The 2014 Emmys: Improved Presentation, Same Old Confusion!


If there’s anything more confusing than a list of Emmy® winners, I’m not sure I know what it is. Even after some horrendous snubs (not just Tatiana Maslany…), there were still a lot of worthy nominees this year. The problem is that deserved wins by the consistently excellent Breaking Bad (for example) were cheapened by repeat wins by shows that were not as good as other nominees in their class (Modern Family, for example).

For every win for something new and amazing (Fargo), there was a win that made no sense at all (Kathy Bates over Allison Tolman? WTF?). And how does Louis C.K. win for comedy writing and lose comedy series to Modern Family, Academy? You just said that Louie had the best (ie: funniest) comedy writing!

Anyway, follow the jump for a complete list of Emmy winners and, quite possibly, a wee bit of commentary.

Drama Series
Breaking Bad — WINNER
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

Virtually any of these series except Downton Abbey, which had a less than excellent season, could have won here and it wouldn’t have been that big a surprise. Despite its excellence, I wouldn’t have minded if Breaking Bad had lost to True Detective, but it was a coin toss situation there (with Game of Thrones and Mad Men maybe a silly millimetre behind).

Comedy Series
Modern Family — WINNER

The Big Bang Theory
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Outside of OITNB, which is NOT a comedy, any of the other nominees could have won and this category would have been an improvement. But again, Louie had the best writing but Modern Family won the series? That, to quote Theodore Logan and William S. Preston Esquire, is just bogus.

Lead Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad — WINNER
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

I would have loved to see Matthew McConaughey win here for his complex and demanding character Rust Cohle, in True Detective, but have no problem with Cranston winning – he’s been nothing less than superb over the entire run of Breaking Bad.

Lead Actress in a Drama
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife — WINNER
Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Margulies’ only real competition here was Robin Wright… or maybe Lizzy Caplan. Still, the Emmys crowned the second best performance by a Lead Actress in a Drama. Virtually everyone in the world knows that Tatiana Maslany’s work in Orphan Black cannot be topped. Still, it was nice to see a broadcast network nab a major Emmy.

Writing for a Drama Series
Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias,” Moira Walley-Beckett (writer) — WINNER
Breaking Bad, “Felina,” Vince Gilligan (writer)
Game of Thrones, “The Children,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (writers)
House of Cards, “Chapter 14,” Beau Willimon (writer)
True Detective, “The Secret Fate of All of Life,” Nic Pizzolatto (writer)

Supporting Actress in a Drama
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad — WINNER
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Directing for a Drama Series
True Detective,“Who Goes There,” Cary Joji Fukunaga (director) — WINNER

Boardwalk Empire, “Farewell Daddy Blues,” Tim Van Patten (director)
Breaking Bad, “Felina,” Vince Gilligan (director)
Downton Abbey, “Episode 1,” David Evans (director)
Game of Thrones, “The Watchers on the Wall,” Neil Marshall (director)
House of Cards, “Chapter 14,” Carl Franklin (director)

The best choice actually won here – though I still can’t comprehend how Rian Johnson wasn’t even nominated for Ozymadias, the Breaking Bad ep that nabbed Best Writing in a Drama.

Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad — WINNER
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

This was a coin toss between Paul and Peter Dinklage.

Variety Series
The Colbert Report — WINNER
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

It’s probably for the best that Bill Maher didn’t win. He’d have lost a couple weeks worth of good material if he had.

Directing for a Variety Special
67th Annual Tony Awards, Glenn Weiss (director) — WINNER
The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, Gregg Gelfand (director)
The Kennedy Center Honors, Louis J. Horvitz (director)
The Oscars, Hamish Hamilton (director)
Six By Sondheim, James Lapine (director)
The Sound of Music Live!, Beth McCarthy Miller (director); Rob Ashford (theatrical direction)

I only saw four of these and preferred Six By Sondheim, but the 67th Annual Tony Awards was a very good awards show. (The Emmys might win this next year. Seth Myers was great and there was no annoying filler.)

Writing for a Variety Special
Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles, Sarah Silverman (writer) — WINNER

The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, Ken Ehrlich and David Wild (writers)
Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays, Billy Crystal (writer)
The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, Barry Adelman (writer), special material by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jon Macks, Dave Boone, Alex Baze, Robert Carlock, Sam Means, Seth Meyers, Mike Shoemaker
67th Annual Tony Awards, Dave Boone (writer); special material by Paul Greenberg

One of my favorite wins of the night – totally deserved and totally unexpected.

