Because so much television exists these days—programs, networks, platforms—the only real way to cope is to ignore a vast swath of it. Seriously, who even has the time to stay on top of even the popular shows, let alone the ones that are actually GOOD? Not gonna lie, one of the main reasons I love TV so much is that I am an expert at ignoring things I don't like. I'm not even mad about bad TV because it's not on my radar at all. That's why the Emmys are so maddening: It's the one night a year when all the terrible things I've been ignoring are suddenly thrown in my face like an upside-down Frisbee full of old baloney. HEY, I DIDN'T ASK FOR THAT.
So yeah, that's a long way of saying that in the world of the Emmys it isn't all just Louie and Community and all the other things snobs like me enjoy. No, now I have to watch montages in which Chuck Lorre sitcoms appear alongside Parks and Recreation as though they are equals. And worse, something as safe and boring as Modern Family snatches up every Emmy like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Anyway, Jimmy Kimmel did a great job hosting—this Emmys was certainly better than last year's grim spectacle—and he was personally responsible for MOST of the evening's highlights, especially for the final and best moment of the night. So in the interest of full disclosure, let's go over what worked and what didn't about this year's 13-hour-long broadcast!
The show began with a fun sketch involving the backstage ladies' room in which a truly impressive array of TV actresses practiced their "I won" faces (Mindy Kaling's 'M' gang sign was my favorite). In addition to the above ladies, a pixelated and pixie-cutted Lena Dunham was eating cake in the nude the next stall over. And that's when Jimmy Kimmel ran in sobbing over some bad plastic surgery he'd gotten.
I mean, that's pretty hilarious right there. And it probably hit VERY close to home for at least half of the audience? So anyway, the ladies ended up punching his face back to the way it was, including latecomer Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a gaggle of former hosts, and Ellen DeGeneres, who gave Kimmel her pants. Just a weird sketch, but fun and surprising the whole way. So far so good, Jimmy Kimmel!
Then the ceremony began and it started to slowly sink in that we had about three hours of boring awards show ahead of us.
Kimmel's monologue was okay. He pretty quickly started to address politics, which, okay. On the bright side, he DID immediately namecheck Cat Deeley, so I enjoyed that.
As did Cat Deeley. (And seeing as she was totally robbed of an Emmy later on, I'm glad she got at least one moment in the spotlight. I also hope that she got to chit-chat with Vince Gilligan behind her during some of the evening's slower moments.)
Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet beat out three (!) of his castmates to win Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Don't get me wrong, he's funny and all, but I couldn't help but imagine the elderly Academy voters reasoning, "He plays gay but he's not actually gay. He deserves this." Because let's face it, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the better performer (Stonestreet admitted as much during his speech). Anyway, my soapbox is too rickety, I'm stepping down now.
Oh this was just efficient: A bank of paparazzi ON STAGE.
One of the stylistic choices made by this broadcast was to show us a split screen of behind-the-scenes situations whenever we came out of a commercial break. It was weirdly voyeuristic and reminded me of that movie Sliver where William Baldwin spies on all his tenants with a grid of video screens. (I just wanted to talk about Sliver, to be honest.)
I laughed when Jimmy Kimmel introduced Zooey Deschanel and Jim Parsons as "two white people." Accurate! In general I really enjoyed all of his deadpan intros. "Our two next presenters are here tonight. Please welcome... " Good stuff.
Speaking of good stuff, Louis C.K. won an award for writing Louie! He even thanked Pamela Adlon for helping him (though I haven't seen her name in the credits yet this season). Louie's omission from the Best Comedy Series category was an outrageous oversight this year, so it was nice that he didn't walk away empty-handed.
What are you looking at in this picture?
Severe Modern Family straight-man Julie Bowen won another Emmy. Great. She is our generation's Lucille Ball. (We were only like 12 minutes into the broadcast and I was already lying on the floor with no will to live.)
Then there was an ad for the new Lifetime movie where Lindsay Lohan plays Liz Taylor and I would've given ANYTHING to have been recapping that instead of the Emmys. That movie cannot get here fast enough.
Kathy Bates and Jimmy Fallon (who'd won Emmys for guest-star appearances prior to the broadcast) presented the award for Best Direction in a Comedy Series. And in a recurring bit, often the writers and directors were asked to submit a soundbyte they'd filmed themselves either answering a specific question or just making a joke. Let's contrast the best and worst directors' submissions shall we?
The question the directors answered was, "What does it take to be a good director?" Louis C.K.'s was a three-second clip filmed on his cell phone in which he harriedly answered, "I have no idea."
Meanwhile, Modern Family creator Steven Levitan's was a professionally shot sketch involving DUSTIN HOFFMAN, recreating a FAMOUS MOVIE that Levitan did not direct in the first place in which he gives direction to Dustin Hoffman. Get out of here, you A-hole.
And yeah, he won. He literally thanked himself for deciding to direct that particular episode himself. And as you guys know, as the show's producer, he CHOSE this particular episode to be submitted in the directing category. Meaning, he decided that out of the entirety of Season 3 of Modern Family, it was the Steven Levitan-directed episode that he wanted to submit for the Emmys. Very cool.
