Emmys Roundup 2014: The Best… and the Rest

Well, the 66th Annual Primetime Emmys have come and gone. As I sit here nursing a touch of a live blog hangover (wine plus guacamole – don’t do it guys), I’ll share my thoughts on what was stellar, what was surprising, what was meh, and what just, well, sucked. (See a complete list of winners here.)

Aces:

The cast and crew of Breaking Bad: We all knew that the beloved show’s final season would win big, and clean up it deservedly did. Trophies went to all three nominated stars Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul, in addition to wins for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Moira Walley-Beckett for “Ozymandias”, the series’ antepenultimate episode) and Outstanding Dramatic Series. As icing on the cake, all the winners gave classy, heartfelt, gracious speeches, and Cranston’s schtick with Julia Louis-Dreyfus was one of the comedic highlights of the evening.

Billy Crystal on Robin Williams: Raving about an In Memoriam segment may seem macabre, but Crystal’s pitch-perfect tribute to Williams managed to honor the comedian’s life and celebrate his accomplishments without descending into misplaced sentimentality. Props to NBC, too, for resisting gauche reaction shots of the audience, and instead focusing on Williams’ image set against that inky black stage.

fukunaga

Cary Joji Fukunaga wins Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series: This is the only major category for which Breaking Bad was nominated and didn’t win, the statue going instead to True Detective‘s Fukunaga, who helmed all eight episodes of the series. Much is said about Nic Pizzolatto’s vision, but Fukunaga’s distinctive and experimental visual style was equally important to the series’ unique flair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Us: In the categories for which Kristin & I made highly unscientific predictions, we did surprisingly well. We were correct on 11 out of 12 calls (with a little cheat-y vague language); the only one we totally missed was Allison Janney’s win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in Comedy for Mom.

Surprises!truedetecboys

Tuxes! Someone call ZZ Top, because there were some sharp dressed men at the Emmys last night. Peak-style seemed to once again overtake shawl-style lapels on the red carpet in a return to old-fashioned classic Hollywood style, even as nonconventional jewel tones jumped in popularity, sported by nominees like Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and Ty Burrell.

 

 

 

 

Sherlock wins big: Sherlock: His Last Vow took home three wins for stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and writer/showrunner/fan troll extraordinaire Steven Moffat. The success was so surprising, faced as they were with stiff competition in the Miniseries/Movie categories by the likes of The Normal Heart and Fargo, that neither of the stars were actually there to receive their statue, thus causing Tumblr to collectively weep. (Also, in this post-win interview with Entertainment Weekly, Moffat says he ignores Tumblr. Nobody believes you, Moffat.)

silvermanThe Rise of Sarah Silverman: I’m the first to admit that Sarah Silverman often rubs me the wrong way. But last night, she charmed on the red carpet with her candid talk of the pot vaporizer in her clutch and her nicely off-trend cleavage baring dark green dress. Plus, her shoeless run to the stage and breathless acceptance speech after her surprise win for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special was endearing. Together with her stunning Met ball dress and her heart-wrenching recent guest turn on Masters of Sex, this may just be Silverman’s year. (Also, apparently she’s dating Michael Sheen? When did that happen?)

 

*Yawn*

Don’t Rock the Boat: Look, there’s a reason that some of the same performers win year after year: they’re good. And although I did enjoy the work that earned a win for luminaries like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julianna Margulies, Allison Janney, and Ty Burrell, how great would it have been to see the Television Academy reward, say, Adam Driver’s eclectic energy on Girls? Or, for example, Andre Braugher’s hilarious stoicism on Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Or Amy Poehler’s long overdue brilliance on Parks and Recreation?

meyersSeth Meyers: Outshone by former SNL castmates like Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, and Jimmy Fallon, this was not Seth Meyers’ best showing. While there was nothing ergregiously wrong with his hosting, there wasn’t anything particularly funny about most of it either. Plus, there were some problems with pacing, leaving the rushed last hour to come across like a live-action BuzzFeed listicle.

Does the Carpet Match the, uh, Dress? Kristin will have a fuller breakdown of this year’s fashion milieu, but I did need to address this. A surprising number of ladies chose to dress in camouflage this year, with red being the clearly dominant color on the arrivals carpet. Problem is, few of the dresses really stood out in a good way, either being too boring or too strangely ornamented. Julia Louis-Dreyfus probably wins here on sheer strength of styling.

Are You Not Entertained? (No.)

Spinning Sofia: I get that Sofia Vergara loves her body and loves it when people look at it. That’s awesome. What isn’t awesome is then using it to further a tired narrative of female objectification to spice up boring exposition. We have the sexposition on Game of Thrones for that already. It’s lazy writing, plain and simple – find another way to make the Academy President’s speech interesting or cut it out.

giulianaE!’s Red Carpet Coverage: Insipid interviews. Ridiculous cameras (Nobody. Cares. About. Clutches.) Vapid analysis full of platitudes. Neglecting two thirds of the arrivees to show the same small group of people ad nauseam. Maybe more stars are just avoiding Giuliana Rancic and Ross Matthews, but coverage of the carpet was so banal and grating this year that it was almost painful to watch with the sound on.

 

 

 

 

 

Category Shenanigans Don’t Pay Off: What counts as a comedy? How about a drama? A mini-series? The sheer amount of category jumping and redefinition didn’t really pay off at the ceremony tonight, as ‘comedy series’ Orange is the New Black lost to more traditional entry Modern Family (for a weak season), and eight episode ‘drama series’ True Detective lost while ten episode ‘miniseries’ Fargo won its category. Swapping from drama to comedy didn’t work out for any of the contenders fromShameless either. There’s no quick fix to this confusion over categorization, as the boundaries between genres become less relevant, but it’s clear that the current system isn’t really working either.

Well, that’s all for the Emmys, folks. If you need me, I’ll be over here preemptively stumping for a Lizzy Caplan win next year. Meanwhile, sound off in the comments about what YOU thought the highs and lows of last night’s festivities were.