Another Emmys has come and gone. Maybe it’s just me but it felt like a lifetime since the academy announced the nominees and now. In reality it’s only been slightly over two months. Still, it seems like much longer since I wrote my reaction to the nominations and predicted the winners. So how did I do? We’ll get to the specifics but overall I faired alright in my predictions, enough to maintain some credibility. But let’s first discuss the ceremony itself.
The Emmys are the cool awards show compared to the Oscars, in my opinion. Whereas the Motion Picture Academy is closed-minded when it comes to what it recognizes, the Television Academy doesn’t reject more popular things as long as they have the quality to back them up. That’s why we’ve gotten shows like Game of Thrones as a constant contender. It’s how a sci-fi show like Lost won Best Drama for its first season and how an action show like 24 earned nominations for years. Sure, the Emmys still don’t have the prestige of the Oscars, particularly in regards to the acting awards, but given the rise of great serialized dramas this century (the so-called “Golden Age of Television”), it sure means a lot to win an Emmy. It’s ironic though that the ceremony was on ABC, one of the big four broadcast networks. The networks really need to adapt to changing tastes if they’re ever going to be a presence at the Emmys again.
Jimmy Kimmel did fine as the host. None of his jokes were gut-busting and his pre-taped intro with the nominees was run-of-the-mill, but they provided enough entertainment to justify them being wedged between winners. I appreciate the mention of Snow Dogs (my first exposure to Cuba Gooding Jr. as a child and a low point in his career) and the suggestion that we can top 2016’s “In Memoriam” next year. And even though the intro segment was whatever, I got some strange satisfaction out of Jeb Bush’s cameo.
Speaking of politics, we all should know that Hollywood and the TV and Film industry are extremely political. I alluded to it briefly in my predictions. Jimmy Kimmel was right when he quipped that the stars and academy like to give themselves a pat on the back. I mean, it is certainly true that TV is more diverse than movies and that diversity is a good thing. Still, outside Jeb and the first joke about Trump, hearing about the presidential race was tiresome. Honestly, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say I just want this election to be over. Emmy winners and presenters aren’t as moralistic as their Oscar counterparts and I can certainly respect them for their hard work in their field and feeling passionate about an issue, but I’m not one to lift them up to hero status and I prefer art to speak for itself. I’ll just leave it at that. Hopefully I don’t sound too much like a cynical jerk.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s break down the major categories.
Outstanding Drama Series: The Americans, Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones (Winner), Homeland, House of Cards, Mr. Robot
I said expect Game of Thrones or Mr. Robot to win and would you look at that, Game of Thrones won, and for the second year in a row too. I was actually learning towards Mr. Robot as of late but I think the epic factor of “Battle of the Bastards” helped out Game of Thrones a lot. It’s like I said, it’s that Return of the King moment. Fantasies aren’t for everyone (especially the Motion Picture Academy) but if you can spin it as an epic you’ve got a shot. It’s worth noting that “Battle of the Bastards” won for directing too, proving there’s some justice in the world. It also snagged writing.
With this settled, the bookless experiment for season 6 of Game of Thrones is a resounding success. Looking back, it’s probably not the best season of the show so far—that would probably be season 1, which wasn’t even nominated, or season 4—but it should give hope for fans for the remaining episodes. As for the other shows, Mr. Robot will likely return to the category in the future unless it goes off the rails. The Americans will probably stay as well. This might have been Better Call Saul’s last real shot at winning. The same goes for House of Cards and especially Homeland. And so long, Downton Abbey.
Outstanding Comedy Series: black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, Transparent, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep (Winner)
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I’m not a comedy guy but I know what’s popular. Veep won last year just like Game of Thrones and it won again. Repeats happen at the Emmys, people, and the academy loves Julia Louis-Dreyfus (more on that later). That’s the world we live in. Veep is probably a show I should be watching, even though I don’t go for comedy. On its way out next year will be Modern Family, for sure now. I thought with the big diversity push this year that Master of None might win, but that was not the case. However, it did manage to win a writing Emmy. Not bad. I expect the category to be mostly the same next year, minus Modern Family.
