Here we are again. Another award show, another winner-picking competition between me and my new wife, Johanna. And after slogging through a few shows that, while fun, were ultimately inconsequential (The ESPYs, The Daytime Emmys, and the MTV Movie Awards) we finally have a big one: The Emmys.
This has traditionally been my award show of choice; I’ve always been more of a television guy than a movie guy, I guess. Plus, I don’t usually get around to seeing many of the nominated films before the Oscars, whereas I’m always pretty invested in the Emmys and opinionated about the categories. It feels like the recent golden age of television has faded a bit, and my interest has waned slightly, but this remains my favorite masturbatory Hollywood event.
Tonight is big for Johanna, too. My friend Alex, in anticipation of tonight’s competition, asked me if Johanna had won any of these. I quickly said that yes, she had. While I knew I had taken the last few, I thought we were actually pretty even. Having gone back to check, though, I’m surprised to report that I won The Grammys, The Academy Awards, The MTV Movie Awards, The Daytime Emmys, and The ESPYs, with Johanna only claiming the Golden Globes, the first one of these we did. I’m up five to one! She needs a win. In preparation, she’s been scouring the internet for expert predictions.
As always, we choose for the most part whom we think will win, not whom we want to win. Never is that more true than with the Emmys; trust me, I’m no fan of The Good Wife or, heaven forbid, Glee. Categories and winners are in bold. Johanna has concocted an Emmy cocktail containing peach vodka, Sprite Zero, and a splash of grenadine. She’s named it the “Leading Lady.” It’s better, both in name and taste, than the drink she fixed us for the Daytime Emmys. Let’s do this.
7:41 – Taco night is over, the red carpet has begun, and I’m filling out my ballot. All of these interviews are so unbelievably awkward and cringe-worthy. I instinctively reach for the mute button.
8:00 – Here we go. We’re opening with a shot of the director’s booth. This is such an ego move; it’s like they think we’ll assume the show was put together by elves if they don’t show themselves. Johanna just thinks it’s hacky and compares it to starting a school paper with a Webster’s definition.
8:02 – Ugh, we open with Jimmy Fallon and the kids from Glee. He’s obviously a much bigger fan of this show than I am.
Also, they’re singing Bruce Springsteen, which would normally not be something I was a fan of, but even I can’t deny that “Born to Run” is a great song. And Jon Hamm and Tina Fey are out here too, so I’m in.
8:08 – Amy Poehler joins Jimmy in a song introducing a “Year in Comedy” montage.
This montage is fun. You know, Johanna and I talk a lot (as I alluded to above) about how TV isn’t quite as good as it was, say, five years ago. I think that I’m going to amend that to say that dramatic television isn’t as good as it used to be; comedy is pretty robust at the moment.
8:11- Jon Hamm and Betty White out to present Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
I went with Ty Burrell from Modern Family. As you’re about to learn, I’m thinking it will be a very Modern Family night. Plus, he’s great. Johanna surprises me with her pick of Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother, but she’s having second thoughts: “What was I thinking with all of my picks?!” Eric Stonestreet, another Modern Family star, picks up the win. Sort of unexpected, but he does consistently makes me laugh. At least it’s not the kid from Glee or Jon “Ducky” Cryer.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson is having a tears of joy breakdown in the audience. This is kind of weird. I mean, kind of sweet, but these guys aren’t actually a couple, right? They just play one on TV?
8:18 – John Hodgman is doing “color commentary” backstage. They did this last year, too, I believe. It’s a nice touch of irreverence; take note, Oscars.
8:20 – Sofia Vergara and Jim Parsons are here to present Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. I’m a fan of both of these people.
OK, you’re going to laugh at me, but the Christopher Lloyd that writes for and produces sitcoms like Modern Family and Frasier? I seriously had just assumed for years that it was the same guy that played Doc Brown in Back to the Future. Until tonight, when I saw him in this montage. My mind is sort of blown, in a minor way. Aren’t Hollywood people not allowed to use the same name as other, more famous Hollywood people?
