Rookie Primetime Emmy host (and 2014 Emmy nominee) Seth Meyers is no stranger to entertaining a live audience and on Aug. 25 he made helming television’s biggest night look pretty easy. It’s been a big year filled with very complex, genre-crossing TV and even late night talk shows have played a round of musical chairs with Jimmy Fallon taking over “The Tonight Show” and Meyers desking up at “Late Night.”
Even the most seasoned entertainers, though, have found hosting gigs like the Oscars and Primetime Emmys daunting. After the shiny statues are doled out, the critiques come pouring in. As far as debuts go, Seth Meyers should rest easy. He was just funny enough, he kept the show moving, and never really did a full-on nose dive into ultra-controversial territory. (Except perhaps, tipping his toes in and wiggling them a bit with the Justin Bieber marijuana-smoking reference when comparing how a tried and true platform like cable views a newcomer like Netflix).
For the most part, his opening monologue stayed in industry-related territory and didn’t veer off into the political realm. His jokes really hit-the-nail-on-the-situational-head referencing the ever-changing television landscape and cable’s domination (Here’s to HBO and its 99 nominations) over major networks. Just why does a major network like NBC still broadcast the big gala each year?
Meyers also called out the category confusion elephant in the room without batting an eye. Brilliant shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “True Detective” may have indeed been mismarked. But hey, in the end, to quote Oscar winner and Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy nominee Matthew McConaughey it’s “alright, alright, alright!” Isn’t it?
After all, the Primetime Emmys are all about recognizing brilliance in television and the small screen was full of it this year. In fact, kudos to Seth Meyers for addressing the quality and complexity of the work television writers are doing in delivering cinematic material to living rooms across America. And, calling TV the “booty call friend of entertainment” was spot on and the whole bit was really funny.
Did Seth Meyers get upstaged at all by his fellow late night hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon? Not really. Kimmel is known for his nearly abrasive sarcasm and Matthew McConaughey took his jabs well. Jimmy Fallon was friendly as ever – and even rescued Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Bryan Cranston’s lip-locking clutches (Louis-Dreyfus and Cranston both won Emmys, incidentally). Both Jimmys did their bits, drew some laughs and returned the show to Meyers’ capable hands without fuss or fight.
The actual wins, on the other hand, brought some surprises. While “The Normal Heart” grabbed the distinct honor of Outstanding Television Movie, none of its heavily nominated cast won in their categories for the incredible performances they delivered in the film. It would have been nice, also, to see newcomers like Kerry Washington and Adam Driver win in their respective categories. There were many repeat winners and this, honestly, made an awards show in a New Era of Television feel dated and tired, through no fault of Emmy’s amiable host. (See the attached slideshow of 2014 Primetime Emmy winners in Lead and Supporting Acting categories).
Willa Paskin from Slate.com agreed noting, "The predictable lethargy, the inevitable inertia of the Emmys and the parade of familiar winners obscured what was a very professional and adeptly delivered performance from Seth Meyers."
Finally, Billy Crystal’s tribute to Robin Williams was moving and beautiful. The sting of his tragic death is still fresh and tough to comprehend. Williams was a comedic tour de force to which none can be compared.
Overall, the Emmy hosting shoes seemed to fit Seth Meyers fine this year. He clipped along at a nice pace that should find him back at his “Late Night” desk with a big, wide post-Emmy smile.