And so it goes: The 2012 Emmy awards ceremony is now complete, which means it’s time for us to dissect and criticize each and every choice.
Why wait? Here we go:
Comedy Series - Modern Family (above)
The Emmys’ raging but super-tolerant boner for Modern Family continues unabated, taking the crown over The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, 30 Rock and Veep.
Modern Family is about one big family made up of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, orientations, what-have-you. Really, if you haven’t seen Modern Family or at least watched enough episode previews to not know what’s going on there, you probably don’t own a TV.
No word if Larry David sighed heavily upon the announcement, but we can dream.
Comedy Actor – Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men
We love a surprise, but not like this, Emmys: Jon Cryer wins for his turn on Two And A Half Men. Jim Parsons already had his, Larry David and Don Cheadle never had a prayer (Curb and House of Lies, respectively), but Cryer over Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), or god forbid, Louie CK (Louie)?
Of course, the logic behind not giving Louie the Emmy is that we’d run the risk of making him too happy.
Comedy Actress – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
There we go, guys. This is more like it. PS, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still hot. She look fifty-one to you? Answer: no. She don’t. She fine. She won as Selina Meyer in Veep, and did a painfully adorable “speech mixup” joke with Amy Poehler. Seriously, it was cute.
As the Vice President Selina Meyer, Louis-Dreyfus plays the shrewd but vastly ineffective politician to perfection. The second-most powerful person in the world, and yet completely unable to wield any power whatsoever, she brings that frustration to hilarious conclusions.
The show’s cynical bent definitely plays well with her Seinfeld experience – which, if you watch in HD, you would think she might’ve been aging backwards. It’s ridiculous.
Poehler was also nominated, along Lena Dunham (Girls), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie – still a thing, I guess?), and the obligatory Tina Fey nomination (30 Rock).
Supporting Comedy Actor - Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Ugh. Four Modern Family nominations in this category. Four. Eric Stonestreet was the one that got it, with Max Greenfield (New Girl) and Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) coming home empty.
To be fair, Stonestreet is a wonderful comedic actor for Modern Family, playing the loveable Cameron, who so frequently toes the line between masculine and effeminate.
However, let’s take a look at those who weren’t even nominated: Neil Patrick Harris, every dude in Happy Endings, Community, Cougar Town, Veep and Parks and Rec. No nominations for the men in those shows. Nothing for Ron Swanson? Four for Modern Family?
Supporting Comedy Actress – Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Julie Bowen continues the obvious trend of Modern Family’s dominance over the Emmys. While no one’s really thinks Bowen was anything but fantastic in her turn as everymom Claire Dunphy, the pre-determined feel of the award kind of takes the wind out of our sails.
Sofia Vergara was also nominated for Modern Family, but she’ll just have to settle for being crowned sexiest actress of the year by everyone ever.
Again, no nominations for the amazing supporting cast of Parks and Rec, Community… okay, I’m done for now. (More on that later.)
Drama Series - Homeland
Now we’re getting somewhere. Every critic’s calling it an upset, but really, all you have to do is look at the Golden Globes. Homeland cleaned up there, and they win again, beating out Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones.
Homeland follows an unstable CIA analyst (Claire Danes) who believes without a doubt that an American soldier has been turned by al-Qaeda, right as Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is rescued after a number of years in captivity. A cat-and-mouse game ensues as Danes breaks just about every law and procedure imaginable to delve into Lewis’ private life.
Written by two veterans of Kiefer Sutherland vehicle 24, the plotting definitely takes a breakneck pace, but you can easily tell they enjoy not being tied to a single day’s worth of intrigue. The timeline shifts back and forth to whatever point in the story is the most riveting.
There’s also a strong privacy theme at play here as well. Many of the corners cut to get “actionable intelligence” blow up in our leads’ faces, as well as showing that sometimes, good old fashioned human intelligence can ultimately be what saves the day.
Thoughtful, intense, and a slow but powerful burn, Homeland deserves every award it gets.
Drama Actress - Claire Danes, Homeland
Claire Danes takes it home as ridiculously insane Carrie Mathison in Homeland. Mad Men made a push for Elisabeth Moss and Danes had to beat out Glenn Close (Damages) and Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) to bring it home.
Danes’ portrayal of a nearly-unchecked raging bipolar disorder wowed the public and critics alike, in a series that’s set to become the best political drama in years. Bringing a character to life that is reckless, unstable and largely unlikeable, she still gets us to root for her as she unravels the intricate levels of secrecy both within her government and from external terrorist organizations in ways that only she can.