I went with the pilot episode of Modern Family, while Johanna opted for the Tina Fey-penned episode of 30 Rock. Like I said, I’m all in with Modern Family tonight. And it wins! I take an early 1-0 lead. Steven Levitan accepts the award looking like an exact cross between Mark Ruffalo and Ray Romano.
8:23 – Stephen Colbert is here to present Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
I broke down and went with Glee here, as did Johanna, since it was inevitable that Jane Lynch would win. 2-1 me. I have nothing against Jane, but how great would it have been if Kristen Wiig had won instead?
Glee will fade, right? It seems like a show that will burn brightly but briefly. Johanna compares it to Ugly Betty, which seems apt.
8:30 – Hey, Lauren Graham and Matthew Perry are here, all the way from the year 2001!
They’re announcing the winners of awards that are not on our ballot, and I think were given away last week or something. They’re also presenting Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. Johanna and I both went with the pilot of Modern Family. Glee wins! I’m pretty surprised. Hopefully my all-Modern Family strategy doesn’t backfire on me.
8:37 – My fears about being too confident in choosing Modern Family across the board are somewhat assuaged by a bit featuring the cast and George Clooney.
8:38 – Ladies Love Cool James is here with Eva Longoria to give out Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. I’m shocked that she still warrants a presenter spot; she’s less famous than Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria at this point, right? She should be. I went with Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I really enjoy that show, but I do think that Parsons is great on it. Johanna chooses Matthew Morrison from Glee.
Jim Parsons wins! “That’s crazy,” says Johanna, and she’s right, but it’s also well-deserved. 3-1 me.
8:44 – Former Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris is presenting Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Johanna went with her heart and Tina Fey, and accuses me of being a sell-out by choosing Edie Falco from Nurse Jackie. Whatever, she knew the rules going in. Edie Falco wins. Johanna quietly curses. I’m up 4-1.
Edie Falco won an Emmy as Best Lead Actress in a Drama, right? Is she the first actor or actress to win lead Emmys in both the drama and comedy categories? I need a research team.
8:47 – Jimmy Fallon and Kim Kardashian present a montage of highlights from the year in reality television. Johanna and I watch a lot less reality TV than we used to; it’s odd to not recognize the winner of either Project Runway or American Idol.
8:49 – Will Arnett and Keri Russell presenting the nominees for Outstanding Reality – Competition Program.
We both went with The Amazing Race because it wins every year. I’m sort of shocked when Top Chef wins. I can’t believe it has surpassed Project Runway and now unseated The Amazing Race! Johanna is pleased. “Is this the first time something other than The Amazing Race has won this category?” she asks. If only I had a research staff.
8:53 – They keep running ads for the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. I was thinking about this earlier today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single episode of Oprah. I mean, I’ve seen tons and tons of clips, obviously, and I’m sure it’s been on in the background when I’ve been in the room, but I’ve never really watched it. It’s not like I actively avoided it or I’m too much of a guy to watch it. I DVR’d Martha Stewart’s show every day for like a year. I just never got around to it.
8:56 – Shout out to all of my old friends at KPMG who are watching in Chicago and wishing they worked for the much cooler Ernst & Young right now.
8:58 – Drama montage. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I love montages. I could watch montages all day long. My dog Ernie seemingly could not care less, though.
9:00 – A couple of Law & Order people. I honestly don’t care enough to look up how to spell their names.
They’re presenting Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Johanna and I both went with Mad Men, but different episodes. I went with “Shut The Door. Have A Seat”, and she went with “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency,” which surprises me, because just hours ago she mentioned how much she loved “Shut The Door.” They are both great, great episodes. The award is presented to simply “Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy” and there is a dramatic pause as we scan our ballots trying to figure out which episode it is. It’s “Shut The Door”! 5-1 me. Uh oh, Jo.
