2011 Emmy Awards: 6 talking points

Charlie Sheen's strange apology, an impromptu beauty pageant, and more buzzy moments from the Jane Lynch-hosted ceremony

Melissa McCarthy's win, surrounded by her fellow Best Actress in a Comedy nominees, was one of the Emmy night's funniest and most tender moments, say critics.
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Sunday night's Emmy Awards handed out trophies, often predictably, to Mad Men, Modern Family, Friday Night Lights, Kate Winslet, and a slew of other stars. Glee's Jane Lynch, who plays the acid-tongued Sue Sylvester, hosted the proceedings, which, while being praised as a "rewarding show," weren't without their dull or painfully unfunny moments. Here, six talking points from Sunday's ceremony:

1. Jane Lynch was a game host

This year's telecast was "funny, bright, and skillfully hosted" by Lynch, says Frazier Moore at the Associated Press. It may even have been the "most satisfying in memory." Indeed, says HitFix. Lynch was "peppy, witty, and winking," and delivered the night's best line: "Many people wonder why I'm a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen…the cast of Entourage." Did we watch the same show? asks Caryn James at IndieWire. Lynch was "saddled with wince-inducing lines" and lame pre-taped segments, making this year's Emmys "deadly dull."

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2. The Best Actress funny ladies provided the night's best moment

When Amy Poehler's name was read as the first nominee for Best Actress in a Comedy, she disobediently leapt to her feet and rushed the stage, soon to be joined by each of her fellow nominees in an orchestrated bit that turned into a mock Miss Comedy 2011 beauty pageant. Not only was it the best part of the night, says New York, it quickly became touching as the five runner ups surrounded winner Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly) in a "genuinely enthusiastic group hug." McCarthy then delivered her heartfelt speech crowned with a tiara and clutching a bouquet of roses.

3. A surprise appearance by Charlie Sheen did the actor no favors

The audience was unsure what to expect when Charlie Sheen took the stage to present the Best Actor in a Comedy Emmy, says HitFix. "What they got was…weird." Sheen addressed the Two and a Half Men cast and crew: "From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season." After all the Tiger Blood nonsense, says New York, "this sort of well-wishing does not ring true."

4. Modern Family predictably dominated comedy

The night began like a broken record, with the first four awards all going to Modern Family, including Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for Ty Burrell and Best Supporting Actress for his TV wife, Julie Bowen. At the end of the night, the sitcom took home a big fifth award for Best Comedy Series. The steamrolling, however, was well deserved, says Sheri Reed at The Stir. "That show is funny as hell, and there's nothing on air like it."

5. While a slew of deserved winners surprised in the drama categories

With all the usual suspects taking the stage as the night wore on (Modern Family, The Amazing Race, The Daily Show) it wasn't until Jason Katims won the Best Writing in a Drama for the series finale of Friday Night Lights — besting the acclaimed "The Suitcase" episode of Mad Men — that the surprises started. Then Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage won Best Supporting Actor after years of character acting work, the decidedly not-famous Margo Martindale won Best Supporting Actress for her hillbilly mobster on Justified, and, to cap it all off, Kyle Chandler finally won Best Actor for Friday Night Lights. These were all "startling surprises" in their respective races, says Frazier, "and none undeserving."

6. The musical numbers all tanked

An opening number in which Lynch sang and danced her way through the sets for shows like The Big Bang Theory and Entourage was "long and strange" and "painfully self-aware," says HitFix. The Emmytones, a harmonizing choir that introduced video montages and was made up of actors like Community's Joel McHale and How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders, "was a total flop." A medley of The Lonely Island's best-known Saturday Night Live hits was a "hot mess overall," says TV Guide, but Michael Bolton's "charismatic wailing" dressed as Capt. Jack Sparrow saved it.

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