Courtesy of ABC
The opening skit and monologue of Sunday’s 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards set the tone for the evening with a reliance on familiar jokes and a skewed sense of what actually constitutes as “comedy.”
The skit featured a number of the actresses nominated in various categories that evening, including Connie Britton (“American Horror Story”) and Lena Dunham (“Girls”). The women were shown supposedly preparing for the evening but were interrupted by host Jimmy Kimmel, who had received some botched Botox work. Apparently, no one told the show’s writers that Botox jokes stopped being clever at least half a decade ago, though I will give them credit for letting the actresses act out a longtime fantasy of mine: repeatedly punching Kimmel in the face. And after a brief appearance from Ellen DeGeneres, we were off.
Perhaps the best that could be said about Kimmel as master of ceremonies is, at least it wasn’t Jimmy Fallon. Kimmel gave a painful opening monologue with jokes about Hollywood liberals and Charlie Sheen. Not surprisingly, with material this weak, the late night TV personality failed to ever really connect with the audience (an awkward bit with Tracy Morgan pretending to pass out, and an insufferable tribute to, who else, himself, featuring Josh Groban did nothing to help matters). From there, the Emmys only continued to prove how out of touch it was with what’s funny.
The awards show continued its streak of naming ABC’s “Modern Family” the best comedy on television, in spite of the fact that it stopped being funny two years ago, and pretty much stopped being even good last season. Additional awards for the show’s supporting turns were given to Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen, who play Cam and Claire, respectively, two of the worst-written characters on a show filled with them (Stonestreet’s win especially stung, as anyone who watches sitcoms knows that Nick Offerman should have been up there accepting the award for playing Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”).
Further injustices came when Jon Cryer won best actor for whatever it is he does on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) somehow beat Amy Poehler, though at least the NBC “Parks and Rec” star got a funny bit in with the winner, adding a note about herself into Louis-Dreyfus’ acceptance speech. Meanwhile, the much-lauded freshman HBO series “Girls” failed to pick up any of the main awards it was up for, only walking away with the prize for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series. This begged the question: Why even nominate something so fresh and interesting if you’re just going to throw statues at the same old stuff? Certainly not as a desperate grab for viewers; I’d never question the integrity of a group that gave “Frasier” 37 awards over 11 years.
The night wasn’t all bad news, though. Comedian Louis C.K. managed to walk away with a pair of writing awards. The prize for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special (“Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater”) was well-deserved, while the other for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series probably should have gone to cult hit NBC’s “Community” for its stunning, multiple-timeline-themed episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” (but let’s face it, there was no way that was ever going to happen).
Aaron Paul also took home his second award for playing Jesse Pinkman on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” As someone who would never hide my love for that show, that was unsurprisingly favorite moment of the night. It’s probably equally obvious that Damian Lewis from Showtime’s “Homeland” beating out three-time winner and “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston for Best Actor in a Drama Series was the night’s biggest disappointment.
What I saw of “Homeland” was a rock-solid, smart, political thriller, and Claire Danes was certainly more than deserving of her best actress win. That said, Cranston, in his submitted episode “Crawl Space” was simply some of the finest acting of last year in any medium. The award should have been his based on that work alone.
Similarly dethroned was AMC’s “Mad Men.” Tipped heavily to win its fifth best drama award in a row, it became clear after Lewis and Danes took the top acting honors that an upset was coming. And poor Jon Hamm. At this point, should he ever finally pick up an award, it may well be out of pity alone.
The remainder of anything resembling justice came when the HBO movie “Game Change” kept the dreadful FX’s “American Horror Story” from nabbing anything other than a predictable Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie award for Jessica Lange out of its big nominations.
The Emmys, like any award show, might amount to nothing more than a glorified popularity contest. But hey, it’s always fun when your guys win.