Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Television Tuesday: Emmy Edition

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. CAN'T LOSE this time.
Full confession: I like awards shows. That said, I limit myself to the Big Two Four - the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys - and even then, I'm only into the Grammys and Tonys for the performances and the rare win by someone whose work I may know and enjoy (*cough* U2 *cough*). Usually, I watch those two awards shows on delay so I can fast forward past the aimless drivel. For the Grammys, this is includes anything with JayZ, which is pretty much everything these days since he produces the dang thing. For the Tonys, it's often anything not involving Neil Patrick Harris. And Hugh Jackman, obviously.

But my well-documented love for television and movies make the Emmys and Oscars must-see TV.  This year, a number of superb shows and marvelously talented people were nominated and I had hopes, dare I say high hopes, of some spectacular wins. Happily, I was not completely disappointed.

That said, the show itself was a major loss.

The bad:

The Emmytones. Shame. Shame. Shame.
From the God-awful Emmytones (shame on you, Zachary Levi and Joel McHale et al!) to Jane Lynch's uneven performance as host, to the embarrassing and baffling display of raunchy SNL songs (has Lorne Michaels bought the Emmys now?), to Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon (and later John Stewart & Co.) wrestling on stage (where's Jack Palance when you need him? Oh yeah, dead.) to the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad scripted bantering, this has to be, hands down, the worst major awards show I've ever seen. And that's all I'm saying about that.

The good:

Despite the horrid overall flavor of the show, the highlights, when they came, were stellar.

Modern Family FTW - again
Awards were dominated by the same three or fours shows all night (par for the course), but as they were my shows (for once) and not part of the mighty marketing machine that is HBO, I'm casually looking the other way. Modern Family cleaned up the comedy awards and Downtown Abbey tut-tutted over the miniseries/movies made for television category. The Amazing Race and The Daily Show once again swept their respective categories of reality television and variety show. While I'm bored by the repeat winners, which I think reflects more ennui amongst voters than anything else, at least they are great shows.

I love Modern Family - the Halloween episode gave me a stomach cramp from laughing - and adore Downton Abbey and don't care in the slightest that they cleaned up in their respective categories. Before the winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy was announced, Ed O'Neill reportedly said to his fellow nominees/cast members, "remember, whoever wins deserves this." I think that says a lot about that cast and crew and the quality they bring to this incredibly funny show. I look at its repeat dominance of the awards as payback for every year Two and a Half Men and/or Charlie Sheen made the cut, for each time Everybody Loves Raymond beat out Friends. If that makes me shallow and petty, I'm really OK with that.

The Fabulous Women.
In a wonderfully unscripted if planned moment, the nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy, the women who consistently bring the funny, ascended the stage as their names were announced as nominees. Standing side-by-side, hands locked together, gently mocking beauty pageants everywhere, they were a fabulous array of woman power. The moment was capped by the unexpected win by Melissa McCarthy for her work in Mike and Molly who proceeded to accept her award appropriately adorned with tiara and holding a bouquet of roses. Her joy and surprise were genuine and touching.

Joyous Margo Martindale
My love of the show Justified is well documented, but even I didn't expect Margo Martindale to win the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. Her performance as the backwoods crime lord of Harlan County was at turns poignant and terrifying, a Masters class of acting every week. When her name was announced as winner, Margo closed her eyes, gripped the hands of her husband and co-star Timothy Olyphant, and whooped! Her acceptance speech was grateful and charming and overflowing with stunned joy. "Good things take time," she said. Her time has definitely arrived.

I think it's notable that both Melissa McMarthy's and Margo Martindale's (M squared times two!) unexpected wins were for women of plus-size, as society prefers to politely label us (and for McCarthy, it was for a show about a plus-sized couple). Personally, I was thrilled to see appearance judgment take a back seat to talent and skill for a change. Huzzah ladies. You rock at any size. 

A Lannister Always Wins His Emmy

Peter Dinklage's work as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones was only one of several outstanding performances in that remarkable series - but it did shine the brightest. Clever, smart, sharp, emotional, poignant, quick-witted, and downright funny, he commanded every scene he was in and then some. His win for Best Supporting Actor in a drama was well-deserved and, I hope, merely the first of many. His befuddled response to winning was charming and he later lamented thanking his dog sitter but not his agent and family.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose.

Finally, finally, my beloved Friday Night Lights was recognized with a writing Emmy for showrunner Jason Katims and a Best Actor win for Kyle Chandler, aka Coach.


'Bout damn time.

I shouted "YES!!!" as his name was announced, clenched fists raised victoriously (as though I had anything to do with it), a combined effect that made the cats scurry from the bed in fear.

This show, oh this show, was so unlike anything else on television. It broke your heart and warmed your soul at the same time. And holding the strong center was the marriage of Eric and Tammy Taylor, pitch-perfectly played by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton (who was robbed of that Emmy, which is my only comment on Juliana Margulies' Best Actress win - ROBBED).

That it took four years either of them to receive any kind of Emmy recognition is a crime. That it took five for an actual win is nothing less than tragic.

Still, we'll take it.

All in all, the Emmy Awards of 2011 was a show that consistently made me say - out loud and on Twitter - "what the hell is going on here?" But being able to see some of my favorite people on television today accept well-deserved and often overdue awards for fine, fine work was a particular delight.

For that, I'll even endure Michael Bolton's singing pirate so long as next time he brings the rum.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.


  1. Loved reading your recap AND following along with the comments on Twitter. I was living vicariously through your Tweets, since it was all Sunday Night Football in my house. ;)

    Glad to hear so many deserving folks/shows won.
    All the best,
    Beth Kerber

  2. Ha! Glad I could be of service. It was nice to see people I rooted for win - for a change. It usually boils down to marketing and popularity over quality, but sometimes, when we're very lucky, the right people get recognized. As in all things.