Even more so than the annual Academy Awards for achievements in film, the Primetime Emmy Awards seem to either award the same thing every year or never get around to awarding series, actors, and creative voices that really push the bounds of the ordinary. Is that a generalization ripe for argument? Of course. But when you watch as much television as we do here at borg.com, at some point years ago we just turned off the TV award shows and never looked back.
So what changed this year? Tatiana Maslany won best actress in a drama for Orphan Black. Rami Malek won best actor in a drama for Mr. Robot. Louie Anderson won best supporting actor for Baskets. And the special Sherlock–The Abominable Bride won for best TV movie. So what poles shifted? What constellations re-aligned? What does that mean if our own best picks align with Emmy voters? Are we finally “in-touch”?
Take Tatiana Maslany, a top borg.com pick three years in a row for best actress in television (or any other medium). Not to slight her wonderful supporting cast, but she’s practically a one-woman show, playing a half a dozen characters each season–and seven this year in her fourth season playing clone sestra–meaning every scene is critical and must reflect Maslany’s work–and viewer believability–as a completely different person. She never gets the luxury of “phoning in” a performance. The result is top-notch television, and the best acting and toughest role we’ve ever seen, executed with mastery. Go Clone Club!
Then take a look at Rami Malek. He plays the most odd, quirky, and unpredictable lead we’ve seen in years on last year’s most inventive TV show, USA Network’s Mr. Robot. The Emmy Awards rarely tap someone in a freshman season, but Malek’s best performance was in season one. At least Malek’s recognition wasn’t pushed off to his fourth year like the thrice-snubbed Maslany. Malek had tough competition with the likes of Kevin Spacey and Liev Schreiber in the running.
When we saw our favorite stand-up comedian–Louie Anderson–was playing mother to Zach Galifianakis’s lead character in this year’s new series Baskets, we tuned right in. The impersonations of his mother and aunts and neighbors that have always been in his quiver of magic arrows for his comedy paid off this year as he stole every scene with equal parts humor and drama. Anderson has won two Daytime Emmy Awards for his animated series, but the role of Christine Baskets really put Anderson at center stage.
We’ve said it before–the BBC must know something we don’t. With Sherlock and Doctor Who both trickling out the new so infrequently we are left to sit out such a painful, excruciating wait each year in anticipation of each new episode. Will some recognition this year for Sherlock–The Abominable Bride prompt more shows? Probably not. But we can hope something does.
Sure, Game of Thrones won best drama, but why not History Channel’s more riveting epic fantasy series Vikings? We can’t altogether knock any awards year when comedy legend Peter Scolari, after creating iconic characters on classic TV shows like Newhart and Bosom Buddies, finally gets recognized for his work. Or the future villain in a Star Wars movie, Ben Mendelsohn, who we will see as the key villain in December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, gets a nod. And even nerd spokesperson Patton Oswalt was recognized for outstanding writing for a variety special, a worthy selection, for one of social media’s most beloved personalities. A pretty surprising year in TV awards… for the rest of us.