Hosting a major awards show is a thankless task. Just ask David Letterman and Seth MacFarlane. (Don’t even bother asking James Franco.) Seth Meyers, who won almost unanimous praise for hosting the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2011, received mixed reviews in his first stint as Emmy host Monday night, with his hometown tabloid detractors pointing to a perception of passiveness that yielded the stage to other, more dynamic performers. But perhaps he should be commended for sharing the spotlight so generously, letting others shine, and keeping the three-hour show moving. Nothing wrong with getting by with a little help from one’s friends, especially when such friends are as funny as Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, et al.
Looking at Meyers’ Emmys from a raw data perspective, his numbers were solid. He couldn’t compete with last year’s CBS telecast, which was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, but his show’s 10.9 rating was the second most-watched Emmys in eight years. Perhaps the audience would’ve been even larger if the Emmys had aired on the traditional Sunday night. (Or perhaps not, with stronger competition from Sunday night’s water-cooler cable shows.)
Either way, I’ll give Meyers a passing grade—though EW‘s critics were less generous—and am already looking ahead to 2015’s Emmys. Who should host next year?
Before you start rattling off the usual suspects like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, or nominating some of Monday night’s scene-stealers, like Key and Peele, remember that next year’s Emmys will be aired on Fox. Traditionally, networks have plucked hosts from their own stable of stars, with Meyers, Harris, and Kimmel getting the call from their respective bosses in the last three years. So cross their names off the list when the awards show shifts to Fox, which tabbed Glee‘s Jane Lynch and American Idol‘s Ryan Seacrest the last two times it hosted the big party.
Lynch and Seacrest are both logical candidates. Also in the mix is MacFarlane, though he might not be willing to endure the scrutiny after his polarizing Oscar gig. Perhaps Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Andy Samberg is poised to follow in his former SNL colleague’s footsteps. (Lorne Michaels playfully taps his fingertips together in glee, though he might also have a rooting interest in John Mulaney as well.) Don’t forget some of the stars from Fox’s sister cable station, FX: Louis CK seems like the type who’d flinch under the tight constraints of an awards show, but perhaps he’d be interested if the producers were willing to hand over the show to him. Key and Peele’s eponymous comedy show airs on Comedy Central, but they did play supporting roles on Fargo, so maybe they’d get the Fox stamp of approval.
But thinking outside the box, maybe we should finally move past the whole favorite-son (or daughter) thing—especially since the Emmys are no longer the exclusive domain of the networks except for one special night each year. Maybe Emmy should insist that the networks open the doors to the cable networks’ stars, so that we can look forward to a show co-hosted by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston, or HBO’s John Oliver, or Netflix’s Kevin Spacey. If the networks are monopolizing the Emmy Awards ceremony, the least they can do is consider some of the talent that is actually taking home the hardware.
Baby steps, though. For next year, my first choice is Fox’s funny lady, Mindy Kaling. She’s already in with the Academy peeps, hosting the live A.M. nominations special (that cruelly failed to recognize her or her show, The Mindy Project), and she was a good sport to present on Monday night. She’s smart, clever, blunt, and tough, all the attributes of a good host.
Get cracking, Fox. You and the Academy have only eight months or so to decide. Our readers, on the other hand, have to choose now.