Super Specific Emmy Categories We Wish Were Real

I continue to not understand the concept of time, because apparently not only is it technically fall (the overwhelming abundance of pumpkin spice items everywhere I look has told me that), but it’s time for the Emmy Awards once again.

We of course have favorites going into the ceremony (This Is Us, Handmaid’s Tale, Atlanta, etc.), but what about all the standout performances by actors who have kicked ass this past season and didn’t get the recognition they deserved at the actual Emmys? Well we’re here to give them said recognition, and praise them for the excellent work that is just really super specific to their particular craft.

“Best Drama” is so overrated.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Scene Where She Helps Deliver a Baby She Also Gives Birth To

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

EMMY WINNER TATIANA MASLANY. That’s all. That’s the only thing I’ve called the Orphan Black star ever since she finally last year. If you even only seen one episode of the show, you know it’s totally deserved, but anytime there’s an intense scene between another clone, it still blows my mind. Even til the end. Our beloved Helena finally gave birth to her babies, but because this is OB world, it wasn’t in a hospital, but rather in a dirty basement with limited tools and a crazy person wanting the newborns as a scientific case study. But in the end, it was sestra and sestra, Tat and Tat, facing each other and encouraging the other they have the willpower to deliver these miracle babies. I think the show ended perfectly, but it still won’t make me miss scenes like this on a weekly basis.

Best Rap In Response To Being Unfriended on Facebook

Issa Rae, Insecure

Oh so we blocking? 😅 #insecurehbo

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Have you been saved by Insecure yet? I was recently converted to this religious sect and I’m here to spread the gospel (read the holy book here). The second season of the totally snubbed Emmy show just ended last week, and it just kept getting better and better. On the second to last episode of season 2, Issa finds out her ex unfriended her on Facebook, and she went into one of her classic bathroom mirror rants. Except this one was no holds barred. Freaking amazing.

Outstanding Performance by a Female BFF Who Gives It To Ya Straight

Natasha Rothwell, Insecure

I NEED A FRIEND LIKE KELLI 💀💀💀 #InsecureHBO

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Speaking of Insecure, Issa’s BFFs in the show are all individually fantastic, but I have not laughed out loud more to the lines perfectly executed by Natasha Rothwell, who plays Kelli. She’s sassy, unapologetic, loyal, and keeps her friends in line. What more could you ask for?

Best Devastating Cry After Finding Out Horrible News

Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

I watched this video clip again on mute and I still started crying. Give Gina Rodriguez an Emmy already. She need something to keep her Golden Globe company.

Outstanding Pop Culture References, Comedy Series

Difficult People

As Gilmore Girls fans, we’re used to mile-a-minute pop culture references. But Difficult People is next level. Within just 10 minutes, you’ll not only be hit by 8 different celeb names, but really super specific references that only true pop culture/entertainment fans will get.

Best Fake TV Show on a Real TV Show

“Defamation”, Dear White People

Guys, we love us some Scandal, but it obviously can get a little ridiculous. And that’s what Dear White People parodied with it’s show within a show, Defamation. Like many fans of Scandal, the students at Winchester University had a weekly viewing party for Defamation, which in its very short clip had a woman having a secret affair with a politician. Sound familiar? It’s incredible.

Very close runner-up (might have been the winner but I had two Insecure winners already): Due North, Insecure. Includes Scandal star Scott Foley, Regina Hall, Christopher from Gilmore Girls, and slavery.

Best Performance By An Actor Who Deserved More Than His Character Got

Nick Jonas, Kingdom

See: My entire post about this bc I’m still annoyed.

