I will preface this by saying that I haven’t yet seen Bryan Cranston’s work in “Breaking Bad” or Kevin Spacey’s work in “House of Cards” or Damian Lewis’ work in “Homeland” or Jon Hamm’s work in “Mad Men” or Hugh Bonneville’s work in “Downton Abbey” so this isn’t coming from a “most deserved” standpoint.
All of these men, along with winner Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom,” honestly “deserved” the honor of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. If they didn’t deserve the honor they wouldn’t have been nominated for it in the first place. The debate of “more deserving” is one that I understand (if you’ve seen most or all of the nominated performances), but Daniels does deserve this award.
Sometimes when watching award shows you are taken aback by incredible surprises that you just didn’t see coming. They don’t happen a lot, in fact they rarely do, but when they do they are often pleasant surprises.
This is how I felt when Jeff Daniels won the Emmy on Sunday night for his excellent work on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama “The Newsroom,” where he plays Atlantis Cable News network anchorman Will McAvoy. I wanted Daniels to win the award, not only because as I previously mentioned he’s the only nominee I’ve seen, but also because he’s one of my favorite characters on television. He’s well-written and well-acted and honestly is one of the few fictional TV characters that I can look up to as an idol. I didn’t think Daniels stood a chance in hell of winning. In fact, if I had to rank the nominees from most likely to least likely of winning he would’ve been dead last – I think most people felt this way. I even saw one media publication (I unfortunately forgot which one) saying that he was in the “it’s just an honor to be nominated” club. It felt like it really would’ve taken a miracle (or perhaps some voting mistake) for Daniels to win the honor over frontrunner Cranston or very possible winners Spacey and last year’s winner Lewis.
This is exactly why the first words out of my mouth in a high pitched squeal when that envelope was opened and his name was read were “holy s***!” I just did not see this coming. It’s the most pleasantly shocking Emmy Award win I’ve ever seen, surpassing Kyle Chandler’s win in the same category in 2011 for “Friday Night Lights.” Much like that night with Chandler, the win for Daniels completely made my night (the much deserved Emmy for Abi Morgan for Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or TV Movie for “The Hour” just added to it – damn, I wish that show wasn’t canceled).
For those confused as to how Daniels could beat Cranston here’s a theory I will offer up, which (again) has nothing to do with the actual acting performances of each. Many people don’t realize this, but Emmy Award nominations aren’t for an entire season’s body of work. Each actor (or his/her people, show or network) submit one or two (I’m pretty sure it’s two) episodes for consideration to the voting committee. Therefore the committee is getting the “greatest hits” of each performer’s season meaning that there’s a possibility that a performer having two great episodes could surpass that of a performer who may be more solid throughout the season.
I almost guarantee that one of the episodes submitted to the voters for Daniels was the pilot of “The Newsroom,” which is honestly one of the all-time greatest episodes I’ve ever seen and his performance in that episode is just as fantastic. Again, I haven’t seen Cranston, Spacey, Lewis, Hamm or Bonneville do their things, but I can definitely see how Daniels’ performance in that episode would be worthy of winning an Emmy Award.
This is really why many of those clamoring that Daniels was unworthy and stole Cranston’s award are full of it. Daniels was exceptionally worthy of his Emmy, but again I can’t (and most others can’t for that matter) determine who’s “more worthy.” You would have had to have watched all six nominees’ work to do so.
It would be really nice if the voting committee could watch entire seasons of every series before voting for nominees, but that’s simply not feasible. They wouldn’t have time for anything else in their life if doing so and even then it still might not be enough.
I have no doubt that Daniels is worthy of his Emmy win. I’m sure the other five nominees probably would’ve been too. I understand fans wanting to see their favorites win awards; I had many nominees that I wanted to see win come up short on Sunday too. However, it’s not really fair to blast Daniels, who seemingly became the most hated man on Twitter for something completely out of his control, for winning an award just because you thought someone else deserved it more.