Suppose They Gave An Emmys and I Was (Almost) Completely Satisfied?
They Got A Lot Closer to Perfect This Year
The last couple of years, the Emmys keep getting closer and closer to satisfying me with almost all of their choices. And this year, they nearly made it perfect — or at least as perfect as anything can be considered when Game of Thrones is at the center. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
Because I figured most of the Emmy love would be given to Game of Thrones, I focused more on the comedies this year. I actually saw six of the seven nominees in their entirety, which is a lot higher than I usually get, and realized that a lot of imagination this year was in the Comedy category. I was mostly impressed by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and was genuinely satisfied when it managed to take eight trophies, including Supporting awards for Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein. I was a little disappointed that the Palladinos didn’t win any of them, but considering how thoroughly (and delightfully) they were thanked by Shalhoub in his speech, I’m sure they’re satisfied.
I was even more delighted to see Fleabag, a series I basically binged in its entirety in the month of August. By then, I realized why Phoebe Waller-Bridge was beloved by a sizable contingent of Emmy voters, and that she deserved to win at least one award. I never in my wildest dreams expected her to take Best Actress from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and judging from her reaction, neither did she. By that time, it was now clear that, despite paying tribute to it at the Emmys this year, there was no way in hell Veep was going to triumph for its final season. Fleabag’s triumph was remarkable even by the standards of Peak TV, and no doubt will have Amazon producer hammering down Waller-Bridge’s door demanding she do a third season despite her insistence she won’t. (Hell, if it gives another chance for Andrew Scott getting a nomination that would be enough of a reason to watch it.)
I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed that Barry’s ‘ronny-lilly’ one of the highpoints of the TV season was basically ignored, but the competition in the directing and writing this year was so intense that there was no way someone wasn’t going to walk away disappointed. At least, Bill Hader deservedly repeated; The Good Place was shutout. But hell, there’ll be a lot more vacancies in every comedy category next year. And given its track record, I’m betting they can produce another ‘janets’.
As for Drama, well, despite everybody loathing how Game of Thrones ended, it did win Best Drama. But perhaps the backlash had consequences after all. Of it’s eleven other wins, only Peter Dinklage won in a major category. Succession, a series I am coming to admire more and more with each episode I see, took the Best Writing trophy, and in one of the bigger upsets of the night, Jason Bateman finally got an Emmy for directing an episode of Ozark. It’s now becoming clear that series is a player; Julia Garner more than deserved her Supporting Actress win.
As for the leads, much as I wanted to see Bob Odenkirk triumph, I can’t argue with the joy that filled the complex when Billy Porter managed to win for his work on Pose. Having seen his performance this season, he is one of the most incredible actors. I expect more nominations for the series as a whole. And it was rather delightful that an actress from Killing Eve ended up winning… only not the one that we expected. I’ve always felt that Jodie Comer’s work as Villanelle was one of the most frightening performances on TV I’ve ever seen. But given all the (understandable) glory given to Sandra Oh leading up to it, I naturally expected her to win. I’m glad to be proven wrong.
Limited Series actually offered some pleasant surprises. Chernobyl ended up taking ten wins, including Best Drama, Best Writing and Best Directing. Don’t get me wrong; it was an extraordinary limited series. But all the cards seemed stacked in favor of When They See Us prevailing. In all honesty, I think it was because the series — as extraordinary as it is — felt at times more like an obligation then actual entertainment. I thought that might work against it, and it mostly did. I’m not as shocked as the rest of the world is that Jharrel Jerome ended up taking Best Actor. Much I’d have liked to see Ali or Grant prevail; his work was, even by the high standards, exceptional.
The Actress awards were sort of a surprise. I wasn’t surprised Patricia Arquette won — just for which show. Her work in The Act was exquisite, but I was certain the other Patricia would prevail. But considering how good Michelle Williams was as Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon, and how much the momentum was switching to her near the end, I guess they figured, they couldn’t send her home empty handed. One can hardly argue that neither balked at speaking their mind in their speeches.
If I was disappointed about anything, it was that Deadwood: The Movie ended up losing Best TV Movie to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. This was a work that was never supposed to be made, and a triumph to recognize one of the greatest men to ever work in television. But as the Emmys have proven over and over again, they’re just not that sentimental. Maybe Milch can find it in him to write that fourth season now?
I didn’t think the Emmys going hostless worked nearly as well as the Oscars did. There were some humorous bits, of course, but it was messy. (And what the hell was that commentary all about?) What I did like was the way it flowed. The Emmys did for (most) of the nominees what it did for the Oscars, and gave us a chance to see some of their nominated performances. And Bryan Cranston’s opening remarks demonstrated again just how good he is at anything he does. Maybe he can host next year? And I was glad to see them pay attention to some other shows that were leaving this year. (Subtlety be damned: They acknowledged Jane the Virgin’s existence, something they couldn’t do with trophies. They didn’t acknowledge Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but then again, they did give Rachel Bloom Emmys. Progress.)
If I have any regrets, it’s that Better Call Saul underserved Emmy-less streak continues. This time, with Game of Thrones gone, next year looks promising. Then again, the broadcast season hasn’t begun, and Succession, Pose, Stranger Things and Big Little Lies have already made big impression. But I speak with some optimism: TV’s future looks bright, now that the Song of Ice and Fire is finally sung.