The 2016 Emmys Got it Right: Rami Malek and Tatiana Maslany

Out with the old and in with the new! That’s how I felt about the big Emmy winners Rami Malek and Tatiana Maslany, who beat out past winners to take home the prize for Best Actor and Actress in a Drama Series. It was a refreshing change of pace to see some new faces.

First let’s talk about Malek, whose performance in Mr. Robot is astonishing. The first season came into our lives like a fire-starter, lighting up the internet. It was electric and simply one of the most expertly crafted first seasons of television. Ever. Visually, Mr. Robot had a look all its own and confidently ripped though a plot line in which we could all relate to: taking down the man.

However, for all the visual panache, the show was elevated due to Rami Malek’s performance. He controls every scene he is in, as he plays Elliot Alderson, who deals with a mental disorder and feels utterly alone in the world. We see the world through his eyes, for better or for worse. It’s really an incredible performance, one that builds as the tension of the season escalates.

Him winning the Emmy does not come as a surprise to me, but as far as Emmy winners go, it is a surprise. Former winners Kevin Spacey and Kyle Chandler were both nominated actors and historically an actor, or show for that matter, does not win an Emmy in its first season. That’s usually not how it works. The Emmys make you wait until they feel you have put in the work to deserve it, but Malek beat out his older counterparts to take home the award and I could not have been happier.

Speaking of taking a while: Tatiana Maslany. She plays, well, every main character on the show Orphan Black and should have won this award a long time ago (by long time ago, I mean by at least last year), but like I said, it takes a few years to get recognized, especially in this day and age and the abundance of television available at our disposal. She didn’t get nominated until the third season and finally won for the 4th season. And honestly, she’ll probably win next year, since it is the show’s final season. I would slate her as the early favorite. The Emmys also like a nice farewell (I see you, Jon Hamm). Somewhere, Steve Carell is still waiting for his.

To say Orphan Black wouldn’t exist without Maslany’s performance is a huge understatement. She plays clones. Multiple clones. And all of them are distinct and different. The main clone, Sarah, is British. Maslany, well, is not. So she puts on her accent there, along with a bunch of other manners of speech, including Scandinavian, snob, housewife, hot girl, smart girl, and New Jersey. To breath life into so many characters is an incredible task and one that fortunately was finally recognized.

And like Malek, Maslany beat out former Emmy winners Viola Davis and Clare Danes and oft nominated Robin Wright and Taraji P. Henson. Throw in Keri Russell and you have quite the bunch of amazing actresses. Maslany rose above this impressive group to snag her Emmy.

Now, awards are always subjective and “best” is never set in stone. Just because something wins an award does not mean it is definitively better than anything else. What I appreciated most about Malek and Maslany winning was the way it put fresh, young faces on vibrant, niche shows on the forefront. The are so many television shows out there, but you will be hard pressed to find two more original shows than Mr. Robot and Orphan Black. These are shows that need to be recognized and by having these two actors win these prestigious awards gives more credence to networks taking chances on genre television and allowing for inventive filmmaking, filmmaking that will push the television industry further. I couldn’t have been the only one happy that The Big Bang Theory was not mentioned last night, as it has no place at an awards show displaying excellence. More often than not, the Emmys would reward complacency, which is why Jim Parsons won so many times (Steve Carell still waiting), but I am IN on the Emmys being hip and more progressive with their winners and not sticking to the norm. It would have been easy to give nods to Spacey and Davis, but they chose to reward shows for taking risks. We are all winners due to this.

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