Speaking of shutting doors, the band slams the door on Matthew Weiner and we go back over to the Law & Order folks to present Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. We both went with Terry O’Quinn here, and when I ask Johanna her rationale, it’s pretty much the same as mine: Lost isn’t good enough to win Outstanding Drama, but the voters wanted to throw them a bone. Hopefully we aren’t overthinking things here.
9:04 – And, we are. Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad wins. I ALMOST went with him for the same reason I chose O’Quinn, Academy voters throwing a bone to a show that isn’t going to win Best Drama. I really like Breaking Bad, but I’m not as completely blown away by it as everyone else seems to be. Paul is really good, though. I’m fine with this.
9:06 – Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps trailer. What a horrible title. Sometimes I think Oliver Stone is trying to make me think he’s a hack.
9:10 – Nathan Fillion and Emily Deschanel are here to present Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Johanna says “Her dress looks like an ugly version of the dress my mother wore to our wedding.” I reply that that’s funny, because Emily Deschanel looks like an ugly version of Zooey Deschanel. “That’s mean!” says Johanna, and she’s right. Comment rescinded. (Ed. Note: Johanna requested that I correct this: she actually said “ugly,” not “uglier,” and really liked her mom’s dress, this one was just a similar style. Also, obviously Emily Deschanel is not ugly.)
We both went with Christina Hendricks. I’m pretty sure she’s the favorite here, but I probably would have picked her anyway just because I wanted to see her accept the award. God, I’m really starting to sound like a sexist here. I’m making myself uncomfortable. Let’s move on. Archie Panjabi wins for The Good Wife.
9:12 – Edie Falco is out to present the hardest category of night for me to pick, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. This category is stacked. Bryan Cranston, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler, and Jon Hamm are all outstanding. I don’t really like House, but I like Hugh Laurie. Whoever thinks Matthew Fox is a great actor was watching a different version of Lost than me, though.
I went with Michael C. Hall because I couldn’t really make up my mind and I still feel bad about making fun of the hat he was wearing at the Golden Globes. I didn’t know he had cancer! Johanna went with Bryan Cranston, but says she would be happy to see anyone win except for Michael Fox. I remind her that it’s Matthew Fox, not Michael, who is nominated, to which she replies “But what about his work on Spin City?” Bryan Cranston wins; Johanna needed that one. I’m up 5-2. I’m starting to wish I’d picked Breaking Bad for Best Drama.
9:19 – The two leads from J.J. Abrams’ new show Undercovers are here. This show looks ten kinds of terrible to me. Two questions: 1) Why is J.J. Abrams so obsessed with spies? and 2) We all agree that we vastly exaggerated J.J. Abrams’ talent, right?
They’re announcing another two awards that were already handed out, best guest actor and actress on a drama. Two more questions: 1) Elisabeth Mitchell was only credited as a guest on Lost? and 2) Robert Morse is only credited as a guest on Mad Men? The winners were John Lithgow and Ann Margaret, and they’re here to present Outstanding Director for a Drama Series.
Johanna went with the finale of Lost, and I went with Mad Men, because it was the episode where they directed a lawnmower over a guy’s foot. Dexter wins. I’m surprised, but the Emmy director seems to just be bored, judging by the graphic they’ve just put up on the screen during this guy’s speech.
9:23 – Jimmy Fallon is out as Elton John (no pun intended) performing a song about the departures of 24, Lost, and Law & Order.
Check that. He’s only Elton for the 24 segment of the song. He’s a Boyz II Men member for Law & Order, and Billie Joe Armstrong for Lost. I don’t have much to say about this bit, the costumes sort of speak for themselves.
9:31 – Tina Fey and one of the Gleeople are here to present Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. I can’t believe I’m only halfway through this.
We both went with Julianna Margulies. I’ve never seen this show and likely never will, but she seemed to be the favorite. I pause it right as Tina is announcing the winner, and it seems like her mouth is starting to form the word “Kyra.” “If Kyra Sedgwick wins…come on, man,” says Johanna. Kyra Sedgwick wins. Come on, man!
