The 67th Emmy Awards provided a few historic firsts, actual entertainment from a host, and of course glaring snubs. Let’s start from the beginning and talk about the host.
Hosting an award show is a mostly thankless gig. Only Tina Fey and Amy Poehler seem to get any positive publicity for it, deservedly so. Delivering jokes aimed at appeasing a mass audience is never an easy task but Andy Samberg handled it pretty damn well.
The opening skit/song about there being too much television for any realistic human to watch was spot on and very funny, and even though a lot of the jokes in his opening monologue didn’t seem to land with the people in the room, the reaction on Twitter was pretty positive. Also, he got away with making an anallingus joke, and that’s just fantastic. He delivered the jokes well, didn’t offend everyone like Ricky Gervais, and was his usual likable self. He even provided a public service by giving away “his” HBO GO login for everyone in the country to use, and it actually works (at the time of this writing). You really couldn’t ask for much more.
As for the historic events of the night, Viola Davis became the first black woman to win outstanding actress in a drama series for her work in How to Get Away with Murder. She gave a powerful speech about the diversity problem Hollywood is seemingly always being bashed for, adding “you cannot win an Emmy for roles that simply aren’t there.” Uzo Aduba of Orange is the New Black joined Ed Asner as one of the only actors to win comedy and drama Emmys for the same role. Game of Thrones became the first series to earn 12 Emmys in a single year, including best drama.
The big winner of the night was HBO. Aside from Game of Thrones’ dominance, Veep took home outstanding comedy series, lead actress in a comedy, supporting actor in a comedy, and writing in a comedy. It’s win for comedy series, thankfully, ended Modern Family’s five year reign of terror. Olive Kitteridge swept the awards for limited series, taking home best actor, actress, writing, directing and overall excellence. Francis McDormand, who won best actress, gave the shortest speech of the night and looked as though she’d rather be, and I know it’s hyperbole most of the time but in this case true, anywhere else in the world.
Jon Hamm finally won an Emmy for playing Don Draper. It's the only acting award in Mad Men's history. Let that sink in. This was his eighth and final nomination for one of the most iconic roles in television history. This wasn’t quite his best season, simply due to the fact that Don didn’t have a ton to do in the final run of episodes, but he was fantastic in his submission episode and, dammit, he’s Jon Hamm.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s win for lead actress in a comedy, an award she absolutely deserves, shut the door on Amy Poehler’s chances of winning any Emmy for Leslie Knope. She joins the likes of Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Steve Carell as Michael Scott, and Hugh Laurie as Gregory House among iconic characters and performances never to take home a trophy. Goodbye Leslie, you beautiful, library-hating, land mermaid.
Amazon had a nice breakthrough with Transparent winning for comedy series directing and outstanding lead actor in a comedy. Jeffrey Tambor is putting on the performance of his life, and that’s saying something. As great as he is it’s fairly silly to consider that show a comedy, just as it’s silly for Orange is the New Black to be categorized as a drama. In any case, both Tambor and Transparent creator Jill Soloway gave moving speeches about the fights the trans community is going through, with Tambor adding it's one thing to act like your life depends on it and another to “act because people's lives depend on it.”
My only real snub was in the outstanding supporting actor in a drama category. Peter Dinklage won for Game of Thrones and was so surprised to be taking home his second trophy that he only named fellow nominee Jonathan Banks in his acceptance speech. That’s because, like everyone else, he assumed this award belonged to the 68-year-old acting veteran. His submission episode, “Five-O”, in the excellent first season of Better Call Saul, was the best performance I saw all year, drama or otherwise.
Odds and Ends:
I’m not sure why Tracy Morgan was selected to present the award for outstanding drama series, but it doesn’t matter. Making his first stage appearance since his horrific auto accident was enough for this young blogger to get pretty dusty-eyed.
Paying tribute to all the great shows that came to a close this year is a good idea. Doing it by spoiling the end of all of them isn’t. I don’t usually care much about the “too soon” spoiler alert world, but this WAS too soon.
Poehler celebrated her final (but woefully lost) chance for an Emmy by wearing dressing down in a hoodie and shades during the announcement of the Best Actress in a Comedy category.
Taraji P. Henson, the standing ovation queen of the night and nominee for her role as Cookie in Empire, appeared to be annoyed with co-star and longtime collaborator Terrence Howard, who's been in the news lately because of his questionable, allegedly abusive behavior. The co-stars presented the award for Best Actress in a Limited Series, and at one point Henson told Howard,“You make me nervous,” after he expressed some off-script affection.