TV Recap: 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards

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Ladies and gentlemen, the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards have come and gone once again. It was a relatively expected hour with the vast majority of past winners coming back for another trophy. This is basically an inevitability by this point because almost every nominee has been in awards contention before. The Emmys have become so cookie cutter, it’s almost absurd. Now come with me as I break down the good and the bad of last night’s telecast!

The Good

Everyone Loves Comedy: Seth Meyers is easily one of the hottest commodities in the business now. His final season on Saturday Night Live was a big deal and The Late Show with Seth Meyers has absolutely exploded. The man is a veritable comedic star. So when he was tapped to host the Emmys, absolutely no one was surprised. And boy did the man kill it. He opened the show with a classic monologue, something he is clearly very good at, which was in stark contrast to last year’s opening number. The humor didn’t stop there too. We had a delightful number by “Weird Al” Yankovic, who is having a very good year, plenty of great riffs from presenters like Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, that awesome Emmys Q&A segment with Andre Braugher asking for the bathroom, and a special Billy on the Street that left me in tears. This was by far the funniest Emmys in a while.

Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC
Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC

Breaking Bad Sweep: Last year, I predicted that 2014 was the year of Breaking Bad. Turns out I was absolutely spot-on with that. Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston, writer Moira Walley-Beckett, and the show itself all went home with major awards Honestly, they all deserve it too. The final eight episodes of Breaking Bad were masterpieces and completely set the new standard for a cable drama. They were unequivocally the best things on television last year and this was the final notch for supremacy. It was definitely warranted.

The Surprise Wins: Really, there were only two winners that actually caught me by surprise: Julianna Margulies and Allison Janney. I pegged neither of them to win but it was certainly pleasant to see these fresh faces over the usual Claire Danes and Julie Bowen. Granted, both of these extremely talented ladies have won in the past, but seeing as the Emmys are so adverse to recognizing new people (save for Jessica Lange who finally won for American Horror Story), this will have to do.

Robin Williams Tribute: When Robin Williams tragically passed away, the Academy made a point to declare that they had a really nice tribute lined up for the comedic genius. It was to be a special addition to the typical In Memoriam segment. After watching it, I can say with certainty that it was absolutely perfect. The speech by Billy Crystal was a massive tear jerker and the clips did an outstanding job giving us a quick taste of what made Williams so special. The Oscars have a lot to live up to in this regard.

The Bad

Matthew McConaughey: Okay, this has nothing to do with the actor himself. This has everything to do with the non-stop jokes about him being there. We get it! It was shocking that this man is actually an extremely talented actor. But we’ve all gotten used to it now that he won an Oscar. Making constant jokes about it is just freaking old by this point. Sure, Jimmy Kimmel was nice, but that went on far too long. Then we got another joke about it after the Comedy Directing Emmy, Woody Harrelson taking a few jabs, and Julia Roberts making “Alright alright alright” comments. Can we stop treating McConaughey like he’s a goddamn mythical creature?

Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC
Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC

Modern Monopoly: To anyone looking for reasons why the Emmys are such a farce, they only need to look at the Academy’s love affair with Modern Family. That’s honestly what you have to call it by this point. The show is now tied with Fraiser for the most wins with five, which is just ludicrous. This means that according to the Academy, Modern Family is the best comedic show on television for five years straight. Ty Burrell’s win for Supporting Actor also means that the show has won that category four out of five times. Listen. This is no longer recognizing excellence in television. This is having tunnel vision for one program entirely and completely ostracizing everyone else. It needs to stop.

They Can’t All Be Gems: While the telecast was a very funny experience, there were a few presenters who unfortunately didn’t get the memo. It’s a shame too because these individuals are typically extremely funny. Stephen Colbert, one of my favorite people on TV, absolutely tanked with him talking to his imaginary friend Rosco. Not even the audience was into it. Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele, a truly dynamic comedic duo, completely bungled their announcement and I legitimately cannot remember what it was for. Chris Hardwick did some weird speech to Internet trolls which felt unnecessary. Julia Roberts forgot how to speak when she announced Lead Actor in a Drama. And how does Gwen Stefani not know how to pronounce The Colbert Report? Huge ups to Jimmy Fallon for running with that stupid mistake.

Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC
Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC

Bruce Rosenblum: The Internet lit up in flames accusing the Emmys of sexism after Academy Chairman Bruce Rosenblum literally put Sofia Vergara on a rotating pedestal. Vergara afterwards exclaimed that she had absolutely no problem with it, but there’s no denying how pointless the entire thing was. It just wasn’t funny. Perhaps it was Rosenblum’s way of distracting people from his speech that was basically about how the Academy always strives to change with the evolving television landscape. Seeing as Modern Family won for the fifth consecutive time, perhaps Vergara really did make a difference because people would be calling bullshit on his speech. Give shows like Parks and Recreation, The Walking Dead, and Orphan Black legitimate representation, plus actually give a Netflix program an award on TV, and then we’ll talk.

The Final Words

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards really weren’t a terrible experience. When the humor worked, it really elevated the show. Seth Meyers was an excellent host and I’m totally game for him to come back next year. Most of the presenters really hit home runs too with Cranston and Louis-Dreyfus especially killing it. There were definitely a lot less shocks this year too, for both good and bad. I’m ecstatic that Fargo went home with some hardware, Margulies got some deserved recognition (next year Robin Wright), and Breaking Bad won its much deserved awards. Clearly entering True Detective as a Drama was a mistake of overconfidence for HBO. That show did deserve awards but easily had a much better chance in the Miniseries category.

My big gripe of the night is clearly Modern Family. Enough is enough Academy. I’m seriously questioning if there’s even a decision process by this point. The same can be said about Lead Actor/Actress for Comedy. Does anyone ever stand a chance against Jim Parsons and Louis-Dreyfus? Not particularly, no. Those categories have become so “ho hum” I barely pay attention. Outside of the winners, the Academy really needs to make sure the presenters comedic material is actually worthwhile. Hardwick, Key, Peele, and Colbert can clearly do so much better. And that speech by Rosenblum was just bad. But then again, if this is what passes as comedy, there’s no wonder why Modern Family has a stranglehold on that category.

Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC
Photo Credit: Mark Davis/NBC

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Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.