Emmy Recap: “Modern Family’s” Reign is the Real New Normal

Jimmy Kimmel

The Emmys in five words: Modern Family. Homeland. Game Change. 

But how do we feel about that? Speaking for myself, I’ll quote winner Claire Danes’s shout-out to her costar Mandy Patinkin: “Holla!”

This year’s Emmys — hosted by the palatable and deadpan Jimmy Kimmel — was a success, a pleasant affair with dashes of gay goodness thrown in like garlic salt. I giggled right at the start, when nominated actresses Zooey Deschanel, Christina Hendricks, Mindy Kaling, Connie Britton, and a door-busting Kathy Bates comforted host Jimmy Kimmel in the ladies’ room and assured him that his bizarre Botox injections weren’t hideous. To be fair, I mostly laughed at the actresses, who showed distinct camaraderie, and not the sexist plastic surgery humor, but the bit’s quickness set a pace for the evening that never felt like drudgery. For an award show, that’s kind of extraordinary.

Eric Stonestreet with fellow Modern Family cast member Aubrey Anderson-Emmons

Eric Stonestreet picked up his second trophy for his reliable work as Cam on Modern Family (or as I suggest we call it: The Old New Normal), and he showered his nominated costar Jesse Tyler Ferguson with genuine praise and props. Then backstage, Stonestreet burst into tears when answering questions about his affection for Ferguson. Awww. I wonder if Modern Family will spin off a Cam/Mitch series in, like, 2016. You’d believe it, right? I’d also be fine with a Claire Dunphy vehicle, especially since gay icon nominee Julie Bowen picked up her second Emmy last night too. She dished a few one-liners at the podium, and my verdict remains the same: Julie Bowen is smart, cool, and no-nonsense funny. Love her and her capacity to say “nipple covers” no less than three times. She’s also got that harsh Jane Fonda stare, and I’m hoping she’ll star in the inevitable China Syndrome remake when the time comes.

In the dubiousness department, I wasn’t crazy about Jon Cryer’s lead comic actor win for Two and a Half Men or Amy Poehler’s loss for Parks and Recreation (even if I recognize the fabulousness of Veep winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but those were minor setbacks. I rebounded with Homeland’s big gets for Best Drama Series, Lead Actress (Danes), and Lead Actor (Damian Lewis, my dad’s fave since Band of Brothers and the under-mourned NBC series Life), as well as Julianne Moore’s predictable victory for Game Change. “Sarah Palin gave me a thumbs down!” she announced at the mic. As long as Julianne Moore remains Oscar-less, I say she’s owed infinite amounts of podium time. Let’s arrange hundreds of podiums around her estate so she can speechify whenever the moment calls for it.

Practically everyone connected to HBO’s Game Change wins an Emmy

Nutty trivia bit: AMC’s only award of the night went to Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul for supporting actor in a drama series. No love for Mad Men this year, even though Jon Hamm looked hotter than ever and January Jones looked… more thawed than usual. Thankfully, Paul seized his big moment and kissed his costar Giancarlo Esposito after his name was called. It was cute, especially since I was indeed yelling, “KISS! KISS!” right before his lips made contact. Maggie Smith, the absentee winner for Downton Abbey, would surely scowl at me.

Aaron Paul reacts to winning an Emmy


Tom Bergeron accepts his Emmy from Seth MacFarlane

Strangely, my favorite moment of the evening was one I kinda rooted against: After The Amazing Race won its ninth Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, the statesmanlike Tom Bergeron picked up a statue for hosting that post-apocalyptic schmaltz orgy Dancing With the Stars. Naturally I wanted Cat Deeley to take the title because she has Dick Clark’s finesse (like Ryan Seacrest), and she’s also sincere and comfortable sympathizing with contestants (unlike Seacrest). She’s an obvious winner, and I hope it happens for her soon. But I admit, Tom Bergeron is also a magnificent host and a deserving winner. Dancing With the Stars is garish and stodgy, but Bergeron is a swift emcee, a dynamite ad-libber, and a dry scion to David Letterman who is cheeky without being cruel. I honestly adore him, his work on DWTS and the ’90s reboot of Hollywood Squares, and even his kickass memoir I’m Hosting As Fast As I Can. I refuse to watch America’s Funniest Home Videos, but so does Bergeron, I bet. 

Louis CK, Jim Parsons and Zooey Deschanel

I wish I had more complaints, frankly. Louis C.K.’s two wins for writing ruled. So did a pretaped bit where Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul filmed a version of The Andy Griffith Show’s opening theme with a murderous new ending. So, hooray? I just checked Twitter, and the most recurring viewer issue with this year’s ceremony seems to be “predictability.” That strikes me as stupid. Would you honestly prefer unpredictability, guys? Do you want to see the Best Comedy Series trophy go to, say, the 97th season of Weeds? For I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant to be named Best Reality Series? For one of the TMZ ringmasters to be named Best Reality Host? When you’re honoring the best in a field, “predictability” is an obvious consequence. To award the zaniest or least expected choice would be far less entertaining. In fact, it’d be pointless. Tah-dah.

I think the most pro-gay thing I saw all night was Jim Parsons’ haircut, which is an utter Annie Lennox tribute at this point. Click ahead for a gallery of winners, attendees, and the most neon yellow-green gowns of all time. (Looking at you, Julianne Moore and Claire Danes. Or I was. Until your dresses blinded me.)