Almost a week later and I’m finally ready to talk about the Emmys. As much as I often roll my eyes at the Emmys, this year’s were pretty good. Most of the awards actually made sense and Andy Samberg seemed to really understand what was needed of him as a host. He was an excellent balance of being entertaining while also keeping the show moving along.
Part of the reason the show seemed to move along so quickly is that a large number of categories are announced at the Creative Arts Emmys eight days before the live ceremony. Notable wins there were guest actor and actress in a comedy, Bradley Whitford (Transparent) and Joan Cusack (Shameless), guest actor and actress in a drama, Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) and Margo Martindale (The Americans), and Bessie for Outstanding Television Movie. Inside Amy Schumer won outstanding original music and lyrics for “Girl You Don’t Need No Makeup”, Jane Lynch won Outstanding Reality Host for Hollywood Game Night, and Late Night for John Oliver won for Best Interactive Programming. I hope that Oliver and company have a better chance at the bigger awards next year now that the voters are going to start finding shows that aren’t The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to give them to.
There were a few rule changes this year. They’ve officially changed miniseries to limited series to as a more accurate description of things like American Horror Story or Fargo. There is also a line drawn in the sand that hour long shows are automatically entered in the drama categories while half-hour shows are in the comedy categories. The show can then petition the television academy to have their category changed. At first, this rule seemed like it made things more clear but ince Shameless and Jane the Virgin both successfully petitioned to still be comedies and there are a couple of half-hour shows that feel more like dramas than comedies, it seems like a rule that was entirely created to force Orange is the New Black to compete as a drama.
Overall, HBO was the most successful with Comedy Central also making a good showing. ABC and CBS were the only broadcast networks with any wins and all three were for actresses. Below are all of the winners with some commentary. All of the nominees in each category are listed and the winner is first in bold.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom (Episode: “Dropped Soap and a Big Buy on a Throne”) (CBS)
* Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (Episode: “The Prom Equivalency”) (CBS)
* Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on Modern Family (Episode: “Valentine’s Day 4: Twisted Sister”) (ABC)
* Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on Veep (Episode: “Convention”) (HBO)
* Gaby Hoffmann as Alexandria “Ali” Pfefferman on Transparent (Episode: “Rollin'”) (Amazon)
* Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Episode: “Kimmy Gets a Job!”) (Netflix)
* Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live (Episode: “Host: Taraji P. Henson”) (NBC)
* Niecy Nash as Denise “DiDi” Ortley on Getting On* (Episode: “The 7th Annual Christmas Card Competition”) (HBO)
This is Allison Janney’s seventh acting Emmy. She won both supporting and lead actress in a drama for The West Wing, guest actress in a drama for Masters of Sex, and previously won supporting actress in a comedy for Mom last year. The woman is a beast. She might be television’s version of Meryl Streep. I’m always happy when someone who isn’t from Modern Family wins a comedy acting award since they took so many of the nominations for so many years but I also would have loved a win for Gaby Hoffmann, Jane Krakowski, or Kate McKinnon. All three are certainly of Allison Janney’s caliber.
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
***Veep (Episode: “Election Night”), Written by Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche (HBO)**
Episodes (Episode: “Episode Nine”), Written by David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik (Showtime)
* The Last Man on Earth (Episode: “Alive in Tucson”), Written by Will Forte (Fox)
* Louie (Episode: “Bobby’s House”), Written by Louis C.K. (FX)
* Silicon Valley (Episode: “Two Days of the Condor”), Written by Alec Berg (HBO)
* Transparent* (Episode: “Pilot”), Written by Jill Soloway (Amazon)
Such a well-deserved win. Armando Iannucci already killed it in the UK with The Thick of It and then he gave the US the truly excellent Veep. This past season was his last one on Veep as he is returning to the UK so it’s wonderful for him and the other two writers of “Election Night” to get this recognition. Of the other four nominated shows, I’d love to see Silicon Valley or Transparent win next year if their next seasons are as good as their previous ones.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh on Veep (Episode: “East Wing”) (HBO)
* Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Episode: “The Mole”) (Fox)
* Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Episode: “Kimmy Goes to School!”) (Netflix)
* Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family (Episode: “Crying Out Loud”) (ABC)
* Adam Driver as Adam Sackler on Girls (Episode: “Close-Up”) (HBO)
* Keegan-Michael Key as Various Characters on Key & Peele*) (Episode: “Sex Detective”) (Comedy Central)
Forget being happy that someone from Modern Family didn’t win this one, I’m just glad that only one actor from the show was nominated in the category. They’ve often filled it up, allowing just one or two other actors to be acknowledged for their work. I would have loved to see Jordan Peele also be acknowledged for his work alongside Keegan-Michael Key but there’s still one more year for that so hopefully it will happen. Preferably in the Lead Actor in a Comedy category for both because how do the two guys whose names are in the title of the show end up submitting in the supporting category?