Outstanding Limited Series: American Crime, Fargo, The Night Manager, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Winner), Roots
If you’re tired of hearing about The People v. O.J. Simpson, you should be probably just close this article now because you’re going to be hearing about it a lot more. American Crime Story was such a weird idea, spinning off of American Horror Story, but Ryan Murphy somehow made it work. The People v. O.J. Simpson was the favorite but I was anxious through all these Limited Series categories. Maybe I’m overly attached to the show because I was too young to follow the real life events. I think it’s a little more than that though. It was just effective storytelling. Of course, it condensed a long case into a 10-episode season, so it’s really just a springboard to more. Even though they’ve crowned a winner now, I do have a desire to go back and watch the limited series I didn’t see (Fargo, The Night Manager, Roots). That’s the great thing about the miniseries format.
Outstanding TV Movie: All the Way, Confirmation, Luther, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (Winner), A Very Murray Christmas
TV movies get a bad rap for being of lesser quality than their silver screen cousins, and sure, the acting and production value might not be quite there, especially if they’re based on true stories, but at the end of the day what matters is the story. It doesn’t matter as much if the performances come across as silly imitations of real people. Of course, with the exception of All the Way and Confirmation, the rest of the nominees are fictional stories, two of which are offshoots of existing series. Perhaps the quality issue need not apply.
I thought the academy just loved Bryan Cranston too much not to give him something but that Sherlock movie must be really something, though the impression I get is people are so desperate to get anything out of the irregularly released series. I guess that desperate love is better than being about something.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Kyle Chandler for Bloodline, Rami Malek for Mr. Robot (Winner), Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, Matthew Rhys for The Americans, Liev Schreiber for Ray Donovan, Kevin Spacey for House of Cards
Rami Malek winning an Emmy is the story of the night, in my opinion. Mr. Robot is on the rise but he was a first time nominee and relatively young compared to the rest of the competition. And might I remind you this is for a USA Network show. Not much else to say other than congratulations. Here’s hoping it’s nowhere but up with your career, Rami.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Claire Danes for Homeland, Viola Davis for How to Get Away with Murder, Taraji P. Henson for Empire, Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black (Winner), Keri Russell for The Americans, Robin Wright for House of Cards
One prediction I’m going to have to regret is picking Viola Davis and specifically ruling out Tatiana Maslany. You see, you can get an actress who wins an award for a show about clones with the Emmys. I don’t even watch Orphan Black and that tells you something about what kind of show it is if that’s all I know. Everybody else with recover fine, except perhaps Claire Danes. Homeland really should fade into obscurity. Keri Russell has a little more time to maybe finally win.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson for black-ish, Aziz Ansari for Master of None, Will Forte for Last Man on Earth, William H. Macy for Shameless, Thomas Middleditch for Silicon Valley, Jeffrey Tambor for Transparent (Winner)
Is it really fair that Jeffrey Tambor should have to go up against all these other actors? Even Jimmy Kimmel acknowledged the dramatic nature of the role and the show. I have not watched Transparent but it strikes me that the show really straddles the line between comedy and drama. But Jeffrey Tambor is not winning awards because he looks funny in a dress. On the contrary, he’s winning awards because it’s about the struggle his character goes through. He’s such a given to win that Jimmy Kimmel pretended to give him his Emmy prematurely before he later earned it back. I’m not saying Tambor doesn’t deserve an Emmy, I’m just not sure he should be winning it in the Comedy category. It’s hurting all these other actors. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Again, I haven’t seen the show. I guess that’s my fault. Someone let me know if he’s also really funny in Transparent.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep (Winner), Ellie Kemper for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tracee Ellis Ross for black-ish, Laurie Metcalf for Getting On, Amy Schumer for Inside Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin for Grace and Frankie