TV Movie
The Normal Heart — WINNER
Killing Kennedy
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
Sherlock: His Last Vow
The Trip to Bountiful

Did anyone not see this coming? Not that that made it any less deserving…

Fargo — WINNER

American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde

The White Queen

One of the best television productions in any category. (I’m not seeing that because you could see my home in one shot…)

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven — WINNER
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon

I thought Cicely Tyson would win this, but was hoping Lange would repeat here for the best season of American Horror Story so far.

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock — WINNER
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Idris Elba, Luther
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

As a serious Sherlock Holmes fan, I found this upset to be very cool – but Mark Ruffalo or Billy Bob Thornton should have taken home the hardware.

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Fargo, “Buridan’s Ass,” Colin Bucksey (director) — WINNER

American Horror Story: Coven, “Bitchcraft,” Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (director)
Fargo, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma,” Adam Bernstein (director)
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Stephen Frears (director)
The Normal Heart, Ryan Murphy (director)
Sherlock: His Last Vow, Nick Hurran (director)

This has to qualify as an upset – The Normal Heart was expected to win. The Academy definitely picked the best hour, though.

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Martin Freeman, Sherlock — WINNER
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart

I’m guessing all those nominees from The Normal Heart split the vote to allow Martin Freeman the win. I would have liked to see Colin Hanks win. His Gus Grimly was a masterclass in dramatic (and comedic) understatement.

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven — WINNER
Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart

Allison Tolman was robbed. Period. Full stop.

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Sherlock: His Last Vow, Steven Moffat (writer) — WINNER
American Horror Story: Coven, “Bitchcraft,” Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (writers)
Fargo, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma,” Noah Hawley (writer)
Luther, Neil Cross (writer)
The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer (screenplay)
Treme, “… To Miss New Orleans,”David Simon and Eric Overmyer (writers)

Another upset, but His Last Vow was probably the best ep of the Sherlock series to date.

Reality Competition
The Amazing Race — WINNER
Dancing With the Stars
So You Think You Can Dance
Project Runway
Top Chef
The Voice

I don’t do reality TV, so I have no opinion here.

Lead Actress in a Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep — WINNER
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black

JD for the much deserved win! And repeat after me: Nurse Jackie and OITNB are not comedies. Sorry.

Lead Actor in a Comedy
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory — WINNER
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless

Not a terrible choice, but not a great one in a season where William H. Macy and Louis C.K. were really cooking (though Shameless isn’t really a comedy, either…) – and Ricky Gervais made such a dramatic change, exhibiting some hitherto rarely seen range.

Directing for a Comedy Series
Modern Family, “Vegas,” Gail Mancuso (director) — WINNER
Episodes, “Episode 309,” Iain B. MacDonald (director)
Glee, “100,” Paris Barclay (director)
Louie, “Elevator, Part 6,” Louis C.K. (director)
Orange Is the New Black, “Lesbian Request Denied,” Jodie Foster (director)
Silicon Valley, “Minimum Viable Product,” Mike Judge (director)

None of these episodes came near to equalling Louie’s fine ‘So Did The Fat Lady’ episode.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Allison Janney, Mom — WINNER
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

In my world, Anna Chlumsky won this to thunderous applause. No one else was even close.

Writing for a Comedy Series
Louie, “So Did The Fat Lady,” Louis C.K. (writer) — WINNER
Episodes, “Episode 305,” David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik (writers)
Orange Is The New Black, “I Wasn’t Ready (Pilot),” Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan (writers)
Silicon Valley, “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency,” Alec Berg (writer)
Veep, “Special Relationship,” Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche (story and teleplay), Armando Iannucci (story)

Bingo. The Academy got this one bang on.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Ty Burrell, Modern Family — WINNER
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Tony Hale, Veep

No. Andre Braugher was funnier and more consistently excellent as B99’s straight man than Burrell was as a comedic character. Only Tony Hale even came close.

Closing thought: Seth Myers kicked much @$$ as host and brought the show in under the three hour mark by two minutes. The only ‘filler’ was an inspired Andy Samberg/Weird Al medley of theme songs with lyrics explaining the series’ concepts (Game of Thrones? Nailed it!).

The only major flaw in the presentation was letting too many minor award winners talk so long that major winners were played off way too soon later in the show.

Tatiana Maslany for Lead Actress in a Drama in 2015!