“What in the eff just happened?”
The above sentence was widely used among those watching last Sunday’s Emmy awards on CBS, and for good reason. From the moment Merritt Weaver unexpectedly won an award many had pegged to go to an actor from Modern Family, and then Veep star Tony Hale scooped the second surprise of the night, it was clear that something was different at this year’s ceremony. And as the night continued, it became abundantly clear that the gloves were off. The expected winners were left out in the cold. Everyone’s Emmy predictions were tossed into the paper bin to burn to cinders. But did it result in the strongest Emmys ceremony in years? It should have, but it didn’t.
In this post, I’m going to provide some brief thoughts on several of the Emmy winners, who I think was robbed, who I think deserved every molecule of the award they received, and what cosmic imbalance could possibly have led to Jeff Daniels inexplicably winning Lead Actor against terrifyingly great odds. (Hint: I have no idea.)
Please feel free to share your own thoughts on this year’s ceremony in the comment box below and share your own theories on what celestial event resulted in Daniels’ win. The one with the most outrageous theory wins.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
THE WINNER: JEFF DANIELS, THE NEWSROOM
MY PREDICTION: DAMIAN LEWIS, HOMELAND
From the moment I first saw the nominees in the Lead Actor category back in July, I immediately cast my prediction that either Bryan Cranston, Damian Lewis, or Kevin Spacey would take home the award. The former two had previous Emmy love aiding their efforts, while the latter was surrounded by the movie-star-acting-in-a-TV-show buzz that could’ve pushed him towards victory. I never suspected, even for five seconds, that anybody else would have the potential to push them all aside to scoop the award.
But then Sunday night arrived and suddenly Jeff Daniels’ name was announced the audience and…what? The collective disbelief of everybody watching at home with their own set of predictions should’ve been powerful enough to raise the roof of the Nokia Theater, because Daniels’ win was so unexpected, so ostensibly outside of the realm of possibility, that even two days later I’m still struggling to comprehend how it managed to happen. Alas, the roof remained in place and Daniels went home with his award, but this was absolutely the biggest surprise of the night in regards to the main categories.
I wouldn’t want anybody reading this to mistake my disbelief at Daniels winning as a sign that I dislike him as an actor. That is not true. The Newsroom has its faults, perhaps more so in season one than two (the former of which Daniels won for), but he is a strong actor even when working with lacklustre material. The paroxysm that I unleashed on Twitter when he was crowned victor was simply because compared to Cranston and Lewis, and even Jon Hamm (who all submitted excellent episodes that were easily a million times stronger than Daniels’), I don’t consider him as deserving a winner. It boggles my mind that the Emmy voters were given all the submission tapes to watch and found Daniels the most deserving winner of them all. But it wouldn’t be the Emmys if there wasn’t an upset to be had in the major categories, I suppose.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
WINNER: CLAIRE DANES, HOMELAND
MY PREDICTION: CLAIRE DANES, HOMELAND
Things were going in a crazy direction before the Lead Actress category came to be announced. Modern Family wasn’t winning everything like it always does. Maggie Smith had been usurped from the Supporting Actress category for the first time in what seems like a decade. Laura Linney trampled all over Jessica Lange and Elisabeth Moss to win the Supporting Actress in a Miniseries category. But that unpredictability couldn’t last forever, and so Claire Danes took home the award nobody expected her not to win.
First and foremost, I will say that Danes deserved to win that Emmy. “Q&A” was an outstanding episode in a season of unevenness that featured powerhouse performances from both of Homeland’s two lead stars. Danes’ work in said episode was phenomenal and despite wanting the Emmy to be won by someone else, I absolutely do not defy her right to have won it.
That being said, however, I feel that Kerry Washington was robbed this year. Scandal’s lead star, and, in my personal opinion, one of television’s strongest actresses at the moment, should’ve won the category. Few people expected her to–myself included–but once it became clear expectations were being defied on Sunday night, I was lulled into believing she may just do it. But she didn’t, and that makes me indescribably sad.
Despite my sadness for Washington’s failure to win this year, I sincerely hope she can come back next year, with a stronger episode submission, and take away Danes’ crown. The thought of Scandal continuing for many more years, possibly ending, and Washington never being given an Emmy fills me with an overwhelming sense of dread. She’s too good to not ever win. Please make it happen, Emmys.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
WINNER: BOBBY CANNAVALE, BOARDWALK EMPIRE
MY PREDICTION: AARON PAUL, BREAKING BAD
There are usually several things you can count on when it comes to the Emmys: Downton Abbey receiving nominations by the load yet winning in very few of them; Maggie Smith winning another award to add to a collection that must surely be approaching the size of Fort Knox at this stage; and Aaron Paul taking to the stage to collect his gazillionth award that he deserves every inch of. But things didn’t happen the way they were supposed to this year. Maggie Smith didn’t win her award (yay), and Aaron Paul didn’t win his (BOO). The tides were certainly changed, but in this case, it wasn’t for the better.
