A mediocre and morbid Emmy Awards

‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Modern Family’ earn the night’s biggest prizes, but an underlying theme of paying homage to deceased celebrities bogs down telecast.

cast crew of breaking bad accept emmy award 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
cast crew of breaking bad accept emmy award 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It wasn’t an easy year. Mass shootings. Floods. A close, terrifying brush with a war against Syria. And, now, thanks to Miley Cyrus, the word “twerking” is now forever embedded in our lexicon. Yes, things have been quite rough in 2013.
Perhaps that is why the producers of the 65th Emmy Awards thought that a more somber tone was appropriate.
After watching this year’s telecast, it seemed as if they all got together and collectively said, “Let’s reflect on all the people who died this year and then marinate in our communal misery.”
And reflect they did. Ad nauseam.
Sunday’s ceremony – which clocked in just shy of three hours – featured no less than six tributes. The show dedicated individual segments to James Gandolfini, Cory Montieth, Liberace, Jonathan Winters, Jean Stapleton and John F. Kennedy.
This was all in addition to the standard “in memoriam” montage that graces every award show.
When Modern Family creator Steven Levitan accepted his award for Best Comedy Series, he was not exaggerating when he quipped, “Well, this may be the saddest Emmys of all time, but we could not be happier.”
Of course, while the loss of these individuals is tragic, it was all a bit much for a night that should have been about celebrating a great year in television. For example, it was a banner year for women in TV. In the drama categories, Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn took home her first Emmy for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Skyler White, a woman who will stop at nothing to protect her family, no matter the cost. Claire Danes, as Homeland’s Carrie Mathison, scored her second best actress Emmy for playing the deeply conflicted CIA agent grappling with her bipolar disorder.
However, as far as acceptances speeches, it was the funny ladies that stole the show. Looking like a classy disco ball in her sparkly Monique Lhuillier gown, Julia Louis Dreyfus sauntered onto the stage to accept her fourth Emmy – in character.
Accompanied by her Veep costar Tony Hale (another winner Sunday night), who plays her pathetically loyal assistant, Dreyfus channeled the narcissistic, oblivious and obtuse US vice president character she plays and relied on Hale to feed her lines for her speech. The clever bit, where Hale stagewhispered in Dreyfus’ ear and reminded her to thank everyone from her agent, fellow co-stars and family, played out like a scene straight out of the show.
As for the host, naturally congenial and likeable host Neil Patrick Harris, a man born to host these things (to wit, see his How I Met Your Mother co-stars’ eerily accurate bit mocking Harris for having a serious case of EHD – Excessive Hosting Disorder) did a commendable job as the master of ceremonies, but his performance this time around lacked a certain degree of glee that usually defines his hosting performances.
After a ho-hum opening where he mostly relied on previous Emmy hosts to deliver the laughs, he launched into a midshow number halfway into the show that... mocked him singing a half-time show number. It was a weird, overly-meta ditty that didn’t really suit him.
So while many of the results were surprising (Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale and Hale’s wins shocked the room) the atmosphere of doom and gloom created by the producers tarnished any sense of joy or exuberance that should be derived from such occasions.