Pay no mind to the grim reapers' ghastly shrouds; underneath their ragged cloaks they are just a bunch of idiot dicks with bad personalities and too much spare time. Personally I have HAD IT with grim reapers. Get me a dumpster and a net gun, it's time to round up these jerks. Why are grim reapers always stealing our favorite pets and family members? The ocean is full of literal monsters (orcas, for example), yet grim reapers choose to strike down human children or cast members from A Different World? Enough. Take this year's Emmy Awards: What should have been a three-hour, mildly enjoyable celebration of our favorite TV shows ended up being a death parade the likes of which have not seen since the Cenobites took to the streets in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, a perfect comparison and a perfect reference.
All right, we might as well talk about this year's Emmys. The telecast was sort of a downer! The central visual motif was a kind of a glitzy oil rig under an overcast sky? Which, fair enough. That's the entertainment industry, basically. The producers kept with the recent trend of eliminating acceptance speeches in favor of... I'm not even sure! I am not sure what now takes the place of spontaneity or basic human reactions because the show somehow still felt just as empty as it did overstuffed. We saw no clips from the shows, nothing to demonstrate performances. Only fleeting glimpses of logos. Fragments of theme songs. The Emmys people just sort of took on faith that we'd seen all the nominated series, which was a pretty bold assumption considering that there are now a thousand-thousand networks producing original series. And overall the winners were a mixed bag. Some were very deserving, some were outrageously terrible. But let's be real, how much credibility could the Emmys have? Teen Wolf wasn't nominated even ONCE. Get real, dudes.
You know what, we better just jump in.
The ceremony began, as all our grandest ceremonies do, with a very long and confusing pre-taped "comedy" sketch. Shot in the style of, I don't know, whatever CBS procedurals are topping the Nielsen charts these days, Neil Patrick Harris was led on what felt like a death march by CBS president Les Moonves dressed in a security guard uniform for some reason:
Do you remember the part in Matrix 2 that made you officially loathe the whole franchise? Or maybe do you remember the intentionally awful art installation from Girls set to the Duncan Sheik song? That's basically what happened here:
In this segment Neil Patrick Harris was somehow being forced to watch an entire season of all the television shows on so many TV screens, and also on blue iMacs from 1999, and on radios (?). The whole scenario felt very much like the final visions of someone dying of a fever, but then it got even more stressful: The clips from all these popular TV shows started talking to each other? My heart is racing just thinking about it, which is especially surprising considering how boring it all was. Anyway, we get it, Emmys. Lots of TV shows happened this year and this 25-minute comedy video sure proved it.
Neil Patrick Harris is a national treasure and he is frequently charming and charismatic. But one thing to remember is that he's not a comedian and also there was an unmistakable existential sadness in his eyes all night. Just a sort of haunted, What am I doing here, what are any of us doing here, is Human Existence a prank? type look. Maybe the first time he ever hosted something it was this cool challenge he wanted to meet, but now everybody wants him to host everything and he can't say no and it's this weird gilded cage he's found himself in. I can't tell you for sure how Neil Patrick Harris was feeling here, but I will tell you that as far as perennially unmemorable hosts of ephemeral awards shows go, he did a solid job.
Oh, the opening bit was basically ALL ABOUT how ephemeral Emmys hosts are. That's why four of the old ones clambered up on stage and shouted at each other for a few minutes. There were gay jokes and Jimmy Fallon's mic-pack fell off and then Kevin Spacey reprised his Foghorn Leghorn narrations from House of Cards.
My favorite part was when the five people on stage had to silently pantomime like they were still arguing. That made me laugh! Oh and then Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a quick bit where they tried to get Neil Patrick Harris to remove his trousers and twerk. (He didn't.)
And they were very funny, obviously! Hey, why didn't THEY get to host? Maybe they can do the Oscars? Haha just kidding who cares. Let Siri host everything. Put awards on a lazy Susan and let celebrities just walk up and quietly retrieve them and take them back to their seats.
That's basically what Merritt Wever did! After a surprise win for Supporting Actress in a Comedy, she said "I gotta go, bye" and walked off. PERFECT. If you watch Nurse Jackie you already know Merritt Wever is great. Or maybe you know her from New Girl. But me, I will always love her for being in Series 7: The Contenders. If you haven't watched that movie yet, it's okay to feel ashamed. It is the best. Also, do you think she and Will Arnett reminisced about Series 7: The Contenders backstage? I really and truly hope so. If nothing else, I hope this year's Emmys goes down as being a good night for Series 7: The Contenders cast members.