As for Tony Hale, he is consistently excellent on Veep so I’m perfectly happy with his win. I also would have appreciated a Tituss Burgess win but I’m just glad that they nominated the man who gave us “Peeno Noir”.
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
***Transparent (Episode: “Best New Girl), Directed by Jill Soloway (Amazon)**
The Last Man on Earth (Episode: “Alive in Tucson”), Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Fox)
* Louie (Episode: “Sleepover”), Directed by Louis C.K. (FX)
Silicon Valley (Episode: “Sand Hill Shuffle”), Directed by Mike Judge (HBO)
* Veep* (Episode: “Testimony”), Directed by Armando Iannucci
I’m a little fascinated by this category. Every single one of the nominated directors is a creator of his or her show. It kind of sneaked up on me that the prestige comedy is becoming an auteur’s genre, where one person has a significant amount of control over the final product. None of the other directors takes quite as much control as Louis C.K. does but all of nominees in this category are people I recognize as being most or all of the creative force behind their shows. Jill Soloway winning was so wonderful because Transparent is such a personal story for her that she told so well and she was able to point out that her own trans parent could very well be denied equal housing opportunities in 32 states. It was also significant that this was the category presented by the comedy guest actor winners (awarded at the Creative Arts Emmys on September 12th) because Bradley Whitford won for his roll on Transparent and was there to give her a giant hug.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Jeffrey Tambor as Morton “Maura” Pfefferman on Transparent (Episode: “The Letting Go”) (Amazon)
* Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson, Sr. on Black-ish (Episode: “Sex, Lies, and Vasectomies”) (ABC)
* Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan on House of Lies (Episode: “It’s a Box Inside a Box Inside a Box, Dipshit”) (Showtime)
* Louis C.K. as Louie on Louie (Episode: “Bobby’s House”) (FX)
* Will Forte as Phil “Tandy” Miller on The Last Man on Earth (Episode: “Alive in Tucson”) (Fox)
* Matt LeBlanc as Himself on Episodes (Episode: “Episode Five”) (Showtime)
* William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on Shameless* (Episode: “A Night to Remem… Wait, What?”) (Showtime)
Jeffrey Tambor! Besides beautifully acting the role of Maura Pfefferman, he clearly handled her with such care and love of what she represented. I’m not sure anyone else could have won this category this year.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer on Veep (Episode: “Election Night”) (HBO)
* Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie (Episode: “I Say a Little Prayer”) (Showtime)
* Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish on The Comeback (Episode: “Valerie Is Taken Seriously”) (HBO)
* Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation (Episode: “One Last Ride”) (NBC)
* Amy Schumer as Amy / Various Characters on Inside Amy Schumer (Episode: “Cool With It”) (Comedy Central)
* Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein on Grace and Frankie* (Episode: “The Vows”) (Netflix)
I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Veep, I really do, but this means that Amy Poehler never once one for Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation and that’s a damned shame. Just her ridiculous character work in the audience during this category tells you how truly funny Poehler is at everything she does.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race (CBS)
* Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
* Project Runway (Lifetime)
* So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
* Top Chef (Bravo)
* The Voice* (NBC)
Congratulations, The Voice, on your award for saving NBC. I assume that’s the main reason they’ve won. Maybe also for finally defeating American Idol.
