As we’ve mentioned in this space probably a dozen times, the folks at the television academy have certain favorites they like to nominate repeatedly. Of that group of people, Betty White is at the top of that list.
Her nomination in the outstanding reality host category is her 19th Primetime Emmy nod, dating all the way back to 1951. Her list of nominations on Emmys.com is so big, people forget that the comedy legend was nominated twice at the Daytime Emmys, winning once for outstanding game show host (she was the first woman to do so). So it stands to reason that if Betty White is doing something in TV somewhere, especially lately, she’ll get a nomination for it.
Because she’s Betty White, she automatically becomes the favorite in the outstanding reality host category, and with perpetual winner Jeff Probst not nominated this year, her front-runner status becomes even more stark. But if you look at who she’s in the category with, you’ll realize that what she does as the host of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” is completely different than what her fellow nominees do. And to judge them against each other just isn’t fair to anyone.
The other four nominees — Cat Deeley, Ryan Seacrest, Phil Keoghan and Tom Bergeron — host reality competitions that often play out live or live-to-tape. Their job is to keep the show moving and on target to end at the proper time, which means that they may have to stretch or speed up on the fly if needed. They not only have to deal with contestants who have sunk all of their well-being into whether they win or lose the competition, they also have to have chemistry with the insufferable judges that spew their ego around (OK, Keoghan doesn’t have to do that on “The Amazing Race,” but he’s got to travel all over the world).
All Betty has to do is read some cheeky dialogue off a teleprompter and send the show to the next segment of old people getting one over on ruffian youths. Don’t get us wrong: No one can do cheeky quite as well as White can. But her job probably consists of a couple of days shooting intros, whereas the other four hosts have to hang in there for the duration of their respective shows’ seasons. It’s nowhere near as involved or grueling as what the other four have to deal with.
It’s an inherent weakness that comes with including reality hosts with reality-competition hosts. Since there are many more of the latter, when one from the former group gets nominated, it looks strange. If the non-competition nominee were anyone but Betty White, chances are no one would even be considering her a dark horse, much less the favorite.
But who doesn’t want to see Betty get up and make yet another acceptance speech? At this point in her career, that desire will be there any time she’s nominated. So, if it seems like the only people carping at seeing her in this category is us, so be it. Even we’re rooting for her to win, because if we see Ryan Seacrest up there, we might just shed some tears. And they won’t be tears of joy.