Surprises Abound at the 2016 Emmy Awards

Ah, The Emmys. A night filled with the celebration of the best of TV from the previous year. It’s always exciting to find out the nominees and then wait impatiently for the winners to be announced. But for all that excitement, the Emmys usually end up being a boring and predictable affair where the same shows and actors win every year. That still happened this year but last night’s telecast was packed to the brim with surprising (and well deserved) winners. Let’s take a look!

The Usual Suspects

While this year’s ceremony saw a lot of first-time winners, we still had a handful of actors and shows winning the same award again. Julia Louie-Dreyfus took home her 5th consecutive Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award for her portrayal as potty-mouthed Vice President Selina Meyer on Veep (while the show itself won for Oustanding Comedy Series). Louie-Dreyfus continues to be excellent in the role and this season found new ways to bring out the humanity in the otherwise wholly unlikeable Selina Meyer. She’ll continue to win the trophy as long as she submits herself as a nominee. She’s just that good.

Once again Game of Thrones took home the award for Outstanding Drama Series, which was predictable but not completely undeserved . Season six of Game of Thrones was miles better than season five (which it won the trophy for last year) but I wouldn’t say it was the BEST thing to air on TV this year. I would’ve much rather seen The Americans or Mr. Robot take home the trophy. Game of Thrones also took home the awards for Outstanding Writing and Directing (that’s two separate awards) for the climactic episode “Battle of the Bastards.” The episode was a technical marvel and Miguel Sapochnik deserved recognition for bringing that battle to life. However, the episode definitely didn’t deserve a writing award. It was pretty thin on plot so the award should have gone to one of the episodes from Mr. Robot and The Americans that were nominated.

OJ Wins Big

Given the sheer levels of hype and acclaim surround The People V. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, it was absolutely no surprise that it swept all but one of the major categories that it was nominated in (it was Oustanding Directing for a Limited Series to Susanne Bier for The Night Manager). The series took home awards for writing, directing, supporting actor (Sterling K. Brown), and lead actor/actress (Courtney B. Vance and Sarah Paulson respectively).

While I would have loved some of the awards to have been given to the amazing second season of Fargo, I really can’t fault any of the winners. ACS was a story that needed to be told for right now. Every actor involved had the gargantuan task of turning people that our media had made into cartoon characters back into real, complex individuals that they are. All those recognized  succeeded in doing just that. If you haven’t watched this yet, do so (I reviewed it back when it aired).

Maybe Fargo can pick up some more awards next year!

The Jaw Droppers and The Head Scratchers

I wanted Keri Russell to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. I wanted her to win so very bad. She didn’t but another nominee who’s work deserved to be recognized (but whom I never expected to win) did. For years Tatiana Maslany has been the reason to watch BBC America’s Orphan Black. The near effortless way she slips into the multiple roles she is asked to play is nothing short of amazing. While the show itself may have lost me a long time ago, Maslany’s performances never once faltered.

This one isn’t really a jaw dropper so much as it is a welcome change of pace. Rami Malek absolutely killed it in his portrayal of the mentally ill Elliot on Mr. Robot. Malek IS that show, the first season (and the currently airing second one) would have simply fallen apart without his committed performance. He very much deserved the award and I’m glad that even if he never wins again, he will always have this one. That said, man, I wouldn’t have minded if Matthew Rhys from The Americans had won either.

Fun fact: Rami Malek is the first non-white actor to win an Emmy for Oustanding Lead Actor in 18 years! The last person to do that was Andre Braugher for Homicide: Life on The Street. Yay diversity!

Somehow, in a move that makes no sense to me, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride won for Outstanding Television Movie. I love Sherlock and all involved in its making but this one-off special was not good at all. This is a clear cut example of the Emmys sticking with what they know.

After 9 nominations, Dame Maggie Smith finally won Outstanding Supporting Actress for Downton Abbey. The lady has never attended any of the ceremonies. It’s fine, she’s old and probably deserved a win. With this, Downton Abbey can finally fade off into the distance where few will remember it. Emmys, give a dang award to Lena Headey already! She’s doing the best acting on Game of Thrones and deserves it darn it!

Also, Ben Mendelson winning Outstanding Supporting Actor for Bloodline surprised me. The show isn’t all that good even though Mendelson’s performance was magnetic. I just wanted Jonathan Banks to win for Better Call Saul. Maybe next year.

Well, that about does it for what I wanted to say about the 2016 Emmy Awards. Overall, it was fun telecast filled with enough surprises to give me hope that the Television Academy isn’t so set in its ways. Here’s to next year bringing more new winners! Hey, with Game of Thrones taking a year off (it will air during the 2018 eligibility period), so I’m sure we’ll see plenty of them!

A complete list of the winners of the 2016 Emmy Awards can be found here.


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