Then LL Cool J and Malin Akerman introduced the Comedy Writing category, and all the comedy writers had made vlogs or whatever so we watched those. They were fine. Louis C.K. needed to comb his hair, but that's not my problem.
Tina Fey and a nice girl named Tracey won for writing an episode of 30 Rock. I had forgotten about 30 Rock! Didn't 30 Rock seem like a lifetime ago? I have an honest question for you that deserves an honest answer: Did you remember 30 Rock?
Then the Deschanel Sisters came out and yammered an incantation or something. Was it a nautical hex? I don't know, but many sailors were lost last night.
Oh, Tony Hale won Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Veep! This was good news. Between this and the Merritt Wever thing, all bets were off. It was like the Emmy voters decided to not be terrible this year? I mean, lookit: Tony Hale beat out a quarter-dozen dudes from Modern Family. Unheard of!
Robin Williams gave an emotional eulogy for fallen comrade-in-manic-wackiness Jonathan Winters. Hard to say anything negative about these eulogies except for the fact that they ruined the Emmys? And that is saying something, considering the Emmys are an exercise in ruination on their own. "Let's take a truly punishing three hours of television and make them even tougher to sit through." Oh well.
Oh good, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won Best Actress in a Comedy because YES. She deserved it. Veep is incredible and much of that is due to her performance. Her acceptance speech was cute: Tony Hale re-enacted his character from the show, holding her purse and reminding her to thank her family (while Anna Chlumsky checked her phone in the audience) but didn't it all seem a little, I don't know, presumptuous of JLD to have a pre-planned bit ready? Like, I laughed, but if I was a fellow nominee I would not have felt great about this. Was her win THAT inevitable? And did she have to rub it in? Yes, probably. Okay, fine.
Are these two f**king? Be honest. Here is another personal preference thing, but I don't love comedy bits that involve plugging (or not plugging) the actors' new projects. You're telling me you get people as talented as these two on stage and then write a comedy bit about plugging The Millers? Get real, Emmys.
Then Steven Tyler came out and did his thing. You know, ambling around the stage and giving shout-outs to Elaine Stritch. Steven Tyler presented the Emmy for Comedy Directing to a lady from Modern Family. Those nominees also did pre-taped comedy bits and I guess hers was the best-filmed? I didn't get it. Feel free to show clips from the actual shows, guys.
Then Jimmy Kimmel and some sort of racially insensitive Jessica Rabbit came out and presented the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy.
Congrats, Jim Parsons! He seems like a nice guy but is he getting enough iron in his diet? Starting to get worried about Jim Parsons.
Rob Reiner eulogized Jean Stapleton and what am I supposed to say about this, I am not a monster.
The next segment was to involve a homosexual pianist, so that meant Matt Damon and Michael Douglas needed to get up out of their seats and pretend to talk about Liberace but it was a fakeout for the ages because they were actually talking about Elton John.
Elton John had written a new song on the back of a napkin, so here he was singing a very generic thing called "Home Again," which he claimed was about Liberace chillin' at home. It was fine. Hakuna matata.
Oh, and then the biggest outrage of the night happened: Laura Linney beat Jessica Lange for Best Actress in a Miniseries. No way. That's just straight-up ludicrous. NOBODY bested Jessica Lange this year, especially not some lady on a show that isn't even a miniseries. Ugh, ridiculous. Laura Linney didn't even bother to show up, that's how obvious Jessica Lange's win should have been. So yeah, any notion that this year's Emmy's would exercise good taste across the board was just dashed big-time.
There was a How I Met Your Mother sketch in which the cast made a fake PSA about Neil Patrick Harris's addiction to hosting things. It was actually pretty charming, but quick question, is Jason Segel okay?
I mean, maybe it was supposed to be intentional that he resembled Marley's ghost? I don't know, I'm just concerned. With the way this year's Emmys went, I REALLY don't want to have to sit through a Jason Segel eulogy next year.
Connie Britton (Nashville) and Blair Underwood (Wheelchair Detective) presented an Emmy for Writing in a Drama Series and oh, boy. Nothing really enlivens an awards ceremony like a widow collecting an Emmy on behalf of her late husband. Real quick though, the "Q&A" episode of Homeland WAS very sensational, so it's hard to argue with that choice (it beat out the Red Wedding!). But man. Good times.
Oh, this should have been obvious but Anna Gunn won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. Because duh. She is so good. I'm glad that we as a society have finally agreed that Skyler White is not to be hated on. Right? RIGHT?
Also, maybe I didn't realize this was happening, but did you notice how, even after winners were announced, cameramen would remain all up in the losing nominees' faces for the remainder of the winners' acceptance speeches? Like:
So in case any of the losing nominees were hoping to have genuine moments of human emotion, they'd have to wait until the cameras were trained on other pathos-magnets.
