several times over the past five years alone, but Emmy voters keep nominating shows that have not really resonated with vast audiences. That's not to say they should vote for something just because it's popular. The Emmys have helped shows gain popularity and even stay on the air such as Cheers, The Shield, Arrested Development and most recently Breaking Bad. But the factor of a show being popular sometimes turns the voters off, even when it comes to quality programming.
But let's assume that Glee does make it into the Comedy Series contest. The next step for the show's producers would be to choose six episodes that they feel represent the best of the show from the past season and then make three tapes with two episodes on each tape. These tapes are distributed randomly to Academy voters which they are sworn to watch all of (they sign an affidavit saying so) and then cast their vote based on those submissions they have received. Does Glee have six episodes that, if distributed randomly to voters would jump out as wonderfully funny? Even if those voters do not follow the show? Considering how on and off the show has been for it's inaugural season, that fact seems highly unlikely.
Glee is also at a disadvantage in that it is a very campy show and shows loaded with camp value have not fared so well at recent Emmy ceremonies. This was demonstrated in both 2005 and 2007 when Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, respectively, were receiving big nods from the TV Academy. Both shows had won trophies for the directors of the pilot episodes and in the Lead Actress in a Comedy category (Felicity Huffman for Housewives and America Ferrera in Betty) and seemed to be strong contenders. But when the Comedy Series category came, both shows failed to win over voters. Housewives was bested by the final season of Everybody Loves Raymond and Betty was taken down by the debut season of 30 Rock. Even Sex and the City's 2001 victory was a complete surprise to everyone in the industry. If satires on suburbia and the fashion industry didn't resonate within the Academy, then Glee's constant theater references are not looking so good right now. I will say I could have mentioned Twin Peaks here, but that show was not camp, it was just wonderfully weird.
This also highlights the problem within the Academy of the voting members' snobbish attitude towards what's on television. Probably the best example of this was the worship the Academy bestowed on Murphy Brown. Candice Bergen would win four Emmys as the high society working mom in DC before Roseanne Barr prevailed for her blue-collar mom in Roseanne after the show's fifth season. Frasier, a very snobbish program indeed (although one I enjoyed), won the Best Comedy trophy five times...IN A ROW. What about the four consecutive wins for both John Larroquette (Supporting Actor - Comedy for Night Court) and Helen Hunt (Lead Actress - Comedy for Mad About You)? There was also the 2003 awards where The Sopranos won trophies for Lead Actor (Gandolfini), Lead Actress (Falco), Supporting Actor (Joe Pantaliano) and Writing for a Drama only to lose the top award out of nowhere to The West Wing. Let's not forget that 30 Rock, a satire on the television industry, has prevailed for the past three years in the Comedy Series category and it seems very likely it could do it again. Suddenly, Glee does not seem like such a smart choice to bet on for this contest.
But the show does seem to be on the path to earning several big nominations, as well as a lot of technical nods as well. Should Jane Lynch be nominated for Supporting Actress in a Comedy (and provided she submits a good episode) she could very well win for playing Sue Sylvester. Lea Michele could stand a very strong chance against powerhouses like Tina Fey, Toni Collette and Edie Falco. Matthew Morrison...well let's not get into that right now. But given that the Emmys can be looked at through trends of years past, the future does not bode well for the scampy little FOX show that could. But if there's one thing we know about the minds behind New Directions, it's that they are very persistant and maybe, just maybe, they could pull this thing off.