"The reason you tune in to that show is to see Kevin Spacey, and he was in a f—ing coma," writes a member of the producers peer group about the Netflix series as he makes his case for favorites 'Mr. Robot,' 'Silicon Valley' and 'Fargo.'
The biggest omission this year in any category was Jessica Jones [Netflix] from this one. Instead, defying all logic, people nominated a different Netflix show, House of Cards, that had its worst season yet — the reason you tune in to that show is to see Kevin Spacey, and he was in a f—ing coma for half the season. I would vote for [PBS'] Downton Abbey if I was voting for the British Emmys, but we're voting for the American Emmys, and I think we should recognize American work. I know [HBO's] Game of Thrones is fantastic — it probably helps that they spend a fortune on every episode — but it's not really my thing. [Showtime's] Homeland found its mojo again, just as I was about to write it off and stop watching it. [AMC's] Better Call Saul is great, but I think it's still a season away from realizing its full potential. So, for me, this came down to [FX's] The Americans and [USA's] Mr. Robot, and it was a very hard call. I'm thrilled The Americans finally got a nomination — it features, by far, the best writing and directing on TV. But I thought Mr. Robot was the most unique, original, exciting thing on television this year.
MY VOTE Mr. Robot (USA)
All of these nominees are solid. I don't regard Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Master of None [both Netflix] at the same level as the others — it could be generational. I've voted in the past for Modern Family [ABC], but its best days are behind it. Its heir apparent, Black-ish, is consistently really smart and fun. And Veep [HBO] is freaking hilarious — I give them a lot of credit for resurrecting the series with a giant story-arc change. But, for me, it was between Silicon Valley [HBO] and Transparent [Amazon]. Transparent is completely unique and features the two best comedy performances on television, those given by Jeffrey Tambor and Judith Light. Overall, though, Silicon Valley is the funniest show and, in a very subversive and witty way, it has a lot to say about a lot of things, like technology and corporate greed. Putting the boys back on their heels again was exactly the right thing to do.
MY VOTE Silicon Valley (HBO)
How's this for a controversial opinion: I thought War and Peace [BBC One] was truly amazing and deserved a nomination — and the O.J. Simpson miniseries [FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson; American Crime Story] was vastly overrated and should never have been nominated. I mean, everybody in that was doing a performance for their own movie. Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer and especially John Travolta were in a farce, whereas Courtney B. Vance, Sterling Brown and Sarah Paulson were doing the HBO Jay Roach version, and I was infuriated by the back-and-forth. I didn't get why Roots [History] was remade — you don't remake classics, and you can't find more of a classic than Roots — and I don't think it turned out well. I liked American Crime [ABC], and The Night Manager [AMC] was spectacularly good from start to finish. But Fargo [FX] was heads and shoulders above the rest. [Creator Noah] Hawley just did an amazing job — even better than the first series, which won — and I don't know how you could vote for anything else.
MY VOTE Fargo (FX)
Luther [BBC America] is as good as anything on television, and Sherlock [The Abominable Bride, on PBS] is pretty great, too — but they are not television movies! There's no way they should be competing against All the Way and Confirmation [HBO] and A Very Murray Christmas [Netflix] — and, to be honest, I don't think they stand much of a chance since the screener packages mailed by HBO and Netflix put everybody else's to shame. I didn't love A Very Murray Christmas. I was disappointed in All the Way. After all the hype that I heard about the Broadway version, it just didn't feel particularly revelatory, although Bryan [Cranston] was great. I'm voting for Confirmation because I thought it was amazing. [Kerry Washington] was fantastic [as Anita Hill], and it is a story worth revisiting and examining in greater detail. I must say I feel sorry for Lifetime, the only network that regularly puts out actual MoWs [Movies of the Week], since category fraud and big spending always keep them out of the game.
