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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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Seth Meyers hosted the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Seth Meyers hosted the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

66th Primetime Emmy Awards: the winners, losers and lack of surprises

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were held last night (yes, on a Monday night in August), and the running theme of the show seemed to be: Hey, if you have already won an Emmy, we’ll be giving you another one tonight. We promise.

This, of course, made the night a little predictable and unsurprising, but nowhere near boring.

Not so surprisingly, Seth Meyers was a fantastic host with solid charisma and plenty of comedic quips, especially when he said, "the most DVRed show of the past season was ‘The Blacklist,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ was the most pirated show and ‘Duck Dynasty’ was the most VCR-taped."

Seth Meyers wasn't the only winner last night, however. Shining moments was when Gwen Stefani blurted out, "The Colbort Report" rather than the "Colbert Report," whenever Amy Poehler was on camera, Bill Crystal's tribute to Robin Williams, the Emmys edition of "Billy on the Street," or when Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus made out with each other (yes, that actually happened.) 

The Netflix hit "Orange is the New Black," which was nominated for its first season this year, fared poorly against pre-established shows. Star Taylor Schilling lost to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who took home her third Emmy for "Veep," and Kate Mulgrew lost to Allison Janney in the Supporting Actress category. As a whole, Netflix left empty-handed. There’s always next year, Netflix?

In the comedy category, ABC’s "Modern Family" won for Outstanding Comedy Series because of course it did. I’m not saying that it’s not a funny show because it’s definitely funny, but it’s not "Louie" funny or even "Silicon Valley" funny. Get it together, voters.

In not-so-surprising fashion, AMC’s "Breaking Bad" pretty much swept the drama category for its final season with Bryan Cranston beating Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor in a Drama Series and digging the dagger even deeper into the heart of "True Detective" as "Breaking Bad" by taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series to close out the night.

This is okay, because both Cranston and McConaughey stole the show just for being awesome. 

The lack of real surprises this year in the categories had me thinking: Who should’ve won instead? Who should’ve even been nominated? Well, for your entertainment and my own amusement, here are my picks: 

COMEDY

Best Actor - Comedy

Louis CK - "Louie" 
Don Cheadle - "House of Lies"
Ricky Gervais - "Derek"
Matt LeBlanc - "Episodes"
William H. Macy - "Shameless"
Jim Parsons - "The Big Bang Theory"

Won: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"

Who deserved it: Louis CK, "Louie"

Should’ve been nominated: Adam Scott, "Parks and Recreation" or Marc Maron, "Maron" 

This summer, Jim Parsons has received a wealthy new contract and an Emmy for his performance as Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory." But does he write, direct and produce episodes of "The Big Bang Theory"? I don't think so. Here comes Louis CK, a comedian who is ruthlessly hilarious on the stage and on the small screen. He brings a lot to his role as a single father navigating through life as a comedian that's clearly unmatched.

This is a strong category, but it seems like this year is mostly an automatic blueprint of comedic actors who'll automatically get nominated every year until their show ends. It'll be nice to see someone like Adam Scott from "Parks and Recreation" or Marc Maron from IFC's "Maron" get a well-deserved nod. 

Best Actress - Comedy

Lena Dunham - "Girls"
Edie Falco - "Nurse Jackie"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - "Veep"
Melissa McCarthy - "Mike and Molly"
Amy Poehler - "Parks and Recreation"
Taylor Schilling - "Orange is the New Black"

Won: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

Who deserved it: Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

Should’ve been nominated: Mindy Kaling, "The Mindy Project"

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is fantastic on "Veep," so it's really no surprise that she won. There's one actress, though, that goes above and beyond in her role: Amy Poehler. Her role as Leslie Knope in "Parks and Recreation" is legendary. She's so unbelievably good. Since the show's ending next year, maybe Emmy voters will award her next year? I only hope. 

A lot of people wanted Taylor Schilling to win this one for "Orange is the New Black." She's a fine actress who does well on the show, but I don't think she belongs in the same league as most of the other nominees in the category because, well, she's not that funny. The actress who should've taken her place is Mindy Kaling who is getting better and better on "The Mindy Project." 

Best Supporting Actor - Comedy

Andre Braugher - "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Adam Driver - "Girls"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson - "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell - "Modern Family"
Fred Armisen - "Portlandia"
Tony Hale - "Veep"

Won: Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" 

Who deserved it: Adam Driver, "Girls"

Should’ve been nominated: Jake Johnson, "New Girl" or Nick Offerman, "Parks and Recreation" 

Since Eric Stonestreet was surprisingly left out of this category after winning last year for "Modern Family," it only seemed inevitable that one of his co-stars will take home an Emmy instead. This year, the award went to Ty Burrell. He's funny and all, but why not give it to someone who isn't on "Modern Family" like Adam Driver from "Girls"? As he has proven over the last three seasons, Driver is at times maniacally strange and sweet – mostly hilariously so. 

