Best Drama Series
Winner - This is Us
Runners Up - Stranger Things, The Americans, The Handmaid's Tale, The Leftovers,
Commentary - Broadcast dramas have gotten a bad rap in recent years, and in many ways, it is reserved. But this year, NBC proved that great dramas can still stake their claim on broadcast networks, and can more than succeed. This is Us was a smash hit, easily hitting every demographic, and constantly defying its expectations. That is because This is Us is an emotional powerhouse, beautifully acted, impeccably constructed, and utterly genuine. It made you cry and laugh, and it drew you in immediately because it cared about its characters and it made sure you did to. This is Us might be an anomaly in modern television, but I'm hoping that its success opens the eyes of broadcast television executives to pursue more quality programs in the future.
Best Comedy Series
Winner - black-ish
Runners Up - Atlanta, Girls, Veep, and Better Things
Commentary - Atlanta was great, Veep continues to prove why its one of the best, Better Things is what Louie thought it was, and Girls ended on a high note. But black-ish upped its game this year. It was just as funny as it has always been, but at just the right moments it broke your heart. Lemons, and that fantastic season finale are just two examples of why black-ish is one of the best shows on television: honest, funny, warm, and heartbreaking. Three seasons in, it continues to knock it out of the park.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Justin Theroux "The Leftovers"
Runners Up - Sterling K. Brown "This is Us" and Ian McShane "American Gods"
Commentary - Sterling K. Brown was fantastic in This is Us, and Ian McShane's mystery was intriguing in American Gods. But The Leftovers just exploded this year. It went from being a decent HBO drama to being one of the best dramas on television. With only one season left to tell their story, the showrunners put everything into the final season, and it was worth it. At it's center is the magnificent performance by Justin Theroux. If the Emmy gods were kind this year, they would have find room for him.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Elisabeth Moss "The Handmaid's Tale"
Runners Up - Claire Foy "The Crown" and Christine Baranski "The Good Fight"
Commentary - Elisabeth Moss has been a staple on television for almost twenty years now. Between The West Wing, Mad Men, and Top of the Lake, she has built an impressive career. After all those years she finally gets her star role in The Handmaid's Tale, a brutal, timely, and brilliant new series from Hulu, and she does not disappoint. Showing both sides of a character, Moss's performance is one of the most complete and intriguing on television. She may finally win an Emmy this year, and if so, it will be one of the most deserved of the night.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Donald Glover "Atlanta"
Runner Up - Anthony Anderson "black-ish"
Commentary - Anthony Anderson was once again fantastic on black-ish, but I could not leave this year without honoring the achievement that is Atlanta. Donald Glover has created one of the most fascinating shows on television, and at its heart and soul is his fantastic, warm, and layered performance. His authenticity and commitment on screen is magnificent, and I honestly cannot wait to see his acting career as it grows, as I have no doubt it will be a fascinating one to watch.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tracee Ellis Ross "black-ish"
Runners Up - Pamela Adlon "Better Things", Justina Machado "One Day at a Time", and Issa Rae "Insecure"
Commentary - Pamela Adlon is fantastic, Justina Machado is emotional and funny, and Issa Rae is a star in the making. But man did Tracee Ellis-Ross step up her game this year. As the matron of the family, she was fierce, funny, and particularly in the season finale, she broke our hearts. She once again proves why she is one of the best comediennes working in television today.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Ron Cephas Jones "This is Us"
Runners Up - John Lithgow "The Crown" and Christopher Eccleston "The Leftovers"
Commentary - This is Us has plenty of talented cast members, but Ron Cephas Jones, as William, was one of the most intriguing and powerful characters on television this year. There are two reasons for it, one, it was a well-written and emotionally deep character. But two, and most importantly, it was beautifully wrought by Jones. He is a veteran actor whose career has stretched over two decades, and he received his first Emmy nomination for this role. It was definitely deserved.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Chrissy Metz "This is Us" and Millie Bobby Brown "Stranger Things"
Runners Up - Cush Jumbo "The Good Fight"