BRB need to go find some gummy cherries because no way.
There was a mid-show musical number ABOUT mid-show musical numbers. That might sound terrible and unnecessary but it was funny and fun, sorry, deal w/it. My favorite part was the sexy-face Sarah Silverman used when she came out on stage and sang about how she wasn't supposed to say "vagina" on TV.
Then Stephen "Arrow" Amell and Mindy "Project" Kaling came out and did a very awkward bit about whether or not he is really a bow-and-arrow vigilante in real life. Stay tuned for a future episode of The Mindy Project where a klutzy, neurotic everygirl SURGEON stumbles into a relationship with a white-hot stud who is also a bow-and-arrow vigilante. Man, that show is Humblebrag: The Series.
Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll came out together to present an award but Diahann Carroll kept backing away from Kerry Washington, and then when it was her turn to talk she gave this slightly pedantic speech about the diversity of Emmy winners and while she spoke this was the look on Toby Jones' face:
I related to Toby Jones very much! That's what my face looked like for almost the entire broadcast. It's like that right now even.
Bobby Cannavale won Supporting Actor in a Drama for Boardwalk Empire and it was basically an outrage because it meant Aaron Paul did not win. But it's fine, Bobby Cannavale is great. It's just that, man, that was really Aaron Paul's award. Dang it, Bobby.
Dylan McDermott and Julianna Margulies came out to present an award but were suddenly attacked by a wraith right there onstage and got dragged away into the shadows. It was just as well.
Arachnophobia's Jeff Daniels won Best Actor in a Drama Series and accepted his award without saying anything hateful about anybody. Classic Jeff Daniels.
Don Cheadle came out and started yammering about presidential assassinations and The Beatles and whatever. Sorry, but we already KNEW that TV is a valuable medium, we've known it for decades now. Basically get out of here, Don Cheadle.
You too, Carrie Underwood. Nobody was clamoring to hear Carrie Underwood sing karaoke at the Emmys.
Jimmy Fallon introduced an award while the mic kept raising and lowering. Easier than thinking of something funny to say.
Claire Danes accepted her award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and she did it as intensely as you'd expect. She is thoughtful and emotional and well-spoken, sure, but also terrifying. Oh well, she deserved it.
If you are not slightly disturbed by Emilia Clarke's real hair, then you are more chill than I am. Where are those silver locks, Khaleesi?? I don't know about you but maybe my favorite moment of TV all year involved Daenerys's dragon scam and it made me sad that she didn't win an Emmy for that moment alone. Oh well.
Bob Newhart received a standing ovation and it made him so emotional he had a hard time being funny while presenting the next award. Bob Newhart is great. More eulogies should be given to the living, they aren't quite as draining that way.
For the Variety Series Writing awards, each show compiled a roll call of its writing staff and they were great across the board. I especially liked the puppets that stood in for The Daily Show's team, but I think Jimmy Kimmel Live's team won:
They got no less than OPRAH to shout everybody's names! So good. Uh, I don't know about you but I am loving this current phase Oprah's been in lately. Appearing in Lee Daniels films and openly making fun of her own image on Jimmy Kimmel Live. She seems so fun now! I definitely want to see more of this.
The Colbert Report ended up beating out The Daily Show, which was both well-deserved and exciting.
A couple of directors were honored, including David Fincher for directing the House of Cards pilot and also Don Roy King for directing SNL. But Fincher didn't even show up and Don Roy King has won four years in a row. So, whatever.
Haha oh man, this part. Neil Patrick Harris announced they'd be doing something different this year in that they were going to make the Best Choreography Emmy part of the show for once and the nominees would be asked to create interpretive routines for some of TV's biggest series. Which led to this very sexy and sexually confident tribute to The Big Bang Theory.
I loved the American Horror Story: Asylum routine, obviously.
But it was this Breaking Bad dubstep routine that stole the show because HAHAHAHAH. Right Toby?
Guys, I like dancing shows. I like choreography. I like when people take chances. But I physically recoiled during that Breaking Bad dubstep routine. It hurt me in my heart so bad.
That being said, look at all these heroes. I really love So You Think You Can Dance STILL and I would have liked to have seen Sonya Tayeh or Travis Wall win this Emmy, but I guess it's fine that Derek Hough won. I mean, I guess. Quick question: Is he also Diplo? Like, has Derek Hough ever been in the same room as Diplo? Also did they make out? DM me.
Not going to lie, I have no idea what was happening anymore on this show or in life in general. I am going to hire a private investigator to fill me in on everything.