Oh, and where's the love for Jake Johnson and Nick Offerman? They've been left out of this category so far and it's almost unnerving. Johnson is fantastic as the dimwitted, but lovable Nick in "New Girl." Also, Nick Offerman has made his character of Ron Swanson legendary just by his comedic delivery that consistently makes me sob with laughter.  

Best Supporting Actress - Comedy

Mayim Bialik - "The Big Bang Theory"
Julie Bowen - "Modern Family"
Allison Janney - "Mom"
Kate Mulgrew - "Orange is the New Black"
Kate McKinnon - "Saturday Night Live"
Anna Chlumsky - "Veep"

Won: Allison Janney, "Mom" 

Who deserved it: Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

Should’ve been nominated: Eden Sher, "The Middle" or Aubrey Plaza, "Parks and Recreation"

This is only the real surprise of the night in terms of the acting categories. Who would've thought that Julie Bowen from "Modern Family" would lose this one? I had to rewind just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. I haven't watched a single episode of the creatively titled "Mom," but I'm familiar with Allison Janney's film work and she's usually outstanding. You know who I would've preferred to win this category instead? Kate McKinnon of "Saturday Night Live." She has tremendously filled the void that was left after Kristen Wiig left the cast. Give her more time to shine, and there's no doubt in my mind that she'll be on that stage one day as a winner because on screen, she already is. 

This summer, I've started to watch re-runs of the ABC comedy "The Middle." I'd go as far to say that I laugh more watching that show than I do while watching "Modern Family." The comedic force that drives the show is Eden Sher as Sue Heck, the daughter of the relatable Heck family. Another worthy actress is Aubrey Plaza, who plays the strangely funny April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation." 

Outstanding Comedy Series

"The Big Bang Theory"
"Louie"
"Modern Family"
"Orange is the New Black"
"Silicon Valley"
"Veep"

Won: "Modern Family"

Who deserved it: "Louie" or "Silicon Valley"

Should’ve been nominated: "Parks and Recreation"

Here's a real shocker of the night: "Modern Family" won Outstanding Comedy Series. I apologize if I seem bitter, it's because I really am. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy "Modern Family," but there is so much comedy gold on television that's so much better.

For example, "Louie" and "Silicon Valley" are two shows that are not only creatively funny, but they take comedy television to a whole new level. The real surprise here is "Silicon Valley," a show that I expected to be entertaining because it's created by Mike Judge, but I wasn't expecting it to be as fantastic as it is. Also, it's the only show that can successfully pull of a minutes-long joke that involves penises and math. 

I was really expecting "Orange is the New Black" to win this, even though it's not really a comedy or a drama. It's a unique hybrid of the two genres that's specifically difficult to categorize. It's not funny enough to be a stand alone comedy, nor is it dramatic enough to be competing with "Breaking Bad, "True Detective," "House of Cards" and the like. Maybe next year it'll have its own category: Orange is the new category. You don't like that idea? Okay, me neither. 

DRAMA

Best Actor - Drama

Bryan Cranston - "Breaking Bad"
Jeff Daniels - "The Newsroom"
Jon Hamm - "Mad Men"
Woody Harrelson - "True Detective"
Matthew McConaughey - "True Detective"
Kevin Spacey - "House of Cards"

Won: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" 

Who deserved it: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"  

Should’ve been nominated: Freddie Highmore, "Bates Motel," Andrew Lincoln, "The Walking Dead," or Michael Sheen in "Masters of Sex"

Here's the truth: Bryan Cranston deserved to win for "Breaking Bad." After all, this was the final chance for Cranston to receive some Emmy love for his now iconic performance as Walter White. There'll be no performance like it until the end of time. As dramatic as that sounds, it's difficult to deny.

This was a packed category full of great performances. Ranging from Cranston to Kevin Spacey to Matthew McConaughey, who just won the Oscar earlier this year for "Dallas Buyers Club." A few people believed McConaughey was going to win this one, but let's be real: It was Cranston's all along. Poor Jon Hamm, he'll never win, but at least his award is that he's Jon Hamm. 

Although this was a packed category, it still stings that Freddie Highmore was left out for his portrayal of Norman Bates in "Bates Motel." The young actor is unreal in the role, completely masking over Anthony Perkins in the process. He's so, so good and deserves the recognition. The same goes for Andrew Lincoln of "The Walking Dead."

With the snubs of "Bates Motel," "Hannibal," and "The Walking Dead," it seems like Emmy voters don't like the horror genre all that much. So it's no surprise that Lincoln hasn't been nominated yet. But come on, just watch a few episodes and you tell me that he isn't great because if you did, I'd call you a liar. 

