|It wasn't my pick, but "Breaking Bad" was a deserving winner."|
There are some years when the Emmys go exactly as predicted because pretty much everybody who won before is going to win again. That’s what happened with the comedy awards in 2011. Modern Family dominated the awards in its second season, repeating its wins for series, writing, and supporting actor while picking up a pair of categories (directing and supporting actress) from fading fellow sophomore series Glee. Even the categories where Modern Family wasn’t nominated weren’t surprising, as Jim Parsons picked up his second consecutive Outstanding Lead Actor trophy while Melissa McCarthy, fresh off of the release of Bridesmaids, picked up her first.
There are some years when the Emmys lack surprises because a critical-acclaimed newcomer storms the stage. This happened last year, as Homeland swept the series, writing, and lead actor categories.
There are even some years where things go a little crazy, but for completely logical reasons. Two years ago, with Breaking Bad ineligible due to scheduling issues and a number of previous winners not nominated, new winners took home six of the seven awards. But even the new winners were logical. Martin Scorsese won for directing the Boardwalk Empire pilot. Jason Katims won for the Friday Night Lights finale. Margo Martindale and Peter Dinklage shared the supporting actor awards while Kyle Chandler and Julianna Margulies took home the lead actor trophies. Only Friday Night Lights won more than one award and the top spot went a show that hadn’t won anything else all night: Mad Men. It was controlled chaos.
And then there are some years when the chaos is not so controlled. Some people were predicting a Breaking Bad sweep, banking on the current cultural momentum to push it over the top. It failed to win any awards that it had won before. Some people were predicting a sweep for House of Cards, with the academy trying to prove how hip it was to changing trends. We got a pair of Kevin Spacey cameos during the broadcast but the only award Netflix took home was David Fincher’s mortal lock for directing the House of Cards pilot. I predicted controlled chaos, with a series of logical, but new winners leading up to an upset win by Game of Thrones. I was wrong, too. What we got, instead, was a number of completely unpredicted winners and a preview of next year’s probable Breaking Bad domination.
The show kicked off with an extended, largely unfunny bit where host Neil Patrick Harris first binge watches every television show from this past season and then brings the past few hosts on stage to help him out. Now, I’m not saying that NPH is a song-and-dance man, but CBS asked him to host for three reasons: He’s the star of a CBS show, he’s good at hosting, and he sings and dances better than pretty much anybody else in television. If you’re going to have him do a performance, don’t save it for the middle of the show (Spoiler!) when everybody’s already switched over to Breaking Bad, or for the end when it’s likely to get cut for time. Instead we get an unfunny bit of banter that only really serves to reinforce how great Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are when they join the fun before presenting the first award.
The rest of the show was a similar mess of out of place, unnecessary performance numbers, odd, if touching, tributes to but a few television performers who passed in the last year, and an unreasonable amount of shilling for CBS shows. Elton John’s performance, in particular, felt completely out of place, taking up eight minutes of screen time that could have gone to giving the award recipients more than ten seconds each to talk. I understand that awards shows are a difficult balancing act between entertaining the people in the audience as well as viewers at home, casual and diehard fans alike. But there was just no celebration of television. We got extended monologues about Jean Stapleton, James Gandolfini, and others, but not one clip. In fact, there wasn’t a single scene of television shown except for the nominee snippets. Instead we got ten minutes of Don Cheadle talking about just how damn important television was in 1963 before poorly transitioning to Carrie Underwood singing "Yesterday," a song from 1965. Mark Harris probably said it best when he wrote that “the worst Emmys sin wasn't the death theme, dancing, or odd wins: It was that it seemed to be produced by people who don't like or watch TV.”
Moving on from the actual production, the awards themselves were distributed widely with a few pleasant surprises and a few not-so-pleasant surprises. Modern Family finally lost its grip on the comedy supporting categories with Veep’s Tony Hale and Nurse Jackie’s Merritt Weaver taking home the trophies. I haven’t seen either of those shows yet, but by all accounts, they’re more than deserving. The drama supporting winners were also surprising, with Bobby Canavale taking home the trophy for his work in Boardwalk Empire and Anna Gunn surprisingly winning the only acting trophy for Breaking Bad.
The lead categories were a little more predictable, with Jim Parsons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Claire Daines all winning again, Parsons for the third time. And then there’s Jeff Daniels. Look, I like The Newsroom, it’s a perfectly fine show. Nothing spectacular, and it’s usually at least interesting and never boring. But you cannot tell me that Jeff Daniels gave the best performance by an actor in a drama this year. You just can’t. Not when Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, and Damian Lewis all had episodes of their respective shows on television this year. I don’t know that it’s the worst Emmy ever given out, but it sure is up there.
The biggest news of the night, though, was probably Breaking Bad’s win for Most Outstanding Drama. I thought next year would be Bad’s year, and it might still be. But I thought season 5a wasn’t as good as either the season before or after and wasn’t as good as Game of Thrones’s third season either. Additionally, I thought it was going to be hindered by airing its episodes in July and August, then having to wait a year for them to be voted on. I was wrong, though. This wasn’t the year Game of Thrones would sneak in; it was the year Breaking Bad would. And now we can all prepare ourselves for the inevitable domination next year.
Oh, and Modern Family won its fourth consecutive Outstanding Comedy Emmy. Is anybody actually surprised?
In the end, the 2013 Emmys were long on chaos and surprises and short on entertainment. Next year’s awards will be hosted by NBC, so here’s hoping they can put on a show that’s a little more interesting and doesn’t make me regret not switching to Breaking Bad in the middle.
So thoughts? Comments? Just want to tell me my blog sucks? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.