Monday, September 21st showed us a very new style of awards evening in the form of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards being (almost) completely virtually. It started as normal with host, Jimmy Kimmel, opening with the monologue although this time the laugh tracks were from previous years and the only audience members were some quite haunting cardboard cut-outs of the nominees in the front row.
Records were broken on Monday too with Schitt’s Creek sweeping the board in the comedy sections winning seven Primetime Awards and nine Emmys this year overall making it the most a comedy show has ever won in a single year. The most notable moment of the night was Zendaya’s win for Best Actress in a drama series for her portrayal of Rue in HBO’s Euphoria. Her stunning and realistic portrayal of Rue’s struggle returning to high school after rehab earned her the title of youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama.
The night mostly consisted of Jimmy turning to live streams with the nominees to chat but he was joined on stage occasionally for skits, like Jennifer Aniston putting out a fire in a worryingly long dress and Randall Park presenting with an alpaca. Alongside the celebrity virtual award presenters the Emmy’s managed to ground the award show in the current climate by having key workers present too. Conversation didn’t flow quite as naturally when it was no more than a glorified zoom call but there were some highlights like a surprise Friends reunion when Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow appeared alongside Aniston while talking about her nomination for lead actress for The Morning Show.
Presenting the actual trophies The trophy presenters, dressed in tuxedo hazmat suits, arrived at the door of the nominees’ homes or hotel rooms with the trophy but were only told if they were at a winner’s door a minute before it was announced on the live show. This has the potential to become a much more painful Emmy loss as shown by Remy Youssef on Twitter as he physically waved away his Emmy trophy through his living room window as it left with a tuxedo hazmat suit.
As per usual political statements were made during acceptance speeches, with the main crux of the message summed up by Tracey Ellis Ross with “Stay safe, make a plan for voting, wear a mask”. Another topic brought up by winners and nominees was racial justice and the rise of the Black Lives Matters movement. Both Regina King and Uzo Aduba wore t-shirts paying tribute to Breonna Taylor, the 26yr old who was killed by police while asleep in March. Anthony Anderson, who was nominated for his role in the comedy series Black-ish spoke as he appeared alongside Jimmy, noting the “record number of Black Emmy nominees this year” and stating “Black Lives Matter, and we’re doing our best to protect Black lives. Black people are staying home tonight, which is fine because you know what? Y’all don’t know how to light us anyway”.
Despite everyone’s best efforts to present the show as normal it was impossible ignore the stark contrasts from previous years. This was all brought to a cathartic climax with a moving performance by H.E.R with a cover of Nothing compares 2 U for the in memoriam section. The rendition and the segment felt closer to home this year with the amount of friends and family who had battled coronavirus during the pandemic. Although the Emmy’s weren’t up to it’s usual glamorous standard with red carpets, cheesy banter and stretched out acceptance speeches it still was able to acknowledge some amazing performances and will always be remembered as the first virtual award show.
Best Comedy– Schitt’s Creek
Best Drama – Succession
Best Limited Series – Watchmen
Best Actress, Comedy – Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Best Actor, Comedy – Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Best Actress, Drama – Zendaya, Euphoria
Best Actor, Drama – Jeremy Strong, Succession
Feature Image Credit: GETTY Images