Thinking Out Loud #2: The 70th Primetime Emmys®

70th Emmy® Awards – Lorne Michaels and the cast of Saturday Night Live – Photo courtesy of NBC.

The Emmys® came in on time last night! And , after winning the Emmy® for directing The Oscars, Glenn Weiss proposed to his girlfriend. (She said yes.)

My thoughts on the show follow.

First things first – between them, Colin Jost and Michael Che had enough good material to just about fill one edition of SNL’s Weekend Report – and their running gag with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as the Emmys® experts elicited virtually no laughter in the auditorium, so I doubt it worked with viewers.

The one genuinely successful bit came when Che handed out Reparations Emmys® to deserving African-American actors who were – to put it bluntly – robbed back in the day. It was simultaneously funny and heartwarming.

Fortunately, Jost and Che had nothing to do with the In Memoriam segment. Played against Aretha Franklin’s take on Amazing Grace, it was perfect.

The ‘innovation’ of showing clips of the nominees’ work before the presenters came on and bantered (or not) felt weird and somehow forced, but most presenters still did a good job – except for Will Ferrell whose bit wouldn’t have made it to air on SNL.

And thank you, Glenn Weiss. No one who watched

Now, a few thoughts on the winners of the major 2018 Emmys® (in bold):

Outstanding drama series
The Americans (FX)
The Crown (Netflix)
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The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO)

I don’t mind GoT winning again – it’s a brilliant show. But it might have been nice to see The Americans win this one – like GoT, it’s been brilliant for its entire run and that is next to impossible to do.

Outstanding comedy series
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
Black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
GLOW (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

I find Kimmy Schmidt unbearably uneven and Silicon Valley never quite clicked with me; GLOW is delightful, but Curb Your Enthusiasm is the next thing to inert lately.

black-ish isn’t even the outstanding network comedy (The Good Place) so I’m not sure why it’s here.

All three of the remaining shows are way above average – with all three reaching brilliance at times. I just think Barry and Atlanta reached it more frequently than The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – I’d have had to flip a coin between them.

Outstanding limited series
The Alienist (TNT)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)
Godless (Netflix)
Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series
Claire Foy (The Crown)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Keri Russell (The Americans)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)

Claire Foy was surprised and who could blame her?

Virtually everyone else in this category had more nuanced roles that they played with ferocity and integrity.

Tatiana Maslany played four roles brilliantly, so I still think she should have won, but I was surprised that Keri Russell didn’t get the Emmy®.

In fact, for me at least, the only possibly disappointing selection would have been Foy.

Nailed it!

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

About forking time!

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series
Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)
Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Lena Headey (Game Of Thrones)
Vanessa Kirby (The Crown)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Absolutely the right choice!

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game Of Thrones)
Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones)
Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale)
David Harbour (Stranger Things)
Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)
Matt Smith (The Crown)

No complaints here.

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Issa Rae (Insecure)
Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
Lily Tomlin (Grace And Frankie)

This Emmy® should have gone to Pamela Adlon – but Rachel Brosnahan was my second choice.

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry)
William H. Macy (Shameless)

YESYESYESYESYES!!!!!

*ahem* Bill Hader was a revelation in season one of Barry. Make that a REVELATION!!!

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series
Zazie Beetz (Atlanta)
Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live)
Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne)
Megan Mullally (Will And Grace)

Yup. No doubt about it.

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series
Louie Anderson (Baskets)
Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live)
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
Henry Winkler (Barry)

I’m not sure Henry Winkler gave a better performance than Louie Anderson or Tituss Burgess (the one consistently awesome thing about Kimmy Schmidt), but I have a feeling that besides being delightful as Gene in Barry, the academy was giving him an award to make up for all though misses over the years (and for a remarkable body of work).

I have no problem with that.

Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie
Jessica Biel (The Sinner)
Laura Dern (The Tale)
Michelle Dockery (Godless)
Edie Falco (The Menendez Murders)
Regina King (Seven Seconds)
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Cult)

No complaints here.

Outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie
Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso)
Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose)
Jeff Daniels (The Looming Tower)
John Legend (Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert)
Jesse Plemons (USS Callister: Black Mirror)

John Legend and Benedict Cumberbatch probably should tied for this.

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie
Sara Bareilles (Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert)
Penelope Cruz (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Judith Light (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Adina Porter (American Horror Story: Cult)
Merritt Wever (Godless)
Letitia Wright (Black Mirror (Black Museum)

Yes, ma’am! All the way!

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie
Jeff Daniels (Godless)
Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar)
John Leguizamo (Waco)
Finn Wittrock (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Ricky Martin (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Edgar Ramirez (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Michael Stuhlbarg (The Looming Tower)

Another category the academy got right.

Outstanding variety talk series
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Right, again!

Outstanding variety sketch series
At Home With Amy Sedaris (TruTV)
Drunk History (Comedy Central)
I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman (Hulu)
Portlandia (IFC)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Tracey Ullman’s Show (HBO)

At Home with Amy Sedaris was robbed!

Outstanding reality competition series
American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)

I don’t watch reality TV all that much (Trading Spaces, okay?), but RuPaul is just cool.

Good choice.

Outstanding directing in a drama series
Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Stephen Daldry (The Crown)
The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things)
Jeremy Podeswa (Game Of Thrones)
Daniel Sackheim (Ozark)
Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Alan Taylor (Game Of Thrones)

Nope.

Shoulda been Kari Skogland or Jeremy Podeswa.

Outstanding directing in a comedy series
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry)
Mike Judge (Silicon Valley)
Hiro Murai (Atlanta)
Jesse Peretz (GLOW)
Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

My personal choice would have been Bill Hader or Donald Glover (another coin toss situation), but considering the level of work in this category, I am not displeased with this selection.

Outstanding directing in a limited series or movie
Scott Frank (Godless)
David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski (Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert)
Barry Levinson (Paterno)
Edward Berger (Patrick Melrose)
Ryan Murphy (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
Craig Zisk (The Looming Tower)
David Lynch (Twin Peaks)

I have a soft spot in my heart for David Lynch and this season of Twin Peaks was so very Lynchian.

I might also have picked David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski  ahead of Ryan Murphy – but this was another really solid category so I can’t e disappointed by his win.

Outstanding writing in a drama series
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game Of Thrones)
The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things)
Bruce Miller (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Peter Morgan (The Crown)
Joe Fields and Joe Weisberg (The Americans)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve)

For a while, I thought this was going to be the academy’s token nod to The Americans. I’m glad I was wrong.

Outstanding writing in a comedy series
Alec Berg (Silicon Valley)
Alec Berg and Bill Hader (Barry)
Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Sefani Robinson (Atlanta)
Liz Sarnoff (Barry)
Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Tough, tough category. Absolutely no losers here.

Outstanding writing in a limited series or movie
Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus (American Vandal)
Scott Frank (Godless)
David Nicholls (Patrick Melrose)
Tob Rob Smith (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)
David Lynch and Mark Frost (Twin Peaks)
William Bridgers and Charlie Brooker (USS Callister (Black Mirror)

Yet another tough category – but only Charlie Brooker would have thought to shout out to Star Trek and The Twilight Zone for their influence on his work.

Works for me.