The last two winners of Best Reality Series, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” and “Intervention,” are absent from the race this year. Of the six nominees, only one — “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” — is a previous champ with back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008.
With “My Life on the D-List” wrapping up last year, its the final chance to honor this funny lady who is very serious about winning awards. In her episode submission, “Kathy with a Z,” Griffin deftly adopts a real insider’s approach, repeatedly referencing her past wins, Emmy judging panels, and her certitude that she’ll reap a Guest Actress bid for her appearance on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (she didn’t). She did get acting lessons from Liza Minnelli and a kiss from Mariska Hargitay. In between, she breaks down in her dressing room after a rough series of takes where she can’t remember her lines. This mix of hilarity and pathos make her a serious contender.
Kathy Griffin is a self-proclaimed admirer of rival nominee “Hoarders” and A&E didn’t miss a beat capitalizing on that with For Your Consideration ads which included such quotes from Griffin’s stand-up routine as, “Hoarders is so f#*@ing fantastic!” Griffin’s not wrong as the show’s submission, “Glen/Lisa,” is absolutely captivating. Glen lets more than 2,000 rats run freely in his home. Glen has been unable to mourn the death of his wife, giving an emotional weight to a truly bizarre situation. Though he views the rats as his children, he is ready to part with them after they devour the walls and furniture. A cleaning crew provides much needed laughs at it proves all but impossible to capturing all the rats. The other half of the episode follows Lisa, a hoarder who faces eviction from her home by her father. Before the clean-up even begins, she refuses to throw away any of the clutter that overruns her home and backyard. In contrast to Glen, letting go proves to be difficult .
The “MythBusters” entry has star power even Griffin would envy. Their “President’s Challenge” features a direct request from President Obama, who suggests they take a new approach to a previously debunked myth. Utilizing 500 high school students armed with mirrors, they try to set the sail of a ship ablaze as Archimedes was said to have done in 214 B.C. Meanwhile, a second crew tries to prove that a powerful punch to the hood of a moving SUV could flip it in the air as seen in the film “Hellboy.” Despite the smoke and mirrors, both myths get busted. All of this is rather disappointing considering the substantial build-up.
“Antiques Roadshow” is considerably less flashy than the rest of the nominees. Producers submitted the first hour of their trip to San Diego. Notable items appraised in the episode include the original hand-written lyrics of “Stormy Weather,” a Civil War era rifle, and a lamp from Tiffany’s. Lacking the pizzazz and entertainment value of the other nominees, “Antiques Roadshow” is on its ninth nomination and is likely to suffer its ninth loss. The show would be more at home — and more competitive — in Best Nonfiction Series.
“Deadliest Catch” shifted from Nonfiction Series, where it’s lost five races in a row. It entered the compelling “Redemption Day.” On the water, a dangerous storm threatens two groups of crab fishermen. They struggle to catch anything, but the drama on the high seas is nothing compared to what’s happening on land. Captain Phil Harris is recovering from a stroke that required brain surgery. Arguments between his two sons lead to the younger deciding to enter rehab. While he’s there, his father dies. It’s heart-wrenching and devastating to watch a great personality who the show has followed for six years slip away. “Redemption Day” is also nominated for cinematography, picture editing, and sound mixing. The combination of emotional drama and technical excellence might finally bring it a series prize.
Sheldon Yellen, CEO of disaster restoration company Belfor, plays the “Undercover Boss” in the show’s submission. Yellen’s a teary-eyed guy who’s moved by all the lower-level employees he meets. These employees have heartfelt stories, including a water tech who addresses the difficulty of being promoted but getting no raise for a year. Touched by his employee’s passion for her job, Yellen breaks down and reveals himself to be the company’s CEO. This moment coupled with the revelation of his true identity to the other employees in the episode’s finale, make it weepy and sentimental enough to stand an outside shot at winning. However, it lost last year despite submitting their premiere episode that debuted following the Super Bowl.