September 19, 2011

The inexplicable popularity of awards shows

I see from the news today that yesterday was the Emmy awards show. I do not understand the appeal of such shows for viewers and am curious as to why people watch them at all. Surely it can't be to see the stars since we see them all the time in their performances themselves. The shows apparently have some moments of comedy and some music and dance but most of the time seems to be spent announcing the nominees, showing clips from their performances, and the acceptance remarks of category winners. Surely this must get stale about fifteen minutes into the proceedings?

It is true that I do not watch TV or go to many plays much, which may explain my lack of interest in the Emmys and the Tonys. But I do watch films a lot and my disinterest extends to the Oscar awards show as well.

Do viewers of these shows see it as a quasi-sporting event and root for particular people to win, thus enjoying the suspense of seeing if their 'team' won?

I am genuinely curious.


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Well, there's betting pools and drinking games. And sometimes it's hosted by someone who you'd want to see, like Ricky Gervais or Jane Lynch.

Posted by Uri on September 19, 2011 04:40 PM

I also find such shows mind-numbing, but it does give people a chance to see their favorite stars out-of-character, just being themselves (whatever that means for such people). So, seeing them as people instead of as whoever they are pretending to be on-screen. I can see how this would appeal to the same type of person who reads the celebrity tabloids to find out as much about their off-screen lives as possible.

Posted by Robert Allen on September 19, 2011 07:03 PM

I can't speak to the award ceremonies themselves (I detest them), but the actual awards are very prestigious within their fields. I've worked in TV and Theatre, and when someone wins an Emmy or Tony it's a very proud moment.

The production company I work for has several Tonys... but then again, that's not especially egregious.

I guess my biggest gripe with the process is that some show is bound to win 'Best New Drama' even if all of the new dramas are complete trash. I think it would be more meaningful if there weren't every category every year.

Posted by Peter on September 19, 2011 08:02 PM


I can understand the interest for the people in the business. I can understand all the stars and the people behind the scenes actually involved in the industry getting together for a big awards ceremony and party afterwards. That could be fun for them.

I just don't understand everyone else spending hours watching these shows.

Posted by Mano on September 19, 2011 08:22 PM

"I just don't understand everyone else spending hours watching these shows."

Celebrivoyeurism. Or Celebriporn. Whatever you choose to call it doesn't matter much as long as it acknowledges that the centrality of the Celebrity.

Technicians, Designers, Production staff aren't showcased even though there are categories that recognize achievement in those areas. I was going to include Directors in that group, but I think that most people watching tend to know who directors are.

I guess for me it's the same thing as sports: I don't understand at all why some people feel such an urge to identify with a group of paid professional athletes that they go so far as to dress up in costumes and congregate in specific bars just to watch the game. I can understand enjoying watching the game itself, but the self-identification with the team and team members baffles me.

Posted by Peter on September 19, 2011 09:30 PM

When I was in high school, most of my friend were theatre geeks, and they would have Oscar night parties. They ended up being much like big-game parties. I remember saying at one "a sport by any other name." Unfortunately, except for the categories that most people don't care about, all the big awards shows are popularity contests. Oscars for production design and art direction are much more interesting to me than best actor.

Posted by Scott on September 20, 2011 07:59 AM

I'm with you, Mano. I loathe TV. I love movies. I never watch award shows. I, too, am puzzled as to why people -- other than those in the industry, such as Peter mentions -- watch them.

Posted by Tim on September 20, 2011 09:34 AM

I have never understood the draw of the awards shows, but my wife loves them. She'll turn it on for the pre-show and see what everyone is wearing. Then watch the show. Then turn it to the after-shows where it talks about what everyone was wearing. I tend not to be home on awards show nights...

Posted by PCN on September 23, 2011 04:11 PM

Who doesn't like a good award show! Winners going on and on after they win like people actually care. People spending thousands of dollars for a 2 second photo op on the red carpet. Awesome!

Posted by SAS on December 20, 2011 11:22 PM