LOS ANGELES -- Television has never been so damn good, Bryan Cranston boasted in the opening moments of Sunday night's Emmy telecast, and, wonder of wonders, voters actually made a great many choices this year that reflected that excellence.
Because, let's be real: The Emmys have a well-earned reputation as the awards show that rubber-stamps its winners long after their sell-by date has passed. You know who put it best? Alex Borstein, winning the night's second Emmy, repeating her 2018 comedy supporting actress win for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
"Ibid," Borstein said.
Ibid. That's the Emmys!
But this year, Emmy voters went off script, often in shocking ways. Julia Louis-Dreyfus owns 11 Emmys, eight of them for acting. She had gone six for six for her lead turn on "Veep" and was labeled a lock (yes, by me) for the comedy's farewell season, a season that was delayed by a year so Louis-Dreyfus could treat her breast cancer.
Louis-Dreyfus had history and a compelling personal narrative, everything Emmy voters love. How could she lose?
Television Academy members, though, fell hard for "Fleabag" and its creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who, remarkably, bested Louis-Dreyfus in the comedy lead actress category.
After Waller-Bridge's name was read, the camera cut to the other nominated women, but not Louis-Dreyfus. I can only imagine she was as stunned as Waller-Bridge, who was visibly shaking on the stage.
"Fleabag" won everything. And it should have. The series' second season deconstructed the show's fourth-wall-breaking conceit in ways both thrilling and crushing, delivering a perfect love story (involving a Hot Priest) that grappled with faith and forgiveness, sin and redemption.
You could view the whole season in about three hours -- assuming that, when you finished, you don't immediately watch it all over again. Many Television Academy members must have done just that, giving it wins for comedy series, writing and directing.