Paul’s failure to secure this year’s Emmy award upsets me. It upsets me because even though he has enough of them to smelt down and mould into his own iron throne of Emmys, this year was still his for the taking. He had strong competition in the rest of the category, but none strong enough to give him much in the way of trouble. Or that’s what I thought.
What actually transpired was Bobby Cannavale, of Boardwalk Empire fame, swooping in and snatching it out of his hands. I don’t watch the show so I’m unfamiliar with Cannavale’s acting, but I can only attribute his success to one of two things: he was actually stronger than the rest of the nominees, or that the Emmy voters have decided to stop giving the Bryan Cranstons and the Aaron Pauls awards because they figure they have enough of them already and it’d be good to let someone else have a turn. Either way, Paul’s lack of success this year certainly didn’t go unnoticed by me, and I hope he can return for the final time next year and gain one final bit of recognition for the unrivalled brilliance he continues to portray on Breaking Bad.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
WINNER: ANNA GUNN, BREAKING BAD
MY PREDICTION: MAGGIE SMITH, DOWNTON ABBEY
There’s only one way to sum up the reaction on my Twitter timeline to Anna Gunn’s unexpected Emmys victory last Sunday and it’s one of overwhelming joy. Joy because it was Gunn’s first Emmy win, she was the most deserving nominee out of the batch, and because she finally managed to break the pattern of Maggie Smith winning every year and never deserving it. This was her year, and the fact she beat the odds to make the most of it was nothing short of a momentous occasion.
There’s little I can say about Gunn’s win other than I am utterly thrilled for her. Her work in last year’s batch of Breaking Bad was consistently brilliant, demonstrating for everyone to see just how incredible an actress she is. Her work was so brilliant that I’ve been championing her for this very award for the last twelve months despite never actually believing she could break the Maggie Smith spell. To see her defy my expectations was one of my favorite moments from an otherwise drab ceremony.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
WINNER: LAURA LINNEY, THE BIG C
PREDICTION: JESSICA LANGE, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM
Just what ritualistic sacrifice involving dismembered goats and the blood of a thousand Emmy voters does Elisabeth Moss need to perform in order to finally win an Emmy? Because it seems like whatever she does, no matter how good she does it, is never enough. I’ve already gotten myself accustomed to the fact that nobody from Mad Men is likely to win an acting award before the show concludes in 2015, as sad as that may be, but this was her category to win this year. Anybody that watched Top of the Lake could see her incredible work and why that Emmy should’ve had her name all over it. Unless you’re an actual Emmy voter, that is, in which case there could be a cat nominated alongside her and it would still beat her.
Failing a win for Moss, I was hoping for American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange to scoop the award after a terrific second season. In fact, after winning the last two years, I was expecting nobody else to take victory in this category. But this was the year in which the Emmys decided to not be predictable and the award went elsewhere, to somebody whom I am not familiar with yet have heard good things about. But the fact that Moss couldn’t even emerge victorious with material as phenomenal as that she submitted greatly disappoints me.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
WINNER: ELLEN BURSTYN, POLITICAL ANIMALS
MY PREDICTION: SARAH PAULSON, AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM
I love Political Animals. I really wish it were returning for a second season but it’s not, and so I’m glad it managed to receive some recognition for the very short time it was on the air. But that recognition comes at the expense of Sarah Paulson missing out on her first shot at an Emmy, and that is NOT acceptable. Now or ever.
To put it as plainly as possible, this was one of the biggest instances of an actor being robbed of the award they so rightly deserved in the whole evening. Paulson’s work in American Horror Story’s second season was divine, amongst the finest of anybody in the entire season, and most certainly award-worthy. The fact that the award instead went to somebody as talented as Ellen Burstyn, but whose character was mostly superfluous, almost makes me angry. Because in my eyes, there’s really no way somebody could watch both of the submission tapes and possibly deem Burstyn more deserving. No way.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
WINNER: BREAKING BAD
MY PREDICTION: HOUSE OF CARDS
As the Emmys went on, every instinct was telling me that despite House of Cards not winning the majority of the major categories, it was going to pull an upset and win Best Drama. I didn’t want it to happen, but I envisioned it nonetheless. So you can imagine my surprise when out of nowhere, Breaking Bad won for the first time. And it was magnificent.
It obviously goes without saying that Breaking Bad’s win fills me with utter joy. Last year’s batch of episodes were terrific from beginning to end, and it deserved nothing more than to have that recognised, finally. There’s little doubt in my mind that the concluding half of the show’s final season, that’s currently on the air, and the buzz surrounding it contributed to the show’s success on Sunday evening, but it bothers me not. It boggles my mind that it hasn’t won the category at least once in the many times it’s been nominated. But even though I’m filled with sadness at the thought of it leaving our screens this weekend, I’m glad it’s going out on a huge high.