Most Of This Year's Emmys Have Already Been Handed Out: Some Highlights
The 2016 Emmy Awards are 75 percent over.
Think about that next Sunday night, as some sudsy production number lumbers on or yet another powerfully unnecessary montage/tribute — "A Salute To: The Laugh Track!" — brings the proceedings to a lurching halt.
It will take host Jimmy Kimmel and company three hours and change to hand out 27 Emmy statues. If that sounds inefficient to you, consider this chilling fact: There are in fact 110 Emmy categories this year.
And in two ceremonies that took place last Saturday and Sunday night, awards in 83 categories were given out. These are the Creative Arts Emmys, which many people think of the "technical" awards. That's mostly fair, as they do include categories rife with specifications ("outstanding lighting design/lighting direction for a variety series") and dutifully punctuated caveats ("outstanding makeup for a multi-camera series or special [non-prosthetic])."
But the Creative Arts Emmys are also where things like reality shows, animated series and guest appearances get shunted. As such, they're worth a closer look.
The complete list of Creative Arts Emmy winners is over on the Emmys site.
These awards will be broadcast (in greatly truncated form) on FXX this Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. ET.
Herewith, some interesting winners — and losers.
Category: Outstanding animated program
Nominees: Archer, Bob's Burgers, Phineas & Ferb Last Day of Summer, The Simpsons, South Park
Takeaway: This is Archer's first animated series win (it won the "multiplatform storytelling" Emmy last year). Bob's Burgers had a particularly strong year, but this season saw Archer switching up its premise a second time (originally, spy show; then, Miami Vice spoof; now, LA-based private detective agency) and the Emmy voters rewarded that eagerness to innovate.
This award, like many, is given based upon the specific episodes submitted by the show's producers. In this case, "The Figgis Agency" — the seventh season opener, which introduced the latest format change — took the gold.
Category: Outstanding short-form animated program
Nominees: Adventure Time, Powerpuff Girls, Robot Chicken, SpongeBob Squarepants, Steven Universe
Winner: Robot Chicken
Takeaway: This marks Robot Chicken's fifth win. Steven Universe has been nominated twice, and lost both times. It may take Emmy voters another year or two to wake up to Steven Universe's bright, breezy and ferociously smart sensibility, but Steven's day is coming, mark my words.
Category: Outstanding production design for a variety, nonfiction, event or award special
Nominees: Grease: Live, He Named Me Malala, Lemonade, The Oscars, The Wiz Live
Winner: Grease: Live
Takeaway: Two things --
A. Grease: Live — an arch, stagey, faux-naughty love letter to the '50s written in the '70s — beat Beyonce's Lemonade, a visually stunning work that's about as fiercely of-the-moment as it gets. That sound you hear is 100 "What's Wrong With the Emmys?" thinkpieces being written.
B. What in heaven's name is last year's lugubrious Oscars ceremony doing on this list?
Category: Casting for a limited series, movie or special
Nominees: Fargo, Grease: Live, The Night Manager, The People vs. OJ Simpson, Roots
Winner: The People vs. OJ Simpson
Takeaway: In the end, the astonishing work of Sarah Paulsen, Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and, yes, John Travolta served to distract Emmy voters from the fact that Cuba Gooding Jr. was woefully miscast as OJ.
Which is to say: Fargo was robbed, yo.
Category: Outstanding choreography (note the lack of specifics — dance transcends format!)
Nominees: America's Best Dance Crew, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance
Winner: A tie! Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and America's Best Dance Crew
Takeaway: It's notable that each show submits specific routines for Emmy consideration. (It's also notable that two different choreographers from So You Think You Can Dance were nominated, and neither won.)
America's Best Dance Crew's Quest Crew won with the routines "Runaway Baby," "Take U There" and "Summer Thing."
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Kathryn Burns won her first Emmy for the Bollywood pastiche "I'm So Good At Yoga," the hilarious and uncannily precise "A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes," and the Astaire/Rogers sendup "Settle for Me."