It would have been nice to see Connie Britton pick that up. We’re still at 5-2.
9:34 – Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon sing a little song to introduce the Variety categories.
9:38 – Jeff Probst and Joel McHale are here to present Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. I’m about to criticize them for not wearing bowties with their tuxedo, but then I remember that I didn’t wear a bowtie with my tuxedo at my own wedding.
I went with Wanda Sykes for I’ma Be Me, for no particular reason. Johanna chose the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. I remember the Oscars being sort of a logistical disaster, but I guess that has more to do with directing than writing. We’re both wrong, though, and The 63rd Annual Tony Awards wins. All right, then. Believe it or not, the guy who accepts the award was not nearly as red-faced as he appears in this photo.
He does, however, proceed to thank one of the douchiest lists of comedians one could put together. Get this: Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Brad Garrett, Kevin Nealon, and Billy Crystal. Wowzers.
9:45 – Here’s Ricky Gervais. Boy, do I miss him on television. He kills, as usual; he should host all of these things.
He’s presenting Outstanding Director for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special. Gervais wants the director of the Vancouver Olympic Opening Games, Bucky Guntz, to win, based on his name alone. That is also why I picked him. Johanna went with Glenn Weiss, the director of the Tonys. Guntz wins! I’m even more excited after I discover that he sort of resembles Super Dave Osborne. 6-2 me.
9:50 – Gervais is back to present Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series. Another loaded category, in more ways than one. I wonder if they chose Gervais to present this one secretly hoping he would make an unauthorized crack about Conan’s outing at NBC. He contains himself. I get sad hearing Conan’s theme. I went with the sentimental favorite here, The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien. Johanna went with what probably actually deserves the win, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The Daily Show wins. Like I said, it probably deserves it based on quality, but I really, really would have liked to see Conan get this. That would have been a great moment. Johanna inches closer; 6-3 me.
9:59 – Some guy with gray glasses out to present Julianna Margulies…
Who is out to present the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to George Clooney.
Clooney mentions that Bob Hope’s wife’s name is Dolores. My grandparents’ names are also Bob and Dolores. That is where the similarities end.
Even George Clooney isn’t interesting enough to keep me paying attention to this. I’m a bad person.
10:04 – Jimmy Fallon approaches a seemingly uninformed Tom Hanks to sing a song about the Miniseries and Movies portion of the evening.
10:06 – Was that real, or a bit? John Krasinski seems to forget his lines, and also appears to be animatronic.
He and the beautiful January Jones are attempting to present the nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. I went with Susan Sarandon from You Don’t Know Jack (terrible title, BTW). Johanna went with Catherine O’Hara from Temple Grandin. Considering how much I’ve heard about Temple Grandin since it aired, I can’t believe I had heard nothing about it at the time. The other Temple Grandin nominee, Julie Ormand, wins. She has a good line about telling her mother that she had been “emminated for a Nommy.”
10:14 – Claire Danes is here to present Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.
I went with Captain Jean Luc Picard, and Johanna went with Big John Goodman, but says “I almost went with David Strathairn,” to which I say “Yeah, I like him.” After that exchange there was absolutely no doubt that Strathairn would win, and he does.
10:17 – The “In Memoriam” montage is our favorite part of these shows. It’s unfortunate that this one is being sullied by Jewel. When did we decide that we needed a live performance during these? Just have the pit orchestra play something somber, guys!
What percentage of old television shows were Westerns? There are always a ton of guys wearing cowboy hats in these things.
Johanna would like to weigh in here and request that we all just sit quietly and not clap more loudly for some people than others. It does seem sort of like bad form.
Johanna and I both owe each other a Coke after shouting “I forgot about Corey Haim!” in unison.
Somewhere in Indiana my sister sheds a tear for the passing of another Golden Girl.
