Emmys 2013: Why Neil Patrick Harris Really Shouldn't Host Every Awards Show
For folks who don't obsess over every little TV detail, Sunday night's 2013 Emmys ceremony is little more than a flashy, celebrity occasion — something that might yield some culturally relevant moment strong enough to wash away the Internet's reaction to the VMAs and Miley Cyrusgate.
But if we chose to just catch the highlights reel the next day, would we really be missing much? The yearly awards show is often chastised for being a TV show dedicated to honoring good TV without actually being good TV itself; Twitter and blogs everywhere will have GIFs, winners, and commentary up as soon as anything interesting happens; and, most importantly, Neil Patrick Harris' hosting gig doesn't exactly promise an unmissable show. We know he'll open with a jaunty song, enlisting a few friendly celebs along the way. (Tina Fey will almost certainly be involved.) He'll be endlessly charming and throw out a few inoffensive wisecracks with his signature sideways grin. Essentially, he'll be the NPH we've seen on the Tonys, Emmys, and Spike TV Video Game Awards.
I say this with a multitude of NPH love in my heart: Neil Patrick Harris, you can stop hosting every awards show now.
But please hold your fire, everyone. Harris is wonderful. He's charming. He's a giant, glowing orb of good feelings. I'm fairly certain that no matter where he is, a spotlight will find its way to his magnetic face. But that's exactly why enlisting him to host every broadcast event with a trophy needs to stop.
There is a reason that even the best shows on television have to know when to call it quits. Sure, the thought of a lifetime of Breaking Bad and 30 Rock sounds great — until you really think about it. In reality, we would tire of watching Walter White continue a life of terrible decision-making (no matter how fantastic Bryan Cranston is). Liz Lemon could only have gotten into so many madcap snafus with Tracy and Jenna before she wore out her welcome (and this is coming from a woman who cried dragon tears throughout the NBC staple's January series finale). Every good (or bad — as AMC would like us to remember) thing must come to an end. And America's addiction to Harris' award show stylings is one of those good things.
But if Harris shouldn't host endlessly, should anyone? It's an entirely relevant question considering how hard the Golden Globes are lobbying to get hosting dream team Fey and Amy Poehler to return to the Beverly Hilton Ballroom. Shouldn't we also be worried about overusing their incomparable chemistry? We should... eventually. But even when they start to wear out their welcomes, comedians like Poehler and Fey at the Globes, Billy Crystal at the Oscars, and even Jon Stewart at the Oscars are a bit different. Their brands of entertainment are timelier, built on irreverent commentary about specific moments in pop culture (and in Stewart's poorly-received case, politics). Harris is less about staying on topic and more about dazzling us, but seeing him shine on stage time after time is a bit like enjoying a cronut delivered to your door by a handsome, friendly delivery man at breakfast every single day. It's incredible at first, and you can't believe how lucky you are to experience such luxury. But eventually, the excitement wears off and — in the case of the cronut — your doctor faints from shock at your ability to be so irresponsibly indulgent.
So while CBS surely thought it best to pick Harris as the representative of the network, that decision is really more of a safety net than a triumph. Why not go against the grain and offer Harris' How I Met Your Mother co-star Jason Segel a shot at being Head Goofball in Charge for a day? (He can sing and dance too, after all.) Or what about the beloved, hilarious, Emmy-winning star of Mike & Molly, Melissa McCarthy? Hell, why not go for some serious self-promotion and pull one of the stars of their new fall series into the ring? They do know they have Will Arnett and William Shatner on their Fall 2013 roster, right? Instead, we'll get NPH: the gold standard awards show host. He'll be great, just like every other time he's hosted something since 2009.
Harris isn't a bad host. He never could be. But is it so wrong to hope that, just once, we could look forward to an Emmys ceremony that dares to be something completely different?