The verdict is in from the Emmys last night: if you’re not watching 30 Rock or Mad Men yet, you might as well be living under a rock. It’s official.
Well, maybe things aren’t quite that bad, but both shows did clean up again at the 2009 Emmy awards last night–Mad Men won Best Drama for the second year in a row, and 30 Rock defended its title for Best Comedy for the third year. The ceremony was hosted by the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris, who looked dashing as ever in a skinny black tie. The awards were briefly interrupted by Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog, a comedy by Joss Whedon that made it to the internet during the writers strike. Harris, playing Dr. Horrible, warned that TV is dead, and the future of home entertainment is the internet. In a way, these concerns are legitimate. And while the Emmys, as usual, were something we could take or leave, they gave us a good excuse to wax poetic about our favourite way to spend a Thursday night.
For those of you who have yet to get the memo: Part of the appeal of 30 Rock is that it makes fun of the struggling television industry–the show is loosely based on the reality of working for NBC. 30 Rock portrays the television industry as being plagued with a lack of good ideas (made fun of with the reality show MILF island) and an overabundance of dumb, selfish stars (Tracy Jordan). Tina Fey parodies herself with the role of Liz Lemon, a single, overworked 30-year-old writer who ultimately just wants to get home to her apartment and eat cheese in her Snuggie. Tina Fey couldn’t have written herself a better part, and Liz is hilariously self-deprecating. The show also provided Alec Baldwin with an opportunity for a major comeback–he’s so good as high-powered exec Jack Donaghy that you manage to forget that traumatizing voicemail he left for his daughter a few years ago where he called her a piggie. And that’s saying something, because it was a pretty fucked up message. This is a show that’s legitimately worth your half hour every week–it’s intelligent satire and it’s relentlessly funny.
Mad Men is also about working in media–if you’re just peeking out from under your rock to read this, it’s about a 1960s Madison Avenue ad agency. In Mad Men, the star of television is still rising, and the show covers famous moments in TV history such as the televised Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960. Follow sexy suit-clad Don Draper (Jon Hamm) as he brokers deals, cheats on his wife, smokes cigarettes and remains mysterious. Always mysterious. The drama deals with a lot of contemporary issues like racism, class and women’s rights. You should be watching this show if only to pick up on the Mad Men-inspired fashion for fall–your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to channel Joan with sexy curve-hugging dresses and vintage jewelry.
If you don’t get in on these shows this season, expect to be out of the loop during water cooler talk, and at the bar when everyone else is just speaking in a series of Tracy Jordan quotes. The stars of the two shows joined forces last season when Jon Hamm guest-starred as Liz Lemon’s sexy but clueless boyfriend–this dream team is not to be missed.