A dozen afterthoughts on the ceremonial end of the 2011-12 television season, the 64th annual Primetime Emmys (which I fully recapped here).
1) There’s no doubt that “Homeland” is a tremendous show and stands up to the Emmy drama titlists of the past. At the same time, it’s hard to accept that “Breaking Bad” not only has never been recognized once by the TV Academy as the industry’s best drama, but that with only the conclusion of this season remaining, it likely never will be.
It’s not particularly shocking that Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece is too dark for the sensibilities of the Academy voters, but man … If “The Wire” was the great omission of the ’00s, it’s already unlikely that any program will surpass “Breaking Bad” as the great omission of the ’10s.
(That’s not just because it lends itself to such a great mix with “The Andy Griffith Show,” as seen above.)
2) On the opposite end of the awards spectrum, few will cry over “Mad Men” coming up empty after winning four drama series Emmys from 2008-11 and 15 Emmys overall. However, its record-setting 0-for-17 performance this year belies the strength of the show in its fifth season.
Yes, “Mad Men” was stranger than usual in 2012 – but that strangeness befit the times it was depicting. Matthew Weiner & Co. offered some incredible powerhouse episodes in season five, including but not limited to the LSD ride and Peggy’s departure. It’s just a brutal Emmy world out there.
3) I’m still a “Modern Family” fan, which clearly makes me part of a crowd, at least as far as the Academy is concerned. The sense I get talking to regular folk is that they don’t think the Steven Levitan-Christopher Lloyd comedy is quite as good now as it was when the show launched – which is no great sin, but contributes to the feeling of fatigue you might sense in places over the show’s third-straight Emmy comedy series win.
Though “Modern Family” has maintained much of its greatness over the years, I think one could argue that “The Big Bang Theory” deserves more official acknowledgment for the way it has grown over the years, evolving from the so-called “Sheldon show” into a true ensemble and one of great cleverness. While not in the “Breaking Bad” class of all-time snubs, I do think it’s deserving.
4) “Parks and Recreation” was better than either of them. And – no disrespect – Amy Poehler should have been onstage with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ speech instead of the reverse.
5) Though it wouldn’t have been my pick for the comedy series Emmy, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” delivered the most memorable comedy episode of 2011-12 in “Palestinian Chicken.” That counts for a lot.
6) Louis C.K.’s two Emmys – for two different projects – were a welcome reflection of his ascension into the elite of television, even if the “Beacon Theatre” show originated on the Internet. Boundaries dissolving and all that …
7) I was interviewed a couple of times over the weekend by the British press about “Downton Abbey” and its place in the Emmys and among U.S. TV viewers., and once again got the sense that the show might be more loved here than in the U.K. Three Emmy trophies out of 16 nominations might not seem to reflect that, but consider my glass 18.8% full: I am glad for the recognition it got.
8) After 10 years, others might be tired of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” winning the Emmy for variety series, but I’m not. No other program, except for “The Colbert Report,” delivers content of the quality, frequency and import – a tripod of greatness. And as truly amazed as I am by what Colbert does – his year of making the Super PAC controversy understood was unbelivably impressive – I’d still take Stewart’s show in a head-to-head contest every time.
What’s missing, in a sense, is a variety host award. Because while Stewart is brilliant, he doesn’t walk the high-wire act that Colbert does. Good luck trying to get the Emmys to add that category, though.
9) I’d believe the 2-for-17 run of “American Horror Story” was backlash against its controversial presence in the movie-miniseries category if the project that ended up taking the writing, directing and overall awards, “Game Change,” didn’t seem clearly superior (putting aside the oddity of a two-hour film competing against a 12-hour drama). As much as I adore Connie Britton, for example, she wasn’t going to beat Julianne Moore while appearing in a campy weirdfest.
10) Reality is not my genre of choice, but it still seems weird to me that the reality program award, given this year to CBS’ “Undercover Boss,” was relegated to the Creative Arts ceremony. That just doesn’t seem to reflect today’s audience sensibilities at all. I’d argue that any top program award – reality, nonfiction – belongs in the main show.
11) That being said, the biggest loss to the Creative Arts ceremony was the traditional annual montages supplied by writers for a variety series. They should at least make those available online somewhere.
12) The Gus Fring saga didn’t get an Emmy. I’m still making sense of it all.