2016 Emmys Review (Misc. Categories…Part 1)

grease live

Even though this blog is supposed to mostly be dedicated to youth media and programming, I just can’t resist talking about the Emmy nominees this year (despite the harsh feelings I had for Margo Martindale’s win for a two minute cameo last year.) So, I will be reviewing many of the categories this year, including all the important comedy, drama, TV Movie and limited series ones. I’ll even discuss some of the “less recognized” categories, like, of course, Children’s Programming, music, variety series, and more. So, stick around, TAKE MY OPINION SERIOUSLY!!…thank you.

PS…these are not “predictions.” These rankings are based on my own subjective personal preference. My actual objective predictions will most likely come closer to the actual ceremony date (although I suck at doing those…)

These are some of the “less recognized” categories I was talking about before. There’s no real order to this post. I just updated this as time went on. I guess you’ll have to read through the whole thing to see if I covered a category you care about*. Alright! First up…

*Mostly variety and music categories, you’re welcome!

Special Class Program:


  1. Grease: Live (FOX)
  2. Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show (CBS)
  3. 69th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)
  4. The Oscars (ABC)
  5. The 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)

This season didn’t give us particularly memorable Tony, Oscar, or Golden Globe presentations, so I feel like these were name checked. Voters, here’s a tip! You don’t have to nominate The Oscars every year. Anyway, Grease: Live probably won’t win (even though it has more nominations than all the other nominees combined) because the Academy, for some reason, can’t stray too far out its comfort zone, but it should. Grease: Live, so far, is the best made, best produced network live musical. The camerawork is so divine, there were moments (particularly during the dance scene) that I thought were single cam. The production is just overflowing with energy and talent. I’m happy it did so well with nominations…but it’ll be a crime if it doesn’t actually win.

Worthy Snubbed Programs

The 49th Annual CMA Awards, Danny Elfman’s Music From The Films Of Tim Burton, 2015 ESPY Awards, 58th Grammy Awards, Kern & Hammerstein’s Show Boat, Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill, The Merry Widow, The Wiz Live!

Variety Special:


  1. Lemonade (HBO)
  2. Adele Live In New York City (NBC)
  3. Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo (HBO)
  4. The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)
  5. The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special (CBS)

I think the Carpool Karaoke Special makes a strong case as to why James Corden deserves the Emmy nomination he received for Variety Talk Show…but the special itself is pretty much a clip show. I wouldn’t have nominated it. The Kennedy Center Honors is pretty standard until the Carole King tribute towards the end, which featured scenes from the Broadway musical based on her life, and an electric Aretha Franklin performance. Amy Schumer is hilarious, and I thoroughly support her nomination here, but she does use a lot of jokes that she had already used on talk show appearances leading up to the special. It’s really the two Queens that take up my top spots. After losing the Daytime Emmy to Rachel Platten, Adele has another chance to get the “E” for her inevitable “EGOT.” Her voice is crazy good and her personality is infectious. But, let’s face it, Adele just performed in front of an audience like she’s done a million times. Beyonce created a work of art. HBO did with Lemonade what MTV should have been doing, instead of introducing the world to Mike the Situation (he’s still a thing, right?) Anyway, Beyonce should win an Emmy this year for truly revolutionary work.

Worthy Snubbed Specials

Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts And Prayers, John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid, Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted



  1. Marilyn (Snickers)
  2. Paper (Honda)
  3. Dear Peyton (Gatorade)
  4. Love Has No Labels (Ad Council)
  5. Year in Search 2015 (Google)

Yay! This category is easy because it’s short! Anyway, Google and Ad Council have great and important intentions, but I feel like these “prosocial” commercials didn’t have the specificity and focus of last year’s deserving winner “Like a Girl.” Honda’s commercial is very creative, and clearly the animators took a lot of work. But I’m a sucker for a good Snickers commercial, and this one featuring Willem Dafoe as a cranky Marilyn Monroe is so funny. A refreshing nominee, considering the relative heaviness of the other choices.

