The Emmys have never been the gold standard of television (remember, these are the same people who have almost completely ignored The Wire) and this year wasn’t any different. I didn’t watch the show because about a few years ago, I realized how irrelevant the Emmys (and award shows in general) are to judging actual quality. On the other hand, the Emmys still retain its importance to the industry and for that matter they’re worth writing about. So here are my thoughts in bullet points (you can check out the complete winners on the Emmys’ own site).
- Breaking Bad deservingly swept the competition for its perfect final string of episodes, winning Best Drama, Actor (Bryan Cranston), Supporting Actress (Anna Gunn), Supporting Actor (Aaron Paul), and Writing (“Ozymandias”). All well-deserved wins and I congratulate Vince Gilligan and co.
- Not to sound too mean-spirited, but as someone who felt The Americans, whose second season improved on an already magnificent first, was snubbed, I’m a bit glad to see House of Cards and Downton Abbey walk away empty-handed. I think Abbey just got nominations for its prestige subject matter and House of Cards just for its big name cast and producers. In particular, I find House of Cards pretty empty and too derivative of other series.
- Fargo wins Best Miniseries and Directing (for “Buridan’s Ass”) and The Colbert Report takes Best Variety Series and Writing (though I’m stunned Last Week Tonight with John Oliver didn’t get nominated, which has been delivering the best satiric points over this summer). Both well-earned wins, though I’ll talk more about the former later.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins Best Actress in a Comedy for Veep, a show that became even funnier over the past season, and Louis C. K. won Best Comedy Writing for “So Did The Fat Lady.”
- Also, Cary Joji Fukunaga won Best Directing for the True Detective episode “Who Goes There,” the one with the amazing tracking shot at the end. That alone deserves the Emmy.
- Fargo’s greatest strength has been its pitch-perfect cast, and it’s a shame no one won. Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman lost to Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Allison Tolman lost to Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), and Colin Hanks lost to Freeman (for his other role in Sherlock). Now I do like Sherlock, but its latest season was a mess and despite the consistent performances of Cumberbatch and Freeman, they weren’t worthy of awards this year.
- Tony Hale and Anna Chlumsky of Veep as well as Kate Mulgrew of Orange is the New Black lost to Ty Burrell (for Modern Family) and Allison Janney (for Mom).
- Jim Parsons won for The Big Bang Theory for Best Comedy Actor yet again, a show that for me is the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Meanwhile, Louis C. K., who gave his best work this year, loses.
- Modern Family’s win for Best Comedy once again shows the Emmys lazily rubber-stamping a series far past its prime. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Modern Family hasn’t had a single original idea since 2010 and its victory had more to due with the show’s popularity rather than critical praise. Why not pick Louie, the dark comic-drama that delivered touching episodes like the Elevator and Pamela series? Or why not Orange is the New Black, which gave a wry and deep look through the inmates at a women’s prison. Or how about the gut-busting Veep and Silicon Valley? All would have made great winners and would show the Emmys looking past Nielson ratings.