What I’ve Been Watching (And the Emmy Goes To…)

It’s September, and the Emmy Awards were given out this past weekend.

I am very pleased that three of my favorite current show — Mr. Robot (currently in season two), Game of Thrones, and VEEP did so well. (I am also pleased that The Good Wife received a few awards; it’s another of my favorite shows, and I will miss it.)

Surveying the nominees and winners lists, it is clear that the television that critics and audience most love right now is mostly being produced by and aired on pay channels and other platforms beyond the big three networks. I still watch a few comedies on the BIG THREE, but I’ve almost stopped watching drama on them (The Good Wife was an exception).

All that said, congrats to Rami Malek from Mr. Robot for winning Outstanding Lead Actor / Drama Series . That was well deserved. Malek’s character is complex and compelling, and he plays the part flawlessly. If you have not watched an episode of Mr. Robot, do so just to experience how expressive (and pained) Rami Malek’s eyes can be. Congratulations, too, to Mac Quayle for his well-earned prize for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (e.g., Mr. Robot). I was not sure that a series that had such an amazing twist in season 1 would be able to sustain interest in season 2; but Mr. Robot is not just plot-driven and twist-driven: it has characters that I’ve really come to care about, even though I feel like we have nothing in common with each other. And who doesn’t like a good conspiracy show with a non-linear narrative?

I am also so pleased that VEEP won best comedy and that Julia Louis-Dreyfus won Outstanding Lead Actress / Comedy Series. VEEP is amazing: the writing is perfect, the ensemble cast is stellar, and  Louis-Dreyfus as lead is simply astonishing. She’s developed perfect timing for comic delivery, and when her petite character mouths off with the best of the male politicians on the show, it is stunning. There was a scene this past season when she absolutely crushed a stereotypical, holier-than-thou, midwesterner, and it was priceless! (And I saw that as a holier-than-thou midwesterner!) While I am not yet so cynical as to think there is no good in government, big business, or large organizations generally, the unrelentingly savage depiction of organization incompetence is exquisite if for no other reason than it is a powerful demonstration that we live in a society that protects the right of people to create a series that savages the incompetence of government, big business, and bureaucracy generally and the hubris (and stupidity) of the agents of those entities. It is therefore fitting and right that John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, which also received a number of nominations for awards, follows VEEP on Sundays on HBO, because that show also unrelentingly savages real-life organizational and governmental incompetence.

As much as I love Mr. Robot, I am pleased that Game of Thrones received the award for Outstanding Drama Series. This sixth season was tremendous. GoT received other awards, too, and numerous nominations — not surprisingly, many of those nominations centered on two of the most powerful episodes this season: “The Door” and “Battle of the Bastards.” Game of Thrones is also unrelenting (like VEEP) in refusing to whitewash the worst aspects of human nature, but at least it presents those worst aspects within a richly textured imaginary world that is a joy to see, with morally complex characters acted by a stellar cast, all accompanied by great music. Congrats to all the GoT actors and actresses who received nominations. You are tops in my book!

OK, back to the sofa for more viewing…. Tomorrow night is the season finale for Mr. Robot.

Stan Pelkey

September 20, 2016