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
American Crime (Episode: “Episode One”), Written by John Ridley (ABC)
* Bessie*, Written by Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, and Horton Foote (HBO)
Hello Ladies: The Movie*, Written by Stephen Merchant, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg (HBO)
The Honorable Woman*, Written by Hugo Blick (SundanceTV)
Olive Kitteridge*, Written by Jane Anderson (HBO)
Wolf Hall*, Written by Peter Straughan (PBS)
I actually don’t have much of an opinion about this because I have watched none of these things even though The Honorable Woman has been on my to-watch list since I first heard about it and I know I’ve heard that Olive Kitteridge was good. Seems like an acceptable win.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Limited Series or Movie
Regina King as Aliyah Shadeed on American Crime (Episode: “Episode Four”) (ABC)
* Angela Bassett as Desiree Dupree on American Horror Story: Freak Show (Episode: “Show Stoppers”) (FX)
* Kathy Bates as Ethel Darling on American Horror Story: Freak Show (Episode: “Edward Mordrake”, Part 1) (FX)
* Zoe Kazan as Denise Thibodeau on Olive Kitteridge (Episode: “Pharmacy”) (HBO)
* Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey on Bessie (HBO)
* Sarah Paulson as Bette and Dot on American Horror Story: Freak Show* (Episode: “Tupperware Party Massacre”) (FX)
At least I’ve watched American Horror Story: Freak Show? I’m fine with it not getting all the awards even though the acting is usually one of the more redeemable things about it. I loved Regina King on Southland, though, so her winning an award still makes me very happy.
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
***Olive Kitteridge, Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (HBO)**
American Horror Story: Freak Show (Episode: “Monsters Among Us”) (FX)
* Bessie*, Directed by Dee Rees (HBO)
The Honorable Woman*, Directed by Hugo Blick (SundanceTV)
Houdini*, Directed by Uli Edel (History)
The Missing*, Directed by Tom Shankland (Starz)
Wolf Hall*, Directed by Peter Kosminsky (PBS)
I guess the Emmy voters really liked Olive Kitteridge. Like I said, I heard it was good.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In a Limited Series or Movie
Bill Murray as Jack Kennison on Olive Kitteridge (Episode: “Security”) (HBO)
* Richard Cabral as Hector Tonz on American Crime (Episode: “Episode Ten”) (ABC)
* Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England on Wolf Hall (Episode: “Crows”) (PBS)
* Denis O’Hare as Stanley on American Horror Story: Freak Show (Episode: “Pink Cupcakes”) (FX)
* Michael K. Williams as Jack Gee on Bessie (HBO)
* Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott on American Horror Story: Freak Show* (Episode: “Bullseye”) (FX)
I really loved the over-the-top scene chewing of Finn Wittrock on AHS: Freak Show and Michael K. Williams deserves all of the awards for everything as far as I’m concerned but Bill Murray is Bill fucking Murray and if Olive Kitteridge is going to be the thing the Emmy voters decided to well and truly latch onto this year, I can’t say that I’m going to be upset over that. They’ve certainly done worst in the past.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Frances McDormand as Olive Kitteridge on Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
* Maggie Gyllenhaal as Nessa Stein on The Honorable Woman (SundanceTV)
* Felicity Huffman as Barbara “Barb” Hanlon on American Crime (ABC)
* Jessica Lange as Elsa Mars on American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)
* Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith on Bessie (HBO)
* Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lovett on Live from Lincoln Center – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert with the New York Philharmonic* (PBS)
If you’re going to heap awards onto Olive Kitteridge, you’d better give one to Olive Kitteridge herself. Frances McDormand’s speech was delightfully short and to the point which I’m sure the director appreciated.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Richard Jenkins as Henry Kitteridge on Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
* Adrien Brody as Harry Houdini on Houdini (History)
* Ricky Gervais as Derek Noakes on Derek: The Special (Netflix)
* Timothy Hutton as Russ Skokie on American Crime (ABC)
* David Oyelowo as Peter Snowden on Nightingale (HBO)
* Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell on Wolf Hall* (PBS)
Note to self: get more familiar with the Limited Series and Movie categories next year so you actually have some idea what’s happening when one thing keeps winning over and over again. Contratulations to Richard Jenkins and everyone from Olive Kitteridge for winning most of the awards you were nominated for.
