Jane Lynch became only the third woman to fly solo as host of the Emmys, serving with distinction as the MC of what was a mostly successful broadcast loaded with great bits, some potential drama that failed to heat up and, inevitably some low points. Here's a quick recap of the 2011 Emmys hits, misses and WTFs.
She was great. From her bit in the opening number when she discovered the joys of laugh tracks to her "gay agenda"—involving calling Rachel Maddow and changing her oil--to her skit as Donatella the Jersey housewife behind "The Jersey Shore" and 113 other TV shows, Lynch's jokes were tight and her timing was on point. But having the show's host be a nominee in the show's first category felt really awkward. Not her fault, but someone should've said something.
The Alec Baldwin Drama
Baldwin had a joke about the News Corp phone hacking scandal cut from his opening bit. Baldwin asked that the bit be cut, allegedly not over it being censored, but because he felt the bit didn’t flow without the line. So Fox reshot the bit with Leonard Nimoy in his stead. With the knowledge that the bit had been edited and then lost Baldwin, there was no hope that it would work, and it didn't—fortunately, it was short and merely an intro to Lynch's opening number. It turned out to be a classic case of not being able to enjoy the sausage once you knew how it was made—kinda wish Baldwin hadn’t given a play-by-lay via Twitter.
The Weirdly Degrading Best Comedy Actress Pageant
In a year when women seemed to have made a great leap forward in the world of comedy, with films like "Bad Teacher" and "Bridesmaids" letting the ladyfolk take the lead, to see Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Edie Falco, Laura Linney, Martha Plimpton and eventual winner Melissa McCarthy brought up on stage for a faux beauty pageant was gross, and made grosser still when McCarthy was handed a tiara and a bouquet of roses. Watching it, we were hoping against hope that it was a set-up for making the men go through the same shtick, but alas… And then there was a bizarre echo to the moment when McCarthy and Poehler came out to present Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, making jokes about how men had to show a little skin to keep audiences interested.
Throughout the evening the action was thrown to a chorus comprised of Joel McHale, Wilmer Valderama, Zach Levi, Cobie Smulders, Tajari P. Henson and Kate Flannery singing introductions to different segments of the show. It was forced, incomprehensible and pointless, serving only to slow down the action. The highlight from the chorus was Zach picking his nose and trying to wipe it on Wilmer's coat, or maybe LL Cool J's cameo.
The Office Montage
A mini-episode of the acclaimed show featured guest stars like Kim Kardashian ("'Work'? Am I pronouncing that right?") and "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul as Creed's meth dealer was hilarious and topped of with the perfect ending, as Ed Helms went in to confront the new boss, Ashton Kutcher, suggesting that maybe he was in the wrong place. It was our first look at the newly minted "Two and a Half Men" star in action, and he nailed it.
The rap trio Lonely Island ("Saturday Night Live's" Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg) sort of popped up out of nowhere, with Michael Bolton, Akon, Maya Rudolph and Bill Macy in tow. We're not sure what they were doing there, but they crushed it.
The will-he/won’t-he drama surrounding Sheen's rumored appearance made for some good gossip, but when the moment finally came, he was almost disappointingly gracious, wishing his former "Two and a Half Men" colleagues the best of luck. It was a bit of a letdown after all the shenanigans Sheen has perpetrated this past year, but it was the right thing to do.
U.S. & World
Segregating the Awards Into Ghettos
Why were the comedy awards handed out, and then the reality and variety awards followed by the drama prizes? Awards bodies have dissed comedy forever, why implicitly enforce the impression that they're something lesser? Especially on a night when a sitcom, "Modern Family," won more awards than any other show. And any time you structure a show that invites viewers to tune out for 10, 20 or 30 minutes, you've done something wrong.
Any awards show that ends a minute early automatically scores at least a 6, and this show was decidedly stronger than that even.