Worthy Snubbed Commercial

Strong (Procter & Gamble)

Main Title Design:


  1. The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
  2. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix)
  3. The Night Manager (AMC)
  4. Narcos (Netflix)
  5. Vinyl (HBO)

None of these nominees particularly excite me…but I suppose The Man in the High Castle‘s is creepy and weird enough (“Edelweiss”/Nazi imagery) to stand out. The smudgy, blurry thing Jessica Jones has going on is also intriguing. I’ve actually not watched either of those shows. I’ve been interested in High Castle in particular. This opening almost makes me want to finally start the season…we’ll see. Anyway, Vinyl‘s opening represents the show as a whole: messy and overly long. Glad the nominations pretty much ended here for the show.

Worthy Snubbed Main Title Designs

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Leftovers

Main Title Theme Music:


  1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)
  2. Narcos (Netflix)
  3. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix)
  4. The Night Manager (AMC)
  5. The Whispers (ABC)
  6. Sense8 (Netflix)

C’mon. This one’s too easy. I’ve actually never watched “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” but this opening makes me want to (UPDATE: I have. It’s hilarious). The song is funny, fresh, colorful, and simple. It would be nice to see Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom win an Emmy. She (and Adam Schlesinger) certainly stands out in this category. Everything else is kinda forgettable. I’m not even sure how The Whispers’ stood out with voters, but it’s at least better than Sense8 using some unoriginal “epic” music that’s indistinguishable from other scores like it. Overall, the main title categories bum me out.

Original Music and Lyrics:


  1. “A New Season” (Galavant)
  2. “Frozen Lullaby” (Garfunkel and Oates: Trying To Be Special)
  3. “‘Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground)
  4. “Settle For Me” (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
  5. “Good People” (Empire)

This is a really great category…which means it’s really tough to rank. I’d pretty much be happy with any of these songs winning. I stopped watching Empire after the second or third episode this season, but I’m glad the show got a nomination here, and this seems like one of the show’s better musical moments (better than “drip drop”). “Settle For Me” is beautifully old Broadway and Santino Fontana’s voice is golden butter. Diane Warren should have won an Oscar for “‘Til It Happens To You.” An Emmy (which she’s also never won) would be nice vindication. I didn’t know “Garfunkel and Oates” was a thing until a couple days ago, but their song “Frozen Lullaby” is so clever and hilarious. I need to check out more of their stuff. Ultimately, if I had a vote, I’d give it to Alan Menken (and Glenn Slater) for their hilariously meta season two opener. The  song is wonderful…but a part of me also wants to see Menken win because it would finally give him an EGOT. I mean, he still deserves the Emmy regardless…but him achieving a well earned EGOT would be the cherry on the sundae (or…a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup since I probably wouldn’t eat the cherry…you get the idea!)



  1. Quest Crew – Runaway Baby/Take U There/Summerthing (America’s Best Dance Crew)
  2. Kathryn Burns – I’m So Good at Yoga/A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes/Settle For Me (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
  3. Derek Hough – Footprints in the Sand/Grace Kelly/Cry Little Sister (Dancing with the Stars)
  4. Anthony Morigerato – Dibidy Dop (So You Think You Can Dance)
  5. Travis Wall – Beautiful Friends/November/Gimme All Your Love (So You Think You Can Dance)

Confession: I don’t think choreographers should be allowed to submit up to three routines. I know, I am heartless and terrible. However, on the other hand, if Derek Hough could only choose one dance, he probably would have chosen the ultra-emotional “Footprints in the Sand,” even though the bubbly and bright “Grace Kelly” was quite literally a season highlight (Bindi is just glowing). Burns’ choreography may not be as complex and groundbreaking as the competition shows, but it’s effective and tells a story. The easy breezy “Settle For Me” Fred Astaire-inspired tap routine would be my choice for her if she could only submit one routine/episode. Ultimately, I gotta give props to Quest Crew. I don’t think contestants on a dance competition show have ever been nominated for an Emmy. I didn’t even think that was allowed. I think it’s awesome the voters recognized them. Their routines are crazy innovative and their synchronization is endlessly impressive. I think Quest Crew might turn out to be the “Pentatonix” of the dance crew world.

