Tuesday, September 24, 2019

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2019: The Aftermath

“And for that, I am here. And for that, my children are here. So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line.”
-Alex Borstein

I have mixed feelings about Sunday night’s Emmy telecast. Overall, because it was hostless, it was very disjointed. On the other hand, there were some interesting winners and inspirational acceptance speeches. On the whole, though, it wasn’t much to write home about. I suppose the fact that the telecast ended on time was a blessing, although it probably ended on time because of the lack of performance bits that a host would probably provide. I generally don’t mind if a show goes a little over (not too over, though) if fun performance bits break up the monotony of distributing the awards. I’m a fan of Broadway-style song and dance numbers, so I want all the theatrics with my awards telecasts.

I was most curious about how the show would open with no host, and it turned out that it would be a combination of Homer Simpson, Anthony Anderson, and Bryan Cranston. The telecast started with an animation of Homer about to start hosting the show and falling through the stage. Anthony Anderson then took over and tried to get the show back on track. This entailed trying to find someone with enough gravitas to start the show off right. Since he is an Emmy winner, Bryan Cranston fit the bill, and he performed admirably. This is where there would usually be a host making fun of a lot of the folks in the room, but without a host, that didn’t happen. I would imagine the self-serious celebrities who don’t like the usual roasting at the beginning of an awards show appreciated this development.

Ben Stiller then introduced the comedy awards, and the doling out of the hardware began. Tony Shalhoub won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which I appreciated, since he is indeed excellent on the show. His acceptance speech was amusing and pointed out that Amy and Dan Palladino basically fill every role on the show’s production crew (writer, director, producer, etc.). Alex Borstein also was a “Maisel” repeat, winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. I was most surprised that she was sitting in the audience with Seth MacFarlane. I didn’t realize they were co-stars on “Family Guy,” which makes me a bad nerd. I spent most of the rest of the telecast frantically Googling and watching my Twitter feed to try and figure out if they are in a relationship or just friends (my research was inconclusive, by the way). Borstein went on to give an amazing acceptance speech where she invoked how her grandmother survived the Holocaust (it’s quoted above). I completely missed it in real time because I was so busy googling “Alex Borstein Seth MacFarlane.” Because my priorities are apparently messed up.

There were a few other little gags that were presumably included in the show thanks to the lack of a host. Comedian Thomas Lennon did commentary and voice over (he kept up the tradition started by John Hodgeman of saying funny things about people as they walked up to accept their award. He had one joke that was a pretty sick Felicity Huffman burn (basically a shout out to an Emmy winner he understood was spending a couple weeks in jail). Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also did a really funny bit that was basically all about how having no host for an awards show sucks (it does!).

Less successful was the creative team’s attempt to have a sort of “in memoriam” for shows that completed their final seasons in the past year. There was a moment where the entire cast of “Game of Thrones” was invited to come out on the stage and be applauded for wrapping the show before they presented an award. The same thing was done for “Veep,” as well, although that went a little better because Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a pro and is hilarious. Hugh Laurie introduced that bit, and Tony Hale got in on the gag by continuing to hover around Julia like his character does on the show. To top it all off, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson introduced a video montage that was basically an in memoriam for a bunch more shows that recently ended. It was weird, and “The Big Bang Theory” was basically the centerpiece. Oddly, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was not included in the montage, when it absolutely should have been.

There were some other interesting winners outside of the comedy world. John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” won a bunch of awards, which made me happy because John Oliver is awesome and has really been an exceptional torch carrier for the type of smart, informed comedy Jon Stewart perfected on “The Daily Show.” A show I had never heard of before, “Fleabag,” which is available on Amazon, also won a great deal of awards. It appears to involve some raunchy British humor, so I will be checking it out at some point, no doubt. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (beating out Julia Louis-Dreyfus of all people!), and the show itself won for Outstanding Comedy. While “Game of Thrones” didn’t win many individual awards (Peter Dinklage did pick up another Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama trophy, though), the show did receive the Outstanding Drama award, presumably as a going away present. Actually, I think the fact that so many actors from the show were nominated hurt it certain categories by splitting the vote. That fact did make for more variety of winner, though, which brought some much needed interest to an otherwise lackluster telecast. Can we have a host again next year, please?

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