The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards took place last night, amid a change in voting regulations that promised to radically change the previous voting trends. Here’s a look at some of the results, with my erroneous picks in parentheses.
Outstanding Drama Series: Game of Thrones (My pick: Mad Men)
Outstanding Comedy Series: Veep (My pick: Transparent)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jon Hamm
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Viola Davis (My pick: Taraji P. Henson)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Peter Dinklage
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Uzo Aduba (My pick: Christina Hendricks)
Like one of its majestic battle scenes, Game of Thrones swept the night. The HBO fantasy drama won awards for outstanding drama, writing, and direction to add to the clutch of technical awards given last week.
When compared against how this season of Game of Thrones is perhaps its weakest so far, this outpouring of awards love seems perplexing at first. I, for one, would have loved for Mad Men to take Outstanding Drama one last time, but my guess is that the Academy voted based on familiarity and popularity in this new voting process; surely Game of Thrones benefited with its immense popularity.
I don’t begrudge this win for Game of Thrones — the show was tremendously good in its first few seasons and is the rare show that everybody watches in this age of fragmented viewing. If anything, it’s an overdue win.
The HBO love extended throughout the night, with a long-awaited win for Veep for Outstanding Comedy stopping Modern Family‘s five-year winning streak. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale also won for their work on the show’s hysterical fourth season.
I mentioned in my predictions that Veep deserved to win because of its impeccable quality in general, but I honestly didn’t expect to see anything other than Transparent win. If I had to guess, I would say that Transparent’s lack of laughs, Veep‘s general excellence and fatigue of Modern Family led to this win.
The Academy still found a way to honour Transparent though, giving creator Jill Soloway and Jeffrey Tambor awards for outstanding direction and outstanding lead performance respectively. Tambor’s win was perhaps the most obvious of the night, as his performance simply outshone the other nominees, making him the oldest ever first-time Emmy winner.
The other acting awards largely went to deserving winners. Viola Davis became the first black actress to win Outstanding Lead Actress (Drama), and Jon Hamm took the Outstanding Lead Actor (Drama) award to a standing ovation, finally breaking through for his character of Don Draper.
Hamm’s win marked the extent of the Academy’s recognition of Mad Men‘s final outing, which definitely was affected by the Game of Thrones love this time around. However, both heavyweights lost out to Orange is the New Black in one category, as Uzo Aduba won out over Christina Hendricks and Lena Headey to take the outstanding supporting actress award. I would argue this to be one of the rare snubs this year, even though Aduba gave a very good performance, as surely both Hendricks and Headey were more deserving.
In a yet more surprising result for the night, Peter Dinklage beat Jonathan Banks for the Outstanding Supporting Actor (Drama) award. I cast my prediction for Dinklage based on my hunch that the Academy would again reward a wildly popular previous winner, but I feel that this time, the general adulation for Game of Thrones pushed him over the line.
This year’s results, in my book, signifies that future Emmy results (barring further changes in the voting process) will be more populist, rewarding reputable shows and actors rather than perhaps the shows with the best achievements. As Variety columnist Brian Lowry puts it, “the Emmys turned into one big popularity contest”.
To be fair, this new system can still throw up deserving winners (see Jon Hamm’s victory), but I worry that the same system will continue to reward shows like Game of Thrones, which are popular but not exactly the strongest shows around, rather than sublime-but-snubbed shows like The Americans. Likewise for deserving nominees like Amy Poehler and Tatiana Maslany: they never stood a chance in their categories this year because of their more illustrious competition.
Perhaps we’re due for a new era of voting, after the previous years of conservative patterns. See you for next year’s Emmys, where I’ll try to do better than my 4-out-of-8 scorecard!