The night’s best moment came courtesy the ladies. Rob Lowe and Sofia Vergara came up to present best comedy actress and as they started to read the nominees, Amy Poehler walked on stage after her name was read, followed by all the actresses in a mock beauty pageant moment. The idea, thought up the night before at dinner by Poehler and fellow nominee Martha Plimpton, was both hilarious and endearing. Seeing Tina Fey, Plimpton, Melissa McCarthy, Poehler, Edie Falco and Laura Linney all lined up served as a reminder what an embarrassment of riches we have of funny, fabulous women on TV.
It almost didn’t matter who won – almost. In one of the night’s biggest upsets, Mike & Molly’s McCarthy beat out a tough field. Her win was probably as much for her scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids as her small screen feats. But, still, with a star as infinitely likeable as McCarthy, you can’t really begrudge her victory. Also, the tiara was a particularly nice touch.
The Amazing Race and The Daily Show both picked up their ninth Emmys, continuing reigns in their respective categories of reality competition and comedy/variety series to no one’s surprise. And then, stuff started to get really surprising. Critically adored, awards-challenged Friday Night Lights picked up the best drama writing award. Then veteran character actor Margo Martindale won for best supporting actress in a drama, for her spectacular work as a backwoods crime boss in Justified. The very cool Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage was as cool as expected while thanking his dog sitter during his acceptance speech for best supporting actor. And, finally, Coach Taylor himself Kyle Chandler beat out Jon Hamm and others as best actor in a drama for the final season of Friday Night Lights. For a second I thought I was watching the wrong award show; these folks actually deserved to win.
In less surprising news, Julianna Margulies took home her first best actress in a drama win for The Good Wife. Though what, exactly, those big, clear drops on her dress were remained the night’s biggest mystery. Unicorn tears? Accident with the glue gun? Though, per TheLinster’s suggestion, I think perhaps we should be very afraid instead. Quick, someone call the Doctor.
Lynch, who popped up in three dresses throughout the night – and briefly in a suit, confessed her “gay agenda” for hosting the show to the audience. She pulled out a list and then read: “‘Call Rachel Maddow and find out what time spinning is.’ And, ‘Take the pick-up in for an oil change.’ Nah, I’ll do it myself. And there was a third thing, but I must have left it in my fanny pack.” She also had perhaps the show’s best zinger and the world’s most convincing argument for lesbianism: “A lot of people are very curious why I’m a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of Entourage.”
On the “Look at all these movie stars slumming on TV”-portion of the night, the big prestige smackdown was between PBS’s Downton Abbey and HBO’s Mildred Pierce. The acclaimed PBS drama took home four trophies, including best miniseries and a best supporting actress for Dame Maggie Smith that surely had Gryffindors celebrating until well into the night.
HBO picked up two Pierce wins for Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. The Emmy win puts Winslet only one award, a Tony, away from achieving the EGOT. After her big win, Lynch deadpanned: “Congratulations to Kate Winslet, who just won an Emmy. She’s a wonderful film actress, and there are so many movie stars doing TV now that TV stars have been forced into providing voices for video games. And those very same video games are then turned into movies, starring the very people who put the TV stars out of work in the first place. Hakuna matata, my friends. Circle of life.”
Even when the material wasn’t up to snuff – like the long and unnecessary Jersey Shore skit – Lynch was always at ease and infinitely agreeable. Lynch, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris – the gays sure make excellent Emmys host.