Outstanding Limited Series
***Olive Kitteridge (HBO)**
American Crime (ABC)
* American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)
* The Honorable Woman (SundanceTV)
* Wolf Hall* (PBS)
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
***The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)**
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
* Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
* Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
* Last Week Tonight with John Oliver* (HBO)
I would have been happier with any of the other nominees in this category winning, especially the writers from Inside Amy Schumer or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver but I still can’t be upset for giving the writers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one last Emmy before the changing of the guard. All of these shows are excellent and this category proves that Comedy Central really has become one of the better networks for supporting comedic talent.
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
***Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)**
Drunk History (Comedy Central)
* Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
* Portlandia (IFC)
* Saturday Night Live* (NBC)
Dividing Variety Sketch and Variety Talk into two categories for at least this award was the best thing to happen. Giving Amy Schumer’s show recognition without throwing up against the final seasons of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report was the best possible thing. Schumer and her entire team have totally found the voice of the show and it’s as close to perfect as a sketch show can be.
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
***The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Episode: “Episode 20103”), Directed by Chuck O’Neil (Comedy Central)**
The Colbert Report (Episode: “Episode 11040”), Directed by James Hoskinson (Comedy Central)
* Inside Amy Schumer (Episode: “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”), Directed by Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul (Comedy Central)
* Late Show with David Letterman (Episode: “Show 4212”), Directed by Jerry Foley (CBS)
* The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon* (Episode: “Show 203”), Directed by Dave Diomedi (NBC)
And this is why I was glad that last category now exists. Have you guys seen “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”? It was so good and so unexpected and I just want to give it all of the awards. I love The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, though, and I know it took a whole team to put it together for years so I’m sure Chuck O’Neil absolutely deserved this award. Would have been nice to see The Colbert Report‘s ever-present Jimmy (James Hoskinson) win, though, too.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
***The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)**
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
* Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
* Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
* Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
* The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon* (NBC)
I completely understand giving yet another “one last award” to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but considering its previous number of wins, I would have rather seen The Colbert Report get it again or the truly deserving Last Week Tonight with John Oliver win for the first time. Here’s hoping that in a decade or so I’m saying “Sure, Last Week Tonight continues to be one of the best things on TV but shouldn’t some other show win an Emmy already?”
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The Americans (Episode: “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”), Written by Joshua Brand (FX)
* Better Call Saul (Episoe: “Five-O”), Written by Gordon Smith (AMC)
* Game of Thrones (Episode: “Mother’s Mercy”), Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss (HBO)
* Mad Men (Episode: “Lost Horizon”), Written by Matthew Weiner & Semi Chellas (AMC)
* Mad Men* (Episode: “Person to Person”), Written by Matthew Weiner (AMC)
There are still many great things about Game of Thrones but the continued addition of sexual assault in the show that’s even worse than what appeared in the book by showrunners Benioff and Weiss is troubling and I would have rather seen any of the other winners in this category take the award. All of these were excellently written shows, though, so it was an all-around great category.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange is the New Black (Episode: “Hugs Can Be Deceiving”) (Netflix)
* Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife (Episode: “Loser Edit”) (CBS)
* Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones (Episode: “The Dance of Dragons”) (HBO)
* Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates on Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode Eight”) (PBS)
* Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: “Mother’s Mercy”) (HBO)
* Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on Mad Men* (Episode: “Lost Horizon”) (AMC)
So glad that Uzo Aduba won this after completely switching categories from guest actress in a comedy to supporting actress in a drama. In another actress’s hands, Suzanne could have come across as an over-the-top caricature but Aduba brings such a nuance to the character that is fascinating to watch.
