Monday, September 21, 2015

MTVP 2015 Emmys Coverage: The Aftermath

“Alright. Let’s give away some motherhumping Emmys!”
-Andy Samberg

Overall, the 67th Emmy Awards was a lot of fun, with host Andy Samberg keeping things light and moving, and some interesting tidal shifts on the winner front. Emmy voting procedures were changed recently to be more inclusive (albeit with less certainty that the voters actually watched everything before voting), so it was interesting to see how there were still sweeps, but sweeps by different shows that we saw previously. This was really the night for two shows: “Veep” and “Game of Thrones.” Both are shows that I appreciate, so I was okay with that. Before we move on with more detailed analysis, let’s just take a moment to celebrate the fact that the multi-year “Modern Family” reign of terror is over. I was so ready for a different show to start winning comedy awards, and this year did not disappoint on that front.

The opening of the telecast contained both highs and lows. I really loved the pre-tape video segment that riffed off the concept of “peak TV” that has been kicking around the blogosphere lately. Andy Samberg gets embarrassed at a dinner party when he hasn’t watched all the shows his guests are talking about, so he goes into a bunker for a solid year to watch all the TV he can possibly watch. And then he has to go back because he forgot to watch “Castle.” The monologue that followed the video segment was a bit more hit-or-miss. One of the other actors in the video told Samberg to make “culturally-relevant-but-not-too-edgy” jokes, but Samberg didn’t take his own advice, and some of his jokes went over like a lead balloon with the room. Celebrities don’t take too kindly to being made fun of, which can sometimes make awards shows a bore. I didn’t really have a problem with the content of Samberg’s monologue jokes. I just thought the monologue was kind of a weird mush of TV insider jokes and current events jokes. I would have stuck with the TV jokes, personally, since it’s a TV awards show.

There were some other bits throughout the telecast that I found especially funny. At one point, Samberg cut to a “Red Carpet Cam.” Just that alone sort of made fun of E!’s ever-growing line-up of different types of red carpet cameras. This one, however, was supposed to show us that the carpet isn’t so glamorous once the show starts. Both Tatiana Maslany and Tony Hale appear with metal detectors, apparently looking for dropped jewelry or money. They end up fighting over a can of beans, which was pretty hilarious. There was also a funny bit where Samberg and fellow SNL alum (and former Emmy host) Seth Meyers talked about giving Lorne Michaels a “World’s Best Boss” mug. I liked how that exchange included a dig about Michaels never going to the Creative Arts Emmys even though the SNL 40th Anniversary special won this year.

There was another bit I liked that seemed to cause quite a lot of heartburn in the realm of the Internet. There was a video montage of scenes from shows that aired their final seasons this year, and many of those scenes were big spoilers for the season finales of their respective shows. There were confrontations and murders galore. People of Twitter were very upset that shows had been spoiled. Have we reached consensus on the spoiler window we need to put around shows? The fall season starts today. People had all summer to catch up on these shows. Especially if a show is really in the zeitgeist, you should only expect a limited spoiler-free window. Score one for the Emmy team taking on spoiler culture! That being said, I thought Jimmy Fallon’s tribute to departed shows back in 2010 was better – the songs he made up to honor them were really funny.

The winners this year were on a spectrum of meh to awesome. It was a definite improvement over the past few years, at least, even if it wasn’t perfect. Even in cases where I was disappointed with the winner, the winner was an actor I liked. I just thought they had won enough already. The first such example would be Allison Janney. I adore her, especially her work on “The West Wing,” but she had no business winning for a mediocre Chuck Lorre show. Julia Louis Dreyfus is great on “Veep,” which is also a great show (as I’ve said before, Armando Iannucci is a genius), but she has won so many times for three different shows now that I am kind of over it. Tony Hale, Uzo Aduba, and Peter Dinklage were all second-time winners. While I thought there were better choices in their categories, I still do think they do good work on their respective shows (“Veep, ” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Game of Thrones”). I put these folks in the “yay…ish” category.

The wins I enjoyed the most were the series wins, as opposed to the actor wins. While both “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” are pretty established series by now, it was a first-time win for both. The casts and production crews for both shows seemed truly ecstatic with the wins. Although I will say that I found it a little inappropriate that many of the winners from “Veep” thanked their “crew in Baltimore” when the show itself is leaving Maryland and will be filming in California next season. I will miss producer/”Thick of It” star Chris Addison’s tweets from places like Camden Yards. I always thought it was pretty cool that a random British comedian of whom I am a fan knows Baltimore so well. As for “Game of Thrones,” season 5 wasn’t the show’s strongest, but I saw this one as a sort of make-up Emmy to reward the team for several seasons of excellent work that didn’t get rewarded.

There were several especially memorable acceptance speeches. Uzo Aduba cried through her entire acceptance speech for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She is the only person other than Ed Asner to win both the Comedy and Drama awards. In her case, it’s because “Orange is the New Black” switched classifications from comedy to drama this year. Peter Dinklage seemed truly surprised that he won, and he thanked his fellow nominees “Jonathan Banks . . . and the rest.” I really wanted either Tatiana Maslany or Taraji P. Henson to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but Viola Davis’ acceptance speech mitigated a lot of the disappointment. Henson immediately ran over to Davis and hugged her, which I thought was classy. In her speech, Davis quoted Harriet Tubman and advocated for more opportunities for actors of color. She also made a point to thank her fellow black actresses for paving the way for the future. It was a really positive note that was largely representative of the telecast as a whole.

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