For Andy Greenwald’s breakdown of last night’s Emmy Awards, click here.
The Final ‘Bitch’
Emily Yoshida: There is no reason for anyone to be mad about Breaking Bad’s final sweep of the Emmys. For one thing, I think most of us can agree that Breaking Bad was a pretty great television show. For another thing, the Emmys have a pretty short shelf life in the public consciousness — for proof, try to name five Outstanding Drama Series winners from the last 20 years. You’re probably better off just trying to remember the shows all your friends were talking about.
Sure, Breaking Bad’s run last night was predictable, but we’ll never see Vince and his posse up on that stage in that context again (unlike our now-proud annual tradition of onstage Modern Family reunions), so I’ll allow it. We’re all grateful for the past five seasons while looking forward to the future, whether it’s Battle Creek or Betsy Brandt on Masters of Sex. Well, all of us except Aaron Paul.
Forget, for a second, that Paul won this award for a character who barely ventured outside Landry’s Nazi Meth Cage in those final eight episodes. We’re all molecules and the Emmys mean nothing, remember? But I’m still hiding under my papasan chair in mortification over Paul’s speech. When reminiscing about a memorable time in one’s life — whether it’s summer camp, or high school, or college, or a relationship with the guy/girl you know you’re never going to do any better than, goddammit, how did you fuck that up, how could you let her go, will anyone ever love you that way again — there’s a certain ratio of gratitude versus longing that should not be knocked off balance. You can tell the balance has been upset when you find yourself imagining the reminiscer doing any form of scrapbooking whatsoever.
Luckily, Emmy law states that this was the last night it was legal for Paul to be emotionally hung up on his Breaking Bad tenure, and to use the word “bitch” as an exclamation. I’m slightly surprised he didn’t take advantage of the latter, but maybe we all grew up a little last night after all.
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Aw, who am I kidding. This went right back around to adorable again.
Woody Harrelson Is Amazing
Shea Serrano: Woody Harrelson is amazing.
I am always happy and excited to see him on my television, which is how I am able to tell that he is a genuine Hollywood star despite his odd, miniature teeth and eternally sun-kissed face. (Has his face ever been just one color? It’s like a very sensitive Hypercolor T-shirt.) His first great role was, duh, in TV’s Cheers, but kids didn’t watch Cheers when they didn’t have to, so I didn’t fall in love with him until 1992, when he costarred with Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump, the best basketball movie that’s ever been made.
Harrelson was uniquely complex in WMCJ, an exceedingly likable life-loser with a canon’s worth of confidence (on the basketball court and also in conversations about race and basketball) and insecurity (re: his relationship with his movie girlfriend, Gloria). It’s a skill — folding the emotional spectrum over onto itself — that he’s managed to carry for the duration of his career, using it to keep himself afloat in even the most arduous of roles. (The Crazy Forest Man in 2012 is the first that comes to mind.) In Natural Born Killers, he was so creepy and off-putting that it became a very weird version of charming. In Kingpin, he flexed his superheroic ability to lose in the most endearing way possible (similar to how he did it in WMCJ, only about 1,000 times more desperately), such that he turned a very goofily conceived character (he plays an earth-beaten bowler with a rubber hand) into high art. In No Country for Old Men, his brilliance was so soft and subtle that it was very nearly deafening. And so on and so on and so on.
But so when Woody and Matthew McConaughey walked out to present the award for Best Lead Actor in a Movie Series or Movie, it took all of a handful of seconds — or, three words, to be precise — before Harrelson began oozing his natural charm all over everything:
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He talked about stuff, and he took a cute swipe at the True Detective plagiarism accusations, and he laughed, and he gave that wonderful open-mouth smile.
Woody Harrelson is amazing, man.
Sneaky Pete’s Sneaky ’Stache
John Lopez: Since tonight was essentially Breaking Bad’s victory lap, let’s take one more chance to obsess over and scrutinize the most seemingly innocuous details of Bryan Cranston’s appearance, namely his Sneaky Pete–stache. In a word: Why?
• Theory 1: That devilish Julia Louis-Dreyfus kiss was hardly spur-of-the-moment. Cranston knew JLD would win Best Comedy Actress again for Veep. In fact, he orchestrated that little “oh, she forgot who I was” bit when they presented as a sardonic reminder of some ancient slight from the Seinfeld days when he was a nobody and she was already a comedy goddess. Who knows what the slight was — asking him to fetch her an Evian, mistaking him for Clark Gregg, yada yada–ing him? But the revenge was perfectly planned: a full-on makeout session with the pencil-stache. No one crosses Heisenberg without at least some upper-lip irritation.
