Tuesday, September 20, 2016

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2016: "The Aftermath"

“The rest of you, if your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home now.”
-Jimmy Kimmel

Last night Jimmy Kimmel presided over a reasonably entertaining telecast of the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Kimmel’s performance was pretty much what I expected it would be. Competent, but not spectacular. It was really the winners that made the telecast enjoyable to watch. There were some predictable winners (everyone thought “Game of Thrones” and “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” would win all the things, and for the most part, that happened), but there were some awesomely unpredictable winners, too. Ultimately, I think the winners affect my opinion of a given Emmy telecast more than anything else. There can be a middling/competent host with awesome winners, and I will be reasonably happy, as I was last night.

The opening number was a pre-taped bit, where after being thrown out of O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco, Jimmy Kimmel has to hitchhike the rest of the way to the Emmys. He rides with the Dunphys for a bit, then he encounters the motorcade of none other than Selina Meyer. Jimmy gets into one of the motorcade vehicles, and the driver is none other than Jeb! Bush complete with exclamation point. There’s also a really great Carpool Karaoke bit with James Corden, who I am pretty sure will be your Emmy host next year on CBS. Jimmy ultimately gets to the show by riding one of Daenery’s dragons from “Game of Thrones.” There were great individual moments (like Carpool Karaoke), but the bit itself went on a bit too long.

Other bits scattered throughout the show also suffered the same issue. They were funny ideas that dragged on just a touch too long. In what I hope is the last of a series of “feeding the audience at the award show” bits, Jimmy had his mom make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the entire audience, to be delivered by the kids from “Stranger Things.” Much funnier (but still a little too long) was a bit featuring Matt Damon. After Jimmy Kimmel’s show lost the variety talk show award to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” none other than Matt Damon came on stage to taunt jimmy. The two have had a faux feud going on since the early years of Jimmy Kimmel’s show. This was probably my favorite bit of the telecast. I first became aware of it in law school when Sarah Silverman, who was dating Kimmel at the time, released a humorous musical viral video called “I’m Fucking Matt Damon.” Like most of the comedic bits in this telecast, it was funny, although it went on a little too long at the expense of cutting off acceptance speeches.

Moving on to the winners, I found it interesting that we’ve reached such Peak TV that an actor could win for a television show I’ve never even heard of before. That would be Louie Anderson, who won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for playing a family matriarch in the FX series “Baskets.” I was hoping for Tituss Burgess or Keegan-Michael Key, but an unexpected win was acceptable. I was mostly just shocked that there are shows out there I’ve never heard of. I see that it premiered on FX in January, though, when I was still probably in a bit of a haze from the busy season at my day job. My brain isn’t good for much other than work (and sometimes not even work) from about mid-October through mid-January.

I think the wins that pleased me the most were the awards for Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Drama series. Rami Malek won for his portrayal of mentally ill/morphine addicted hacker Elliot Alderson on USA’s “Mr. Robot.” Tatiana Maslany won for her portrayal of more clones than I care to count at the moment on BBC America’s “Orphan Black.” Both are actors on very niche genre shows that nevertheless have a lot of buzz. I also enjoy watching both shows. I never would have thought niche genre shows would win Emmys, but here we are. As they say in Hamilton, “how lucky we are to be alive right now” in the age of Peak TV, where there is something for everyone, and niche, quality programming gets recognized. I also found it fitting, in our current political climate, where there was no shortage of Donald Trump jokes, that Rami Malek, who is of Egyptian descent, was recognized.

There were plenty of expected winners, too, but they were all charming enough that I was okay with it. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for the role of Selina Meyer on “Veep” yet again. She gave a heartfelt, genuine speech, though, where she also announced that her father had just passed away several days ago. I admired her strength in holding it together as well as she did given the circumstances. “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” also won the series awards. I really do need to catch up on “Veep” at some point. I’ve seen (and enjoyed) the first few episodes, and from what I’ve heard, the show maintains its high quality. Plus, the show’s creator, Armando Iannucci, is pretty much a comedic genius. Speaking of “Veep,” I was a little sad that Chris Addison, who was an actor on the show’s British counterpart “The Think of It,” lost Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series. I miss Addison’s tweets from places like Camden Yards back when “Veep” filmed in Baltimore. I did see him on stage when “Veep” won the comedy series award, though, so that was cool.

Let’s wrap this post up with a little more “Game of Thrones” talk. As I already mentioned, it won the award for Outstanding Drama Series for the second year in a row. I was pretty excited about the win, because combined with the wins for Rami Malek and Tatiana Malasny, it really shows that genre television has arrived, both on the niche scale, and the bigger budget, prestige scale. I think “Game of Thrones,” with its HBO prestige, really paved the way for smaller shows like “Mr. Robot” and “Orphan Black” to get some recognition. Congratulations to all the winners!

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