After sitting through the Emmys on Sunday, I slowly came to a shocking realization: I was not angry with any of the voters’ choices. Usually, I find myself in meaningless agony over the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys, obsessing over my favorites getting snubbed. But this year? I think they got it right.
Focusing on the major categories, many frontrunners stood out, and most of them managed to take home hardware. Veep took home many prizes, most notably Outstanding Comedy Series and Lead Comedy Actress (the Emmys’ favorite daughter, Julia Louis-Dreyfus). I would have loved to see Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) win in the latter category, but it is hard to argue with Veep as a deserving champion, and voters tend to love politically-charged wit. In the Lead Comedy Actor race, my heart pined for Anthony Anderson (black-ish) and Louis C.K. (Louie), but Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) does amazing work in an innovative and powerful series. More importantly in that category, why does Don Cheadle keep getting nominated for House of Lies? Just curious, seeing as it is not a particularly good show or performance.
The voting body continued their good work in the major dramatic categories. Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) won a historic title in the Lead Drama Actress category, a victory on which I will touch more soon. I have always thought Elisabeth Moss’ work on Mad Men to be Emmy-worthy, but at least her costar got his long-awaited moment to shine. Jon Hamm, along with Mad Men’s fantastic writers, have morphed Don Draper into an iconic figure over the course of seven seasons, and it was only right that he get something more than another nomination. It helped that Bryan Cranston and Breaking Bad were out of the picture, and that the rest of the nominees were far from overwhelming, but in my mind Hamm should have a mantle full of Emmys. Thus, I also pulled hard for Mad Men to return to its winning ways in the Outstanding Drama category, but Game of Thrones is a cultural and commercial phenomenon with which I cannot find fault. I think it’s fitting to have Hamm walk off a victor as the newer drama archetype takes center stage. The success of Game of Thrones bodes well for the future of big-budget, dragon-packed television, and there simply are not that many Mad Mens out there for now and the near future.
There were plenty of other fun moments sprinkled throughout the show, including Andy Samberg’s goofy but steady hosting job, a NSFW “Eye of the Tiger Joke” that had the crowd roaring, a hilarious Mad Men spoof, and the emotional return of Tracy Morgan in the show’s final moments. The Daily Show took home several trophies, which is fine, though one has to hope John Oliver will start raking in the prizes now that everyone is over Jon Stewart’s departure. Peter Dinklage won for Supporting Drama Actor and gave a speech notable for its brevity and his hair.
The greatest feature of the ceremony, however, was its diversity. Early on, Samberg labeled the field of nominees as “the most diverse group in Emmy history.” While even he pointed out that “most diverse” is an easier accomplishment when the bar has been set so low for so long, the show did seem to signal some form of progress. Viola Davis’ win was complemented by Uzo Aduba’s Supporting Drama Actress win for Orange is the New Black and Regina King’s victory in Supporting Miniseries Actress for her role in American Crime. Davis’ acceptance speech may have been the highlight of the night, as she quoted Harriet Tubman and reminded the audience that only opportunity stands between women of color and groundbreaking success.
Of course the system is still far from perfect, but the show did have an exciting feel to it. Not only did Davis, Aduba, and King lead an historic night for women of color, but also Amy Schumer took home an Outstanding Variety Sketch Series win, further cementing her place as a somewhat subversive voice to the white male-dominated television establishment. Women always get their share of Emmy victories, at least in the acting categories that demand it, but on Sunday they stole the show–doing everything from winning those important awards to having the funniest bits as presenters and audience members. The winners were essentially all deserving for their achievements, but more exciting are the signs of things yet to come.