On the Impossibility of Being Emmy
Emmy nominations were over a week ago now, so I'm not going to rehash any of the "should've/shouldn't have" arguments about various nominees as that's all old hat by now. (OK, short version - no Lost is just silly; Gandolfini, Laurie, Graham, and Falco were robbed; and Stockard Channing, brilliant as she is, sucked on Out of Practice.)
What I do want to discuss, though, is how the Emmy's may never really be fixed, no matter what they do. This story does a good job of explaining how the specific episodes producers and actors submit for consideration go a long way towards explaining some nominations that may seem odd otherwise. But what the article doesn't address is that, even for a show like Law and Order, TV is a serial medium. TV should generally be judged, not on the basis of single episodes, but on the basis of a season's worth of work. And therein lies the rub. For it's obviously impossible for the members of the TV Academy to see every episode of every show. For example - as I said above, I think Lost should have been nominated. Fine. But this season I saw four or five West Wings, three 24s, no Grey's Anatomys, and no Six Feet Unders. So it's in all honesty kind of hard to really argue that Lost was better than any of those series and deserving of its spot. My off-hand, exasperated "no Lost is just silly" is, really, in the end unfair.
And just as I can't see every episode of every show, neither can the voters. The Best Series winner should be the one that is the best over the course of a whole season, the one that offers the most satisfying experience when watched in its entirety. Similarly, the best actor awards should go to the actors who best portrayed a character and his or her many character arcs over the course of a whole season. But as its stands actors and series are instead judged on the basis
of a single episode - which is why we often see lead actors on shows often get big showcase episodes at least once in a season; those are their "Emmy" episodes. And while this may be frustrating, it's really the only practical way to handle things. Again, expecting a judging member to have seen every lead actor's season's worth of episodes is, perhaps obviously, impossible.
The bottom line is that the voters will never be really judging fairly, as it's always going to be impossible to really evaluate a many series as series. And the solution as it stands - to treat a small sampling of episodes as representative of the whole - unsatisfactory as it may be, may be, alas, as good a solution as there is.