Outstanding Performance by an Actor Who Did His Best Work Ever on the Revival Of A Beloved Series

Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Unfortunately, Lauren Graham still didn’t get an Emmy nomination/win as Lorelai Gilmore (add that to the list of your Steve Carell/Michael Scotts and Amy Poehler/Leslie Knopes of the world), but I feel like she has a better chance at getting nominated/winning one in the future than Scott Patterson does. Look, I’m a hardcore GG fan, but I understand that one of the biggest things Scott has done since GG ended in 2007 was a Lifetime movie. But he’s the perfect Luke Danes. And never has he been more perfect than in this classic Luke Danes rant in the Fall episode of AYITL, when he finally tells Lorelai what he should’ve told her 10 years ago. That he’s not letting her go and willing to do anything to fix their relationship. It’s the best I’ve ever seen Scott Patterson, and he admittedly agrees that it’s also one of his favorite scenes/best work he’s done in the show.

Best Barb

Shannon Purser, Barb, Stranger Things

Shannon Purser did a perfectly good job in a perfectly fine role. It’s just that there was nothing terribly Emmy-worthy in Barb, no matter WHO played her. This nomination came about not because the role was incredible, but because people just … liked Barb. And they wanted her to have a nice thing. It feels like the time Uncle Jesse’s Forever was voted the prom song in my high school, c. 2001. The point is, we should free up a space in the already tight Best Supporting Actress category and make a special category for the Barbs of the TV world. Next year, whichever minor TV character is the Barb of that year can win, but the category would still be Best Barb.

Best Early Plot Twist

This Is Us

In case you missed it, the pilot of This Is Us centered on four people who share the same birthday: actor Kevin, family/ business man Randall, supporting-character-in-her-own-life Kate and expecting father Jack. During the last moments of the pilot, you come to realize that Jack’s storyline takes place in the late 1970s and that he is the father of Kate, Kevin and Randall – and that Randall was adopted after Kate and Kevin’s triplet died as a newborn. Phew. It was gorgeous and we owe it all to hipsters, whose aesthetic is so ‘working class couple in 1978’ that I never even questioned what year Jack and Rebecca lived in.

Best Late Plot Twist

The Good Place

Like the early-in-the-game plot twist, a later plot twist has its own perils – in this case, it’s that everything that happened before it has to make sense in light of what you’ve just learned. You spend all of The Good Place thinking that Ted Danson’s character did a piss-poor job of designing a corner of heaven, only to learn in the season finale that he did a brilliant job designing his characters’ personal hell. In a moment, it all made sense – how these seemingly cruddy people landed in heaven, how unrewarding the eternal reward was, the constant calamity. We fell in love with Ted Danson during our Cheers watch last year, and that love only deepened when he let out that sinister laugh and his very persona shifted before our eyes.

Best Denouement

Big Little Lies

Do you remember back to elementary or high school when you would diagram a story? Rising Action, Climax, Denouement, Conclusion? In Big Little Lies, you knew it was all leading up to the fundraiser night at the school, when somebody-we-know would get killed by somebody-else-we-know. The climactic scene on the slippery steps was fantastic. But that’s the point where lesser shows would give up. Without saying too much, Big Little Lies resolved itself beautifully, culminating in that heart-twisting scene on the beach when you finally exhale – and you didn’t even realize you had been holding your breath until that moment.

Best Political Commentary By Somebody Who Shouldn’t Have To Be Doing This

Seth Meyers, Late Night With Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers shouldn’t have to do this, but it’s 2018 and here we all are, getting schooled on our crumbling world by gently witty late-night comics.

Best Multi-Dimensional TV Mom (Comedy)

Constance Wu, Jessica, Fresh Off The Boat

Emmy voters love nominating moms, especially in the Best Actress In A Comedy category. They don’t especially love nominating multi-dimensional TV moms, though. Or maybe writers just don’t like writing them? Anyway, as a special incentive to show runners who love to flatline mom characters we’re including this special, moms-only category. This year the witty, salty mom-of-the-90s – who totally has her own interests and also a favorite kid – takes the prize. Constance Wu, we love you.

Best Integrated Musical Performance That’s Not Supposed To Be Impressive

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” Mr. Robot

It sounds really specific but it’s honestly not. This is a musical performance that is (1) part of a show and (2) not meant as a spectacle, a la Nashville or Empire. The winner is the one that furthers the action, touches viewers, or gives you deeper insight into the character. This year, it was Angela singing Everybody Wants To Rule The World in that karaoke scene on Mr. Robot. It’s like you can see and hear all of Angela’s conflicts in these few minutes – is she being true to herself, and her principles, and is the payoff even worth it, and does she want power for a purpose, or just to have it? – and it’s a beautifully cut scene to boot.

