By Max O'Connell | Criticwire August 26, 2014 at 4:00PM
If one were looking only at the results of the Emmys last night, one might get a distinct sense of deja vu: outside of the TV movie and miniseries categories, all of the programming and acting awards went to previous winners. Granted, few would complain about repeat wins for "Veep's" Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The Good Wife's" or any of "Breaking Bad's" wins, but a fourth win for "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons had even the actor himself looking apologetic, and the "Modern Family" train keeps on chugging regardless of the show's diminishing (if hardly awful) returns. Jessica Lange noted her surprise at her win for "American Horror Story: Coven," apparently unaware that only previous winners win Emmys.
The repeats might have felt less irksome if not for the shut-outs and near shut-outs for newer shows and returning greats. Aside from the expected Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series win for Cary Fukanaga, "True Detective" didn't win any major awards, unable to turn the widespread acclaim into wins for Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson or writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto (perhaps the plagiarism charges hurt his chances).
"Orange Is the New Black" went home empty-handed (though Uzo Aduba did win for her guest performance as Crazy Eyes outside of the main ceremony), while "Fargo" and "The Normal Heart" won the Miniseries and TV Movie top prizes after losing all of the acting, writing and directing categories. And "Mad Men" continues its ongoing streak of losing in the acting categories. It's final chance to pick up gold for Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss (not nominated this time) comes next year.
The ceremony itself was typically uneven, with both the emotional high of Billy Crystal giving a moving tribute to Robin Williams and the am-I-really-seeing-this low of Sofia Vergara being put on a revolving pedestal while Academy of Television Arts and Sciences President Bruce Rosenblum commented "Our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch." Vergara herself slammed the cries of sexism by saying "It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself," the joke apparently being that she is a woman, which is hilarious. Seth Meyers hosted, with most of his jokes ranging from cringe-inducing (on Zooey Deschanel and Allison Williams: “One is known for a show where she has bangs, one is known for a show where everyone bangs”) to affably mediocre (most of the opening monologue).
More thoughts from the web:
Kate Aurthur, BuzzFeed
Some of those were well-deserved victories. A few were horribly lazy choices. And, as a whole, all of the surprises — including the ones I don’t like personally — could seem delightful if they appeared to be purposeful, propelled by an internal logic. Or if they didn’t feel like they were emanating from a nearly dead horror-movie monster that was determined to take a few more souls to hell with it before shuffling from this dimension forever. In short, they’re ahistorical selections made in fear, in a broken system. Read more.
Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
But none of that negates the fact that the current voting process is broken. The Emmys should recognize the best and most important work on television, not the safest and most familiar. The entire TV Academy membership, which numbers around 16,000, weighs in on Emmy nominations, with actors picking acting nominees, directors picking directing nominees, etc., and everyone weighing in on the program nominees. But, postnominations, a variety of smaller panels of volunteers, each just a few dozen members, pick the winners. This is the exact opposite of the way the motion picture Academy goes about its business, and perhaps it is part of the problem. Read more.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter
That would be admirable, however, if it didn't look like the kind of lazy rubber-stamping that let "Modern Family" rack up three major victors itself, including a record-tying fifth win for best comedy. The difference? "Breaking Bad" retained its consistent excellence — acting, writing, importance — throughout its run with no noticeable drop in very competitive areas. "Modern Family," however, has gone from a great series to a good one, surpassed by a number of other shows. It's not just embarrassing for Emmy voters to seem clueless to anything new; it detracts from the hard-earned consistency of something like "Breaking Bad."
Sarah Larson, The New Yorker
As the night went on, we heard the “Modern Family” song too many times—a sound that for me, in Emmys past, has become synonymous with rage—in part because the “Family” members expect that they’ll be onstage, winning things, and they seem a little too comfortable with noodling around while they’re there. Gail Mancuso, who won for comedy directing, dragged out a joke about how she was going to look McConaughey in the eyes during her speech; Ty Burrell, who won for supporting actor in a comedy series, read a speech that he claimed was written by the kids in the cast, which was probably intended to be a charming bit of self-deprecation but ended up being the opposite. Read more.
Anna Silman, Vulture
One of the most indelible images from last night's VMA awards was Beyoncé, midway through a show-stopping 16-minute medley, standing alone on stage with the word "FEMINIST" emblazoned in giant letters behind her. It was a bold and empowering feminist tableau — one that was undercut the following evening by this tone-deaf segment from last night's Emmys, which featured Sofia Vergara being spun around on a pedestal like a a human trophy. Because she's a woman, get it? Read more.