Category: Outstanding original music and lyrics
Nominees: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Empire, Galavant, Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to be Special, The Hunting Ground
Winner: The Hunting Ground
Takeaway: There's a lot of talent, and even more good songs ("Settle for Me" from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Galavant's "Season Two/Suck It, Cancellation Bear") on this list. But there's also "'Til it Happens to You," a searing cri de coeurinspired by campus rape, written by Diane Warren, performed by Lady Gaga. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's lovely ditty of romantic self-loathing never stood a chance. Next year!
Category: Outstanding original main title theme music
Nominees: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jessica Jones, Narcos, Night Manager, Sense8, The Whispers
Winner: Jessica Jones
Takeaway: Nooooooope. Come ON, Emmy voters. This was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's to lose. Which, um ... it did. But Jessica Jones' aimless noir-inflected faux-jazz tootlings? Noooope.
Category: Outstanding guest actor in a comedy series
Nominees: Bob Newhart, Big Bang Theory; Peter Scolari, Girls; Tracy Morgan, SNL; Bradley Whitford, Transparent; Martin Mull, Veep.
Winner: A true, and welcome surprise: Peter Scolari, Girls
Takeaway: I wouldn't have bet against sentimental favorites like Newhart and Morgan — or, for that matter, dependable vets like Whitford and Mull. So it's a bit of a shock that Scolari took home the Emmy, despite the fact that he has been doing such great, nuanced work as Hannah's struggling, newly out father. His fourth nomination overall, his first for Girls. If you've been rooting for this guy since Bosom Buddies, this feels like a personal victory.
Category: Outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition series
Nominees: Ryan Seacrest, American Idol; Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars; Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night; Steve Harvey, Little Big Shots Starring Steve Harvey; Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway; RuPaul Charles, RuPaul's Drag Race
Winner: RuPaul Charles, RuPaul's Drag Race
Category: Outstanding variety special
Nominees: Adele: Live in New York City; Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo; Lemonade; The Kennedy Center Honors; The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special
Winner: The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special
Takeaway: OK, well, look, I didn't agree with Lemonade losing the production design award, yet I accepted it. I didn't understand it, but I accepted it, as that is what adults do. But this? Celebrities winkingly aping the singular visions of various artists beating out ... one artist's singular vision? I refuse to accept it, and I'm going to get my binky and hold my breath until the Emmy voters come to their damn senses.
Category: Outstanding documentary or nonfiction special
Nominees: Becoming Mike Nichols; Everything is Copy — Nora Ephron: Scripted & Unscripted; Listen to Me Marlon; Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures; What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winner: What Happened, Miss Simone?
Takeaway: HBO's Nora Ephron doc took a satisfyingly nuanced look at its subject's tendency to use her family as fodder for storytelling, and no one would blame you for betting on it to take home the Emmy. But there was no stopping Netflix's deep dive into the life and work — and politics — of the fascinating Nina Simone.
Category: Outstanding documentary or nonfiction series
Nominees: American Masters, Chef's Table, Making a Murderer, The Seventies, Woman with Gloria Steinem
Winner: Making a Murderer
Takeaway: Likely the one you'd be certain to have won in your Emmy pool, if your Emmy pool included all 110 categories, which admittedly would be a very aggressive stance to take.
Category: Outstanding informational series or special
Nominees: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; Inside the Actors Studio; StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson; The Story of God with Morgan Freeman; Vice
Winner: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Takeaway: Bourdain racked up his fourth win, beating out God. Hope it doesn't go to his head.
Category: Outstanding structured reality program
Nominees: Antiques Roadshow; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Lip Sync Battle; MythBusters; Shark Tank; Undercover Boss
Winner: Shark Tank
Takeaway: Would've been great to have seen the final season of MythBusters take home an Emmy at last, having previously been nominated seven times without a win. But Emmy voters decided instead to reward a show that doubles down on the myth of the marketplace as meritocracy.
(Also, the reality show categories — "structured reality" "unstructured reality" — get weirdly existential.)
Category: Outstanding unstructured reality program
Nominees: Born This Way, Deadliest Catch, Gaycation with Ellen Page, Intervention, Project Greenlight, United Shades of America
Winner: Born This Way
Takeaway: The A&E series, which features individuals with Down syndrome making their way in the world, now adds an Emmy statue to its growing list of accomplishments.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated the number of Emmys that will be handed out on the ABC broadcast Sunday night as 19. The number is in fact 27.
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