As I said before, the Emmys love Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Prior to winning again, she had already won multiple times before, so it didn’t come as a huge shock that she won. I’m not much into the personal lives of celebrities but she did pay a touching tribute to her father who just passed away, so I can certainly sympathize. Regardless of who the winner is, genuine emotion is always appreciated. She was not the only one to show it either. I doubt the rest of the nominees felt all that bad after hearing her speech. They’ll probably get their shot again next year anyway. Amy Schumer will almost definitely win at some point in the future.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Jonathan Banks for Better Call Saul, Peter Dinklage for Game of Thrones, Ben Mendelsohn for Bloodline (Winner), Christian Slater for Mr. Robot, Kit Harington for Game of Thrones, Michael Kelly for House of Cards, Jon Voight for Ray Donovan
So Ben Mendelsohn did manage to win this award even though he was hardly in this season of Bloodline, or so I’m told. He must have really made an impression in his supposedly short appearance. Unfortunately this means that Christian Slater did not mount a full comeback with winning a Golden Globe and an Emmy. But fortunately he can always try again next year. Kit Harington will probably get another chance too, though he won’t probably win, which is honestly okay. He’s a good actor but I have a feeling he’s elevated by great direction.
I know I said was tired of the election and I really am, but it would have been crazy if Jon Voight had won and taken his win as a chance to stump for Trump and challenge the narrative of the night. That would have been the most awkward moment in the history of the Emmys and he would’ve definitely been booed off the stage. But obviously the voters weren’t going to risk that happening.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Maura Tierney for The Affair, Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey (Winner), Lena Headey for Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke for Game of Thrones, Maisie Williams for Game of Thrones, Constance Zimmer for UnREAL
I was really hoping Lena Headey was going to win, as she had a fantastic year on Game of Thrones, maybe her best yet, but oh well, she had won before and she will definitely be nominated again (maybe for her last time if Cersei dies next season). Maggie Smith, on the hand, had one last opportunity to win for the departing Downton Abbey. Apparently she doesn’t care enough to show up for the ceremony, and she won this year too! Maybe she cares more if it’s a BAFTA (the British equivalent). Or maybe it just doesn’t mean as much after you’ve won Best Actress at the Oscars and the BAFTAs for your film work multiple times. And here I know her best for playing Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter. Forgive me, Dame Smith.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Louie Anderson for Baskets (Winner), Andre Braugher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Keegan-Michael Key for Key & Peele, Ty Burrell for Modern Family, Tituss Burgess for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tony Hale for Veep, Matt Walsh for Veep
Here’s an interesting choice, Louie Anderson winning for playing a female character. You would think this somehow goes against the struggle I mentioned early for Jeffrey Tambor’s character in Transparent. I think the voters chose him less because it’s humorous that it’s a guy playing Zach Galifianakis’ mom and more because he’s shockingly convincing in the role with just a change to his haircut. He certainly benefits from having a more androgynous face, though it helps that he doesn’t have a huge beard like Galifianakis. I’m sure the voters also thought him funny too though.
Ty Burrell will likely be out next year for Modern Family. As for Keegan-Michael Key, who knows what’s next for his career now that Key & Peele is over? I do respect thought that he and Peele chose to end the show while it was on top. Not many people would do that.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Niece Nash for Getting On, Allison Janney for Mom, Kate McKinnon for Saturday Night Live (Winner), Judith Light for Transparent, Gaby Hoffmann for Transparent, Anna Chlumsky for Veep
I put it all on a previous winner again with Allison Janney for Mom and I came up short. Oh, well, not like it was a risky pick. Instead we got Kate McKinnon for Saturday Night Live. I’ve caught enough clips and bits of Saturday Night Live here and there recently to know who’s hosting from week to week but I wouldn’t claim to be a regular viewer. It’s mostly the make-up and hair but Kate McKinnon looks drastically different as Hillary Clinton (ugh, the election again), which is the role that won here the Emmy this year. I’m going to be a little brutally honest about SNL for a second though. I don’t really think it’s that funny and it’s a dinosaur. Oh, I know there are people who have been saying it for years now but this is not coming from a long time viewer. Maybe I would like the old stuff, maybe not. I’ve certainly enjoyed some earlier (but still rather recent) stuff like Digital Shorts from The Lonely Island and the “More Cowbell” sketch. I thought Larry David as Bernie Sanders was humorous but not hilarious and McKinnon as Hillary didn’t really do it for me. It’s not as good as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.
