So last year the People’s Choice Awards underwent their former syndicated glory to become the sole artistic purview of the E! Network. I think this seems reasonable, but it also puts me in an interesting frame of mind, analytically. To wit: I have no idea who actually takes any of this stuff seriously (other than me).
I mean, I’m writing about it, so obviously I care about this stuff. And obviously it’s still going, and wasn’t cancelled unceremoniously, so enough people care about it that it’s still worth the expense, but that’s not really what I mean. I’m going to talk now, probably at some length, about television, the worst 1, most popular, medium for entertainment.
The E! People’s Choice Awards are meant to be a sort of grab-bag of the things that people like enough to vote in a basic-cable company’s online poll and declare their favorite 2. As such, it sort of begs the question of who the “people” involved are, and, given the loose nature of “choice” (read here as “favorite”), what it is they are choosing. When television was a more-controlled environment, and basic cable faced fewer alternatives (network and premium cable), it was probably easier to maintain the illusion that this was the choice that was made by the people.
As it is, however, I’m unsure how many actual people would be involved in this. While the awards show itself is presenting itself as the sort of thing where we, the populous, gets to choose what it is that receives the statue, it’s actually a subset of the people that watch the network that has all the Kardashian shows and whatnot on it, which may or may not be any kind of direct representative sample of any of the actual people, because we have no idea who is watching E!, and, more to the point, who is watching it in such a way that they see the commercials for the People’s Choice Awards and, further still, are thus impelled to come out and vote for them.
Now, most awards are selected by smaller, less theoretically-democratic groups of people – AMPAS, or the Hollywood Foreign Press, or the Recording Academy, or the editorial staff of Billboard Magazine. You see what I mean. So this is probably a larger body than those, and it’s definitely more open 3, but the thing that calls attention to wondering just who it is that chooses to exercise those voting privileges is the fact of its openness.
The People’s Choice Awards, then, were always absurd 4 – they were never actually a democratic representation of anything other than people who knew what they were, and cared enough to vote on them which, given the viewership numbers and their general place in the pop-culture firmament, was already a tiny number, but used to include, say, people that were exposed to the commercials and such during shows people actually manage to watch on television 5, or who were into the idea of dumb awards shows in the first place and just managed to know about them that way (that’s how I got here, I haven’t regularly watched a television show on E! Since they cancelled The Soup).
So when presented with the nominees, one is presented with what the people that are putting on the awards think are going to make for interesting television among the set of people that represent their most ardent viewers and/or carers about, plus whatever other audience the people nominated for the awards can bring in (under the assumption that if, say, Cole Sprouse tweets about his nomination and potential win, he can gin up some support from his social media followers. Or whoever, I’m not actually picking on Cole Sprouse here.
So, walk with me down the aisles of what a cable network thinks that their fans will agree on, mixed with a smattering of folks who are attainable to the E! Network and their audiences, which is a different set of audiences than they had a few years ago.
And these are the rightful winners, even though I think a record number of them for one of these writeups go to people that were not, technically speaking, nominated by the People’s Choice Award…um….people.
The Pop Podcast of 2019
I don’t really have an opinion about it as a show, but I do think that it’s funny, for me, biographically, that I thought of Jonathan Van Ness as a podcaster first, because his Earwolf show was heavily promoted right before Queer Eye got into my field of vision. Anyway, WTF has come a long way since its salad days, but it’s still the best one in the field here.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: WTF With Marc Maron
The Game Changer of 2019
Megan Rapinoe not only won another damn World Cup for her team, but also made a bunch of other people who wouldn’t have otherwise cared about soccer, which is a hard thing to do for an American audience. Good job, Megan Rapinoe.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Megan Rapinoe
The Style Star of 2019
You know what, given that Celine Dion hasn’t done a tonne of stuff publicly except show up places and wear clothes (and have a Vegas residency, which is why she was showing up places and wearing clothes. Well, she probably would have been wearing clothes anyway. You know what I mean.), and that this has proven to be nothing but absolutely delightful, I think it’s got to be her.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Celine Dion
The Comedy Act of 2019
Last year I mentioned the oddness of the E! Network’s devotion to Amy Schumer 6, which persists to this year, which is fun. I’m still just going to give it to Kevin Hart, though.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kevin Hart
The Animal Star of 2019
Well, this is just the most delightful category of all, but I’m a big fan not only of Nala’s general existence, but of her overcoming her hardscrabble shelter-cat roots in order to be so. Also how many of these can I give to Nala the cat? Like, all of them, right? I think she deserves all of them.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nala
The Social Celebrity of 2019
Like, Nala should definitely be here. None of these people are shelter cats. Not even one of them looks smashing in a shark hat. I’m annoyed beyond measure that I now have to consider any of these people when we should all just agree that social media is for cats and nothing else. And certainly not Cats.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nala again. I’m overriding the nominating body this time.
The Beauty Influencer of 2019
I mean, Nala is a super pretty cat, guys. She always knows how to make her eyes pop (be a cat), her hair always looks great (she’s a cat), and she always knows how to accessorize. Does Desi Perkins have that same gift for accessories? NO.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nala, in a surprise running-away-with-it-all victory.
The Social Star of 2019
…….after all that do you think there’s going to be some kind of Dolan Twins/Liza Koshy combined come-from-behind situation? No. Social media is for cats, and Nala is the cat in contention. So it’s Nala again.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nala
The Concert Tour of 2019
Shoutout to the E! People’s Choice Awards for being the one organization that remembers that Man of the Woods happened. Jesus. Anyway, the only one of these I spent more than half a second considering was Lady Gaga’s, so I guess there you have it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lady Gaga, Enigma
The Music Video of 2019
Lil Nas X is, once again, nominated for the song (which is bad) and not the video (which is great), which is stupid and unfair. So, since I’ve already gone full rogue here, I guess he wins this category and all these people don’t.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road”
The Latin Artist of 2019
I guess I’m going to like Daddy Yankee the most in this category until he stops appearing in this category, since his is the only music in this category that I actually find memorable.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Daddy Yankee
The Country Artist of 2019
Uhhhhhhhhh…….Carrie Underwood? I guess?
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Carrie Underwood
The Album of 2019
The thing that is most important about this particular exercise is the fact that my decision of rightfulness is, of course, rightful, and the only one of these albums that own is Lizzo’s, so it’s got to be Lizzo. Ipso facto.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
The Song of 2019
The music categories of the People’s Choice Awards make me feel like a cranky old person. I have mentioned this previously in conjunction with other music awards, certainly, but here it is again. I kind of like the Khalid song.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Khalid, “Talk”
The Group of 2019
I usually default to give these things to BTS, who are impressive in their professionalism and showmanship, and their ability to, prior to the last couple of years, manufacture their whole entire fame with the internet and word of mouth. They’re more established now, so I guess I have to consider their music, which isn’t as good as BLACKPINK’s, so there you have it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: BLACKPINK
The Female Artist of 2019
This one probably has to go to Billie Eilish, who came out of nowhere to take over pretty much everything and is, to her credit, a total weirdo. Good job, Billie Eilish. The music is still pretty bad, but at least it’s bad in an interesting way.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Billie Eilish
The Male Artist of 2019
For all that I think “Old Town Road” is bad, and that the rest of Lil Nas X’s music is pretty forgettable, I’m at least into his thing, and his ability to ride out his one great idea to its logical conclusion, so he gets this one.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lil Nas X
The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2019
I don’t know if The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is actually as good as all that, or if it’s just impressive that they’ve managed to make exactly one Archie Comics themed television drama, and that it’s much better than its previous sitcom incarnation, but either way it’s the standout here.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
The Bingeworthy Show of 2019
Talking about television in the medical language of addiction is one of those things that I always expect will go away as people realize what they’re doing, but they never really do. That seems bad. Stop doing it. Anyway, the clear winner here oughta be Bojack Horseman, so I’m going to declare it a better candidate than any of the rest of these.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bojack Horseman, in defiance of the actual nominees
The Reality Star of 2019
So anyway Jonathan Van Ness has a podcast and it’s pretty cool, and he’s also got a memoir that everyone likes and is my favorite part of Queer Eye so it’s got to be him, but without him this category would be a bleak and desolate place, devoid of joy.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye
The Competition Contestant of 2019
While my mind twists itself into knots trying to figure out how anyone from The Bachelor/ette would qualify for this award, I’m just going to give it to T-Pain. It’s for my own health, you see.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: T-Pain, The Masked Singer
The Nighttime Talk Show of 2019
As always with one of these categories, it comes down to the current Daily Show host versus some former Daily Show correspondents. It was a hell of a show, turns out.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Samantha Bee, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
The Daytime Talk Show of 2019
It amazes me that daytime talk shows are still a thing. I mean, I get that nighttime talk shows aren’t much less insane, but I am still amazed that in 2019 the best thing to fill network air is “a bunch of people talking in six minute chunks”. I will confess that I find it baffling, but I can’t really pinpoint why I find it so baffling. I guess I’ll have to think about it some more, which will represent just about the most thought I’ve ever spared for a daytime talk show.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Real
The Comedy TV Star of 2019
Well, The Good Place is my favorite live-action comedy that produced episodes during the period of eligibility, so it comes down to the two women from The Good Place, of which I think the lead is funnier.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kristen Bell, The Good Place
The Drama TV Star of 2019
So one of the seemingly-unending aspects of this particular awards show is that they don’t segregate their acting awards along sex lines when you’re evaluating along genre lines, and then it comes time to pick a man and a woman (sometimes each of whom were nominated in the same category back when it was drama vs. comedy or whatever) and give them a sex-segregated award. It is weird!
