I pride myself on watching a ton of television, but I keep hearing about “peak TV” and how you can’t watch everything. Andy Samberg’s opening act for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards riffed on that idea, except Andy did actually watch everything. I spent a few minutes waiting for a punchline like watching all that TV had put him behind for this year – though this year hasn’t really started yet – but that never came.
Like many of his opening monologue jokes, Andy’s opening act fell a little flat, even though it was enjoyable to watch – and I loved the Les Mis segment but wondered what it had to do with TV. I love Andy on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but he seemed nervous in such a big hosting role. A lot of his commentary, particularly regarding diversity, was spot-on however. And the best thing for television to do is to go further toward creating those diverse roles.
There wasn’t a lot of diversity in the drama categories, not in terms of people but in terms of what show won. The night belonged by-and-large to Game of Thrones, which won four awards tonight, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Peter Dinklage. The show adds those four Emmys to the eight it picked up at the Creative Arts Emmys, making twelve total and a record-breaking number of wins in a single year.
The only category in which Game of Thrones was nominated but didn’t win was Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. That award went instead to Uzo Aduba for Orange is the New Black. After the Emmy rule changes this year, Orange is the New Black had to compete in the drama category for its second season while its first last year was in the comedy category.
As expected, Orange is the New Black did pick up fewer nominations this year in the always-competitive drama categories – four to last year’s twelve – though it still received a nod for Outstanding Drama Series. The rules change did allow the show to enter the history books as the only series to be nominated in both categories, and with Aduba’s win, she became the second person in history to win the Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in both comedy and drama for playing the same character.
But Netflix was not the streaming winner of the night, as many of its nominees couldn’t pull out a win. Instead, it was Amazon Studios who proved that streaming television can fight with its cable and broadcast colleagues. The first season of Transparent took home two major awards – both Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for star Jeffrey Tambor and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for series creator Jill Soloway. This was the first time that a streaming show took home more than one major Emmy award.
Not only do both Soloway and Aduba’s wins mark the diverse Emmy year that Andy Samberg talked about in the opening – women are notoriously underrepresented in anything but acting categories and women of color are underrepresented period – but perhaps the best win of the night came with Viola Davis’s Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder.
Davis’s win marks the first black women to win the award, which is honestly tragic in 67 years of giving them out, and she and fellow nominee Taraji P. Henson for Empire were only the sixth and seventh black women ever nominated. Davis tackled the issue of diversity head-on in her acceptance speech, saying, “The only thing that separates women of color from anything else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles for things that are simply not there.”
After several months now of hearing nothing but praise for Inside Amy Schumer, it’s hardly a surprise that the show took home the award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, but a couple of its other nominations fell instead to the final season of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which nabbed Outstanding Variety Talk Series and both Outstanding Writing and Directing for a Variety Series.
Continuing HBO’s good luck, Veep took home multiple awards in the comedy category, including Outstanding Lead Actress for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Tony Hale. It also snapped up the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. With that win, Veep dethroned Modern Family, which would have made history if it had won this year. Instead, HBO became the first network since NBC in 2002 to win both Outstanding Comedy and Drama Series. Veep is also only the second HBO – and cable network in general – show to win the award after Sex and the City.
By picking up an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Mom, Allison Janney did make history. This is her seventh Emmy award, and she is now tied with Ed Asner for the most performance Emmy wins.
And finally, Jon Hamm managed to snag an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series for his work on Mad Men. Since this was the show’s final season and Hamm had been previously nominated eight times for the award, I suppose it’s only right that he finally won one. It’s only a shame that I can’t say the same about Amy Poehler for the final season of Park and Recreation.
So that means the Emmys are over for another year. It’s bound to be a different show next year with many long-running shows ending, but first seasons are often in contention for Emmy awards. Just look at Transparent, How to Get Away with Murder and Empire. With that in mind, now is a good time to set your DVR for the new fall season, which starts tomorrow. Maybe one of your new favorite shows will be up for an Emmy next year.