Another year, another People’s Choice Awards — where all the stars will thank their fans profusely but most won’t actually dare sit among them for the full two hours. Then again, that could be more about the quality of the broadcast than the audience. Click here for the full list of winners. Let’s break it down:
Best Intentional Diss: In the filmed opening featuring the cast of The Big Bang Theory in character, host Kaley Cuoco’s Penny handed out PCA ballots.
Amy Farrah Fowler: This is so exciting. I’ve never seen the People’s Choice Awards before.
Sheldon: Oh, well, that’s why you’re excited.
Best Unintentional (?) Diss: This introduction by Cuoco: “I don’t care what anyone says, these next two guys are funny. From the upcoming show Rob, please welcome Rob Schneider and Cheech Marin.”
Worst Diss, period: Sharon Osbourne drew attention to the fact that the ladies from her show The Talk weren’t nominated for Favorite Daytime TV Host by presenting the award and acting as though she believed they deserved a nod. Painfully unfunny.
Best Explanation of a Surprise Win: The Vampire Diaries‘ Nina Dobrev, accepting Favorite TV Drama Actress: “I wasn’t even initially nominated, at all. I wasn’t on the ballot. But you guys wrote, and wrote, and continued to write in so many angry things that they caved in and gave me a nomination, and now I won. So, god, thank you. Seriously.”
Worst Explanation of a Surprise Win: Hugo‘s Chloë Grace Moretz, accepting Favorite Movie Star Under 25: “I can’t even imagine that I’m in the same category as the whole Harry Potter cast, and I won. That’s weird.”
Best Presenter Patter: Cuba Gooding Jr., who presented the final award with a tongue-tied Terrence Howard: “Don’t you know this, they give the brothers the last award and cut our dialogue… Okay, now let’s hand out the award for Favorite Network TV Comedy before I kick this stand over…. I notice there wasn’t no black shows on that list.”
Worst Presenter Patter: Pretty much everyone else, though Zachary Levi tried to sell his schtick, and I appreciated Paul Wesley referring to Ian Somerhalder as “Smolderholder.” David Boreanaz and Busy Philipps, and Pauley Perrette and Angus T. Jones were genuinely funny backstage, when Boreanaz was shown breaking up a mock tiff between Philipps and Cuoco and Perrette had to stop Cuoco from making eyes at young Jones. Maybe award shows should embrace miming?
Best acceptance speech, with a bit of effort: Judd Apatow, for Favorite Comedy Movie (Bridesmaids). Among those thanked, “CVS Pharmacy, for some reason. I’m not sure, I just feel like going there right now, I don’t know why.” The audience had just been forced to sit through an integrated ad that made those old prize package dramatizations I used to see on ’80s beauty pageants seem classy. Apatow and Maya Rudolph, wanting to say something inspirational, then quoted Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.”
Worst acceptance speech, with a bit of effort: To be clear, I appreciate that Adam Sandler (Favorite Comedic Movie Actor) took the time to write something he thought was funny, when so many people just thanked the fans. But his “thank you” list of his public school teachers had fewer hits (“Thanks to Mrs. Really Old Lady with the bad wig who died halfway through second grade…”) than misses (“Finally, my gym teacher, Mr. Short Shorts with the tip hanging out” — and cut to Betty White and Robert Pattinson not laughing).
Best way to pretend you’re a real awards show: I accept the standing ovations for the announcement that Betty White turns 90 next week and the crowning of Morgan Freeman as Favorite Movie Icon. And even though it’s an old joke at this point, Neil Patrick Harris being host-ready in the audience made me laugh.
Worst way to pretend you’re a real awards show: Tie: Giving Emma Stone the wrap-it-up sign, bothering to announce the nominees when we know 95 percent of them (the losers) didn’t show up because you’re not even trying to show them in the crowd, and introducing us to the “PCA Statuettes,” the women assigned to “present and protect the coveted People’s Choice trophies” and promote Pantene. There is no reason this needs to be a live event. Have someone host a taped special for which the winners provide funny pre-filmed bits, which are shown after a clever montage of the nominees in their category. You eliminate the patter, the product placement, Robert Pattinson magically showing up seated next to Betty White in the first row just before Water for Elephants wins Favorite Movie Drama, and grown men having the camera cut to them after Favorite Pop Artist Demi Lovato performs (hi, Adam Levine). You might also have moments that could go viral, like the Parks and Recreation cast revealing their hidden talents. (I assume since Parks and Rec didn’t actually win an award, that video — the best of the night — was arranged because Cuoco and Rob Lowe star together in the upcoming Lifetime movie Drew Peterson: Untouchable.) Also, everyone could have as good a kicker as the otherwise earnest Nathan Fillion (Favorite TV Drama Actor): “To the fans, let this giant crystallized tear of victory be a symbol of your excellent taste… Cue the music.”