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
The Female TV Star of 2019
See? Now we’re only looking at the women, and in a moment the men, despite them all being in the same pot for whether it’s comedy or drama.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Danai Gurira, who is on a terrible show (The Walking Dead) doing fine work, and who wasn’t nominated back in the Drama tv Star category, which just compounds the weirdness.
The Male TV Star of 2019
I still feel bad for singling out Cole Sprouse earlier, so I think he deserves a sympathy award here.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Cole Sprouse, Riverdale
The Competition Show of 2019
Shoutout here to The Masked Singer for 1) being completely unwatchable, and yet somehow compelling enough that I actually sat and watched it all, and 2) being a television show that is devoted to, and indeed completely in debt to, its costume designers.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Masked Singer
The Reality Show of 2019
I don’t think I like a single thing about most of these, but I kind of like Queer Eye, insofar as I’m capable of liking any of this.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Queer Eye
The Comedy Show of 2019
Unsurprisingly, I think it’s The Good Place, although I’ll probably have to figure it out after it ends, which is at the end of this season. Very sad.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Good Place
The Drama Show of 2019
Well, none of these shows brought me any particular pleasure, but the members of the cast of Big Little Lies sure are attractive, aren’t they?
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Big Little Lies
The Show of 2019
I like that WWE Raw pops up here at the end, having not fit into any of the other categories, despite being dramatic enough to be drama, funny enough to be comedy, no less scripted than most of the “reality” options, and generally more entertaining than any of them. I don’t like wrestling, but I don’t like the rest of this either, and don’t see how it shouldn’t be given an award. At least it’s up front about what it is. This is, admittedly, pretty thin reasoning, but it’s a pretty thin field of nominees, and it doesn’t include The Good Place, which really should be winning.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: WWE Raw
The Animated Movie Star of 2019
I’m happy enough about Toy Story 4, and Tom Hanks generally, to declare a winner here and move on without expressing my extreme disapproval of most of the rest of these.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Tom Hanks, Toy Story 4
The Action Movie Star of 2019
I will say this: despite not being a fan of Acting, the very fact that Robert Downey Jr. managed, in an environment where he by no means had to 7, to turn in a reasonably-good capital-A Acting performance in an environment (see above) where it was not only unlikely due to circumstance, but also made actively more difficult by the process itself, probably deserves an award. Not a big award, but maybe a small award. Like, say, a People’s Choice Award.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Robert Downey, Jr., Avengers: Endgame
The Comedy Movie Star of 2019
As often happens here, my favorite performance was by the person who is not, technically, a trained actor. Go figure.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ali Wong, Always Be My Maybe
The Drama Movie Star of 2019
I appreciate that, in addition to the aforementioned Man of the Woods, the People’s Choice Awards are also here to remember the existence of Glass. I mean, I’m glad they’re doing it so that no one else has to.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
The Female Movie Star of 2019
It does, however, remain odd to me that Sarah Paulson can be nominated for Drama Movie Star (regardless of sex involved) but not Female Movie Star. Some of this is because they tighten up the number of nominees for the latter, but that’s an arbitrary decision they’ve already made, and besides which, it should go the other damn way. Also Scarlett Johansson is here, and not in the other category. Basically what I’m saying is that sorting these categories out by sex is stupid, and also that I did actually like Scarlet Johansson in Avengers: Endgame. But not as much as Lupita Nyong’o, generally.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
The Male Movie Star of 2019
I mean, I already said the thing about Robert Downey, Jr., so now I’ll just go ahead and applaud some more special effects and point out that I like the way the computer-folks and Samuel L. Jackson assembled his de-aged performance in Captain Marvel.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Samuel L. Jackson, Captain Marvel
The Family Movie of 2019
