As for surprises, there were quite a few in the comedy and drama categories. (A complete list of winners is below). In what was probably the night's most contested match, Modern Family beat Glee for Best Comedy, probably because the Academy voters could put it squarely in the "comedy" box and not be confused by all that singing, dancing, or camp. Kyra Sedgwick stole the Best Actress in a drama crown right off of Julianna Margulies head for a role that's three years old. Jim Parsons finally got his statue for The Big Bang Theory, and Aaron Paul racked up yet another trophy for Breaking Bad, and Top Chef finally wrested control of the Best Competitive Reality Show statue from the hands of The Amazing Race. Oh, and some supporting actress I never heard of won for that The Good Wife show. Now Julianna Margulies is doubly pissed.
The most shocking win of the night, to me, was Edie Falco's victory for Nurse Jackie. Like she said in her acceptance speech, she's not funny and while she sure has the acting chops, she doesn't have half the comedic genius of the other ladies she was up against. And Nurse Jackie isn't even a comedy! It's more of a serious drama. Sure, it has some yuks, but just as many as one of the more clever episodes of Mad Men. Just because it's 30 minutes doesn't make it a comedy.
But for every surprising award, there were a bunch of really predictable ones. Mad Men, Bryan Cranston, The Daily Show, and an original movie that HBO made all won again. Oh, and the acting awards for the original movies and miniseries went to big Hollywood stars. What a shock! I also feel like Jane Lynch's deserved win for playing Sue Motherfucking Sylvester on Glee is going to enter Bryan Cranston territory. The first year she wins, it's an unexpected nod, but then year after year they just keep handing it right over to her.
That's the thing about the Emmys, even when they are a bit surprising, you never think they will be, so it all seems the same. Maybe there should be term limits on these awards or something. Maybe if you win one year, a show, actor, writer, director, etc. shouldn't eligible the next year so that some other people can fight it out for a change. Wouldn't that be fun?
As for the show itself, Jimmy Fallon acquitted himself nicely in the thankless job as host. The real star of the night though were the prerecorded bits. The opening with the cast of Glee, Tina Fey, Betty White, Jon Hamm, Hurley from Lost, and a bunch of others was nothing short of genius. It was great comedians doing what they do best. Same is true of the Modern Family skit with all the George Clooney jokes. TV professionals make really good scripted TV segments. Go figure! Sure, some of Fallon's other jokes fell flat, but his Elton John voice was excellent and he pulled off a really great Conan O'Brien gag, so kudos to him.
The rest of the broadcast has some serious issues though. It's not that it's too long, it's just that it is too boring! All of the awards for comedy and drama, the two sections the audience cares about the most, were finished by 9:15. That means there was still another hour and 45 minutes of things that are tedious. And why do they spend all that time on TV movies and miniseries when reality shows are only give one category. As Kim Kardashian sang, reality shows are the only things anyone watches anymore. What they show during the telecast makes no sense anymore. They announce the nominees and winners for Best Guest Actor, but don't let them give speeches. Either have them on the show or not, don't do this silly cocktease. And if you do that for Guest Actor, why no do the same for Reality Show Host? Is it because the television crowd still has a stick up their ass when it comes to non-scripted shows?
Why not either mix all the genres together or at least leave the drama categories for the end of the show so we have something to look forward to? During the long slog before we get to Best Comedy and Drama, we get bumpers at the bottom of the screen saying "George Clooney in 7 minutes" or "The cast of True Blood in 14 minutes" as if they're saying, "Yeah, guys, we know this sucks, but just stick with it. The things you really want to see are coming up any minute. We promise."
The absolute worst—even worse than January Jones' dress—is the TV movie portion of the evening. HBO wins everything, and this year it was just one HBO movie, the excellent Temple Grandin, that got a lion's share of the acclaim. Snoozeville. It's not like people are even watching any of these movies or miniseries, at least not in huge numbers. There hasn't been a TV movie like Roots to capture the national interest since, well, Roots. Sure, the original movie categories are an excuse to give Al Pacino (and his Phil Spector haircut) another trophy and it gets Claire Danes in a stunning dress on your stage, but come on people. Maybe if TV could stop kissing film's ass for about 7 seconds some of this might get relegated to the "Creative Arts Emmys." And why is there even a Best Miniseries category anymore? There were two nominees. Even rock, paper, scissor has three options! Continuing to have this category is just archaic and silly, like giving out an Oscar for Best Black and White Cinematography.
Don't get me started on the "in memoriam" montage either. Yes, it's necessary, but while the Oscars has to kick people off of theirs each year, the Emmys gets all greedy, giving anyone who ever appeared on a television set for a second and then got famous a spot in their "and now he's dead..." lineup. Dixie Carter, Rue McClanahan, and Gary Coleman all belonged there, but Lena Horne is not a TV star and neither is Dennis Hopper or even Cory Haim. These people earned their stripes in other arenas, let the Grammys, Oscars, and Washed Up Teen Star Awards celebrate these guys. And the less said about that awful Jewel song the better.
But when all is said and done no one is even going to remember the Emmy winners in a week. Well, no one but the networks that air the winners. Watching the Emmys this year just put a nail in the coffin of the idea that these awards have anything to do with what we actually watch or what we will watch. Yes, that's we the people at home buying the products that fund the commercials that pay these people's salaries. TV has become too big of a thing for one awards show to do it justice. It is a giant sniping Hydra that contains The Pacific, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and everything in the spectrum between the two. How can you fit all that under one umbrella? More and more viewers are finding what they love on the tube is not represented at the Emmys—whether that's one of the million CSIs, HGTV shows, Dancing with the Stars, that Barefoot Contessa lady, or SportsCenter. This one show can no longer contain the multitudes, all it can do is show TV professionals that they convinced a bunch of their friends to vote for their show this year. That's great for them. For us, we'd rather just watch regular old TV.
- Drama Series: Mad Men, AMC.
- Comedy Series: Modern Family, ABC.
- Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC.
- Actress, Drama Series: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, TNT.
- Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS.
- Actress, Comedy Series: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie, Showtime.
- Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, AMC.
- Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife, CBS.
- Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family, ABC.
- Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jane Lynch, Glee, Fox.
- Miniseries: The Pacific, HBO.
- Made-for-TV Movie: Temple Grandin, HBO.
- Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack, HBO.
- Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin, HBO.
- Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: David Strathairn, Temple Grandin, HBO.
- Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Julia Ormond, Temple Grandin, HBO.
- Directing for a Comedy Series: Ryan Murphy, Glee, Fox.
- Directing, Drama Series: Steve Shill, Dexter, Showtime.
- Directing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Mick Jackson, Temple Grandin, HBO.
- Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Bucky Gunts, Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Opening Ceremony, NBC.
- Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show, Comedy Central.
- Reality Competition Program: Top Chef, Bravo.
- Writing for Comedy Series: Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Modern Family, ABC.
- Writing, Drama Series: Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy, Mad Men, AMC.
- Writing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Adam Mazer, You Don't Know Jack, HBO.
- Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special: 63rd Annual Tony Awards, CBS.