The Emmys, am I right? Seriously, when you’re an hour and a half into an Emmy telecast and you’re thinking, “Bachelor In Paradise might have been a better choice,” then I think it’s time either to reconsider our masochistic interest in this awards ceremony or to give Bachelor in Paradise its due credit.
For now, let’s go with the first option.
I mean, I haven’t dabbled excessively in animal husbandry, but I can’t help but shake the fact that watching a four hour documentary on the herding patterns of yaks would’ve proven more exciting than this year’s recipients. Repeat winners ruled this particular Seth Meyers-led roost, furthering the perception of the Emmys as little more than a popularity contest, which–of course–it is.
But look, before you get all bent out of shape and start creeping under my house’s crawlspace, I can confess that Breaking Bad‘s several wins were not only deserved but also requisite accolades for a brilliant conclusion to the best show ever to appear on television. Still, its victories added to the overall sense of humdrum boredom and expectation. In addition to the been-there-done-that feel, several weird choices–and I’m not just talking about awarding Kathy Bates for her kitschy, over-the-top performance in American Horror Story: Coven over the all-but-a-lock Allison Tolman of Fargo–created a rushed, slipshod ceremony. For instance, why were there lengthy clips for the nominees in the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama category but just live audience reaction shots for Best Actor? Why were some presenters given free rein to riff before announcing the winners and others just read off the teleprompter? The Emmys felt surprising in all the wrong ways. I was scared, I was confused, and Tatiana Maslany wasn’t there to hold me. I didn’t like it.
And yet, somehow, the occasional bright spot punched through the murkiness of the proceedings, so below I’ll highlight those (spoiler: it’s a short list) before limiting myself to my major complaints and snubs.
I’ll Allow It
1) The Bits
Seth Meyers didn’t set the world on fire or anything as this year’s host, but several very funny interstitial segments did delight. My favorite has to be Billy Eichner (aka Craig from Parks and Rec) and Seth Meyers on the streets of New York interviewing unwitting pedestrians about the Emmys in this special installment of Billy on the Street. I laughed so hard when Billy scampered away after decrying a Mindy Kaling snub in light of her waking up at the crack of dawn to announce the nominees: “You know who slept soundly? Perennial Emmy nominee JULIE BOWEN!” And how about Billy’s reaction to the guy who confused Seth Meyers for Seth MacFarlane? Great stuff. My second favorite bit involved Seth opening the floor up as a Q&A, leading Jon Hamm to claim Maggie Smith’s Emmy–if she won– before Julianna Margulies could, Andre Braugher looking for the bathroom key (hint: Josh Charles had it!), and Fred Armisen whipping the crowd into a frenzy in hopes that the Emmys could televise “every year.” All participants were game here, and it worked. Loved it. Finally, the Bryan Cranston/Julia Louis-Dreyfus moments, culminating in him ambushing her in an aggressive lip lock, helped us fall in love with these two even more.
2) Weird Al
Sure, the songs weren’t particularly great (though spurring George R.R. Martin to “write faster” over the Game of Thrones theme amused me), but WEIRD AL PERFORMED AT THE FRICKING EMMYS! #win.
3) Jimmy Kimmel
Before doling at some award or other, Jimmy Kimmel absolutely killed it in his comedic lambast of Matthew McConaughey, urging him to pack up his patchouli oil and hit the road among other choice one-liners. Well done, sir.
4) A few winners
Julianna for The Good Wife (and then tossing out a reminder that her show still produces 22 episodes a season). Louis C.K. for writing “And So Did the Fat Lady.” Surprise wins for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman on Sherlock. Fargo claiming Best Miniseries. Breaking Bad doing its thing (though I have–please forgive me–a quibble about Aaron Paul’s victory, which you’ll see in a second). Other than that, not much.
5) The Simplistic and Understated Robin Williams tribute
Billy Crystal nailed it, keeping it short and sweet as he painted a beautifully personal portrait of his deceased friend with a few choice anecdotes. And if the clips that played after Crystal spoke didn’t leave you with a lump in your throat, then I don’t even know what to tell you.
1) Continued Modern Family domination
Ty Burrell won AGAIN. The show won Best Comedy Series AGAIN–for the fifth time in a row. Gail Mancuso won for Directing AGAIN–for the second time in a row (though her submission episode, “Las Vegas,” was hilarious and so well-deserved). Look, I still enjoy this show a lot, but let’s move on. Please.
2) Kathy Bates trumps Allison Tolman
I don’t even want to talk about this, except to say it’s another instance of name recognition trumping fresh-faced, genuine talent, though–to her credit–Kathy Bates looked genuinely flummoxed when she heard her name called.
3) Repeat winners dominate
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive Emmy and Bryan Cranston his fourth total last night, but they’re brilliant, so I’ll posit them as the exceptions. Still, they’re a part of a catalogue of performers who claimed victory already: Jessica Lange (snooze), Jim Parsons (eye roll), and Ty Burrell (scoff) to name but a few. I’ll say it again: let’s move on.
4) Last night should’ve put #CharlesInCharge
I love Aaron Paul. He’s exceptionally talented, and he consistently elevated Jesse Pinkman into a fully formed, robust character about whom we cared and for whom we cheered. Still, that trophy belonged to Josh Charles for his swan song episodes of The Good Wife. Charles had more to work with this year than Paul did–sorry, but it’s true. I don’t begrudge Paul his victory (as I said, love the guy), but it would have been nicer to see Charles add that first trophy to his shelf instead of Paul adding his third.
Sorry, but this was weird. Key and Peele tried to make us care with their funny self-deprecating bit and–a credit to their profuse talents–almost succeeded, until I remembered they were introducing accountants. Um, what?
6) Andre Braugher’s loss
For his performance as police captain Holt, Braugher proved the power of the “straight” man comedic trope; by underplaying his character amidst a squad full of loonies, Braugher emerged as the funniest member of the hilarious Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast. Ty Burrell, funny as he is, plays a dimwitted dad–that’s the work of a two time Emmy winner?
7) Game of Thrones shut out
I’m not sure where it could have squeezed in, but it’s a shame that this show continues to gobble up the nominations but does not convert them into victories. Now that Breaking Bad‘s era has concluded, maybe the time for GoT is finally upon us!
I’ll stop myself there. I could keep going, but you get the point: it got weird last night. But you know what’s weirdest of all? I can’t help, every year, but hope for something to change with the Emmys, even though it rarely does. And if that’s not a test for insanity, then I’m not sure what is, and color me mad. #tvcrazy
Until next year, you Emmy masochists you!