Oh boy. This was a lot. The common thread of almost every one of these tributes was, "You enjoyed their work on screen but *I* knew him/her personally and they were even better than you knew." Which, okay? That was never in doubt. These eulogizers had private and personal connections to the deceased that maybe didn't need to be exploited for an Emmys broadcast? Still though, a nice moment.
For being a professional actor Shemar Moore had a very tough time speaking coherent English all night. He just would not stop stumbling over his words while hosting whatever these weird backstage interstitial segments were. And in this one with Anna Faris and Allison Janney he informed the viewers that people backstage had been drinking a lot and "talkin' a whole lot of mess." Unfortunately, Shemar Moore declined to elaborate on what that meant.
FINALLY, an American Horror Story victory. James Cromwell won Supporting Actor in a Miniseries, but then he cryptically thanked somebody of supernatural association named Elsa. No joke, I am not trying to start rumors but I am almost certain that James Cromwell dabbled in the Dark Arts to win this Emmy.
Oh, and did you catch Sarah Paulson's super angry clapping after he neglected to thank any of his fellow castmates?
Dang, Sarah Paulson looked MAD. I don't blame her. Elsa was definitely up to no good.
Kaley Cuoco and some guy came out and talked about something, who cares. Because while they were talking this happened:
See what I'm saying? Cameras are just jammed in peoples' faces! It's no wonder Kevin Spacey had to take out his special slappin'-card and slap that camera.
Apparently Mark Harmon and Andre Braugher had made a pact backstage that neither of them would read the teleprompter competently.
Stephen Soderbergh won Best Movie or Miniseries Director for Behind the Candelabra as he SHOULD HAVE. That movie was really something special, and I mean that sincerely. So good and weird and heartfelt and artful. Soderbergh's acceptance speech was pretty great too: He only thanked Matt Damon and Michael Douglas and basically told everyone else expecting to be thanked that these two guys were the entire reason they had jobs in the first place. Even Jules Asner was like, "Dang, boo." Stephen Soderbergh is a legit genius.
Second outrage of the night: Sarah Paulson lost Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries to Ellen Burstyn. I mean, first of all, who on earth watched Political Animals? That thing was only technically a miniseries because USA canceled it due to low ratings and then claimed it was a miniseries. But secondly, no actress on any show in any capacity did the work that Sarah Paulson did on American Horror Story. Her entire arc was stunning and full-bodied and exhausting and sublime. This one stung, you guys. It really stung.
Michael Douglas won Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries because DUH. No arguments here. I guess it didn't bother me when he resorted to a couple of gay jokes toward Matt Damon. I guess they'd earned it. Also did you catch his cryptic reference to the fact that he can't see his son Cameron anymore? Turns out his oldest son has been in solitary confinement in a federal prison for two years now. Dang, serious stuff. But back to the awards: Yes. So deserved.
Uh, this Audi commercial where Claire Danes went all Sliding Doors and had two different existences? I didn't hate it. For one thing, it's nice to see her give a slightly lighter performance complete with smiling and humor and whatnot. Maybe she'll do more comedy in the future? But also the ad ended with a Jordan Catalano joke, so OKAY. I'm in. Count me in. But now I wish Audi would have spent the millions on reuniting the entire My So-Called Life cast. THAT would be an ad worth talking about around the water cooler. But as it was, this ad wasn't the worst. So, uh, cool.
I really liked Will Ferrell's closing bit, where he dragged his antsy kids onstage because he couldn't find a last-minute babysitter. It was just the right amount of awkward and heartfelt. Nailed it.
Modern Family won Best Comedy. Because (sigh). I mean, great, people love Modern Family, but boy is this showrunner bad at reading a room. First he made a glib joke about how he was personally feeling great despite the eulogies, but then his speech devolved into a rant about telling off the bullies and the haters who, I guess, told him he couldn't win several consecutive Emmys and earn a billion dollars? I don't know. Man, somebody pop this dude's hovercraft already.
On the other hand (a much, much more deserving hand), Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan was gracious and straightforward while accepting the award for Best Drama Series. Man, what a good show. At this point Breaking Bad is much more important than any Emmys, but it's still nice to see the Emmys' values aligning with something so good, you know?
Aaaand show's over! We did it! We survived another Emmys! What a truly wonderful, magical night. Full of surprises and magic and only the most deserving of winners. What did you think, Toby?
... What was the evening's biggest upset?
... What was the ceremony's best moment?
... Should there have been more eulogies?
... Which TV shows should get dubstep choreography in next year's show?
AIRED ON 8/25/2014
Season 66 : Episode 1