All that being said, I can clearly tell that winning the award meant a lot to McKinnon. Furthermore, comedy isn’t really my thing, so while I might prefer SNL go off after its 50th anniversary, it’s not really for me anyway. At least somebody enjoys it.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Bryan Cranston for All the Way, Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, Idris Elba for Luther, Cuba Gooding Jr. for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Tom Hiddleston for The Night Manager, Courtney B. Vance for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Winner)
I’m very happy that I don’t have to hold a grunge against Bryan Cranston for beating Courtney B. Vance. That would be so hard because Bryan Cranston is way too likable. Really, this is a category full of talented actors. I’ve already said how much I loved Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. I was curious if Cuba Gooding Jr. would beat him and mount a true comeback for his career and win. Alas, it didn’t happen for Christian Slater and it didn’t happen for Cuba Gooding Jr. Ultimately, the voters made the right decision. Vance truly deserved this award.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Kirsten Dunst for Fargo, Felicity Huffman for American Crime, Audra McDonald for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grille, Sarah Paulson for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Winner), Lili Taylor for American Crime, Kerry Washington for Confirmation
This was really Sarah Paulson’s award to lose. Her and Vance’s performances drove The People v. O.J. Simpson. It’s really something how the media has done a 180 on Marcia Clark. She was even there at the Emmys sitting next to Sarah Paulson. Even Paulson herself apologized for misjudging her. Sure, some of the onus for the verdict has to go to Clark, but it’s nice to see an ugly relationship between her and the media be mended, even if the media hasn’t changed enough for the better in its sensationalism at times. If American Crime Story is anything like Horror Story, we should expect to see Sarah Paulson nominated again for the next installment. I do feel a little bad for Kirsten Dunst though, losing to Lady Gaga and now Sarah Paulson.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Jesse Plemons for Fargo, Bokeem Woodbine for Fargo, Hugh Laurie for The Night Manager, Sterling K. Brown for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Winner), David Schwimmer for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, John Travolta for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
The only way that The People v. O.J. Simpson was going to lose this category was if it split the vote. However, I would have probably freaked if John Travolta won, the same way I would have if Emilia Clarke won. While entertaining, he did not deserve to win for his hammy and goofy performance. While Schwimmer did some great work (and spouted “Juice” every other line), Sterling K. Brown was the right call. He was a relative unknown and now he’s a big name. Making it in acting is incredibly tough so I’m happy to see hard work recognized. Too bad he’s stuck in the boring looking This Is Us. I bet he will be good in it, but he can do better.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Melissa Leo for All The Way, Regina King for American Crime (Winner), Sarah Paulson for American Horror Story: Hotel, Kathy Bates for American Horror Story: Hotel, Jean Smart for Fargo, Olivia Colman for The Night Manager
Wouldn’t it have been something if Sarah Paulson won in this category too? I think so. However, instead it went to Regina King. At least American Crime got some representation. Even though it’s been loved critically, it doesn’t have the best ratings. I’m hoping it stays on a few more seasons though. Expect Regina King to show up if she’s on it.
I’m pretty happy with this list of winners. The voters didn’t make any egregious mistakes. Given that Game of Thrones will be airing later next year, it gives a chance to another show to win next Emmy season. Maybe Mr. Robot.
It’s too early to make predictions for that, but one show you’ll definitely see nominated a lot is The Night Of. Stranger Things could also make an appearance. The new shows advertised on ABC during the ceremony? Unlikely.
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky