Last night, television’s finest converged upon LA’s Microsoft Theater for what would soon prove to be an evening of stupefying predictability. With Andy Samberg at the helm, the awards show kicked off with a so-so monologue replete with vaguely controversial humor – including jabs at Bill Cosby and Donald Trump – before transitioning into yet another mediocre awards program where the real winners clap politely while losers take center stage in their stead.
Of the night’s victors HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was perhaps the most absurd. Taking home the golden statuette for yet another season of naked people and pre-plotted intrigue, “Thrones” stole the bacon from the beautiful – and underappreciated – farewell season of “Mad Men.” Though technically a triumph for the silver screen (for proving that audience-friendly shows can beat out more awards-pandering fare), “Game of Thrones”’s win also demonstrates how little Emmy voters care about lesser known series – like the exceptional and unrecognized “Hannibal.”
Over in comedy, the news was only a shade more exciting. “Veep,” a satire currently gearing up for its fifth season on HBO, finally unseated the not-so-modern “Modern Family.” Yet, I can’t help but mourn the lack of recognition for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” an admittedly flawed comedy that also happens to be the best on television (or, more appropriately, the internet) at present. Unconcerned with proving its merit, “Schmidt” was the clear underdog going into the night; nonetheless, it remains hard not to wish that the Emmys could acknowledge something a little more freeform.
As for the acting categories: Jon Hamm finally won his long overdue Emmy – how someone of his caliber could go without accolades for seven seasons still eludes me – while Jeffrey Tambor received yet another trophy (which will pair nicely with his Golden Globe) for his incomparable work on Amazon’s “Transparent.” In addition, ratcheting up the win count for “Veep,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus was among those honored last night, a bittersweet victory for an actress who – really – should have lost to a departing Amy Poehler (“Parks & Recreation”).
Yet among all these upsets and disappointments, the single most saddening remains that of “House of Cards'” Robin Wright. After some career-defining work as Claire Underwood (the wife of Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood) in seasons one and two of Netflix’s hit, Wright turned the brilliance up to eleven in the show’s latest batch of episodes. With an arc that found her, by season’s end, deserting her conniving partner in crime, Wright found profound weakness and startling courage in a character often relegated to sub-plots of lesser value (including an annoying stint as the champion of a water-purifying non-profit).
All in all, it was a decent broadcast, but for those looking for something a bit less calculated, this year’s Emmys were no exception to the Academy’s tradition of recognizing name-brand “unexceptionalism.”