1.1 million watch Bravo’s self-serving A-List Awards

Last Thursday night, 1.127 million viewers watched Bravo’s first shot at an awards show, the A-List Awards, which were hosted by Kathy Griffin.

In a press release, the network noted the show’s strong performance, saying that “[v]ersus the prior four week time period average,” it “posted increases of 54 percent among adults 18-49 (663,000 vs. 431,000) and 72 percent among total viewers (1,127,000 vs. 654,000).” What it doesn’t mention, however, is that those increases were over the finale of Step it Up and Dance, which aired in the same timeslot last Thursday night and obviously didn’t do all that well (as a lack ratings information in its finale press release also demonstrated).

I really wanted to like the special show, even though it was one of those awards shows where only the winners show up, and so you know who’s going to win in advance because they are in the audience, shown in cutaways, and introduced at the beginning. Worse, the celebrities in attendance were mostly Bravo reality show cast members (The Real Housewives met on-stage to read terribly scripted material and prove that they are absolutely not actors) and NBC stars (and by that, I mean four actors from 30 Rock), but even some Bravo personalities didn’t show up (Heidi Klum, for example).

When the camera cuts from Tila Tequila to Jerry Springer, you know “A-list” is an extreme exaggeration. And let’s be honest, the awards themselves weren’t being given to A-List anybodies. With Kathy Griffin as host, Bravo should have just gone with D-List awards. Evil Dick from Big Brother is not A-list, nor is Christian Siriano. Maybe all of this was supposed to be ironic, but they didn’t really go for it; they tried to be both serious and jokey all at once, and it didn’t quite work.

Bravo has certainly left a mark on television and popular culture, and its influence in unscripted television should be praised. But if anything, the awards ended up highlighting Bravo’s weakenesses: its increasing cockiness, its excessive product placement, its over-reliance on the same type of show.

There were good moments, however, like when Kathy challenged Tom Colicchio in his own Quickfire challenge, even if it was set up and scripted and the punchline was obvious from about 30 seconds out. The show was really owned by Kathy Griffin, who used her hosting segments to deconstruct awards shows, and was, as usual, funny. All it took was a simple facial expression from Kathy to rip Tila Tequila apart. She even owned the Project Runway challenge segment that she appeared in; otherwise, those segments were kind of flat.

Still, the line of the night goes to Margaret Cho, who described a feeling I’m sure many in the audience had never considered before but that seemed perfectly accurate, and that could also be applied to other Bravo personalities such as perennial, awful reunion host Andy Cohen. She said, “Whenever I see Michael Kors, my asshole just slams shut.”

A-List Awards: 2008 [Bravo]
Bravo’s First Ever Awards Show “The A-List Awards” Delivers Over One Million Viewers and On Bravo It’s a Week of Finales and Winners [Bravo press releases]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.