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Best Spoken of the 2017 SAG Awards: Actors Take On The #MuslimBan

Whether you were watching last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, or were tuned into the other breaking news instead, I think you’ll understand why we decided to forego the Best Dressed post. We would have loved to talk about outfits and we’re sure all those actors would have loved to talk about their “craft,” but here we all are, in strange times. An actor’s opinion is no more qualified than any other individual’s and we don’t wish to imply that. However, events like the SAG awards give actors a platform most of the rest of us don’t have, and we were pleased to see that many celebrities made good use of their soapboxes. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order:

Mahershala Ali [Moonlight]

“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happened when you persecute people – they fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentlemen who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community, and taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered, that he was okay, and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.”

“When we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that — there’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s an opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that that person is different from me, and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.”

“My mother is an ordained minister, I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side. And I’m able to see her, and she’s able to see me. We love each other and the love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”

Taraji P. Henson [Hidden Figures]

“This film is about unity. … The shoulders of the women that we stand on are three American heroes: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Without them, we would not know how to reach the stars.”

“These women did not complain about the problems, the circumstances, the issues. We know what was going on in that era. They didn’t complain. They focused on solutions. Therefore, these brave women helped put men into space.”

“We cannot forget the brave men who also worked with us. God rest his soul in peace, John Glenn. ”

“This story is about unity. This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside, and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins every time. Thank you so much for appreciating the work we’ve done, thank you so much for appreciating these women. They are hidden figures no more!”

David Harbour [Stranger Things]

“In light of all that’s going on in the world today, it’s difficult to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things. But this award from you, who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world, is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper, and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture and through our craft, cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone.”

“We are united, in that we are all human beings, and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive. Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts — those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.”

Julia Louis Dreyfus [Veep]

“Whether the Russians did or did not hack the voting of tonight’s SAG Awards, I look out on the million or probably even million and a half people in this room and I say this award is legitimate and I won! I’m the winner, the winner is me, landslide!” …

“I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I’m an American patriot, and I love this country, and because I love this country I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American. So I say to you this: Our sister guild, the WGA, made a statement today that I would like to read because I am in complete agreeance with it.”

“ ‘Our guilds are unions of storytellers who always welcomed those from the nations of varying beliefs who wish to share their creativity with America. We are grateful for them. We stand with them. And we will fight for them.’ ”

Sarah Paulson [The People Vs. O.J. Simpson]

… “Any money you have to spare, please donate to the ACLU. It’s a vital organization that relies entirely on our support.”

[Note: as someone who has logged plenty of volunteer hours with a local refugee settlement/services organization and in pro bono legal services, I’d also add that it would be great to look at what organizations are doing work in your own back yard. -m]


Like we said: actors aren’t the only people speaking up. They aren’t necessarily the most qualified spokespeople, either. But they ARE concerned citizens using the platforms that they have available to them to say what they feel needs to be said. It’s a reminder that all of us can and should work within our personal spheres of influence and capitalize on our own connections or expertise. And for the love of God, let’s get things back to being okay soon. We’d like this one to be an outfit post next year.

 

Best ___ Of 2016: Some Really Specific Superlatives

Well folks, here we are. The flaming dumpster fire that was 2016 is over, and we’re all here in 2017 hoping it can’t get worse than last year. But there were some good things that come out of 2016, and just like last year, we’re highlighting a few super specific things we loved from 2016, that don’t necessarily fit into any general Best of categories.