• Theory 2: It’s for Cranston’s next role. How do you top Walter White’s devolution to murderous meth lord? By breaking good, obviously — i.e., in tracing the redemptive arc of Sneaky Pete, Sinister Tier-Down of Innocent Maidens to Train Tracks, on the forthcoming HBO series of the same name. How can we ever root for a man with a mustache that creepy? Cranston will show us how and make it rain Emmys.
• Theory 3: He lost a bet with Aaron Paul. If Jesse Pinkman survived the series, Cranston would accept his last Emmy with a Pinkman-esque pencil-stache. Touché, Pinkman.
Sarah Silverman: What’s in Your Gold-Plated Weed Clutch?
Katie Baker: “They’re the lowest they’ve ever been and the highest they’re ever gonna be,” said Sarah Silverman about her 43-year-old breasts to E!’s Giuliana Rancic on the Emmy Awards’ red carpet. “Maya Angelou!” she deadpanned in attribution. This came after Silverman had called out Rancic, the Ahmad Rashad of the entertainment world, for sticking a microphone in her face without asking anything resembling a question — and before she let Rancic dig through the contents of her clutch on live TV in the most memorable interview of the night.
Those Us Weekly spreads in which they empty out celebrity purses have always been long on fancy PR-planted skin-care products but short on the sort of things found in regular folks’ totes, like crumpled-up fast-food receipts and sand. But in this case, the Star was way more Just Like Us. “That’s my pot,” Silverman said as she pulled out a little vaporizer pen. “It’s legal!”
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On an evening that sometimes felt like déjà vu — Julia Louis-Dreyfus won again, Modern Family won again, Jim Parsons won again, Breaking Bad won again — Silverman was good for some unexpected delights. She ran barefoot to the stage, thanked “my Jews at CAA,” and reminded the crowd that we’re all just a bunch of molecules hurtling through space. Dorm-room stoner talk on the surface, but it was actually totally in keeping with the intimate and intricate hour-long HBO comedy special, We Are Miracles, that earned her the Emmy in the first place. “We were all microscopic specks,” she says at one point in the special. “There was a time when you could fit a million of me on the head of a pin. There was a time where I lived in my dad’s balls.” (I won’t transcribe the line that follows.)
In her backstage winner’s interview, she reminded me of Serena Williams in a similar situation — a little bored, a little flighty, but also prone to hilarious bouts of candor, as when she explained how she clinched her role on Masters of Sex — “fucking the star solidified it.” (Her boyfriend is Michael Sheen, who plays Masters.) She blanked on questions and made a joke about Pinocchio and Nazis, and when asked about some recent TV nudity went back to her earlier line. “They’re just boobs,” she said. “They’re as low as they’ve been, but they’re as high as they’ll ever be.” Must be some vape.
Your Movie Magic Doesn’t Work Here, Julia
Wesley Morris: Very famous, very lauded stars win Emmys all the time. They even go to the ceremony to pick them up. So some bafflement is in order over the production’s elation at the mere existence of Julia Roberts at last night’s show. Roberts is such a beautiful star that she wore a minidress that had broken out in mermaid boils and totally got away with it. All night, she appeared to be enjoying herself. There Roberts was cracking up at Jimmy Kimmel’s suite of Matthew McConaughey jokes and bouncing with glee after Allison Janney’s sixth win. When the HBO movie she starred in and helped produce, The Normal Heart, won the TV-movie Emmy, she held Jim Parsons’s hand on the way to the stage and glowed with happiness near Mark Ruffalo and a frail but indomitably attired Larry Kramer.
Before one commercial break, though, something happened that baffled Roberts herself. The woman who does the announcing for the show warned that the category for which Roberts was nominated (Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries) was up next. As an appetizer, there were clips of Julia as the polio-afflicted doctor in The Normal Heart, in which she fire-breathes with maximum Roberts righteousness. It didn’t take long for her to figure out what was going on. Once she did, she made this face:
At about the same time, her fellow nominees got wind of what was happening. Only the woman who’d never previously been nominated for anything this important seemed overjoyed to be slotted in a box near Roberts. Angela Bassett tried, but it was the least convincing performance I’ve seen her give.
That stunt only compounded the discomfort of seeing Roberts lose to Kathy Bates, one of American Horror Story: Coven’s 34 nominees in that category. Roberts tried not to look stunned, but (1) why set her up like that? and (2) this is exactly what happened in 1991!
