“Sons of Anarchy” executive producer and director Paris Barclay once observed, “The Emmys are very, you know, generally monogamous…They fall in love with people, and they stick with them until they die.”
Confession: I opened an old blog post about another awards show with that quote. That’s the height of laziness — I’ll own that. But in my defense, that statement was proven utterly true yet again on Monday night. How could I not dig it up for another go-round? Besides, I’m just taking cues from the habits of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voters, whose all-too-familiar selections were revealed during NBC’s live telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Honestly, why even bother considering that maybe, in a few categories, Emmy would shock us by actually rewarding fresh work and breakout performances? For that matter, why I am even pretending to be upset? Emmy has a longer history of playing it safe and boring than it does in exhibiting boldness. Even Seth Meyers fired right down the middle last night; he wasn’t the worst host, but he wasn’t particularly remarkable. On the plus side, the show ended with minutes to spare, making Meyers an effective train conductor if not the frontrunner for next year’s Emmy host campaign. But when the funniest moment of the night is a make-out bit planted by nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston, that doesn’t reflect well on one’s writers.
Give credit where it’s due, though: that smooch was priceless.
Considering all of that, when I previously entertained the thought that either “Veep” or “Orange Is the New Black” would take the Outstanding Comedy award this year, that was just silly. Why reward either of those tremendous new shows when one can grant “Modern Family” its fifth win in the category?
Or when my gut told me that Jim Parsons would take home another statue for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”, but surmised that maybe Emmy would recognize Ricky Gervais’s stretching in a different direction in Netflix’s “Derek,” I should have heeded that warning. Parsons is easy to vote for. All the voters really need to see is the name, and THUNK! Rubber stamp, he’s back in.
Emmy also renewed its vows with “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell, “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies and it popped its cork for multiple Emmy award-winner Allison Janney twice this year — once for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Mom”, and once for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”. Of course, a number of those repeat winners turned in worthy performances.
“Breaking Bad” also happens to be an encore winner in Outstanding Drama. Anyone who watched the final episodes would have no quibble with it taking home the Emmy even though nearly a year has passed since those hours first aired. The same argument can be made for the drama’s Emmy wins in individual performance categories: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul were unstoppable on Monday night.
Cranston’s win, actually, was something of a pleasant shock. His victory marks his fifth time taking home an Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, but more significantly, Cranston bested “True Detective’s” Matthew McConaughey, who was presumed to have had a lock on this category. But old Rust Cohle said it himself: “You see, we all got what I call a life trap, a gene deep certainty that things will be different….” Emmy is nothing if not a trap for the hopeful.
Try looking at that particular turn of events, and Julia Roberts upset in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, in a positive light. There was a time that any A-list film actor or actress could descend from celebrity Valhalla and star in a worthwhile TV movie (or, nowadays, a series) and Emmy would fall all over itself to reward them for the favor. But both Oscar winners left empty-handed. That novelty has worn off, and the fact that Cranston has become a sought-after movie actor these days lends weight to the idea of TV’s elevated status as a place to do good work.
The true crime of Roberts’s defeat, however, was that it did not come at the hands of “Fargo’s” Allison Tolman. Rather, Kathy Bates took home the gold for “American Horror Story”. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that happened. (Then again, let’s thank the Powers that Be that Emmy didn’t grant another kneejerk prize to Ellen Burstyn, nominated this time for Flowers in the Attic.)
Similarly unexpected were the multiple upsets provided by “Sherlock: His Last Vow”, including individual performance Emmys for Supporting Actor Martin Freeman and Lead Actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Neither of them bothered to show up — probably because neither of them expected to best the presumed frontrunners in their categories, specifically Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart and — I’m sorry, but this is pure insanity – Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Ruffalo. The Cumberbatch is to be adored, and “Sherlock” is still one of the best things on television, but season three was weaker in comparison to the first two and…really, Emmy? You thought The Cumberbatch was better than “Fargo’s” Lorne Malvo?
Thank goodness “Fargo” won Outstanding Miniseries. Yes, there’s that.
Including Steven Moffat’s win for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, “Sherlock” helped PBS’s “Masterpiece” win the most Emmys for any single program this year, raking in a total of seven awards between the Primetime and Creative Arts ceremonies.
On the network side, CBS, FX and AMC tied with five Primetime Emmys apiece. HBO went home with four on Monday night, while ABC got three (thanks to “Modern Family”) and Comedy Central walked away with one, for “The Colbert Report”.
If you missed The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, you can check out our full list of winners as well as see photos from the show, enjoy the glamorous Red Carpet fashion and much more by visiting our Road to the Emmys section. You can also read our recap of the show to experience more highlights from the event.
Or just wait a year…odds are The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will look a lot like this one.