Best 2000s television reunion of 2016: Gilmore Girls

Ironically, Gilmore Girls also made our Best of 2015 Superlatives list, but this time it’s for an entirely different reason. The show made a big splash in pop culture ever since the revival was announced back in 2015, and the hype was at a high this year, crawling back into the zeigesit in the weeks leading up to ThanksGilmore (we were guilty too). But as OG Gilmore fans, we had been waiting nine years to find out how Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted to end her series the way she truly wanted. When the four episodes dropped that fateful Friday, we were transported back into the world of all things Gilmore – where the town weirdo runs a janky Ooober service, the locals have to hide a secret bar from the selectman, and the phrase “I smell snow” elicits very real emotions that induce crying. For us, this feeling of comfort – of feeling back how in Stars Hollow – was what we wanted from the revival. While it did produce the perfect example of Your Fave Is Problematic #RoryGilmore, overall, we were so glad to have those adorable Gilmore girls back in our lives once again.

Best Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Cameo of 2016: Parenthood Cast (as a whole)

Speaking of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, there were many a cameo throughout all four mini-movies that made me squeal with glee. But none more so than three very special appearances from Lauren Graham’s other TV family, the Bravermans. First, we knew her Parenhootd daughter Mae Whitman was going to be in the revival, but seeing her interact with Lorelai Gilmore and not Sarah Braverman made our hearts explode, but the fact that she always interacted with Rory?! Our brains explode too. And then came summer, when I lit’rally screamed out loud after seeing Jason Ritter pop up as the park ranger. MARK CYR FOREVER AND ALWAYS. And THENNN Peter Krause aka Adam Braverman aka Mr. Lauren Graham as park ranger two?! I DIE. I DIED. Thanks, 2016.

Best Ham4Ham performance of 2016: The Hamilton Mixtape

I feel like it’s unfair to call this a #Ham4Ham, but the Hamilton officials called it that, so we’ll go with it. HamFams have been waiting about a year to hear the mixtape that Lin had been promising, and boy it did not disappoint. In the most epic release party, they held a #Ham4Ham inside the Richard Rodgers, with a few artists from the mixtape doing live performances of their Hamilton covers. AND it was live streamed for the interwebs. The Roots, Regina Spektor, Andra Day and Ashanti and Ja Rule + more – it was “LIT AF” as the kids say. I got emotional (like I usually do) watching it, realizing that this joining of forces between contemporary artists singing Broadway covers on a Broadway stage opens the doors for so many more people to be introduced to theater in a brand new way. It’s the way life and art should be – accessible and enjoyed by every one.

Best Hamilton Happy Trails of 2016: July 9th, 2016

Hamilton may have opened in 2015, but it reached a fever pitch in 2016. A month after winning 11 Tonys, four of the OG cast members, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ariana DeBose and the maestro himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda, took their final bows. Saying goodbye to one OBC actor is hard enough, but four is even more difficult if you’re HamilTrash. Luckily, a live stream was provided and we were able to watch as their tears synced with our own. The kicker? Alex Lacamoire stealthily adding in The West Wing theme for number one fan Lin (I lit’rally just rewatched that on mute and I’m STILL crying over Chris Jackson pushing Lin back out to take his own bow).

Best Beyonce Live Performance of 2016: MTV VMAs

Beyonce was one of the shining lights of 2016 thanks to her kind of surprise album drop with Lemonade, but what made it epic was the entire HBO movie special she made as a vehicle for the new music. After going on her Formation tour (equally epic), she blessed us with a 20 minute performance of Lemonade on the VMAs. God. Is. Good.

Best Michelle Obama Speech of 2016: Democratic National Convention

We’re really going to miss all the Obamas, but Michelle has been such an inspiration to all women (and humans) during her reign as first lady. She is poised, classy, articulate, smart, compassionate, caring, funny, etc. etc. And while giving her speech at the DNC this summer to show support for HRC, she yet again left us in awe and tears, but mostly left us with something to aspire to – when they go low, we go high.

Best Carpool Karaoke of 2016: Adele

In what is arguably his best carpool karaoke yet, James Corden’s ride along with Adele has raked in over 143 million views since it was released last January, and it’s obvious why. Maybe because I’ve accounted for at least 43 million of those? Nah, probs because Adele is a badd ass bitch who raps Nick Minaj better than Nicki Minaj.

