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What Is It With the Emmys and ‘American Idol’?

It didn't matter how much Ryan Seacrest begged last night.Photo: Getty Images

Last night's Emmy for best "reality competition" went to CBS's The Amazing Race, which continues a rather Amazing streak: For each one of the five years that the award has been given out, The Amazing Race has won it, beating Fox's American Idol every year. A mammoth moneymaker for Fox, and one of the most successful programs of all time, American Idol drives the national cultural conversation in a way that The Amazing Race — or any other television program — can't hope to approach. Yet in order to get even a little bit of Emmy love, Idol had to go off and raise $75 million for charity in its "Idol Gives Back" episode, for which it was given the academy's Governor General's Award at last weekend's Creative Arts Emmy presentation. What is the television academy's problem with American Idol?

It's not as if the academy is allergic to populism; this isn't exactly the Académie Française we're talking about here. They gave an Emmy to Jamie Pressly last night, for God's sake.

But though the telecast was happy to ride Idol's coattails by hiring its hardworking host, Ryan Seacrest, to host the awards presentation, once again the show itself was given the shaft.

Let's face it: No matter how good The Amazing Race is, American Idol is better. An argument can be made that the very reason reality programming exists is to create watercooler conversation, and by that standard American Idol is probably the greatest reality show ever. Even during a season that wasn't Idol's best, for the entire spring and early summer there was nothing better to talk about on television than Sanjaya, Blake, and Jordin, or Simon, Paula, and Randy. When will the academy finally figure that out?

Amazing Race Wins Emmy Award For Reality Competition Program [Reality TV Magazine]