I’m an awards show obsessive. Oscars, Grammys, VMAs, Golden Globes, it doesn’t matter, I’m there, with a big bucket of popcorn and a personalized ballot. Heck, I’ve regularly tuned in to the Independent Spirit Awards. Something about the combination of totally wacky presenter pairings, celebrities I love being charming in real life, and the slimmest chance that something actually touching or spontaneous or unexpected could occur, keeps me coming back — even as I complain that the ceremonies are way too long, the awards are basically meaningless, and they’re never given to the right people anyways. (Hint: in case you were confused, Amy Pohler is always the right person.)
The 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were no exception. It was long. It was occasionally tedious. And it was totally worth it. Here are what this year’s Emmys got wrong, and what they got oh so right.
Right: Andy Samberg’s Opening Number
For once, the opening song-and-dance routine of an awards show was actually funny and topical. Andy Samberg proved he was worthy of his hosting gig by spending a year in a bunker watching every single show to air this past season. He emerged possibly insane, but with a bevy of TV knowledge that qualified him above all others to captain the Emmys this year.
The problem of “too much TV” has inspired an abundance of thinkpieces and an aura of general anxiety for pop culture obsessives like myself. Especially during a three-hour TV bonanza like the Emmys, it felt especially fitting to both address and mock this “problem.”
Right: Pairing the Amys, our comedy overlords (all hail their reign)
The first presenters of the night were Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer, a.k.a. our future Benevolent Leaders who will win the love and respect of their people through the hilarity of their lady comedy, long may they rule. Seeing them work together, even for just a minute, was a highlight of the evening.
Wrong: Amy Poehler still doesn’t have an Emmy
Not only is Amy Poehler more than deserving for bringing Leslie Knope onto our screens and into our hearts, she also consistently delivers some of the funniest bits at these shows, whether she’s hosting or not. Her sweatshirt gag was one of the laugh-out-loud moments of the night.
Not that getting an Emmy actually matters when it comes to a character or show’s legacy. Steve Carell never won for playing Michael on The Office, and nobody’s sitting around saying, “Yeah, he was pretty good, but he’s no Emmy winner.” Still, Poehler is a national treasure, and she deserves some recognition, goshdarnit.
Right: Jill Soloway crushes it
Transparent’s writer/director/showrunner Jill Soloway won the Emmy last night for Best Directing for a Comedy Series, but she was a star of the show even before her name was called. Soloway was nominated for both her directing and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and her pre-taped bits before each award were golden.
Not only did Soloway call out the male gaze, she also thanked the Goddess in her acceptance speech, called on viewers to support trans rights legislation, and rocked a killer polka dot suit. Girl was on fire for feminism and equality, and I was seriously into it.
Right: Taraji P. Henson’s reactions
The Emmys this year honored a more diverse set of nominees, and black actresses in particular, than ever before. Taraji P. Henson didn’t win for her role as Empire’s indomitable Cookie Lyon, but she was cheering louder than anyone when both Regina King and Viola Davis’s names were announced. That genuine support and encouragement for her peers is what shows like these are all about.
Wrong: Lady Gaga looked totally normal
Come on Gaga, you know why we invite you to these things, right? So that you’ll show up wearing something totally outlandish and campy and over the top, and we’ll all get a break from every other glamorous, boring outfit. Instead, Lady Gaga arrived wearing her own hair, understated makeup, and a thoroughly appropriate dress. No one wants to see that!
Right: Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis’s touching, powerful speeches
Uzo Aduba, who won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, and Viola Davis, who took home the statue for Best Actress in a Drama, both brought down the house with their moving acceptance speeches. Davis made history as the first black woman to every win in the category, and her speech, in which she quoted Harriet Tubman and gave thanks to many actresses who helped pave the way for this moment, will be remembered for years as one of the best Emmy moments ever.
It’s one thing for a guy like Andy Samberg to call out the need for more diversity, or to read articles full of depressing statistics on the lack of roles for women and people of color. But seeing Davis win, and hearing her personal struggle against racism in the industry, was as great a moment as any awards show is likely to achieve.
Right: Peter Dinklage’s man bun
— REDBOOK (@redbookmag) September 21, 2015
Proving he’s absolutely the coolest dude in the room, Peter Dinklage managed to pull off the most divisive of hairstyles, the man bun, to universal acclaim. Get it, Tyrion.
Wrong: Emmys spoil everything
At the beginning of the show, as all these great TV seasons were being celebrated, I had the urge to flip to my DVR and immediately start binging on everything I hadn’t caught up on this year. That urge was squashed later in the night, when the Emmy’s “Goodbye” reel spoiled every single finale people might have enjoyed.
Right: Jon Hamm won his Emmy
After getting shut out seven years in a row, Jon Hamm finally won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama the last time he was eligible for his Mad Men performance. Apparently, he was so tired from all that waiting, he couldn’t even managed to get up the stairs.
The win also marks the first, last, and only time an actor will ever win an Emmy for their work on Mad Men. That a 1 – 36 record, and a damn shame.
Wrong: Mad Men loses Best Drama
With seven acclaimed shows nominated in the category, maybe no one could claim to be a lock this year. But it was Mad Men’s final shot, and it was the longest-running program in the category. Instead, Game of Thrones (which, even fans can agree, didn’t have its finest season this year) got the biggest award of the night, and Elizabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks didn’t even get to appear onstage.
Right: Tracy Morgan’s first public appearance since his accident
In a night full of emotional moments, Tracy Morgan’s first public appearance since he suffered a traumatic brain injury 15 months ago, was truly special. He came very close to being honored in the In Memoriam segment this year, but instead he walked out to a standing ovation, and even told some dirty jokes (much to the chagrin of his 30 Rock costar Tina Fey). It was the perfect way to end one of the best Emmy Awards in recent memory.