Just put on a good show: The 2011 Emmys

- Ramon De Veyra -

MANILA, Philippines - With so much quality television being made right now, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have a good Emmys show. You could probably coast by just from keeping the camera trained on all the brilliant comedic talent the medium has to offer. This year’s Emmys had some great moments, and seemed like a genuinely fun time. Maybe they’re taking a cue from the Golden Globes, though that show’s reputation for fun seems based on the fact that alcohol is served during the event.

This year’s Emmys’ high points were paired with a couple of expected and earned wins. If a theme did emerge, it felt to me like it was certain shows and talents finally getting their dues. Even host Jane Lynch, long an underappreciated comedienne before getting a breakout turn in Glee, did a good turn as host of the show. Her opening number had the occasional weak spot but it was lovely seeing all the participating celebrities in their shows’ worlds, the Mad Men section a clear winner, showcasing the differences between that show’s era and today’s.

Comedians reigned. Lynch’s best joke of the night came when she said, “people ask me why I’m a lesbian,” then proceeding to introduce the cast of Entourage. Ricky Gervais sent in a prerecorded message, which was laughably edited into a comedy of censorship errors. The Lonely Island performed a medley of their nominated hits with assistance from a very willing Michael Bolton (dressed at one point as Jack Sparrow, complete with a crooked mustache), Ed Helms, Maya Rudolph, Akon, and John Stamos. They also introduced the phrase “freak Bill Macy” into the lexicon of popular culture. If there was one person who consistently bombed, though, it was the disembodied announcer who kept making weak, sometimes off-color remarks at the winners’ expense as they walked to the stage. They were about as clever as a Kenneth Cole tagline. Which is to say, not at all. Oh, and you could almost feel everyone expectantly holding their breath when Charlie Sheen appeared, but this time there were no shenanigans, no fireworks.

I’ve no space to list down every winner here (that’s what the Internet’s for), so I’ll just point out some favorites. Martin Scorsese won for his direction of the Boardwalk Empire pilot, another feather in the cap of the esteemed filmmaker. The critically-loved Friday Night Lights, which this year ended, finally got some Emmy love when it received awards in Outstanding Writing and Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Character actress Margo Martindale gave a moving speech when she won for Supporting Actress for Justified. Peter Dinklage won Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his stellar work in Game of Thrones, which made his character one of its breakout stars. While much of the momentum was on HBO’s side (Boardwalk Empire scored technical and creative wins) with the popularity of Game of Thrones, they got a shock when Mad Men again won the Outstanding Drama Series, making it a landmark four-peat for the beloved show.

Over on the comedy side, Modern Family dominated for the second year in a row. The show’s one of those nice confluences of “very very famous” and “actually good.” Though it’s a shame the outstanding Community didn’t even get a nomination, you can’t argue with the charm of the cast. When Ty Burrell won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, he was up against three of his co-stars. Onscreen wife Julie Bowen also took an Emmy home for herself, and the show took Outstanding Comedy Series. On stage, there was a touching bit when co-creator Steven Levitan said, “There were a lot of years when a lot of people on this stage had failed pilots and shows that didn’t go, so we appreciate every single second of this.”

The best part of the show, though, was during the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award. The nominees, led by the first-called Amy Poehler, happily bounded up onto the stage and took positions, pageant-style, showing a sweet, supportive solidarity that prompted a standing ovation from the crowd. When Melissa McCarthy was announced as the winner (for Mike & Molly) she was visibly shocked and surprised, but it was so sweet to see her fellow nominees around her, all hugs and smiles, as presenters Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara presented her with a crown and flowers. Reaction shots of the crowd showed how happy and pleased they were at this display of shared pride. It was a moment that made for some damn good television, the kind everyone was there to celebrate in the first place.











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