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We’re All All Right, All Right, All Right
Amos Barshad: “All right, all right, all right” is a thing Matthew McConaughey says a lot. He says it in interviews and talk show appearances; he said it when he won the Oscar. Would it have been weird if he hadn’t said it last night, if he’d won the Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy, as it was widely predicted he would? Yes, yes, it would have been weird. Except that Julia Roberts, announcing McConaughey’s name in the category, WENT AHEAD AND SAID “ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT” BEFORE HE EVER HAD THE CHANCE TO. If he had won, what would have happened? Would he have had to change his speech on the fly, bumbling his way into awkwardness? Would he have gone ahead and said it again anyway, leading to the world’s largest simultaneous sympathetic eye-roll? Thank the heavens, we never had to find out. And thank you, Emmy voters, for not voting for Matthew McConaughey and giving Bryan Cranston his 7 billionth Emmy instead. You helped us avoid a dangerous double “all right, all right, all right” situation.
Chris Bosh Is the Michael Jordan of Photobombing Emmys Red Carpet Shots
A Song of Gripes and Ire
Jason Concepcion: This freaking guy.
Here is A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, wearing a silvery vest woven from mithril, holding a typewriter that was handed to him by Andy Samberg, who was dressed as King Joffrey. Martin is making a face like he just stumbled across a Rule 34 subreddit focused on the succubi from World of Warcraft. This happened toward the end of Weird Al’s medley of various television theme songs, as the lyrics “Type, George / Fast as arrows can fly” were sung. It was at this moment that I realized that George R.R. Martin has achieved something really incredible. (1) He is a writer who is famous during his own lifetime, and (2) he has made procrastinating a brand. This is every writer’s dream.
And, you know what? He deserves it. He is 65 years old. Otherwise normal people love telling him that he’s going to die in the vain hope that this will make him work faster. He’s been writing professionally — to varying degrees of notoriety — for basically his entire life. And now, in, statistically speaking, the later range of years that make up a human life, he’s improbably become famous for writing a dense, richly detailed, multivolume nerd tale about incest, child elves, and dragons, which has become the dominant pop culture phenomenon of this generation. The guy can’t even walk down the street in Edinburgh anymore. You know, nobody was ever like, “Oh, shit, I think that’s Tom Clancy.” These last few years have been Martin’s victory lap; let the man enjoy it.
Billy on the Emmys
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Zach Dionne: Go ahead and scream your “BILLY FOR NEXT YEAR’S HOST!”s and “BILLY FOR PRESIDENT!”s. I’ll be over here re-re-re-re-replaying this extended clip of the only person on television who makes me laugh out loud every single time, quietly reveling in the fact that Mr. Eichner got to steal even a sliver of the Emmys broadcast from a world that’s even sillier than he is. People have been saying that “his picture’s in the dictionary under the definition of ____” crap for centuries; Billy is actually, truly, really going in next year’s OED next to the word “scream” next time. It’s his, the entire premise of speaking with a raised voice. Billy Eichner, people.
Fukunaga Hair, Don’t Care
Molly Lambert: I used to be the sort of person who religiously watched the red carpet at awards shows, and then pored through the Entertainment Weekly fashion roundups the next week. But sometime in the near past I got burned out on the whole routine. Maybe it’s because there’s no lag time anymore between seeing a look for the first time and being able to possess it as a physical (digital) image. Or maybe I just don’t care as much about awards-show fashion as I once did.
But it turns out I am still interested in awards show looks, especially those on the men in attendance. Men, who have been traditionally confined to a black-tie tux, have been branching out via their hairstyles. Jared Leto’s long-haired ombré was the talk of Oscar night. Jared’s hairstylist had Leto sleep with product in his hair to get the perfect grunge-bedhead look for the big win. At the Emmys tonight, unfairly hot True Detective director Cary Fukunaga wore spiral French mermaid braids, exactly the kind Lauren Conrad would wear to a big event. The parts of Twitter who were not yet aware that Cary Fukunaga is a beautiful man became very vocally thirsty when they learned the truth. The takeaway? Long hair is totally cool, as long as it’s on an extremely naturally handsome guy. Hopefully this means Jon Hamm will show up with his Sergio hair to collect his Emmys next year for Mad Men’s final season.
What Were Brook and Robin Lopez Doing at the Emmys?
Juliet Litman: Either they are massive Modern Family fans or they are lobbying for a last-minute change to make True Detective Season 2 about twin brothers.
DJ Non Sequiturial Nod to Hip-Hop and/or Youth Culture on the Ones and Twos
Alex Pappademas: Props to the Emmys house DJ for keeping it mad confusing on the orchestra tower all night long! I couldn’t see his face or find his actual DJ name on the Internet, but every single time he broke out the ill tweak-scratch for a presenter’s walk-on, I felt like I did at the end of Mr. Holland’s Opus when they tried to show you how with-it Mr. Holland’s symphony was by cutting to the two guys in the ensemble playing electric guitars — kind of touched, and embarrassed for everyone involved. Overall, I enjoyed the orchestra’s willingness to get kitschy with it last night, but putting a DJ on that podium, huge look though it was for the Second Pillar of Hip-Hop, just felt a little Carsenio to me. Plus it was a pretty bold “Yo This Shiznit Ain’t Your Mom’s Awards Telecast” statement by the producers of a broadcast on which Jay Leno gives out awards to Modern Family.