Commentary - This one was so tough, I had to choose two. First, comes Chrissy Metz, whose on screen and off-screen struggle with weight loss and love was intriguing, and introduced us to one of our newest stars. The other was the instant cult-favorite performance of Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things. At such a young age, Brown is a star in the making, whose stock will only continue to rise.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tituss Burgess "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Runners Up - Timothy Simons "Veep" and Tony Hale "Veep"
Commentary - The Veep guys had another great season, but Tituss Burgess, who won this category for me last year, managed to raise his own bar. This season, he grew emotionally, had that extraordinary Lemonade episode, and proved why he is one of the best actors working on television today.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Kate McKinnon "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Rita Moreno "One Day at a Time" and Kether Donohue "You're the Worst"
Commentary - Kate McKinnon has won this category for me before, and every season she is on SNL, I am reminded of why she is simply the best. The moment she won me over this season was when she, as Hillary Clinton, mourned the election and Leonard Cohen, with a brilliant rendition of Hallelujah. She looked right at the camera and said exactly what we all needed to hear: "I'm not giving up, and neither should you". Kate is one of the funniest actresses working today, and also full of surprising depth. I really cannot wait to see where the future takes her.
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Gerald McRaney "This is Us"
Runners Up - Dylan Baker "The Good Fight" and Matthew Perry "The Good Fight"
Commentary - Gerald McRaney is one of the finest veteran actors working in television. In his forty year career though, he has never managed an Emmy nomination until this year with his magnificent performance in This is Us. He was the pivotal character in the stunning Pilot, and his presence on the show was filled with warmth, emotion, and proved why he is a living legend, and worthy of some long overdue recognition.
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Kristin Chenoweth "American Gods" and Gillian Anderson "American Gods"
Runners Up - Alexis Bledel "The Handmaid's Tale" and Ann Dowd "The Leftovers"
Commentary - American Gods had a tremendous first season, and I was immediately hooked. At first, this award was reserved for Gillian Anderson as Media, playing Marliyn Monroe, David Bowie and a whole host of iconic characters. She was brilliant. But then the season finale came, and Bryan Fuller's favorite Kristin Chenoweth just knocked it out of the park. She was emotional, hilarious, and just the perfect combination of what makes her one of my favorite actresses. So since I can't choose between the two, I pick both.
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Dave Chappelle "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Hugh Laurie "Veep" and Matthew Rhys "Girls"
Commentary - Not a great year for this category, but the return of Dave Chappelle to sketch comedy was great. It was nice to see one of the form's finest talents work out some new stuff. His post-election stand up opening, by itself, was reason enough to watch. But we also got to see why his absence from comedy was hard on all of us.
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Carrie Fisher "Catastrophe"
Runners Up - Melissa McCarthy "Saturday Night Live" and Becky Ann Baker "Girls"
Commentary - McCarthy joined the five time club and outdid herself as Sean Spicer, and Becky Ann Baker has been a revelation on Girls. But I am an emotional sap (which should not surprise you at this point), and I am a huge Star Wars fan. So losing Carrie Fisher was devastating to me. It was one of those loses that has stayed with me for so long. Luckily, we got to see Fisher's funny (darkly funny) side one last time on Catastrophe, a great role for an incredibly brave, tough, and beautiful princess, general, and person.
Best Limited Series
Winner - Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
Runners Up - Feud: Bette and Joan and The Night Of
Commentary - Feud and The Night Of were great, and there is no denying that. In all sincerity, they were probably superior series to my pick. But this is my party and I will do what I want. It had been ten years since Gilmore Girls went off the air, and despite lack of recognition from much of the awards world, it was one of the funniest, most honest, and best series of the last decade, and its fan base, which I am a part of, was passionate. A Year in the Life had its issues, and some of its story lines were nothing more than distractions. But for those of us who had missed this series, to be able to go back to Stars Hollow, to witness the quirk, the humor, and the heartbreak of all of our favorite characters, was so worth the trip. It was nice to see how its show runner Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted to see her characters end up, it was great to see how they used Edward Herrmann's death to create a beautiful and emotional story line for Emily. It was everything I could have hoped for, and even if they never come back again, it was nice to take a trip down memory lane.
