"Without the star power of the Oscars and the energetic musical interludes of the Grammys, the Emmys sometimes seem like the red-headed stepchild of the awards ceremonies," says Adam Clark Estes at The Atlantic Wire. "But that's why they're so much fun." Not quite as glamorous as the other big awards ceremonies, sometimes a little on the over-the-top side, the Emmys can mix a little madness in with the predictable red carpet pablum, back-patting, and other standard Hollywood navel-gazing. Here, five takeaways from Sunday's telecast of the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards:
1. Jimmy Kimmel was good, not great
Kimmel handled his Emmy hosting duties "like he hosts his late-night show — calmly, modestly, with solid-enough material" to make you laugh, if not out loud, says Matthew Gilbert at The Boston Globe. He certainly "captured the mood of the night, which was easy-going and casual," and thankfully brisk, at least "as far as these Hollywood love-fests go." Kimmel's "most notable achievement," says Lynn Elber of The Associated Press, was when he coaxed 30 Rock's Tracy Morgan to lie on stage, then asked viewers to tweet and Facebook-post that Morgan had "just passed out," and "it worked, with the message going viral," boosting viewership. More common were the flubs, says Dan Zak at The Washington Post. "Exhibit A: After Jimmy Kimmel Live failed to win," he had security escort his parents out as punishment for lying that he could achieve his dreams. "Get it? No?" That's because it's a "hollow, staged prank," not comedy.
2. Homeland stole Mad Men's thunder
The big news of the night, says The Washington Post's Zak: "Don Draper died in a terrorist attack!" That is to say, AMC's Mad Men lost its bid to be the first drama to win five consecutive Emmys, the nod instead going to Showtime's terrorism-themed series Homeland, and Mad Men's Jon Hamm (Draper) extended his Emmys losing streak as best actor. Homeland also took best actor (Damian Lewis) and actress (Claire Danes), plus best writing for a drama series. Lewis beat frontrunner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), and his performance bears out the decision, says Vicky Frost at The Guardian. And especially against a "rather underwhelming fifth season of Mad Men," Homeland's best drama "triumph is richly deserved," too.
3. Modern Family and The Daily Show are still going strong
Unlike the drama surrounding Homeland's freshman sweep, Modern Family was expected to win top comedy for the third time — and it did. The show's Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen got supporting-actor Emmys, too. And Jon Stewart and his Daily Show crew won their 10th consecutive best–variety show Emmy, an honor that Stewart said both deserves a free sandwich and shows "just how predictable these [several bleeps] can be." Thank goodness for Stewart, says Zac, and his too-rare "rebellious verve onstage during an otherwise dismal, predictable show." Well, "that's the way the weather is in Emmy country," says The Boston Globe's Gilbert: "Samey, with a chance of change."
4. There were a few non-Homeland surprises, too
Not everything went according to the critics' script, says Shannon Donnelly at The Daily Beast. "In what was perhaps the night's biggest upset, Jon Cryer — who got bumped up from supporting to lead actor in the wake of Charlie Sheen leaving Two and a Half Men — beat out presumed frontrunners Louis C.K. and Jim Parsons." Cryer looked just as "baffled" as everyone else. Also surprising were some of the, "well, non-winners," says Julie Miller at Vanity Fair. Mad Men didn't win a single statuette, "and disappointingly for our freshman favorites, the Zooey Deschanel–starring New Girl and the Lena Dunham creation Girls were both overlooked in their respective categories."
5. Game Change shows the power of Palin
The HBO drama about the 2008 presidential race, Game Change, took the Emmys for best miniseries, director, and writing, as well as best actress for Julianne Moore. And "if Sarah Palin was watching... she probably wasn't clapping," say Susan King and Rene Lynch at The Los Angeles Times. Plenty of people "thought Moore turned in an uncanny performance, but apparently Palin was not among them." As Moore noted in her acceptance speech, "I feel so validated, because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down." Well, Moore was "a shoo-in," GoodDerby.com's Tom O'Neill tells The Baltimore Sun. Palin, after all, has a solid track record at the awards. "Remember, Tina Fey recently won an Emmy portraying Sarah Palin, and everyone agrees Julianne Moore nailed it far better than Tina Fey."
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