It was supposed to be television’s biggest night of the year.
The buildup leading to Sunday’s 64th Primetime Emmy Awards suggested that the show would be the most exciting and fresh edition yet, but the show unfortunately proved to be another predictable and unimaginative awards ceremony that viewers will soon forget about.
Despite Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting prowess, his slew of well-timed jokes (“Being a Republican in Hollywood is like being a Chick-Fil-A sandwich on the snack table at Glee.”) and funny gags weren’t enough to save the Emmys from being what most of these shows have unfortunately become: self-congratulatory and uninteresting.
There were still, however, a handful of entertaining moments that proved worthy of watching.
As the master of ceremonies, Kimmel generated compelling TV moments with ease. This was the late-night-host’s opportunity to reach his largest primetime audience yet, and he certainly made the most of it. Though it can prove to be a challenge to engage such a far-reaching audience for three hours, Kimmel succeeded, getting laughs by virtue of his every-guy persona, honesty and non-introduction introductions.
“Our next presenters are Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy. Please welcome Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy,” Kimmel said, totally deadpan, as if to jokingly indicate to the nation that he doesn’t elevate actors just because they’re rich and famous.
Perhaps Kimmel’s greatest accomplishment of the night was the impressive execution of his prank on the people at home who decided not to tune in. Inviting 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan onto the stage, Kimmel told him to lie down and then asked viewers to tweet that Morgan had “just passed out” and to turn into ABC right now to witness the commotion. And to no surprise, it thoroughly worked. With big names like Joel McHale and Stephen Colbert playing along, “Tracy Morgan” was trending nationwide in no time. And Morgan committed, lying motionless on the stage for a good 10 minutes before eventually being carried away.
Another hilarious moment came in the form of a pre-taped bit starring the Modern Family ensemble, specifically focusing on 5-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who plays Lily on the show. In the feature, Anderson-Emmons is portrayed as a tyrannical prima donna who insults her castmates and even tries to physically injure Ty Burrell and Ed O’Neill by removing the stairs to their trailers.
Amy Poehler proved that, for the second year in a row, she could single-handedly make the presentation of the outstanding lead actress in a comedy category the highlight of the night.
After embracing Poehler on her way up to the stage to accept her trophy for Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus began to read from a speech that clearly wasn’t her own. Great directing and acting collided to create a hilarious (albeit planned) moment of comedy in which Poehler “accidentally” switched her acceptance speech with Louis-Dreyfus’.
“Isn’t it a shame Amy Poehler didn’t win?” Louis-Dreyfus asked, going along with the gag.
Poehler spearheaded the beauty pageant setup of last year’s best actress presentation, which was similarly deemed one of the more amusing instances of the broadcast. Though these types of pre-planned moments are wildly entertaining, they’re also quite time-consuming and tricky to pull off, which makes Poehler worthy of praise for her comedic finesse.
The show itself was riddled with technical difficulties that weren’t easily detectable by the TV-viewing audience, but noticeable nonetheless. One of the biggest gaffes of the night came when Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane strutted to what he thought was his mark and began to speak inaudibly, to the bewilderment of the Nokia Theatre patrons as well as viewers at home. Whether it was the director’s fault or the mistake of a stage manager, the misplaced mic mishap turned out to be one of the most entertaining moments of the night.
“That’s going to be on YouTube,” MacFarlane correctly predicted.
The awards themselves, however, were as unexciting as could be, with outstanding reality series going to The Amazing Race for the ninth consecutive year and Jon Stewart and company taking home their 10th trophy for outstanding variety series. Equally as boring was the presentation of the miniseries and movie categories, which always seem to bring what little action the Emmys have to a screeching halt. Such mind-numbing awards ought to be banished to the untelevised Creative Arts ceremony that take place the week before the Emmys, but Television Academy politics would unfortunately never allow that to happen.
In one of the night’s few surprises, Showtime’s new hit Homeland took home the top prize for drama, making it the first series win ever for the subscription-based network. But in the comedy category, Modern Family won for the third straight year, sweeping in outstanding supporting actor and actress category wins with Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen.
Though there were a handful of shining moments that worked in the Emmys’ favor, those glimpses of amusement were few and far between in an awards show that was bogged down with unenergetic attendees and too-long acceptance speeches.
Maybe Jon Stewart said it best while holding his trophy aloft and speculating about some future age when aliens arrive to Earth and find a box of Emmy awards:
“They will know how predictable these (bleeping) things are.”