Last night’s Emmys were dominated by a few great shows in an ocean of good television shows. In a way, they exemplified the age of “peak TV” we live in. There’s simply too much good TV for us to watch. Thankfully, there isn’t a lot of great TV. That’s the one that pertains the Emmys, and those are the shows that ended up winning last night. Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Olive Kitteridge, Veep, Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away With Murder, and Transparent were definitely the shows to watch in a year of fantastic TV choices. Those were the shows that were rewarded. A few nods to longevity and likability might have been appreciated by some (Amy Poehler), but it’s hard to disagree. Simply put, the best shows in TV won.
The 67th Emmy Awards last night were a fantastic show that proved television is definitely living its best moment in terms of diversity. The show wasn’t for everyone, but right from the get go, Andy Samberg made sure to point out Hollywood’s inequality issues in his opening sketch: “He got the gig because he’s seen all the TV there’s out there… and because he’s a white guy.”
Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis’ wins showed that the academy is watching shows with more representation. The female acting categories were all very tight, but these women’s victories showed that diverse characters are not just pandering for ratings: they’re genuine, critically-acclaimed roles made for diverse actors. Davis’ brilliant acceptance speech highlighted the fact that without opportunity, women of color wouldn’t be on TV. She made a call to keep making these opportunities, and making roles for women and people of color in general. And if you were taking her speech with a grain of salt, here’s a stat that proves Davis is right: Davis is the first black woman in the Emmys’ 67-year history to win the award for best actress in a leading role.
Another surprising win for diversity came with Amazon’s Transparent. HBO and AMC passed on the series when director Jill Soloway pitched it to them. Amazon picked it up, and in doing so, they’ve picked up two Golden Globes and two Emmys in just one year. Jeffrey Tambor was a shoe-in for the Best Comedy Actor category, and he sure as hell got it.
An actor who deserved his award, but had to play the waiting game to get it was the phenomenal actor and professional stud Jon Hamm. Hamm was nominated for his role as the conflicted and charming ad man, Don Draper, in AMC’s Mad Men a whopping eight times. He only received the award this year. Hamm, who also happens to be a fantastic comic talent, tried to joke his way out of receiving his award by saying it was all a mistake. In all honesty, Hamm had to get the award. My bet is even the other nominees were rooting for him.
As for Game of Thrones, it seems that Winter has come to Westeros, and it has brought Emmys. Thrones had received some Emmy love in the past, but never in the “big categories”: Best Writing, Best Directing, and Best Drama. This year, it won them all. Not only that, it became the show with the most Emmy wins in a year with an astounding 12 awards. The previous holder of the title had been The West Wing with nine. If the past few years were dominated by Breaking Bad and Mad Men, it seems the future is in the hands of HBO.
The only disappointment in the night was the sad reality that Amy Poehler never won an Emmy for her character in Parks and Rec. Like Steve Carell’s Michael Scott, Poehler’s Leslie Knope will be in TV’s collective mind, but far from Julia Louis Dreyfuss’ (deserved) Emmy love.
In numbers, the night showed how premium cable still is the critics’ and academy’s favorite. For HBO, it was their best night in years, taking home 14 awards. In second place came Comedy Central, which thanks to Jon Stewart and Amy Schumer left with 4. The networks and Netflix? Let’s just say this wasn’t their year. Even Amazon had more awards than the networks! Among the shows that were completely snubbed were the Breaking Bad prequel/sequel Better Call Saul, Netflix’s crown jewel House of Cards, The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, and hype-machine Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. All good shows. Just, not great shows.