Wow, those Emmys sure were a stinker, weren't they? Not only did they fall into the same old Emmys trap of giving the same awards to the same people, but the show itself was a complete dud. It was slow and dated and every opportunity for excitement landed with a great thud.
Let's start with the opening musical number, where first-time host Jane Lynch wandered through the sets of a bunch of shows while doing the step-ball-change with a bunch of dancers dressed in the leftover tinsel from the world's biggest Christmas tree. It was either too sincere or too gosh darn awful to be campy. At one point Lynch says, "I know this feels stupid and schlocky and already feels overly long." Yes, it was all of those things. But just like on Glee, when the show self-consciously recognizes one of its problems, it doesn't mean the problem goes away. It just means we now know that you know there is a problem and you didn't do anything to fix it. Do we want to watch a show that knows it's bad? No!
Not only did the jokes at the beginning fall flat, but so did all of the "canned banter" that the presenters had to spew before they opened the envelopes. Sofia Vergara making accent jokes? Kaley Cuoco making digs at reality shows? Spare us. Speaking of presenters even America's Greatest Trainwreck, Charlie Sheen, came out and delivered his non-ironic best wishes to Two and a Half Men, the show he'd been fired from. Well, that sure was a let down. He's so boring now that he's on his meds. Then there was the guy who made the fake comedic announcements when the winners went to get their trophies, a conceit stolen from the Oscars (which uses it to much better effect). Here it was like buying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag in Chinatown—it looked the same, but you could just tell the quality wasn't there. Just like giving Martin Scorsese an award, the Emmys see it on the Oscars and want to do it too, but for something less important that doesn't deserve it.
Some of the other bits, especially of the musical variety, were even more tone deaf. The all-star Emmy Tones, a bizarre sequined chorus that wasted the talents of Joel McHale, introduced the different categories with little ditties that weren't funny or inspired. It also included Wilmer Valderrama, who hasn't been a "star" since he last dated Lindsay Lohan which was about three arrests ago. And what did they do to poor LL Cool J, who dashed the last of his hip-hop street cred while rapping alongside them? The other all-star super band at the show was Andy Samberg's band Lonely Island, which performed some of their silly songs in a moment that seemed more like frightening fever dream than an actual concert. Don't get me started about using "Hallelujah," the most played out American Idol song of all time, as the tune for the "these are the people that died" montage. It was sung by the Canadian Tenors. What, we don't have any tenors of our own and we need to start importing them now?
But Lynch, for her part, was a decent and game host. She wouldn't let up on the lesbian jokes which makes the gay in me love her for showing that a host can be conspicuously gay and funny at the same time. Contrary to what others think, the bit about censoring Ricky Gervais' commentary on the awards was pitch perfect. Speaking of which, the one recorded segment that worked was the version of The Office that was infiltrated by characters from other shows, though it only made sense if you knew who all the other characters were. That would have been a much better introduction to the show than what we got.
As for the trophies themselves, the big ones went to familiar faces, with Modern Family cleaning up in the comedy awards winning all but two of the acting trophies (which it wasn't eligible for because it submits all of their actors in the supporting category). Mad Men took home best drama and Jon Stewart had even more praise lavished on him for the millionth year in a row. Julianna Margulies and Jim Parsons took home statues again instead of some more deserving competition. Oh, and The Amazing Race — a competitive reality show that hasn't been compelling in five years took home its umpteenth statue. Of course the big movie stars like Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce and Maggie Smith all won for deigning to work on TV. Big shocker there.
There were a few surprises though. Jon Hamm lost Best Actor in a Drama again, this time to Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights, which snagged a few trophies now before it goes to the great big stadium in the sky. Melissa McCarthy won ostensibly for Mike & Molly Are Fat, but she really got it for being one of the funniest things about Bridesmaids this summer. (And while we're at it, can we talk about the great bit the Best Actress in a Comedy nominees do every year. More of that please!) Also a surprise was Margo Martindale getting called out for her great work on Justified and that The Kennedys, a movie the political clan shamed off of the History Channel, won anything at all.
Still, there's nothing we can do with the Emmys. We'll be back again next year, hoping for more surprises and being disappointed, bellyaching that our favorite show or actor didn't win, and wishing that there was a better way to acknowledge all the greatness that comes out of the small screen. There's really not and until we figure it out, we'll have to stick with this arbitrary and unjust replacement to tide us over.
Here's the full list of winners.
- BEST DRAMA SERIES: Mad Men
- ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
- ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
- SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Margo Martindale, Justified
- BEST COMEDY SERIES: Modern Family
- ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
- ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
- SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Julie Bowen, Modern Family
- BEST MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE: Downton Abbey
- ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
- ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
- SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
- BEST REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM: The Amazing Race
- BEST VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
- DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES: Michael Spiller, Modern Family
- WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES: Steve Levitan & Jeffrey Richman, Modern Family
- DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES: Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire
- WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES: Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights
- DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES: Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live
- WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES: Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Josh Lieb, Sam Means, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
- DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL: Brian Percival, Downton Abbey
- WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL: Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey
[Image via Getty]