It’s odd that the clip that made me the saddest was of Andrew Koenig, the guy that played “Boner” on Growing Pains. Johanna and I were more familiar with him from his work on the Never Not Funny podcast. AK-47, gone but not forgotten, indeed.
10:25 – Maura Tierney cut off all of her hair! Last time I made a joke about someone’s hair in one of these it turned out they had cancer, so I’ll let Johanna weigh in instead: “She looks like Mia Michaels.” Also, Blair Underwood is here. Earlier today we were joking about how The Event is not going to make it out of season one because Underwood is a show-killer. Does anyone remember LAX? Dirty Sexy Money?
They’re here to present Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special. Johanna went with The Special Relationship and I went with Temple Grandin. You Don’t Know Jack wins. Together we can make it through these miniseries categories, guys. Again, even the producers are bored, and are promising us more exciting stuff in the on-screen graphics.
Blair and Maura are back to present Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Johanna sighs and shakes her head when Judi Dench is announced as a nominee; at some point during the evening she has decided that she doesn’t like the Dame. I don’t know why. I went with Claire Danes here because I knew she was playing someone with autism. Johanna went with Hope Davis, because…? Claire Danes wins. I’ve righted the ship. 7-4 me.
10:35 – Here are Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgård from True Blood. Do the people on that show use camera tricks to make the character Eric Northman appear normal? Because Alexander Skarsgård is a giant. Either that, or Moyer is really short.
They’re presenting Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special. We both picked You Don’t Know Jack director Barry Levinson. We’ve done a good job picking different things in most of these categories tonight; it gets boring when we have similar ballots. Unfortunately, we both picked incorrectly here. Mick Jackson wins for Temple Grandin. John Hodgman lets us know that this guy’s directing credits include L.A. Story, The Bodyguard, and Volcano. That’s a weird career.
The True Blood folks are also presenting Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. I went with Al Pacino; I was surprised at how restrained he was in You Don’t Know Jack. Johanna went with Michael Sheen; I really like that guy, but he doesn’t stand a chance here. Pacino wins; 8-4 me. It seems like I’ve been talking about miniseries and movies for a really long time.
I briefly balk when Pacino calls Barry Levinson “one of the greatest directors of all time,” but his IMDB page is actually pretty impressive. It turns out I was confusing him in my head with The Addams Family and Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld.
10:46 – Here’s Laurence “Don’t Call Me Larry” Fishburne to present Outstanding Miniseries. He really comes across as someone who might take himself a bit too seriously, huh?
There are only two nominees here, and I went with what seemed to me to be the obvious choice, The Pacific. Johanna surprises me by picking Return to Cranford. “I wasn’t really thinking that much when I picked these,” she says. The Pacific wins. Here comes Hanks. I love Tom Hanks, but I have to say, his neck looks like it’s been using the gateway drug that leads to whatever drug George Lucas’ neck uses. If you know what I mean.
10:47 – Fishburne is also presenting Outstanding Made for Television Movie. Finally, we’re done with these terrible categories. Johanna (in her words “foolishly”) went with The Special Relationship. I went with Temple Grandin. It wins; 9-4 me.
10:50 – Tom Selleck is sort of a baffling choice to present the high-profile Outstanding Drama Series category, right? Also, do you think he ever wishes he could shave his mustache?
We both went with Mad Men. I’m often conflicted in this category, but not this year. A lot of these shows are great, but Mad Men is definitely the best drama on TV right now. It wins. 10-5 me.
10:56 – So apparently I was being foolish when I set this up to record for two extra hours. It’s only felt interminable; it looks like they’re going to finish on time. Well done.
Ted Danson is here and Johanna says “How did he go from the handsome guy on Cheers to…this?” Good question.
He’s presenting Outstanding Comedy Series. We both went with Modern Family. Modern Family wins.
And just like that, Jimmy Fallon is popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne and we’re done. These shows always seem to end so abruptly.
I win the night, 11-6. Johanna can’t catch a break. Either that, or I’m really, really good at this. What’s up next, everybody? The VMAs?