For years the Emmys have been the television award years behind what people actually care about. Typically shows reaching their zenith will see a sudden increase in nominations and wins as they start to get the honors they deserve but sometimes while they wane in quality. Last night the 65th were poised to do what they always do and send away a series of deserved winners from the past few years, just not this past year. But this time it was packed with surprises and, as always, just a bit of controversy.
Starting off with the big winners of the night with Breaking Bad winning for best drama and Modern Family somehow winning again for best comedy. Everyone seemingly stopped talking about Modern Family, with a few noting a drop in quality, and yet it continues to win awards against heavy hitters like Big Bang Theory, Girls, Veep, and Louie. I wouldn't expect Girls to win since it's a newcomer but I don't know how Modern Family beats out a crowd favorite like Big Bang Theory or an obvious winner in Louie. For miniseries or TV movies the winner went to Behind the Candelabra which would also win best actor for Michael Douglas and directing for a miniseries.
Lead and supporting actor for a drama is where the...drama begins. Jeff Daniels beat out sure winners like Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, and Kevin Spacey for lead actor in a drama. Very surprising since Hamm has never won an Emmy for his role on Mad Men and many thought this would be his final shot at it. Then for supporting actor in a drama the winner was Bobby Cannavale for Boardwalk Empire beating out some more thought-to-be winners like Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks, and Peter Dinklage. It's hard to tell if the Emmys were trying to make a statement or truly handing out awards for who they think should win. It is nice to see surprising upsets when the Emmys are usually a who's who of past winners winning again.
The show itself was pretty entertaining even with some strange moments here and there and a long running time. For the first hour the show hummed along, handing out award after award like they were candy, and for a moment I honestly hoped the three hour planned running time was a mistake. With the speed at which they were playing off speeches, which were short the entire night, it would have taken serious delays to make it all draw out. And then came on dance numbers at the halfway mark, montages of writers talking about themselves, or directors talking about themselves, another dance number to celebrate an award for dance numbers, and 4 or 5 separated moments for someone who died in the past year with a close colleague and friend explaining their personal impact. Combined all together these moments went on too long and the remembrance moments felt even more out of place when they did the traditional "death roll" of all those we lost in the past year. It gave a somber tone throughout the entire award show as each series of award presentations always was left with another death and partial eulogy.
The one thing the Emmys marked was a transition. Not only were shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men everywhere proving more ad oriented and supported shows could succeed even on cable. We also saw House of Cards, a digital only show, win for best director in a drama series with David Fincher winning. We might just be seeing a more aware Emmy award show who recognizes a changing and in flux industry. Or we'll see another three hour long struggle between traditional television and how we all really watch things.