How did Idol director Bruce Gowers get nominated for an Emmy? and other reality-related Emmy injustices

Complaining about Emmy nominations is an unstated requirement of being a TV critic, whether that’s complaining about snubs or about the way the Academy ignores allegedly good shows that the masses watch, and I gladly play along, even while recognizing that we all really know that the Emmys are often ridiculous. Whether it’s giving repeated best drama awards to The West Wing as Six Feet Under and The Sopranos were ignored or just the absurd best reality show host nominations from last year–when Phil Keoghan was left out but Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel were both included–it’s often clear that voters are selecting shows and nominees they’re either not watching or think should be nominated, and the result is often a mess.

How else can one explain the fact that The Amazing Race has won year after year, even though it was absolutely not the best reality competition on TV for six years in a row? It deserved its early wins, not the later ones, since the show got weaker. The Emmy nominations this year gave Phil his nomination, but there was still plenty to be outraged about, like how Survivor was once again ignored in the competition category. And where is Cat Deely or So You Think You Can Dance? Recognizing the choreography is awesome, but Cat is more of a host than Heidi ever will be.

The most shocking nomination this year, however, was American Idol director Bruce Gowers’ nomination for “Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Series.” Anyone who actually watched the show this season knows that, if there’s anything not deserving of an award, it’s the direction, which was a complete joke this season. Week after week, it was amateur hour in the production booth.

The nomination is actually for episode 833, which was the May 12 performance episode for the final three, and also the show’s 300th episode. By this point, he was less incompetent than before, and the nominations are for a single episode. Ultimately, you’re giving the award to a performer or crew member’s body of work or to an entire show, even if that’s represented by just one episode.

And just a month before that episode, critics ripped Gowers after a performance episode went eight minutes late and left Adam Lambert’s performance off of DVRs, the most egregious blunder after a string of screw-ups that started with technical problems in the very first live show. So You Think You Can Dance is expertly produced compared to this; where was its nomination?

A nomination for Gowers makes no sense at all. None. It’s like nominating the Exxon Valdez for a Prince William Sound preservation award.

Perhaps it’s unfair to blame Gowers alone for producers’ and the networks’ decisions–from adding a fourth judge to wasting a colossal amount of time on ridiculous shit–but the show itself does not deserve the nomination. For the most-popular TV show in the country, it often fumbles through its live episodes. But then again, what should you expect from an awards ceremony whose own telecast blew huge chunks?

Correction: An ealier version of this post incorrectly identified last year’s telecast as a nominee; instead, it was the Oscar telecast that was nominated. I regret the error.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.