Anyone who’s still a fan of House should pay attention, because this is how it’s supposed to be done. Carrie Mathison is our American Sherlock Holmes.
Anyone who thought Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law) had a chance in hell should probably never bet money on the Emmys. You, my friend, are a true gambler.
Drama Actor – Damian Lewis, Homeland
What had once been the annual “Bryan Cranston Is Awesome” award switched to giving it to the Brit Damian Lewis for his turn as Nicholas Brody on Homeland. Jon Hamm got his usual nomination (Mad Men, along with Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey).
If Lewis looks familiar to you, it’s because he’s been on TV for quite some time. Before Homeland, he was the lead on NBC’s underrated Life, and, in what you probably will remember him from, he played Major Dick Winters on the fantastic Band of Brothers HBO miniseries.
In Homeland, Lewis plays Sgt. Nicholas Brody, who absolutely defines the term “ambiguous.” Despite never quite knowing what he’s doing, why, and whether he’s a genuinely good guy or a terrorist, we just can’t help but want the best for him, and simultaneously want to see him taken down. Or not. We don’t know!
Lewis was also in Dreamcatcher, but we don’t need to remember that.
Supporting Drama Actor – Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad gets his second Emmy. Playing Jesse Pinkman, the sidekick to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Paul shows the struggle between right and wrong that Cranston’s White has internally justified in his head long, long ago.
Peter Dinklage’s nomination in this category seemed odd to people after being bumped up to first billing on Game of Thrones, but look at the field. He had a better shot here, but Paul gets the yearly Breaking Bad love, and not undeservedly so. After Season Three’s gutwrenching finish, he hasn’t dropped off the Emmy radar since.
Look for Game of Thrones to start cleaning these up after Breaking Bad ends its series run.
And now, some stuff I want to get into:
Guest Actor in a Drama Series – Jeremy Davies, Justified
It’s the only acting nomination for Justified and Jeremy Davies is more than deserving of his win. He’s had great roles for years and years, including an extended role in Lost that many view as the reason why the show didn’t go completely off the rails in its second half. However, none role quite showed off what makes him so special as well as his playing the crippled (but still raging jackass) Dickie Bennett in Justified. In the second and third seasons of the show, he was excellent as the element of chaos in between towering drug kingpins and law enforcement.
Justified‘s third season was by no means its strongest — and probably didn’t have a prayer of reaching the southern gothic heights of second season — but look for it to go for broke next season. Justified comes back in January 2013.
Writing For A Comedy Series – Louis CK, Louie
Louis CK grabs this one for Louie. Perfect. For obvious reasons (he’s writing for himself), this show has a grasp on its lead character like no other. Louis CK takes Tina Fey’s undignified Liz Lemon for 30 Rock and jumps off the cliff.
Louie is a series on FX in which Louis CK stars, writes, directs and edits each and every episode. That sort of creative control, from beginning to end, shows very, very well. Many liken Louie’s sensibilities to that of a shorter-form Woody Allen, taking that sort of constant existential crisis and bringing it to TV for twenty-two minutes each week.
Also, fun fact: the episode he won the Emmy for? It was a twenty-minute build-up to a fart joke. Perfect.
Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series - Boardwalk Empire
Totally fine with Boardwalk Empire winning, given the nominations, but no nomination for Game of Thrones is a ridiculous oversight. Pan Am? Are you kidding me? Were you high? Maybe you were high.
The cinematography for Boardwalk Empire is definitely gorgeous, and it better be: HBO spent around $40 Million (numbers fluctuate) for the pilot alone. Of course, much of that money went into building the standing sets that the show now reuses. But the set design is unlike anything you’ll see on any other TV show, which lends itself well to the cinematographer to craft some excellent shots.
And Finally, Snubs
No love for the men of Parks and Rec? Seriously?
In Drama, Sons of Anarchy was completely shut out, but that’s not surprising given show creator Kurt Sutter’s tendency to publicly insult the nominating committee.
The lack of Fringe’s John Noble seems like an oversight. Forgiveable, as the show is long in the tooth. But his turn as Walter Bishop frequently borders on revelatory, which is double-hard to do on a network show.
There’s always going to be that one guy who asks, “What about House?” Hate to break it to you, buddy — that show kinda sucked in its last two seasons. And that’s me being generous.
What do you think about the Emmy winners/nominations/snubs? Anything I missed?