Best Drama Series
Winner - Game of Thrones
Runners Up - The Americans and The Good Wife
Commentary - Game of Thrones has always been a show I respected, but never really loved. It was simply too dark, and at times too much to handle, despite its impeccable cast and production values. But this season, particularly the last couple of episodes really hooked me and never let go. Even when the horrible things happened, there were actually moments of joy, moments of uplift, the good guys finally got their due, at least for awhile. Game of Thrones has never won this award before, and while I still have the chance, I need to reward this season, that after so many seasons, finally satisfied this viewer, and still maintained my utmost respect.
Best Comedy Series
Winner - black-ish
Runners Up - Veep, Please Like Me, Getting On, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Commentary - Please Like Me was pitch perfect again, Getting On ended its small, three-season run with a bang, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was its goofy best, and Veep overcame a change in showrunner and didn't slow it down a bit. But the comedy this year that engaged me the most, enlightened me the most, and made me laugh the most was black-ish. Its first season was hilarious, and filled in a gap that was starting to fade as Modern Family aged. But this second season was even better, mixing brilliant comedy and a great cast with real-life issues, such as racial tensions, modern black families, and the flaws of our heroes. black-ish brilliantly combined these elements into a season that not only made you laugh, but also made you cry and think. The greatest comedies are the ones that can pull your heartstrings in many different ways, and black-ish now joins that list.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Rami Malek "Mr. Robot"
Runners Up - Kevin Spacey "House of Cards" and Freddie Highmore "Bates Motel"
Commentary - Mr. Robot was the new hit of this Emmy season, and its new season proves that its success was not a fluke. At its center, is a quiet, often subtle, and yet mesmerizing performance from Rami Malek. He has been a quality supporting player for years, and finally got his chance to shine. A Globe nod, a Critics Choice Award, and now an Emmy nomination, are proof that the industry too has been entranced by Malek's brilliant performance. I hope the honors keep coming.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Keri Russell "The Americans"
Runners Up - Sheri Appleby "UnReal", Viola Davis "How to Get Away With Murder", and Robin Wright "House of Cards"
Commentary - One of the best moments of the Emmy nomination announcement was when The Americans, after four seasons, finally cleaned up. My favorite though was Keri Russell. She probably won't win up against powerhouses like Robin Wright, Viola Davis, and Taraji P. Henson (all of whom are fantastic as well), but her cold, subtle, and yet searing performance in The Americans truly is something to marvel at, and I'm glad that Emmy voters finally took notice.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Anthony Anderson "black-ish"
Runners Up - Aziz Ansari "Master of None", Thomas Middleditch "Silicon Valley", Josh Thomas "Please Like Me"
Commentary - I hate to be a broken record, but it is worth saying again that black-ish really just double its efforts in Season 2, and came out with something that was just awesome week after week. At the heart and soul of this show is Anthony Anderson. He has always been a great comedic actor, but the range he showed this season as his family dealt with some real issues, really connected with me. It takes a lot work to be funny, to balance that out with emotion and depth? Even harder.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Ellie Kemper "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Veep"
Runners Up - Tracee Ellis Ross "black-ish", Laurie Metcalf "Getting On", Anna Faris "Mom"
Commentary - I know, I know, I know! Here we go again, Andrew and his ties. Get over it! First, I know it's hard to believe, but I have never given Julia Louis-Dreyfus an Awards Psychic Television Award. Veep entered this season with new show runners, and a storyline that had probably too many possibilities in it to narrow down. But the creative resurgence of this show was marvelous to watch, and if possible, I think that Louis-Dreyfus just got better, and it might have been her best season yet. But from the first time I watched Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I knew I wanted Ellie Kemper to win here. Her exuberance and hilarity help make that show work. It could easily be a goofy and ridiculous show, but she and the rest of that fantastic cast, are so in, you can't help but go along with them for the crazy ride.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Mandy Patinkin "Homeland"
Runners Up - Kit Harington "Game of Thrones", Alan Cumming "Game of Thrones", Rupert Friend "Homeland"
Commentary - Homeland had one really bad season, and even though Emmy voters came back around for Seasons 4 and 5, which were great, I think that it never really recovered across the board. Throughout its highs and lows, the one constant, for me, has been its cast. My personal favorite has always been Mandy Patinkin's Saul. His best season was actually season 4, and I regret not giving him this last year. But yet another stellar season of work prove that this veteran is still one of the best working today, and the character he created is one of the most fascinating and endearing to watch on contemporary drama television.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Christine Baranski "The Good Wife"
Runners Up - Lena Headey "Game of Thrones", Alison Wright "The Americans", and Constance Zimmer "UnReal"
Commentary - Christine Baranski is a legend and for years now, her Diane Lockhart has been a fierce, lovable, and magnificent character on The Good Wife. She is so good, that a spin-off is in the works. The Good Wife's absence will be immediately felt as this new fall season gets underway. Let's hope for more Christine Baranski and Diane Lockhart soon. We need it.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tituss Burgess "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Runners Up - Timothy Simons "Veep" and Laurence Fishburne "black-ish"
Commentary - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a riot, and at its center is the dynamic duo of Kimmy and Tituss. Burgess is so damn good in this role, playing the ridiculous and the humor beautifully. This season though, we got to see Tituss struggle with something new: actual emotion. It was a great development of an already instantly iconic character, and it was so well done, an award was due.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Niecy Nash "Getting On"
Runners Up - Allison Janney "Mom", Jane Krakowski "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", and Jenifer Lewis "black-ish"
Commentary - Janney was brilliant as always, Krakowski upped her game, and Lewis was the comic relief black-ish needed. But there was one scene this year that just left me breathless. That scene was between the late-great Ann Morgan-Guilbert (see below), and Niecy Nash on the underappreciated gem Getting On. Nash is always great when she is being funny. She has a long history on television in great comedic roles. So when she made me laugh on Getting On, I loved it, but I wasn't surprised. This season though, Nash got the opportunity to show her dramatic chops, and the results were incredible. That scene is devastating, honest, and emotionally effective. It's because of Niecy Nash. She won't win the Emmy this year, not up against Janney, Chlumsky, and McKinnon. But that nomination is a reward itself, and the recognition of a fine actress.
