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TV Junkie: SAG Awards Wrap Up

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The red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium [Photo by Thomas Attila Lewis]
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We're pretty pleased that we scored 7 out of 8 of our TV picks for yesterday's Screen Actors Guild Awards. The only TV win we missed was Betty White's for "Hot In Cleveland" which even she wasn't expecting. We love Betty White, we enjoyed interviewing her at last year's SAG Awards (see video below), but this award was a mistake and it doesn't reflect well on the organization. Betty White received her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award last year and she is a national treasure, admittedly. Her guest appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and "Community," among others, were among highlights of the year in television, but her performance on "Hot In Cleveland" is not among her best work (by far) and it fell well short of the other nominees in her category, even Edie Falco, who has protested that she isn't a comedic actress and "Nurse Jackie" isn't even a comedy.

The very fact that the "Hot In Cleveland" ensemble was nominated also illustrated a fundamental problem with the SAG (at the TV and Motion Picture academies): too many out of touch and close-minded retirees among their ranks. You may have heard us rail against them in our Channel Zero podcasts, but there's a difference between mature and wise vs old and stupid, and the "Hot In Cleveland" nom proves this. The show is a dinosaur from the way it's shot to the jokes to the stereotypes it reinforces. It looks like a show from the 1970s, the "Golden Age of Television" that a certain voting demographic at the SAG and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences yearns to return to.

Let's forget amazing cable comedies whose ensembles didn't get nominated ("Bored To Death," "Louie," "The League," It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," etc.) and look at the broadcast networks - there's no way that "Hot In Cleveland" even came close to touching the ensemble work of "Community" and "Parks and Recreation," or even shows that we don't actively follow like "How I Met Your Mother," "Cougar Town," "The Big Bang Theory," etc. Has the cast of "Hot In Cleveland" done good work? You bet - we're big Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick fans, and the show has had great guest stars like Tim Conway and Carl Reiner but it looks like a bunch of lady folk have taken over the set of "Webster" and reanimated the crew and script writers to do their bidding.

Betty White was in the limelight last year for a reason: being a TV pioneer who has remained relevant for 60+ years. Now it's time to look at shows and performers that will set high marks for this century - wait, that's what should have happened 10 years ago.