Emmy’s best moments

The winners were obvious, but there were still some genuine laughs: Chicken sandwich with two pickles, anyone?

Topics: Amy Poehler, Veep, Homeland, Game Change, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, Ricky Gervais, Breaking Bad, The Daily Show, Emmy Awards, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, 2012 Emmy Awards,

Emmy's best momentsActress Claire Danes, winner of the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series award for "Homeland," poses backstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Credit: AP/Jordan Strauss)

It was a night that was dominated by lackluster bits – let’s never speak of that lame Tracy Morgan Twitter “prank” again — and few surprises. “Modern Family” won and Jon Hamm lost as usual. But for those viewers who had the patience and fortitude to stick with this year’s broadcast (which mercifully wrapped up not one minute overtime), there were a few moments of genuine levity and warmth among the forced smiles and awkward patter. The best theme of the night? Nominees who showed they know how to play well with each other. Herewith our picks for the evenings brightest highlights.

Eric Stonestreet’s pitch-perfect acceptance

Acknowledging his sitcom husband, Stonestreet said, “I wouldn’t be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson. There is no Cam without Mitch.” Then he continued, beautifully, “We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be, just like everybody else, and it’s an honor to do that,” and added, “I never knew I’d be on TV as a gay man, but I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me.” Sweet and touching and very funny.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ win … for Amy Poehler

Remember last year, how great it was when the female comedy nominees literally crowned Melissa McCarthy the winner? Proving yet again that sisterhood is powerful, this year the “Veep” star took her third career Emmy by thanking her sons Archie and Abel and the cast of “Parks and Recreation” … before then awkwardly noting she must have mixed up her speech with Poehler’s. Poehler then leapt to the stage for an exchange of crumpled up papers and one last punch line: Louis-Dreyfus reading, “Lastly, isn’t it a shame that Amy Poehler didn’t win? What?”

Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is a tyrant

In one of the night’s few successful sketches, the cast of “Modern Family” revealed they really are one big happy family – with the exception of pint-size diva Anderson-Emmons, who plays Lily. Watching her terrorize Ty Burrell into an epic pratfall was a thing of beauty, but having her taunt Jesse Tyler Ferguson by noshing a treat from the notoriously “traditional” marriage supporting Chick-fil-A was downright inspired. “This is what I’m going to eat at my wedding,” she hissed to her recently engaged TV dad. “What are you going to eat at your wedding?” 

Aaron Paul makes good

After getting an ecstatic hug from his (now departed) “Breaking Bad” co-star Giancarlo Esposito, a visibly stunned – and choked up — Paul humbly thanked his fellow cast members – and the show’s writers for not killing Jesse off.

Ricky Gervais mixes it up with Louie C.K.

Even thought he wasn’t nominated, Gervais – who’s already done a memorable guest stint on “Louie,” decided to get competitive with the evening’s two-time victor when he presented the award for directing in a variety special. “If he wins, he’s a better comedian than me,” Gervais grudgingly stated. And when C.K. did not in fact grab the prize, Gervais was quick to crow, “Well done to everyone in that category, especially Louis, the second best comedian in the world.”

Jon Stewart claws his way to the stage

After snagging his 10th consecutive Emmy for “The Daily Show” —  and right before putting network censors to work by declaring “how predictable these [BLEEP] things are” — the 49-year-old host had to endure getting tackled by his fellow nominees Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon on his way to collect his award. By the time made it up there, Stewart looked genuinely exhausted – and like he was having the best time of his life.

Julianne Moore’s “Game Change” victory

Accepting the award for her uncanny transformation into the woman from Wasilla, Moore scored cheers from the crowd when she cracked, “I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down.”

Jimmy Kimmel turns on his parents

Introducing his mom and dad by saying, “They always told me I could do anything I set my mind to,” the show’s host went on to note, “and this year I set my mind to winning the Emmy. And guess what? I didn’t. You told me I could, and I didn’t, and I’m devastated. You lied to me!” Egged on by Tracy Morgan, he then had security remove them, adding, “It’s OK if you Taser them if you need to.” Hey, who hasn’t wanted to Tase the ‘rents now and then?

“Homeland’s” ridiculously adorable stars

For one of the most intense shows on television, the night’s big winner proved to have an irresistibly lighthearted cast. First, dark horse winner Damian Lewis admitted, “I’m one of those pesky Brits, I apologize.” And then, a glowingly expectant Claire Danes thanked her “baby daddy” Hugh Dancy and kept it real by shouting out to Mandy Patinkin with a “HOLLA!” Best single syllable of the night.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>