I didn’t watch the Emmys last night. Just don’t want to lie to you up front. I fell asleep about 8:30 and don’t have cable anymore. So, this whole list is based on my after-the-fact reading of the winners.
I also want to disclose upfront that I’m not necessarily a TV guy. Which I know is actually a flashpoint opinion right now given the current post-Emmy discourse, but film has always been my thing, TV an interesting way to tell stories more than my dominant mode of cinematic expression. If people would love to hear about it, I’d write more, but yeah, TV is always a side thing, a diversion to my main love of film. There’s some truly fantastic stuff, but I’ll never love my favorite shows quite as much as my favorite films. This also means this piece will mostly just be mentioning the stuff that I know about.
That being said, there’s still a hell of a lot of talent out there and a hell of a lot that deserves to be recognized, and the Emmys last night did a far better job of recognizing the real talent on display in the television industry than the Oscars have in some time.
First, let’s talk the big winner of the night: Game of Thrones. My feelings on the show and this season are very clear. So, I’m absolutely thrilled to see Season 6 recognized for the level of prowess and skill involved and (more happily than last year) am glad to see it take Best Drama, even if it’s mostly just because I’ve recently learned Mr. Robot is not fully my bag and I’m going to cop that I haven’t seen The Americans.
More exciting is that Miguel Sapochnik took home the Directing Award for “Battle of the Bastards.” His work on that was absolutely phenomenal, while I may ultimately prefer “The Winds of Winter,” and that final battle sequence was truly a sight to behold. This is the kind of directing I want to see rewarded, huge and ambitious and as telling of the scale as it is of the character.
The longest running “bridesmaid” of the Emmys has been Tatiana Maslany, a fantastic character actress and the star of Orphan Black, a sci-fi show about cloning that requires her to play roughly 11 different characters, playing about 5 as regular cast members. A difficult enough feat to pull off on a show that often demands seeing these people together. It’s doubly impressive that she distinguishes them so much not only through physicality, but through tiny character decisions that have play on that delicate line between clone and differentiated humanity. When a performance alone does 90% of the show’s work, that’s impressive. Even if Season 3 wasn’t Orphan Black‘s best, it still deserves to be recognized for what it has pulled off with her character season in and season out.
Comedy is also more and more indicative of the pulse of the comedy television industry as it’s shifting. Not only did basically the three most critically acclaimed shows take home the awards (Last Week Tonight, Key & Peele, and Veep), but the actors and writers who are legitimately shaping the landscape are bringing home trophies.
Like Kate McKinnon. Seriously, I could not be more happy that she was chosen for recognition. This is the first time a member of the actual SNL cast proper has won an award for their work on the show, and it couldn’t be more deserved. Not only does she functionally own the show at this point, but she’s done consistently enjoyable work at the front and back of sketches and that alone deserves to be recognized. Few recent era stars can support as well as McKinnon does. Of course, we still have to recognize this award is being given for her leading roles like Hillary Clinton or the bizarre Alien Abduction Lady. Still, few deserve it like she does.
Like Aziz Ansari. Master of None is a phenomenal show and “Parents” perhaps one of its most remarkable episodes. It’s a perspective we all too rarely see on TV, that of the first and second generation Asian immigrant, and even if the episode wasn’t so funny and heartwarming and true, that alone would deserve it some recognition.
Like Jill Soloway. Partially, I root for her to succeed ever since I found out she had a hand in The Oblongs, one of my favorite bits of adult animation ever made. But also because what she does on Transparent is simply great, giving the show a tactility and an impressive indie movie technicality that makes the show as inviting as it is.
In other words, TV isn’t my favorite, but it’s still pretty awesome. We’re lucky to live in a time that there’s so much to watch.