MY VOTE Confirmation (HBO)
John Oliver [HBO's Last Week Tonight] and Bill Maher [HBO's Real Time] only have to put out a show once a week, which is much easier than what the Jimmys [James Corden of CBS' The Late Late Show, Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!] have to do, but I judge them all based on how well they accomplish what they set out to accomplish. Fallon is like a nice sorbet before you go to bed, just like Leno used to be. Corden is the most inspiring and original. I don't watch Kimmel, simply because you have to make a choice. As for [Jerry Seinfeld's] Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which is very funny, I think it belongs in a separate category for web series. Bottom line? Samantha Bee [of TBS' Full Frontal] got shafted, so I'm voting for the last remaining tie to the godfather of this category, Jon Stewart: Oliver, who does this sort of humor better than anybody and is my only appointment television.
MY VOTE Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
I've seen Drunk History [Comedy Central], Portlandia and Documentary Now [both IFC] — all of which I find to be very hit or miss — and I regularly watch Saturday Night Live [NBC], Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer [both Comedy Central]. SNL had more weak nights than strong ones, maybe because of its host selections, and there were no real breakout stars in the cast, which might explain the recent spate of firings. So it was either Schumer or Key & Peele, and I just went by which one made me laugh more. When I'm having a bad day, I just go and find the clip of [Key and Peele] introducing football players, and everything gets better.
MY VOTE Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
I can't say that I personally watch any of these regularly — Dancing With the Stars [ABC], Project Runway [Lifetime] and Top Chef [Bravo] aren't really my cup of tea, but The Amazing Race [CBS] and The Voice [NBC] get watched regularly in my house. How American Ninja Warrior [NBC] got in there, I'm not quite sure — a bunch of guys running across a jungle gym. I mean, I could just go down to Venice Beach if I want to see a live version of American Ninja Warrior. The Amazing Race is the John Larroquette of this category [Larroquette won a then-unprecedented four consecutive Emmys for his work on Night Court from 1985 to 1988], so I'm inclined to give it to The Voice, which is so well produced and knocked off the No. 1 show in the world [American Idol]. It essentially got into the cheeseburger business to compete against McDonald's — a ballsy move — and it beat the crap out of it by doing the same thing better. That's incredibly hard to do in our business.
MY VOTE The Voice (NBC)
Heidi [Klum] and Tim [Gunn, hosts of Lifetime's Project Runway] are out because they're two people, and that's really not fair. [Tom] Bergeron is more like a maitre d' [on ABC's Dancing With the Stars] — like, he's there, but there are a lot of other people there working a lot harder. Jane Lynch is great, but there's nothing to do on that show [NBC's Hollywood Game Night]. Ryan Seacrest is the hardest-working man in show business — the new Merv Griffin — but American Idol [Fox] limped across the finish line. So it's down to Steve Harvey, who's the new Art Linkletter — he's great on that show [NBC's Little Big Shots], but they should really have nominated him for faking that f—up on Miss Universe — and RuPaul [for Logo's RuPaul's Drag Race]. You're going to be shocked by this, but I voted for RuPaul. He so deserves it. It's a really funny show — it would be a feather in the cap of the TV Academy to give a trophy to a transgender [note: RuPaul is a drag queen, not a transgender person], and I'd give anything to hear his acceptance speech.
MY VOTE RuPaul for RuPaul's Drag Race (Logo) [He won at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 11.]
If we're supposed to reward originality and execution, then you can't vote for The Kennedy Center Honors [CBS], which is basically the same show year after year. I didn't see Adele Live in New York City [NBC]. Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo [HBO] was pretty amazing. Lemonade [HBO] is beautifully filmed and really well done, so it's hard not to vote for that. But here's my chance to make it up to James Corden for not voting for him in the other category.
MY VOTE The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special (CBS) [It won at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 11.]
I don't know what "special class program" means, but my sense is that it's just a collection of all the stuff that doesn't fit into the other categories. Anyway, you have three awards shows [the 69th Tony Awards from CBS, the 73rd Golden Globe Awards from NBC and the 88th Academy Awards from ABC] — somehow the Emmys got overlooked (laughs) — you have the Super Bowl halftime show [CBS]; and then you have Grease: Live [Fox], which should be categorized as a television movie. How do you compare these things?! I want to give it to the people who had to work the hardest, and there's no question that's the Super Bowl halftime show, which would scare me the most as a producer: a million moving pieces and no margin for error. There's no "running over" at the Super Bowl. It's like a military operation.
MY VOTE Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show (CBS) [Grease: Live won at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 11.]