Even Sofia Vergara was totally doing that look-away laugh like, "Here he goes. What a dick." Sorry, but Steven Levitan was definitely the villain of the night in my opinion.
Then there was a mockumentary behind the scenes of a mockumentary. One of the child stars is apparently a violent, homophobic asshole. Not even Ken Jeong in a ponytail wig made me crack a smile. I'm sure that in a vacuum Modern Family is one of TV's better comedies, but lately all I can see is a half-dozen millionaires gobbling up trophies while phoning in their tired mockumentary series.
I LIKE THESE PEOPLE SO MUCH MORE. Melissa McCarthy's hilarious bit—she'd lustfully describe each of the Best Actor in a Comedy nominees as though they were her lovers—was really, really good. It seemed like Mindy Kaling was on the verge of losing it, too.
Now, let's play a game. Look at the following six people and pick at least one who should NOT win a Best Lead Actor Emmy:
To his credit, Jon Cryer seemed just about as baffled as we were outraged. Two and a Half Men is a corpse of a show that was never good in the first place, and don't tell me Jon Cryer has put any effort into this thing in years. Yet, here we were. The Emmys: Perfect and Relevant.
Fortunately, Stephen Colbert. He did a quick joke about the War on Women before admitting that certain women were awful, including at least two out of the seven nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy. This was another stacked category, but a deserving lady DID win. Julia Louis-Dreyfus!
For a second it looked like a spontaneous thing had happened: JLD had dropped her speech notes and co-nominee Amy Poehler ran up to hand it to her...
But then, after calmly giving her Thank Yous, she read a hand-written scrawl thanking Amy Poehler and the camera cut to Poehler holding a pencil. OH THIS WAS A BIT! Which, that meant that multiple Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus EXPECTED to win, and had planned out a whole thing with a fellow nominee she thought would LOSE? WTF? So a whole bit was planned at the expense of dashing the dreams of her six co-nominees. CLASSY. I love Veep, but get out of here, lady.
Dudes love football, so that's why these guys came out to report football scores.
The Amazing Race won it's NINTH Emmy for Best Reality Series. And considering this category has only existed for TEN years, it's slightly maddening. So You Think You Can Dance is TV's finest reality show for real. The Amazing Race hasn't been interesting since Charla and Mirna. Sorry Jerry Bruckheimer. Go swimming in your doubloon tower and let someone else win this thing.
Then it was time for a sketch in which the cast of The Big Bang Theory discussed the technical Emmys. Or something. Sheldon might have mental problems, what do you guys think?
After he hosted SNL I decided maybe Seth MacFarlane wasn't such an unlikable guy after all. Nope! I was wrong, he's unlikable. After coming out and doing this boneheaded gaffe in which he spoke into the wrong microphone (actually, NO microphone), he covered for his error by doing a Stewie voice and then actively denigrating the entire category of Best Reality Show Host. Cool presenting! To make things worse, Cat Deeley did NOT win. Instead this old hack did:
During our live-tweeting, Tim Surette rightfully pointed out that this "Year in Drama" montage was outrageously spoiler-filled. And it was! Cool, now I know who gets shot on Boardwalk Empire.
Claire Danes presented Best Supporting Actor in a Drama to Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, and his lingering hug with co-nominee Giancarlo Esposito was one of the night's highlights. So heartfelt and cool.
I guess I wasn't aware that Jesse was originally going to be killed off? Apparently! So he thanked Vince Gilligan for not doing that.
Meanwhile, a not-looking-so-great Tracy Morgan was beckoned to the stage where he and Jimmy Kimmel decided to play a "prank" on people NOT watching the Emmys, by forcing Morgan go lie unconscious on the stage while viewers were supposed to Tweet/Facebook/GoogleBuzz/Friendster that Morgan had passed out on stage. I don't know, it was complicated. The best was Claire Danes' reaction to this scheme:
I AGREED WITH CLAIRE DANES.
Anyway, it wasn't even that funny:
It was mostly just confusing. And in a way sort of sad, since Tracy Morgan wouldn't be a risky pick for a celebrity death pool, you know?
Homeland is a pretty thrilling (if stressful) show. Good job, guys.
The Nashville ladies also presented the Emmy to Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, and guess who won?
That's right. Downton Abbey's Dame Maggie Smith, the only one smart enough to not even show up. THAT is how it's done.
Revolution's Giancarlo Esposito (formerly Homicide: Life on the Street's Giancarlo Esposito and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito) introduced two more pre-show Best Guest Star winners, Martha Plimpton and Jeremy Davis.
They presented a Best Directing in a Drama award to some Boardwalk Empire dude who ALSO didn't show up. I liked his style.
The next bit was a fake-out. What seemed like it was going to be the In Memoriam segment (complete with Josh Groban accompaniment) was actually just a montage of different clips of Jimmy Kimmel.
I laughed! Also, Josh Groban was singing "What Makes You Beautiful" and it concluded with Kimmel, on video, singing along with Groban about being beautiful. So weird/good.
