Viola Davis earned the spotlight at the 67th annual Emmy Awards show. After becoming the first black woman to win in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama category, Davis quoted Harriet Tubman before speaking from her own heart, which was just as memorable as the win itself.
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” said Davis.
Another winner, Jon Hamm, managed to avoid going zero for twelve at the Emmys, winning last night for his historically great performance as Don Draper in the final season of “Mad Men,” bringing the crowd to the biggest standing ovation of the night.
The Emmys are (rightfully) criticized for their nomination choices, often rewarding lesser shows and performances at the expense of more deserving ones. However, you could make an argument that tonight, not a single award went to someone undeserving.
Yes, Amy Poehler watched the announcement for Best Actress in a Comedy Series while wearing a hoodie and sunglasses and taking a nap. Her performance as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation” would go its entire run without an Emmy. Along with co-star Nick Offerman never even receiving a nomination, and the show never winning for best series, “Parks and Rec” joins the list of great shows tragically ignored by the Emmys.
Also, sadly, Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”) and Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”) came up empty handed in the race for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama. Other snubs included “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” winning zilch and Hamm becoming the only actor to ever win an Emmy for a performance on “Mad Men,” but this is where the tragedies ended. Every winner tonight was fully deserving, even if some were rooting for others to win.
Amazon’s “Transparent” won for best directing, and its star Jeffrey Tambor won Outstanding Lead Actor for his amazing performance as a parent coming out as transgender to her family. The 71-year-old finally won an Emmy after a long television career marked with six prior Emmy nominations. “Veep” went on to win for Writing, Outstanding Supporting Actor (Tony Hale, his second win) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (her fourth straight win for playing Selina Meyer). It also finally broke through and won Outstanding Comedy Series over “Modern Family.”
Along with Davis’ historic victory for black female actors, Uzo Aduba also won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama. From then on it was the night of “Game of Thrones,” which won Outstanding Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage), Directing, Writing and Outstanding Drama Series.
HBO continued to dominate the night with “Olive Kitteridge” winning six Emmys in the “limited series and TV Movie” category. As great as “Kitteridge” was, it’s a shame to see “The Honorable Woman,” “Nightingale” and their respective stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and David Oyelowo fail to win anything.
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” won for Directing and Writing as well as Outstanding Variety Talk Show. Perhaps it wasn’t the most deserving winner, but it’s hard to argue with not rewarding one of the most important shows in television history for its final season. “Inside Amy Schumer” won for Outstanding Variety Sketch Show, beating out the final season of “Key and Peele.”
Andy Samberg was strong as the host and opened with a humorous video song about there being far too much TV for anyone to ever watch. He kept up with sharp jokes all night long, far exceeding the expectations for his performance (“There were some changes in how certain shows are classified this year. For example, “Orange is the New Black” is now technically a drama, while “Louie” is now technically jazz.”) Tracy Morgan brought the crowd to tears when he came out to present best drama, his first public showing since his tragic car crash last spring.
Perhaps most surprisingly was The Emmys actually finishing early, with the credits rolling at 10:55 p.m. when it was slotted to go until 11, a rarity for an awards show. The audience was sent to bed early, but the dream had already come true for Davis and Hamm, capping what has proved to be the most significant Emmy Awards show in decades.