Best Made for Television Movie
Winner - Hairspray Live!
Runners Up - Looking: The Movie and Black Mirror: San Junipero
Commentary - This is another one, where I'm sure folks are going to disagree. At the Emmys this is nominated as a Special Class Program, not in TV Movie, but once again, its my party, so I'll do what I want. Critics were unnecessarily harsh to Hairspray Live! I even wrote about it a bit when it first came out. I think television critics are so muddled in their dramas and dark comedies that joy is not something they appreciate anymore. Hairspray Live! had some of its technical glitches, and the interludes were a distraction. But after everything that happened in 2016: the bitter election, the multitude of deaths and tragedies, Hairspray Live! is exactly what we needed. It was about different people coming together to make a better society, it was fun, it was exuberant, the songs were great, and we got to see talented veterans like Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein and Jennifer Hudson light up the screen with magnificent performances. For three hours, I tapped my toe and sang along. And with all of the lackluster Emmy contenders failing to make a mark, this was the one that stood out to me.
Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie
Winner - Harvey Fierstein "Hairspray Live!"
Runners Up - Riz Ahmed "The Night Of" and John Turturro "The Night Of"
Commentary - I have a bucket list, and then I have an unattainable bucket list. On the list was a very specific rendering of Hairspray that I never thought I would actually see. It was seeing Harvey Fierstein as Edna. Well, every once in a while, dreams do come true, and the unattainable actually happens. Check!
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Lauren Graham "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life"
Runners Up - Jessica Lange "Feud: Bette and Joan", Susan Sarandon "Feud: Bette and Joan", and Carrie Coon "Fargo"
Commentary - Lauren Graham is one of my favorite actresses, and one of the big reasons why is Lorelai Gilmore. I got the chance to watch Graham revisit her iconic role, and it made me remember why this character and this actress were so special. She was criminally under-rewarded for this role, and even this year managed to once again not score an Emmy nomination. That's okay. If the Television Academy wants to continue to ignore her. Her fans, and fans of this show will always give her the love and reward she deserves.
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Movie
Winner - Stanley Tucci "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Runners Up - David Thewlis "Fargo" and Alexander Skarsgard "Big Little Lies
Commentary - Feud was delicious, and Tucci was delicious in it. He was funny, over the top, dark, and just a pleasure to watch start to finish.
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Kelly Bishop "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life"
Runners Up - Jennifer Hudson "Hairspray Live!" and Shailene Woodley "Big Little Lies"
Commentary - Like Graham, Kelly Bishop was criminallly under-rewarded for Gilmore Girls. Emily Gilmore was a force of nature, but in this revival, with the death of her on-screen partner Edward Herrmann, we got to see a different side of Emily. She let her hair down, she got emotional, she changed her life because her life changed around her. It was not only a beautiful story line (the most effective of the trio in the revival), but it proved that Bishop is a master of what she does, and is an incredible performer.
Best Animated Program
Winner - BoJack Horseman
Runner Up - Bob's Burgers
Commentary - Bob's Burgers had another great season, but BoJack Horseman, which somehow managed to miss out on a Emmy nomination this year, has quickly risen to the top of the animation ladder. It is clever, dark, funny, and simply brilliant.
Best Variety Series
Winner - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Runners Up - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Commentary - The boys stepped up this year, but none of them, in my opinion, could manage to top Samantha Bee, which has been my cathartic release once a week for the last two years. She is so funny, so angry, and this year, is an Emmy nominee. It's about damn time.