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October 30, 2014

First-Timers and Newcomers Were the Big Emmy Winners

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 30th 2010 11:35AM
Eric Stonestreet of 'Modern Family' after winning a 2010 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a ComedyIf I had actually put down bets on my Emmy predictions, I would have lost my shirt, and maybe even my pants. And I still would have been pretty happy about it.

Why? Because when I made those predictions, I did them with the jaundiced eye of a guy who's seen the Academy go with the safe and sane too many times. For instance, in any world that made sense, Jon Cryer wouldn't have been my supporting comedy actor pick over Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Colfer and the 'Modern Family' trio. But the Academy loves repeat winners, so I was resigned to the fact that Cryer was going to win again.

So I was pleasantly surprised when Eric Stonestreet's name was called at the Emmy Awards last night. And I continued to be surprised as the the names of newcomers and first-timers were called for many of the major categories. Yes, new names abounded at the Emmys, and hopefully, it's a harbinger of what we might see in the years to come.

It's been far too easy for the Academy to just give Emmys to the same people year after year. Kelsey Grammer won three times for 'Frasier' and Tony Shalhoub won three times for 'Monk,' for instance. In some of those years, they deserved the award, but in others, the competition was high enough that seeing Kelsey or Tony bound to the stage to get the Emmy was eyeroll-inducing.

So to see 'Modern Family's' Stonestreet, Jim Parsons of 'The Big Bang Theory,' Aaron Paul of 'Breaking Bad,' Archie Panjabi of 'The Good Wife,' and even Kyra Sedgwick of 'The Closer' get awards made the inner curmudgeon in me smile. In some cases, like those of Panjabi and Stonestreet, they were first-time nominees; in the other three cases, the award went to someone who had been nominated in the past and had gotten shafted because the Academy was falling all over themselves to give the prize to the same old folks.

And in all the cases, the award was deserved. It was tough to pick between Stonestreet and his co-stars Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, but anyone who saw his submitted episode, 'Fizbo,' would understand why he got the award. Panjabi has been getting critical buzz all season long. Paul's performance as the tortured Jesse in this year's incredible season of 'Breaking Bad' needed to be recognized. Parsons won for three spectacular years playing Sheldon Cooper. And Sedgwick could have won in any year she was nominated.

Oh, and in case we forget: Jane Lynch, who was a mortal lock in the Supporting Actress in a Comedy category, was also a first-time winner. Also in the first-time category: 'Modern Family' fought off another first-timer, 'Glee' for Best Comedy, Claire Danes won for her portrayal of the title role in the HBO movie 'Temple Grandin' (as were her co-stars Julia Ormond and David Strathairn) and 'Top Chef' finally ended the reign of 'The Amazing Race' as Best Reality Competition show.

What does this mean for Emmy's future? Well, the optimistic among us might think that this is a sign of things to come, where Academy members are actually awarding quality instead of name recognition. Even the night's repeat winners, like 'Mad Men' for Best Drama and Bryan Cranston of 'Breaking Bad' for Best Lead Actor in a Drama, deserved the prize despite their tough competition this year.

Maybe the younger membership, those that were brought up on the notion that TV is outstripping feature films in the quality department, are actually sitting down and watching the shows they're nominating, rather than just popping in screeners of the submitted episodes and watching while they make dinner or play with their pets. The nominations brought that out; almost every show that had a good season was acknowledged.

Or this could just be a strange year, a reflection of the inordinate number of new series that made an impact this year. Judging by the crop of new series this season, it's hard to see Emmys in most of their immediate futures. They're just haven't reached the high bar that 'Family,' 'Glee' and 'The Good Wife,' among others, hit this past year. But, then again, there's always cable to take up the slack; 'Rubicon,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Terriers,' for instance, could get lots of Emmy attention next year.

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Tony DIMeo

I was so excited to see newcomers like Eric StoneStreet & Aaron paul & MODERN FAMILY & Jim Parsons win But I also feel strongly that Steve Carell is long overdue & he really should have won 4 years ago for his 1st nom but I hope next year he wins

August 30 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jean frank

I agree! It is nice to see deserved surprises. But even with that being said, I feel like some shows are passed the baton of brillance even before they air on television, and others which deserve some buzz go underapplauded before and after broadcast. I say this in particular on behalf of The Middle (though it is not the only one that has fit this, BetterOffTed, for instance, etc...), which seems to be the "red-headed step-child" in the same night lineup. I love them both. To me, to pick a favorite would be like picking which child of mine is the best! They each bring something special to the table. And that is the best for a viewer like me.

August 30 2010 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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