Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
It's Emmy Time! The 74th Annual Emmy Awards are happening Monday night at 8pm ET live from Hollywood with SNL vet Kenan Thompson hosting.
I can't help but wonder, does anyone even care?
My frustration with The Emmys is well documented and has continued to build over the years. And no, it's not because I was overlooked for hosting Fast Food Maniac back in 2012. The Emmys should be the best TV show of the year. It's a celebration of the most excellent work on television, and the prestige level of current programming is near an all-time high.
So why does this awards show feel like a complete afterthought? Let's break it down:
Timeslot: Monday at 8pm for an awards show? The excuse is Sunday Night Football, but guess what, there's football on Mondays too! The NFL season started last week, so if you're so scared of football, schedule the show before the season starts. Or pre-empt a weeknight of must-see TV to get more viewers. Give this show the prestigious time slot it deserves!
Eligibility: This is my biggest beef with the Emmys. Shows that ended well over a year ago will take home statuettes tonight. Praising programs that aren't on anymore, or a season behind, is not how to get people to watch current TV. These actors and creators should be celebrated while their shows are still on the air. The second season of Only Murders of the Building ended last month, but if it wins Outstanding Comedy tonight, it’ll be for last summer’s Season 1. That's insane.
Categories: The categories and number of nominees vary based on... I'm not sure what. Is it a comedy or drama? Are there 5, 6 or 7 nominees? Why does Saturday Night Live run uncontested? Are there really 7 series worth being nominated for Outstanding Comedy? It's a mess.
Talent: Look who is on TV these days. Big, big stars. Let's feature them at a premiere event. Not another plug for a soon-to-be-cancelled NBC drama or the latest comedy on Peacock.
Innovation: The Grammys completely revamped their show. The Oscars, far from they once were, have innovated over the years. Even The Tonys figured out what audiences want to see. Other than asking winners to send their thank you's in advance, there is nothing new with the current broadcast. The West Wing could take home a trophy tonight and no one would even blink.
Having said all this, my love for TV won't let me not watch. I criticize because I care. Plus, I love trying to pick the winners. Not surprisingly, the Academy and I often disagree.
Who SHOULD win...
Outstanding Comedy Series - Barry
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actor - Nicholas Hoult, The Great
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actress - Jean Smart, Hacks
Outstanding Drama Series - Better Call Saul
Outstanding Drama Lead Actor - Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Outstanding Drama Lead Actress - Laura Linney, Ozark
Who WILL Win...
Outstanding Comedy Series - Hacks
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actor - Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actress - Jean Smart, Hacks
Outstanding Drama Series - Succession
Outstanding Drama Lead Actor - Jeremy Strong, Succession
Outstanding Drama Lead Actress - Zendaya, Euphoria
Feel free to pencil in wins for This Week Tonight with John Oliver and Saturday Night Live in whatever categories they're nominated in.
It's fitting that the Emmys still air on network television. You know network TV, the one that's lucky to even get nominated for a Emmy these days. It's not too late, Emmys. Be proud of today's programming!
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
The Handmaid's Tale (HULU)
Wednesday, September 14th
The Emmy-winning drama returns for its fifth season, and the blessed action in Gilead is never boring. June is off to Canada after taking care of Commander Waterford and faces the consequences for what she did. Most of the stellar actresses return to deal with this bizarre world where every decision carries a burden. One more season after this one, blessed be.
Thursday, September 15th 10:00 PM ET
Donald Glover brings it all home in the fourth and final season of this award-winning FX comedy. The crew is back from Europe for episodes that will take place in the title city. Here's a shout out to FX as a cable network that continues to produce innovative, quality programming. You don't need to stream to make groundbreaking TV. Watch trailer
Los Espookys (HBO) Friday, September 16th
It's season two for this bilingual comedy which finally returns after a long COVID break. It's unique (Fred Armisen produces and co-stars) and guaranteed to make you laugh.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
The U.S. and the Holocaust (PBS) – The Ken Burns crew tackles America's reaction to the horrors before, during and after World War II in this new six-hour limited series. Sunday at 8:00pm ET. Watch trailer
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: The Prisoner (Prime Video) - An unnamed British intelligence agent resigns and wakes up in a bizarre village he doesn't recognize. So begins the head trip that is The Prisoner. He's known there as Number Six and his captors want information. He won't give it up in what some consider the best TV program ever made.
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.