Merritt Wever — a surprise winner for Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” — might have started off the night with the shortest not-exactly-a-speech in award-show history (“Best speech ever,” Harris quipped), but when Tony Hale of “Veep” was played off a few moments later, that proved to be an unfortunate harbinger of things to come.
Isn’t the reaction of those performers — joyful, giddy, tearful, self-indulgent, whatever — one of the reasons people tune in, to see stars in unscripted moments? And shouldn’t the academy have some say regarding the not-so-subtle attempt to program the awards out of the ceremony?
In essence, the Emmys couldn’t stand prosperity. There was a promising opening with a fair amount of energy — including a bit in which several former hosts joined Harris on stage. Kevin Spacey then addressed the camera, a la “House of Cards,” suggesting the mess playing out on stage was all part of his nefarious plan.
Never mind that most of the at-home audience probably had no idea what Spacey was doing, since the TV industry has no idea how many people have watched “Cards” on Netflix. It was just peculiar enough to make you think this might be a fun evening, which was abetted by the number of unexpected winners in the early going — and indeed, throughout the evening.
Being unpredictable is never a bad thing, and award voters also helpfully spread the wealth among a variety of networks. Yet if that’s a prescription to sustain viewers’ interest, the presentation mostly squandered that effect as the night unfolded.