Best Political SNL Sketch of 2016: Hallelujah

The Worst Week of 2016 aka Election Week ended with the great Leonard Cohen dying (because #2016), and in what was reminiscent of the way they handled the first ep back after 9/11, SNL knew exactly how to bring meloncholy and levity to homes across the U.S., by having the wonderful Kate McKinnon, as Hillary Clinton, sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Cue the tears.

Honorable MentionsMelaniade, Hillary Actually, Voters for Trump, Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks, A Day Off (KellyAnne Conway)

Best SNL Non-Political Sketch of 2016: Haunted Elevator

Any questions?

Honorable Mentions: Christmas Candle, Crucible Cast Party, Wells for BoysTidal, Supermarket Spree (Cut for Time – ft. host Melissa McCarthy)

Best Mannequin Challenge of 2016: Black Lives Matter

I’m over the mannequin challenge (I was never under it), but this one was worth all the other silliness from everyone else.

Best Obama Girls Moment Of 2016: The Ryan Reynolds Double Thumbs Up

In this moment, I am somehow able to imagine what it would be like to be both a teenager attending my first state dinner and talking with a handsome male movie star, and the big sister of a teenager attending her first state dinner and talking with a handsome male movies star. Meet our era’s Schuyler sisters.

Best Bill Clinton Moment of 2016: Bill and Balloons

Forget what came after for a moment and just focus on Bill Clinton, the man who served as leader of the free world for eight years, still getting a kick out of balloons … and even more of a kick out of his wife’s presidential bid.

Honorable Mention: When you could see Bill mouth the words “that’s my girl” during Hillary’s concession speech, or his death grip on Chelsea’s husband during Chelsea’s speech at the DNC. You know what? They’re all winners.

Best Olympics Moment of 2016: Michael Phelps’ One Last Timerio-olympics-michael-phelps-39d4425bd7852cb5

It feels like so long ago now, but 2016 was a Summer Olympics year, our favorite TV/sporting spectacle and feel-good obsession. Nobody made us prouder to be Americans that golden boy Michael Phelps, who did his last Olympics right by earning his 23rd gold medal.

Honorable Mentions: So many! The Final Five’s overall brilliance – how much do we love Simone and Laurie?! – and Katie Ledecky’s astonishing performance, and the US and NZ runners who helped each other finish after crashing on the track … we could keep going.

Best children’s movie for adults of 2016: Zootopia

Zootopia was great: funny, clever, touching, and with a really beautiful and necessary message. I went with kids, but I would have gone as a single adult just as proudly.

Honorable Mention: The Secret Life Of Pets

Best new Netflix series – drama of 2016: Stranger Things

Stranger Things gripped audiences nationwide with its loving tribute to the 80s horror/children’s adventure film, but it did it in a singularly modern way as a short, streaming series. The series spawned memes, catchphrases, national sweethearts (Barb!), a whole lot of Halloween costumes, and the coolest troop of child actors around.

Honorable Mentions: The OA (possibly my best, but I’m only halfway through it); The Get Down

Best new Netflix series – documentary of 2016: 13th

It’s not exactly a secret that Ava Duvernay is a fantastic filmmaker, but she did something really special with 13th. She took an issue most Americans who are paying attention already knew about – the consistent and disproportional incarceration of black men used as a type of modern servitude in the prison industrial complex – and presented it in a clear, gripping, impossible-to-ignore way.

Best New TV Series That Your Mom Would Like Too of 2016: This Is Us

We love This Is Us. So do most of our friends (30-somethings). So do a lot of older baby boomers we know. This series appeals to the nostalgia of young(-ish) adults who grew up in the 70s –  90s, as well as their parents who were raising kids at that time. It’s not a cheap nostalgia trip, though. This Is Us is a relatable and incredibly touching family story for anyone who has siblings, or parents, or feelings. Plus, let’s not forget how they hooked us all in with that twist in the pilot.

Best Silly Meme of 2016: Arthur Fist 

Speaking of relatable, Arthur’s balled-up fist is relevant to as many life situations in 2016 as it was when you were 10.