Was there some reason this of all years was the year the Emmys decided they could no longer ignore the art of turntablism? Was it a veiled salute to the 30th anniversary of Graffiti Rock? And was it me, or did the walk-ons get noticeably more wickity-wickity whenever it was time to announce the arrival of a black person? I thought that was in questionable taste, as if Kerry Washington wouldn’t feel at home up there without a Def Comedy Jam intro. But it was actually worse than that, because Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine got the full adventures-on-the-wheels-of-steel treatment, too — by virtue, I guess, of having just been on the VMAs, in whose sweaty glittery hormonal wake this year’s Emmys had to follow.
I suppose you can’t blame an institution that turned 65 last year for being a little anxious about its edge, but have we learned nothing from the entire history of giving awards out on TV? Gestures designed to make an awards show seem Down With What the Kids Are Hashtagging always date the fastest. Time is a flat circle, and today’s Chris Hardwick riff about “Internet trolls” is tomorrow’s “Ann B. Davis reading a joke about Pet Rocks off a teleprompter.” If the Emmys really wanted to prove their love for hip-hop, they would have let the DJ do a few tasteful, reserved cuts behind Sara Bareilles during the “In Memoriam” montage — Smile, though your heart is br-br-breakin’ — or put him in charge of playing people off.
Julianna Margulies, Proud Network Queen
Chris Ryan: Oh, Nurse Carol. To paraphrase Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, she is big, it’s the television shows that got shorter. Julianna Margulies is hardly cooped up in the TV equivalent of Desmond’s decaying Hollywood mansion. The Good Wife is arguably the most critically acclaimed and cognoscenti-approved show on network television. And this past spring, in its fifth season, the show pulled off a moment that made it, anecdotally, the most talked-about network show since Lost. That The Good Wife’s big gambit felt very, well, cable, should not be overlooked. It certainly wasn’t by Margulies.
During her acceptance speech, the second she’s given for playing Alicia Florrick, Margulies complimented The Good Wife’s writers, suggesting the work they did over the course of 22 grueling episodes was almost more impressive than the short-order cooking done on these new limited-run mini seasons. Here was one of the iconic television stars of the last 20 years (Margulies appeared in 135 episodes of ER and was one half of one of the more beloved modern television romances) … standing up for little old network TV and its antiquated ways of doing things.
It was a theme of the night. Seth Meyers joked about it, and voters grappled with it while trying to determine whether Orange Is the New Black was a comedy or if True Detective was a drama series. What is television, anymore?
With all the chaos — the streaming, the DVR+ numbers, the eight-episode runs, the movie stars crashing the small screen — and with shows, even her own, resorting to seemingly extreme narrative measures to drive the all-important and impossible to quantify “conversation,” I looked at Margulies and thought of another Desmond line from Sunset: “There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world.” She rightfully won an Emmy last night. But those days are gone.
Josh Charles: Always Available
[WARNING: You’re entering a spoiler zone if you’re not up to date with The Good Wife.]
Juliet Litman: You’re probably thinking that we’ve seen the last of Josh Charles at the Emmys. That’s a logical thought, since Will Gardner was killed off of The Good Wife to accommodate Charles’s desire to leave the show. Barring Alicia having some really hot dream about him (which isn’t unprecedented), it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing the character again. Yet, I don’t think we’re quite done with Josh Charles. He seems readily available, which is confirmed by a quick scan of his IMDb page. He’s got a couple indie films coming up, but he proved tonight that he’s a very willing participant in an awards show gag. For starters, whenever the camera turned to Julianna Margulies, you could see him heartily laughing right behind her. He toned it down during her acceptance speech, but maintained a warm-yet-earnest smile that conveyed plenty of TV-ready pathos. His big solo moment came around the 55th minute, when he provided the punch line to Andre Braugher’s bit of the audience Q&A segment. He stood up from his seat (a little too spryly) to reveal he had the “bathroom key.” He played the joke a little too hard, as if he has no choice but to be the straight man. It’s as if he was so determined to ensure an invite to next year’s show, despite no longer being attached to a critically acclaimed job, that he nearly forgot there was humor involved. I have a feeling he’d be willing to play the punch line to any joke, because right now his schedule is a little too wide open. Hopefully, someone in a position of power noticed.