Directing For a Variety Special:


  1. Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski (Grease: Live)
  2. Kahlil Joseph and Beyoncé Knowles Carter (Lemonade)
  3. Beth McCarthy-Miller (Adele Live In New York City)
  4. Chris Rock (Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo)
  5. Glenn Weiss (The Kennedy Center Honors)
  6. Louis J. Horvitz (58th Grammy Awards)

Look, Horvitz and Weiss are masters at their craft, and they have a boatload of Emmys between them. Beth McCarthy-Miller, on the other hand, has been in the business for decades, and has been snubbed so many times it hurts. If voters want to give an old veteran an Emmy, they need to realize that McCarthy-Miller does not have one, and directed a beautiful Adele concert. However, based on actual directorial achievement, Kail and Rudzinski should definitely get this. I actually think all the NBC live musicals in the past should have won this award. Grease: Live, however, completely raised the bar. Multiple sets. Multiple buildings. Multiple cameras. They are two hardest working directors on this list. I mean, what did Chris Rock do? What grand insight did he bring to Amy Schumer standing on a stage, telling jokes? No. This has to go to the Grease team. If not, I wouldn’t object to Queen Bey winning this Emmy as well.

Worthy Snubbed Directors

Andrew Carl Wilk (Danny Elfman’s Music From The Films Of Tim Burton), Gary Halvorson (The Merry Widow), Kenny Leon and Matthew Diamond (The Wiz Live!)

Writing for a Variety Special:


  1. Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted (HBO)
  2. John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (Netflix)
  3. Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo (HBO)
  4. Triumph’s Election Special 2016 (Hulu)
  5. Patton Oswalt: Talking For Clapping (Netflix)

I love Patton Oswalt, but I was disappointed by his Netflix special. On the other hand, I enjoyed Triumph’s Election Special more than I thought I would. Amy Schumer’s bit about the clear sexism in Kevin James’s The Zookeeper and Hollywood double standards is spot on. John Mulaney’s always clever, and I’m glad he brought himself up after…well, you know. But my vote goes to Tig Notaro. You know, I’ve watched her on The Sarah Silverman Program (where she plays a mostly straight character) and various interviews. I knew about her cancer; but I had never actually watched any of her stand up before this HBO special. I had no idea how funny and irreverent and relatable she is. She literally has the audience at the palm of her hand, and takes advantage of it for all its worth. The writing is great, and even though Oswalt or Schumer are probably the front runners, I think Notaro had the best set of the nominees.

Worthy Snubbed Writers

Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts And Prayers, Garfunkel And Oates: Trying To Be Special,

Music Direction:


  1. A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix)
  2. Danny Elfman’s Music From The Films Of Tim Burton (PBS)
  3. Sinatra: Voice For A Century (PBS)
  4. Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance At The White House (PBS)
  5. Jazz At the White House (ABC)

Sigh…it’s not like any of these programs are undeserving of a nomination…but I liked last year’s list better, when there was a healthy mix of concerts, live musicals and animated specials. This year, voters seemed mostly drawn to Live From the Lincoln Center Specials and White House performances. A Very Murray Christmas is my choice for the win because it is different from the others, and it’s pretty cool that Paul Shaffer (the nominated music director) also has a role in the special. If one of the concert tributes have to win, I hope it’s Danny Elfman’s because there were some sequences that were truly breathtaking. This special really gave me some newfound appreciation for Elfman and Tim Burton. Otherwise, I would replaced any of the other three nominees with Grease Live, The Wiz Live, Descendants, or even an episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. 


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