Best Actress - Drama

Lizzy Caplan - "Masters of Sex"
Claire Danes - "Homeland"
Michelle Dockery - "Downton Abbey"
Julianna Margulies - "The Good Wife"
Kerry Washington - "Scandal"
Robin Wright - "House of Cards"

Won: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" 

Who deserved it: Lizzy Caplan, "Masters of Sex"

Should’ve been nominated: Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel" or Tatiana Maslany, "Orphan Black"

Julianna Marguilles won again for her performance in "The Good Wife." She might be good, but she's not as good as Lizzy Caplan in "Masters of Sex" or even Claire Danes in "Homeland." Also, for a show that's loved, Kerry Washington has yet to go on stage to claim any glory for "Scandal." Maybe Emmy voters just wanted to play it safe this year. Oh well. Marguilles did say something during her acceptance speech that's oh, so true: It's a wonderful time for women on television.

Just by looking at the comedy categories, the actresses in the drama categories and all of the other outstanding actresses that were left out such as Vera Farmiga in "Bates Motel" and Tatiana Maslany in "Orphan Black," it really is a wonderful time for women on television and that's the way it forever should be. 

Best Supporting Actor - Drama

Aaron Paul - "Breaking Bad"
Jim Carter - "Downton Abbey"
Peter Dinklage - "Game of Thrones"
Josh Charles - "The Good Wife"
Mandy Patinkin - "Homeland"
Jon Voight - "Ray Donovan"

Won: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Who deserved it: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"

Should’ve been nominated: Dean Norris, "Breaking Bad" 

Much like his co-star Bryan Cranston, this was Aaron Paul's Emmy to win. His role as Jesse Pinkman is iconic as well, mostly for his catchphrase "Yeah, b*tch!" On screen, Aaron Paul inhabited the role and made Jesse a sympathetic character, even though he did despicable things, but he's the character who has also been through the most in the show, even more than Walter White, the one who had cancer. The emotion through the words he spoke or the the expressions on his face were emotionally draining, and was a clear signal that he's a natural talent. 

Dean Norris was always great on "Breaking Bad," but his time to really shine didn't come until the fifth and final season where he tries to bring down the Heisenberg empire, even though his brother-in-law Walter is the kingpin at large. This bitter conflict turned familial was riveting and if it wasn't for Dean Norris' performance tagged alongside Cranston's, then it wouldn't have worked nearly as well as it did. 

Best Supporting Actress - Drama

Anna Gunn - "Breaking Bad"
Maggie Smith - "Downton Abbey"
Joanne Forggatt - "Downton Abbey"
Lena Headey - "Game of Thrones"
Christine Baranksi - "The Good Wife"
Christina Hendricks - "Mad Men"

Won: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"

Who deserved it: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"

Should’ve been nominated instead: Melissa McBride, "The Walking Dead" or Maisie Williams, "Game of Thrones"

At this point, you think because I'm a huge "Breaking Bad" fan means that I'm biased in believing that every cast member deserves an Emmy. The reason I'm a fan to begin with is because the show is incredible and it's incredible because of the performances on the show. Case #3: Anna Gunn as Skylar White, Walter's not-always-likable wife. Since she won the Emmy last night, it's obvious that Skylar isn't disliked as much as I originally thought. The reason Skylar got under our skin at times and made us feel bitter anger is because of how good Gunn was on the show. 

Lena Headey is another standout actress who needs recognition for her performance as Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones," but because this was Anna Gunn's last chance to win, Emmy voters decided to give some more love to "Breaking Bad." Hopefully next year, Headey will be nominated again, only this time with her young co-star Maisie Williams alongside. Again, I have to mention "The Walking Dead" because a large truck needs to dump a bunch of awards at the front doorstep of Melissa McBride, who plays the emotionally damaged Carol. If she doesn't get nominated next year, then Emmy voters might be told to "look at the flowers." 

Outstanding Drama Series

"Breaking Bad"
"Downton Abbey"
"Game of Thrones"
"House of Cards"
"Mad Men"
"True Detective"

Won: "Breaking Bad"

Who deserved it: "Breaking Bad" or "True Detective" 

Should’ve been nominated instead: "The Walking Dead" or "Bates Motel"

You've probably realized the pattern at this point: If Breaking Bad is nominated, it deserves to win. To me, the only show that could've won instead was "True Detective," which is a fantastic, philosophical thriller featuring fantastic performances from a mumbling and immoral McConaughey and an equally immoral Woody Harrelson. Both on their A-games. 

If "Breaking Bad" wasn't getting love for its last season, then this year probably would've been HBO's year with "True Detective." It would've almost been a pleasant surprise if "True Detective" ended up winning and that's coming from a "Breaking Bad" fanatic. Maybe next year, depending on how the second season turns out, the show will earn more love from Emmy voters.

Maybe, just maybe if "True Detective" stayed in the mini-series category, it would've won.

The problem this year was that there was way too much competition. Every show in the drama category especially is really, really good. I mean, according to a lot of people, we're now experiencing the Golden Age of television. With more and and more competition, the more difficult it'll be for our favorite shows to win awards. This year especially proved that, even though the Emmy voters still voted safely.

Despite the lack of any real surprises, the Emmys remained fun and that's exactly why I watch award shows like it to begin with. 

What are your picks? Who do you think should’ve won instead?

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