Celebrating TV’s Peak–And Its Nadir
Last night’s 70th annual Emmy Awards last night were unsurprisingly tepid, hosted as they were by Saturday Night Live‘s Colin Jost and Michael Che (or as I like to refer to them, Milk & Toast). The most singular and strange of this year’s Peak TV were all-but-overlooked. That’s why I present to you an Alternative Emmys, culled into categories far more interesting than Best Actors, Directors and Writers (currently working on Atlanta.) Hosted by the magnetic Pickle Rick from Rick And Morty.
The Keanu Reeves Lifetime Achievement Award for Acting, Finally
Winner: Taylor Kitsch, Waco
This annual award usually goes to an older thespian whose undeserved success in the field makes you wonder if they’re secretly a Coppola, so it’s wonderful to finally get young blood in the mix. As the star of Friday Night Lights, Battleship, John Carter, and that unfortunate turn as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Kitsch has been on the radar for more than a decade now as one of Hollywood’s Top 10 Cardboard Cutouts that gained sentience and great abs. Yet his embodiment of cult leader David Koresh in the TNT miniseries Waco was the perfect mix of empathy and ba-shit crazy. In a year dominated by “insane cult stories,” the humanity that Taylor brought to Koresh in Waco honestly had us questioning on which side of the firefight we would have stood.
Best Netflix True Crime Documentary Produced by the Duplass Brothers
Winner: Evil Genius
Yes, it was a real toss-up between Evil Genius– about a botched heist in Erie, PA in 2003 where a pizza delivery man was forced to rob a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest, leading to disastrous consequences–and Wild, Wild Country, a six part series about the Rajneeshpuram cult attempting to build a Utopian community in a hostile part of Oregon in the early 80s. (Originally, Creep 2 was also nominated in this category before Emmy voters realized that was just Mark Duplass being a weirdo.)
There will always be some debate about which was the superior docuseries produced by the brothers you best recognize from their roles in Transparent and Togetherness, but Wild, Wild Country ultimately lost the race because of its dragging length, the fact that it already won an Emmy for Documentary or Nonfiction Series, and it not having been the true story that inspired the Jesse Eisenberg/Danny McBride vehicle 30 Minutes Or Less.
Producer Who Phoned 2018 In the Hardest
Winner: Chuck Lorre
Another nail-biter category, with a field dominated by top talent that really couldn’t be bothered to try that hard right now, including Ryan Murphy, JJ Abrams, Judd Apatow and Louis C.K. (ultimately disqualified because of circumstances within his control). But Lorre’s Netflix weed “comedy” Disjointed was canceled after one season and now CBS is axing The Big Bang Theory, the longest running multi-camera sitcom in history and, at one time, the highest rated show on television. This alone makes Lorre the ultimate “Meh, as long as they keep sending me residual checks” mogul of the year. For all you Young Sheldon fans out there, the news doesn’t look too promising.
Best Reality Show Conceived By Cannabis Consumption
Winner: Scared Famous
I like to imagine the pitch meeting VH1 had for this program: “So Redman will take a bunch of D-listers from other VH1 properties, keep them in a haunted house in Georgia and make them perform elimination challenges directly ripped from the Blumhouse oeuvre.”
“Yes, and everyone has to maintain the premise that they are actually in mortal danger from ghosts and zombies, who will intermittently show up to get something out of the fridge during house drama between two side characters from Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.”
“Why yes, you can have some of what Redman was smoking when he came up with this idea at 2 a.m.”
“Very good, production has begun…and has been dead this whole time!”
Best Use of IRL Premise For “Reality” Franchise
Winner: 90 Day Fiancé, 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After (?) and Before the 90 Days
Interesting that all contestants in this field– Breaking Amish, Sister Wives, My 600-lb Life, Unexpected, America’s Worst Tattoos, I Catfished My Kid– all come from the same network, TLC. Fun fact: TLC stands for “The Learning Channel,” which was shortened from its original title, “The Learning What a K1 Fiance Visa is and Holy Sh*t, How is That a Real Thing In This Country? And, Side-Note, Are We In Danger Of Running Out of Morbidly Obese People to Populate Dr. Now’s Office Anytime Soon Channel.”
Best Animated Show That’s More Existentially Panic-Inducing and Depressing Than Anything Black Mirror Could Ever Come Up With
Winner: Tie between Bojack Horseman and Rick & Morty.
We would write more about the juxtaposition of life’s often devastatingly bleak realities and inexplicable beauty that arises from even the darkest nights of the souls addressed in these two cartoon programs, but we need to go have a Xanax and lie down instead. Maybe watch something a little more uplifting, like, I don’t know, CNN.
Best Supporting Actor Dispelling Gross Stereotype That All Asian Characters Have to Be Smart
Winner: Manny Jacinto,The Good Place
The Good Place, in general, should be nominated for ALL the Emmys, but the real MVP of the show is Filipino-Canadian actor Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, a sweet, simple Florida DJ obsessed with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Blake Bortles, who once illegally transported turtles in his pants across state borders and died suffocating in a safe during a botched robbery with his best friend, PillBoi.
It should be noted that Jacinto was the dark horse candidate running against Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh Chan on Crazy Ex-Girlfriendand Elizabeth Ho of Disjointed.
Best Low-Key Reunion of Prestige TV Cast
Wow, Waco is the real Atlanta of the Alternate Emmys! With Michael Shannon as co-EP, we expected to see some fan favorites from Boardwalk Empire show up in the miniseries. What we didn’t expect was half the sprawling ensemble of the HBO drama: Shea Whigham, Paul Sparks, Glenn Fleshler, and Shannon himself. And hey, if you squint real hard, Rory Culkin kind of looks like what would happen if Steve Buscemi and Paz de la Huerta had a kid.