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (Episode: “Eldorado”), Directed by Tim Van Patten (HBO)
* Game of Thrones (Episode: “Mother’s Mercy”), Directed by David Nutter (HBO)
* Game of Thrones (Episode: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken), Directed by Jeremy Podeswa (HBO)
* Homeland (Episode: “From A to B and Back Again”), Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter (Showtime)
* The Knick* (Episode: “Method and Madness”), Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Cinemax)
Even though I have problems with some of the writing of Game of Thrones, I do think it’s still a beautiful show to watch. Nutter’s recognition of how important Lena Heady was to the episode he won for was such a great thing to include in his speech. I love the underappreciated The Knick and was a little surprised Steven Soderbergh didn’t win just for being Steven Soderbergh (and for bringing some excellent direction to his show) but Nutter also made a great episode of television.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: “Hardhome”) (HBO)
* Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut on Better Call Saul (Episode: “Five-O”) (AMC)
* Jim Carter as Charles Carson on Downton Abbey (Episode: “A Moorland Holiday”) (PBS)
* Alan Cumming as Eli Gold on The Good Wife (Episode: “Undisclosed Recipients”) (CBS)
* Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper on House of Cards (Episode: “Chapter 27”) (Netflix)
* Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn on Bloodline* (Episode: “Part 12”) (Netflix)
Peter Dinklage is just as surprised as I am that he won this year. I love him but I really wish Jonathan Banks or Ben Mendelsohn had won. Both gave such wonderful, deep performances.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode: “Person to Person”) (AMC)
* Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn on Bloodline (Episode: “Part 12”) (Netflix)
* Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy on The Newsroom (Episode: “What Kind of Day Has It Been”) (HBO)
* Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill on Better Call Saul (Episode: “Pimento”) (AMC)
* Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan on Ray Donovan (Episode: “Walk This Way”) (Showtime)
* Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood on House of Cards* (Episode: “Chapter 32”) (Netflix)
Since I didn’t watch the Emmys until the day after they aired, I already knew that Jon Hamm had won his long-overdue Emmy for Don Draper so when I realized that Tina Fey was the one who got to award him with it, I was so very happy. He deserved it sooner and he finally won it in one of the weaker fields for the category but it still worked out pretty perfectly in the end, the fall up to the stage and everything.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder (Episode: “Freakin’ Whack-a-Mole”) (ABC)
* Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland (Episode: “From A to B and Back Again”) (Showtime)
* Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on Empire (Episode: “Pilot”) (Fox)
* Tatiana Maslany as Various Characters on Orphan Black (Episode: “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”) (BBC America)
* Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson on Mad Men (Episode: “Person to Person”) (AMC)
* Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood on House of Cards* (Episode: “Chapter 32) (Netflix)
Oh, Viola Davis. Your speech was perfection. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” She wasn’t on the best show of the nominated actresses but she was certainly the best part of the show she was on. It already seemed like a miracle that Tatiana Maslany was nominated and, like Hamm, Elisabeth Moss should have already won at least once for Peggy Olson. While I was pulling for Moss, it’s hard to not notice that she was nominated for a show that didn’t give women of color nearly enough opportunities, a thing that became more ridiculous the further into the 1960s Mad Men got. That was beyond Moss’s control, of course, but Davis used the stage she was given to be gracious while making a very important statement.
Outstanding Comedy Series
* Modern Family (ABC)
* Parks and Recreation (NBC)
* Silicon Valley (HBO)
* Transparent (Amazon)
* Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt* (Netflix)
Much like Olive Kitteridge, this winner became pretty predictable during the previous comedy awards in the evening. Fortunately, it’s well deserved.
Outstanding Drama Series
***Game of Thrones (HBO)**
Better Call Saul (AMC)
* Downton Abbey (PBS)
* Homeland (Showtime)
* House of Cards (Netflix)
* Mad Men (AMC)
* Orange is the New Black* (Netflix)
I almost couldn’t pay attention to the winner of this category because Tracy Morgan was there and I was already emotional from the In Memoriam reel and Jon Hamm getting his award from Tina Fey. It was just so wonderful to see how much he has recovered. That said, congratulations, Game of Thrones. You’re still a pretty good show and I hope you remain so now that you only have George R.R. Martin’s outlines to go by and not the actual published material.