The Emmys last night were very long and very boring. I’m not sure poor Neil Patrick Harris got to crack a single funny joke all night, and by the time he lifted the champagne glass at the end, he really seemed to need it. So did the audience, I think. This was an unusually pointless Emmys, and it’s not like there was a high bar to begin with. But 2013 distinguished itself with too many in-memoriam segments and long interludes, and not a single speech of note other than the one near the top of this list.
The only hope we ever have, watching these awards shows, is that the participants will get drunk or high. No such luck last night. But here are ten moments we walked away with.
10. OK, there was one person who did seem out of it. It was Shemar Moore, who I always think of as “Neil’s black-sheep little brother Malcolm,” because that is the character he played on The Young and the Restless for years and years and years. Anyway, he would appear onscreen and much like an extra hoping that he’s just hit his Big Break, Moore would mug for the camera and talk over whatever poor star had to stand next to him — and man, that was kind of a train wreck for him, poor soul. Closest he might ever get to an Emmy.
9. When Jeff Daniels, an actor I love, won the Best Actor trophy, I actually cried out in pain. First because his role on that show (I will not name that show) is so silly but also because, c’mon, Bryan Cranston is on that list and you go with a Sorkin wet dream of a character? C’mon.
8. Anna Faris reciting her canned tribute to her Mom co-star Allison Janney with the most fake enthusiasm you’ll see on television all year.
7. Gail Mancuso, a director for Modern Family, briefly celebrated a triumph for feminism in being only the second woman to win in the Best Direction (Comedy) category. She shot that in the foot moments later with an endorsement of “Blurred Lines.” Also, her dress made a feature of exposed bra straps. Odd choice.
6. Will Ferrell appeared to present the best comedy and best drama awards and — thank the good lord — after a nearly humorless show he actually made some funny jokes. The jokes were mostly at the expense of some children I thought were flown in by central casting, but apparently they were actually his three sons.
5. It’s possible Michael Douglas made the very first “top or bottom” joke that has ever aired on network television in prime time. (Then again, I watch almost none of the network comedies anymore, so perhaps I’ve missed something.) He also thanked his recently estranged wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, for her support, which struck me as an extraordinarily classy move.
4. Game of Thrones interpretive dancing happened, and at that moment I thought to myself, “It can’t get worse than this,” the “this” being “my life.” Then there was Breaking Bad interpretive dancing, complete with blocks designed to look like elements from the periodic table, oh my god. Why is interpretive dancing thought to be an appropriate thing to do on the Emmys, or the Oscars, or really any show other than the Tonys, where the dancing is not so much interpretive as representative and therefore OK? I don’t know.
3. Edie Falco’s tribute to James Gandolfini was the right balance of tearful and respectful. It’s possible I think this was amazing because as far as I’m concerned Edie Falco should be running the country, she’s so amazing. I would like to have her read my eulogy and even several Reddit commenting threads, should she be so inclined, because she will do it with nuance and dignity.
2. Merritt Wever’s acceptance speech. It was five or so words long. If all acceptance speeches were like this, awards shows would be far less torturous. The people who want longer speeches are out of their minds; we’d just get a longer list of publicists and agents. We’d hear more about celebrities’ favorite causes, like ferret hunting and chickadee preservation and help for those unfairly disfigured by an excess of plastic surgery.
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave her acceptance speech in character, complete with a hunched-over Tony Hale behind her. Vada Sultenfuss Anna Chlumsky contributed by typing on her iPhone during the reaction shot. Everyone loved it; it was just about the last funny moment in the entire show.