Television

This Just In: 'Two And A Half Men' Is Not 'The Dark Knight'

Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones of Two And A Half Men

Two And A Half Men: Is this just like what happened to The Dark Knight? We think not. CBS hide caption

itoggle caption CBS

My jaw absolutely dropped when I read this analysis of the Emmy nominations, which begins like this:

When cult cable series "Flight of the Conchords" snags a best series Emmy nomination and the most-watched comedy in America, CBS' "Two and Half Men," loses out, TV academy voters are willfully thumbing their noses at mass appeal.

It seems the Emmys have adopted the TV equivalent of the Academy Awards' smaller-film fixation that has lifted critical darlings to Oscar glory over such box-office hits as "The Dark Knight."

I'm sorry to appear momentarily gobsmacked, but: WHAT?

Is the argument here that the failure to nominate Two And A Half Men — while, it should be noted, still nominating its two main actors (Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer) — is the equivalent of the near-shutout of The Dark Knight, one of the best-reviewed movies of last year, in every major category except one?

REALLY?

It's true that Flight Of The Conchords is a lower-profile comedy. So is Weeds. Entourage is kind of in the middle — yes, it's pay cable, but it's very much an established brand. But there are seven nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series this year, and the other four are The Office, 30 Rock, Family Guy, and How I Met Your Mother. This is hardly a snubbing of mass appeal in favor of the television equivalent of Kate Winslet's illiterate Nazi adventures in The Reader.

Comparing the "snub" of Two And A Half Men to the Oscar snubs of The Dark Knight and WALL-E last year is entirely absurd. Those weren't considered snubs simply because the movies were popular. Nobody is going to write this year about the Oscar snubbing of the second Transformers movie or Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

We look more closely at the nominations, after the jump...

The problem with the Oscars has been, in the mind of those who see a problem, that the Oscars seem to be snubbing mass-appeal movies because they are mass-appeal movies: that no movie as well-reviewed as The Dark Knight would have been dumped on if it hadn't been a blockbuster. Maybe true, maybe false, but let me tell you this: it has absolutely nothing to do with Two And A Half Men.

The Emmys are, and have always been, entirely willing to recognize popular shows. Perhaps too willing, as a matter of fact. Yes, on the drama side, there are obscure cable shows like Mad Men and Damages. But there are also Lost and House. It recently made news when a report emerged stating that House is the most popular show in the world. Not in the United States, not with the 18-49 demographic, not with young women who vote by text message.

It is the most popular show in the world.

Are there popular shows that aren't nominated? Of course. For the most part, voters seem to have grown weary of crime procedurals, while viewers have not. But look at Simon Baker's nomination for The Mentalist. If that show weren't doing well, there is no way that nomination happens. Sure, the very popular Grey's Anatomy wasn't nominated for Outstanding Drama this year (it has been in the past), but it still gets nominations for actresses Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh.

Add to that the fact that the Emmys happily hand out nominations every year to reality shows and hosts, in an obvious nod to what is popular.

I'm not here to defend the Emmy nominations. The snubbing of Friday Night Lights gets under my skin every year, and others would say the same about their favorites, including The Shield and Battlestar Galactica. (Incidentally? None of those shows are particularly popular. If the Emmys worked more like the Oscars, they would all have been recognized substantially more than they have been.)

There's plenty wrong with the Emmys. But this is not what ails them. The idea that the failure to nominate Two And A Half Men indicates a streak of elitist snobbery or a turning away from what is popular is flat-out silly.

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