Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lather/Rinse/Repeat: It's the Emmys!

What is there to say about last Monday night's Emmys except "same old, same old"?

It's certainly nothing new for Emmy voters to pick the same winners year after year. You know, like Candice Bergen,who won five Emmys for Murphy Brown, or Don Knotts, with five for The Andy Griffith Show. 

Ed Asner as Lou Grant
And then there's Cloris Leachman, who won eight over the years for different shows and Ed Asner, who won seven, five of them for playing the role of Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant.  MTM herself also has seven Emmys on her mantel. Tyne Daly is right behind with six, with four for Cagney and Lacey. I'm not going to quibble with any of those, although I have to say, the winning streaks of John Larroquette (who won four consecutive Emmys for Night Court) and Rhea Perman (with four for Cheers) certainly gave me pause back in the 80s.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep
Given the Emmy predilection for repeats, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Jim Parsons collected his fourth Emmy this year as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for The Big Bang Theory or that Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third in a row as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Veep. Louis-Dreyfus already had two on her mantel, with a Supporting Actress Emmy for Seinfeld and a Lead Actress Emmy for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Allison Janney, who won two this year, is another perennial fave. She'd already taken home four Emmys for playing C. J. Cregg on The West Wing, so this year's wins as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Mom and Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Masters of Sex gives her six overall. Jessica Lange can't compete with those numbers, but she did just win her third Emmy in the Miniseries/Movie category and her second for American Horror Story.

The two big Supporting Actor categories -- for Drama and Comedy series -- gave Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul his third and Modern Family's Ty Burrell his second. Anna Gunn also took home No. 2 for Supporting Actress for Breaking Bad, while Kathy Bates, who has been nominated twelve times, won for only the second time. Hers was for her Supporting turn in American Horror Story: Coven, in the Miniseries/Movie category.

Even though it's a repeat, I'm still glad that the very deserving Bryan Cranston took home his fourth Emmy as Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad after not hitting the podium for a few years, and that Juliana Margulies was recognized again as Outstanding Actress for a stellar season of The Good Wife.

That leaves Benedict Cumberbatch alone among the Lead Actor nominees. His win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Sherlock was his first. What a surprise! His Sherlock cohort, Martin Freeman, was also a first-time Emmy winner, although he was nominated in two categories this year.

The show winners were just as much a part of the lather/rinse/repeat cycle. It's five in a row for Modern Family as Outstanding Comedy Series. And two for Outstanding Drama Breaking Bad, although this will be the end of that road, since the show has finished up for good. After eight wins for The Daily Show in the Variety Series category, The Colbert Report has now won two. But everybody looks like pikers next to The Amazing Race, which has now won ten Outstanding Reality/Competition Emmys.

Since 2010, television movies and miniseries had been lumped into the same category, but this year they were split up, meaning that Fargo (the mini) and The Normal Heart (the movie) could both win. If they put it all back together next year, there's no telling who will win.

That's just one of the television academy's tough choices, like what constitutes a guest actor as opposed to a supporting one.

The guest honors were handed out in the Creative Arts ceremony a week ago, with Uzo Aduba from Orange Is the New Black emerging as a winner over two castmates plus Joan Cusack from Shameless and two Saturday Night Live hosts. "Guest" used to mean a one-off. No more. Adube has appeared in 38 of the show's 39 episodes, according to IMDB. Joe Morton also won as a "guest" for Scandal, although he was in the credits for all 24 of this season's episodes, and winner Allison Janney was in seven of Masters of Sex's total 24. By contrast, Jimmy Fallon won for hosting one episode of SNL.

But then, there are a lot of questions about Emmy definitions. Why are Fargo or American Horror Story considered miniseries instead of plain old series, when True Detective is a series, not a mini? Why are Orange Is the New Black and Shameless called comedies instead of dramas?

It's part -- along with the repeat winners -- of the reason the Emmys bug me. Still, they got good ratings this year. So you know they will be back, handing out statuettes to The Amazing Race and Allison Janney one more time. 

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