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Max von Sydow "Game of Thrones"
Runners Up - Michael J. Fox "The Good Wife" and B.D. Wong "Mr. Robot"
Commentary - In a quiet role, Max Von Sydow was imposing the entire time he was on screen this season on Game of Thrones. His presence was undeniable, and reminded us why he is one of best.
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Ellen Burstyn "House of Cards"
Runners Up - Annet Mahendru "The Americans" and Carrie Preston "The Good Wife"
Commentary - Claire's mother. That kind of character couldn't just be any actress, it had to be a powerhouse. Ellen Burstyn was the perfect person for that role, and she did not disappoint. Several of her latest Emmy wins have caused me grief, but I think she'll win this year, and it will be well deserved. Just in case, here's a little honor for her.
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tracy Morgan "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Larry David "Saturday Night Live" and Bradley Whitford "Transparent"
Commentary - Larry David and Bradley Whitford are getting a lot of praise, rightfully so, and the Emmy will probably come down to those two. But for my money, the best of the bunch was the highly anticipated return of Tracy Morgan. After his tragic accident, it was so great to see Morgan back, and he was definitely at his best, bringing is A-game of comedy.
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler "Saturday Night Live" and Ann Morgan Guilbert "Getting On"
Runners Up - Anna Camp "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and Jenny Slate "Girls"
Commentary - So this one was easy for me. At least I thought. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler nominated together. The dynamic duo of comedy at their best, hosting SNL. An easy win. So of course they are included. But, then came along that scene I talked about with Niecy Nash in Getting On. She broke my heart, as did her on-screen partner Ann Morgan Guilbert. It made it even worse when a couple of weeks ago Guilbert, a beloved veteran, passed away. So despite by now double heart break, I am glad I had one last chance to honor one of our finest.
Best TV Movie
Winner - All the Way
Runners Up - Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
Commentary - In a weak race, I take HBO's All the Way. It was definitely not their best, but LBJ is never a boring subject, and the excellent cast raise the bar.
Best Limited Series
Winner - (TIE) The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story and Show Me A Hero
Runners Up - Fargo, American Crime, London Spy, and Show Me a Hero
Commentary - Fargo was sublime in Season 2, as was American Crime. London Spy was a thrilling and emotional drama. But this category had two that stood out to me, both for different reasons. The first is Show Me a Hero. Subtle, slow-building, and important, it was a brilliant look at a story that most people don't know, and one that has innumerable effects even today. The second is The People v. O.J. Simpson. That cast knocked it out of the park, and it was the spellbinding, gripping television event of the year.
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Courtney B. Vance "The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story"
Runners Up - Ben Whishaw "London Spy", Oscar Isaac "Show Me A Hero", and Bryan Cranston "All the Way"
Commentary - This one was easy. Courtney B. Vance was easily the best. He is a beloved veteran, a worthy winner, and hopefully will earn an Emmy as well.
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Sarah Paulson "The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story"
Runners Up - Audra McDonald "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" and Lili Taylor "American Crime"
Commentary - SARAH PAULSON NEEDS A FREAKING EMMY!!!! That is all.
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Bokeem Woodbine "Fargo"
Runners Up - Sterling K. Brown "The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story", and Connor Jessup "American Crime"
Commentary - Brown was great, and Connor Jessup has a great career ahead of him. But Bokeem Woodbine on Fargo was so damn intriguing and engaging, that he mesmerized me. I didn't know if he could snag an Emmy nomination, and I was so happy to see his name on the list.
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Jean Smart "Fargo"
Runners Up - LaTanya Richardson-Jackson "Show Me A Hero" and Regina King "American Crime"
Commentary - I loved Richardson-Jackson in Show Me a Hero, and Regina King's Emmy win last year was one of my favorite moments. But Jean Smart outdid herself, which is a feat considering her long and storied television career, as the matriarch of a crime family. She was brutal and brilliant and I am so happy I finally get to give one of my favorite actresses a reward for her incredible talents.
Best Variety Series ***NEW CATEGORY***
Winner - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Runners Up - Inside Amy Schumer, Real Time with Bill Maher, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Commentary - How in the holy hell did Samantha Bee not get that series Emmy nomination? This is simply beyond me, and I hope that Emmy voters are shamed into correcting course next year. With Stewart gone and Colbert less interesting, Samantha Bee is the breath of fresh air this election season that we needed. She is funny, wonky, and also incredibly creative. I simply love this new show, and if you are not watching, get on it!
Best Animated Series
Winner - Bob's Burgers
Runners Up - Archer and BoJack Horseman
Commentary - Archer has started to go downhill a bit, especially without its spy agency, so it is the fabulous Bob Burgers for the win, for yet another great season.