Aw, hey, I liked The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part an awful lot. I think I’m going to vote for it here sentimentally, if for no other reason. Also because it’s going to go to Toy Story 4 no matter what I do, and I like to be contrary.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
The Drama Movie of 2019
Dude, the idea that someone at E! wants to convince people to watch Glass is geniunely, actually funny. Not in a post-internet “dude that’s hilarious” way, but in a way that I’m always made happy when I find someone who is willing to champion something that I think is bad. I had a friend in college whose favorite band in the world was Blessid Union of Souls. This makes me think about the same reaction I had to that. I don’t understand it, I can’t fathom thinking that Glass needs an award, but I’m glad someone does, because I’m glad someone out there appreciates the time and effort spent on it.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Us. I mean, I like that someone likes Glass, I’m not one of those people.
The Action Movie of 2019
So it’s true that there was some fine acting in Avengers: Endgame, certainly, and the directing was good enough to make sense of the whole thing, but the movie itself worked becaue of the enormous and presumably-Herculean efforts of a team of editors, staff coordinators, animators, scheduling producers (and other such calendar-mavens) and continuity experts, who could get a cast of seventeen gajillion people into a movie together, despite it being fairly certain that none of them could be together at the same time, coordinating the efforts a bunch of high-level big-name folks in addition to the fact that the movie was nearly entirely CG. While I may not agree that it was a great movie (although I liked it a lot, and can’t imagine a way in which it would have been any better), it certainly was a great achievement, even if only in terms of its staggering logistics. So it should probably win some awards or whatever.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Avengers: Endgame
The Comedy Movie of 2019
I could probably say the same thing back in the drama category about half the movies here, but instead I’m just going to do what everyone else does, and come out in favor of The Hustle.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Hustle
The Movie of 2019
I probably should’ve saved all the stuff I said about The Avengers for down here, but I will also use this space to point out that, in addition to The Avengers being The Movie of 2019 in People’s Choice Awards parlance, it’s also probably the movie of 2019, in that it’s probably the apex of the superhero-movie dominance, and the movie that will forever be associated with the era. I mean, I’m not a good prognosticator, but I’m pretty sure that was it, and that it’s probably downhill from there. Not in terms of quality 8, but in terms of absolute cultural dominance. In any event, the coordination of the movie, but also the couple of dozen movies that fed into it and the constant shifting of studios and contracts and such (as mentioned above) is still really impressive.
THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Avengers: Endgame
- I’m not really getting into the “worst” thing, but you can see much of what I’ve written previously on the subject. ↩
- this is, of course, dependent on taking at face value that this voting, and the attendant award-granting , is all done as it is suggested that it is done – i.e. that the votes are tabulated and then the winner announced therefrom. While there are potentially all sorts of places where this could turn out not to be true – i.e. the votes could not matter, or could be massaged and/or juiced by the producers or their representatives – for our purposes here, that doesn’t really matter. In summation, it’s not that I have faith in the honesty and openness of the people at E! as much as it is that the whole ball of weirdness doesn’t actually depend on that honesty for its appeal in the first place. ↩
- For example, I was able to vote for these, a distinction shared only by the Hugos, and I had to pay money in order to vote for the Hugos. ↩
- you can see me write some about the absurdness of them in pretty much each of the annual writeups. ↩
- they formerly aired on CBS, which has long been the only broadcast network that can manage to consistently bring in traditional ratings, largely by appealing to an older demographic, although even that is changing/has changed. ↩
- which is probably attributable to her being willing to Schumer it up on the red carpet at even non-E! events. ↩
- and, indeed, where many of his peers did not ↩
- actually, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Captain Marvel are both much better movies, as movies in and of themselves go. ↩