Being in the industry one tends to roll their eyes when it comes to any sort of awards show. They are usually too grand and too robotic. There is more hoopla on dresses rather than content, and whoever you think wins usually does. Shows in their final year of eligibility usually win big, and you are stuck glancing at the television or the stage, with a permanent eye roll. The 2015 Primetime Emmys were no different, but with a few caveats. Yes, we had some shows get credit for where it matters – their last year of contention, but we also had some surprises that were well deserved and long coming. A-listers used to never touch television, it being the graveyard for legitimate actors. This still rings true sometimes (Rest in Peace Robin Williams, but The Crazy Ones was terrible), but that has changed tremendously over the past few years. Being a celebrity doesn’t just entail a guest star or feature anymore. This year alone, we’ve had Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) and Richard Jenkins (Olive Kitteridge) take home major awards, whilst in the middle of very successful film careers. Television has changed, and there is no one to thank it more than Netflix.
It is always interesting to note how Netflix was floundering for so long on an idea that no one ever thought was possible; the death of network television. Now, places like HBO and Showtime have always been niche markets, but television has taken a dive when it comes to live content. Providers like Netflix and Hulu understand that, fueling binge watching marathons and memes that implore you to ‘Netflix and Chill’. This year was big for online streaming providers with Amazon and Netflix being included in a variety of nominations. Jeffrey Tambor extended his win streak with Transparent, his surprise hit from Amazon, while Bloodline dominated the nominations from the now monumental Netflix. The industry has flipped the switch, and now shows that are available all at once can be viewed as primetime. This is an interesting era.
Of course, it was Mad Men’s last year of contention, and I almost thought that they were going to win every single damn category. Not so fast. We all forgot that Game of Thrones had a bombastic year, and yes it might have been the best season. From Dinklage winning Best Supporting to the main jewel of the night, Best Drama Series, Game of Thrones flexed it’s might. Yet, where it all mattered, Jon Hamm got his due. If you have been an avid Mad Men-holic these past few years, you know the show slowed down between season 5-7(the first half anyways). That changed this year. Unlike a lot of loved shows that just tied up loose ends or left you in the dark (literally), Mad Men ended the way it should; with Don making a pitch. Jon Hamm’s Don Draper expanded so much, yet did so little, letting his co-stars and story shine, yet still leaving us with a smile to end the series. Hamm earned this one, just like he has earned every gig in his relatively young career. This rings true for Viola, becoming the first African-American woman to win a Best Actress award at the Primetime Emmys. The fierceness of her character and charm she portrays in every role was awarded – finally.
For once, I enjoyed an awards show. I came away with hope for better work and a more consistent flow of surprises for next year. Lets hope they bring back Andy Samberg. Oh, with Tracy Morgan back, I really want to see if he got anyone pregnant in the afterparty. We missed you Tracy!