Tina Fey and Jon Hamm did a bit where she couldn't read the teleprompter. Knock it off you guys and get a room already! (They probably aren't single, but still.) Oh, it was Lead Actress in a Drama time, which mean that Claire Danes was already wiping crumbs off her dress and combing her hair in anticipation.
Claire Danes won! She deserved it FOR REAL. Homeland would be nothing without her nutzo performance. Danes' speech was REALLY calm, mannered, and articulate (and contained this phrase: "Holla, Mandy Patinkin"). Also she kind of scares me now? Anyway, her husband Hugh Dancy looked THRILLED:
Maybe he will get one when he's on the new Hannibal show? Okay probably not.
Anyway, he did a bit about being British, and she just looked weary from the entire experience. Didn't matter, it was time to give Louis C.K. another Emmy!
This was for Direction in a Variety Special. Remember that one comedy special that Louis C.K. sold on his website and it was a huge success, and then, as an afterthought, he let FX air it? THAT'S what this was for.
Ricky Gervais came out and did his thing. By "his thing" I mean insult the entire ceremony and its participants while being smugly self-aggrandizing. In this case, the winner for best Direction of a Live Event (or something) went to the dude who was currently directing the EMMYS!
Good job. People thought he did a great job with the Tonys this year, so I guess he deserved it. But then his speech ran SUPER LONG (ironic since he's in charge of playing people offstage), and then he made a joke about playing himself off. Except, you should've done it 40 seconds sooner, dude. Boring stuff.
Jon Stewart (and The Daily Show) won an award for Outstanding Variety Series (again), but it was hilarious when co-nominees Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert wrestled with him in the aisles as he attempted to take the stage. He was even totally winded when he made it up there! See, that's entertainment.
I see you, Kristen Schaal.
The follow-up to that was another surprisingly funny bit in which Jimmy Kimmel (who'd just lost the Emmy to Stewart) pointed out his parents in the audience, and proceeded to have them kicked out for having once promised that HE'D win an Emmy someday. The whole time Tracy Morgan was egging him on "They treated you bad, Jim-Jim." And then after security escorted them out of the building, Morgan asked if his cousins could take their seats. "Pancake! Kool-Aid!" Dang, I was laughing.
She's great. She even sort of spoke in the same kinds of florid Tennessee Williams-esque declarations like her American Horror Story character used to. That show cannot come back fast enough.
Then quintessential good sport Ellen DeGeneres came back out with the president of the Emmys (or whoever) and they talked about boring Emmys stuff and there was a callback to the opening sketch in which Ellen had given her pants to Jimmy Kimmel. Nice try, girl, but I had been actively blocking this whole ceremony from my memory since it began.
He rambled on and on about thanking only certain members of the warring clans? I did not watch that thing, Mr. Berenger, let's keep it above board okay?
Ron Howard spoke touchingly of his experiences with Andy Griffith before introducing a whole array of people who'd passed away this year, including people I'd believed were still alive. Oh well! Sorry guys. Loved your work, though.
Oh look, Best Writer for a Miniseries was Jonathan from Buffy! Remember that time he lied to everyone about doing all these amazing things? That was fiction right? Anyway, I didn't know Danny Strong had written Game Change, but he did, and it won, so here we were.
Julianne Moore went on to win for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in Game Change. But if we're being honest, this was just an Emmy from all the residual goodwill she continues to have after this scene in Magnolia:
Game Change again! Man, this director of the Austin Powers series really got political, didn't he? I mean, yeah, Goldfinger had some very pressing sociopolitical subtexts, but nowhere near as many as Game Change. Anyway, good job, Jay Roach
Then Kevin Costner won Best Actor in a Miniseries for Hatfields & McCoys and he was possibly high out of his mind? At some point he began rambling about how the Emmy reminded him of an Olympian before trailing off. Seemed about right.
Game Change again! Sorry, American Horror Story. Looked like the show's gambit to submit itself as a miniseries rather than a drama series didn't really pay off, did it?
Oh, and then Julianne Moore presented the award for Best Drama series to Homeland! Total surprise. I would've preferred Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones over Homeland—and you'd think points would've been deducted for Homeland's terrible opening credits—but I'll allow it. Homeland is GOOD.
America's hero Michael J. Fox came out and presented the award of the night (but only after enduring the world's most condescending standing ovation). And guess which show won for Best Comedy? This guy:
And the music cut Steven Levitan off! And when he tried to keep going, Jimmy Kimmel himself cut him off and cracked a joke to the audience: "What, would you rather stay another hour?" Haha, A+ Jimmy Kimmel. I already thought he was doing a good job, but this sealed the deal. Loved this part. Highlight of the night.
So there you have it, Emmy fans. Another watershed night in television history. How'd you do in your Emmy office pool? Whatever the outcome, I guarantee it was more important to your life than the actual Emmys were. Congratulations!
... Who was your favorite winner of the night?
... Which Emmy win was the biggest outrage?
... How did Jimmy Kimmel do?
... What happens when we die?