The 2013 Primetime Emmys: A Show So Bad Even The Gays Couldn’t Save It

Openly gay host performing requisite musical number — check. Elton John paying tribute to Liberace — check. Jim Parsons, Modern Family and Behind the Candelabra snatching trophies left and right — check. The gaying up of awards shows — who knew that was even possible? — continued last night with the 2013 Primetime Emmys.

Yet, despite this heavily bejeweled LGBT factor draped across the show like so many douvets, covering up the unsightly old couch that no one wants to sit let alone die in known as the Emmys, the proceedings lacked pizazz. Three hours and tons of disappointment — seriously, who watches The Newsroom? — later and a twerked out Miley Cyrus would have been almost welcome. Almost.


As long as there’s an awards show to host, Neil Patrick Harris will never be out of a job, but even he needed a little help making his way through that stale opening monologue. Enter former hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien to the rescue. Nope, not working — then enter Kevin Spacey.


The Oscar-winner pulled a House of Cards soliloquy out of nowhere before Tina Fey and Amy Poehler swept in near the end, knocking it out of the park as they are wont to do.


The only thing missing from NPH’s monologue was a musical number. Then again, the random “The Number in the Middle of the Show” — coming exactly as the title suggests — was forced even by awards show musical number standards.

Speaking of forced things, Modern Family won Best Comedy Series for the fourth year in a row, and it was hard not to agree with creator Steven Levitan when he accepted the award: “This may be the saddest Emmys of all time.” Sure he was referring to the In Memoriam that had aired earlier, but he could easily have been speaking to the number of blatant robberies perpetrated that night. Bryan Cranston losing out to Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom immediately comes to mind, while perennial bridesmaid Jon Hamm gritted his teeth. And Kerry Washington’s cheekbones hang slightly lower this morning having lost to Claire Danes. But the Emmys love a repeat win, don’t they, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss?

Behind the Candelabra, the celebrated TV movie based on the gay-December romance between pianist Liberace and the inspiration for Nick Gruber’s career Scott Thorson, nearly swept all of its 15 categories, winning 11 awards, including Best Actor for Michael Douglas. When he accepted his trophy, Douglas thanked Damon by pulling his shtick out and waving it around the stage : “You really deserve half of this. So do you want the bottom or the top?” Zing!

Meanwhile, Sir Elton John’s tribute to Liberace immediately disappointed when he didn’t drive onto the stage in a Rolls Royce, but the song itself “Home Again” pretty much lulled everyone to sleep. Not that it took much by that point. In an age when television (and some films) are rife with interesting, complex, at times brilliant portrayals of LGBT characters, the Emmys still manage to be gay without necessarily being good.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s a list of winners:

Drama Series: Breaking Bad
Comedy Series: Modern Family
Miniseries or Movie: Behind the Candelabra
Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum
Variety Series: The Colbert Report
Writing for a Variety Series: The Colbert Report
Directing for a Drama Series: House of Cards
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Claire Danes, Homeland
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
Reality Competition Program: The Voice
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Writing for a Drama Series: Homeland
Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
Directing for a Comedy Series: Modern Family
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Hale, Veep
Writing for a Comedy Series: 30 Rock (“Last Lunch”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie