Anyone who’s followed the Emmy Awards knows that when TV voters love something they love it for years and years and years to come. Just think how many times modern family Won best comedy (five, FYI) or how many times does Julia Louis-Dreyfus even win back-to-back vice president (six), or even how SNL It has yet to lose to the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category since 2017. All of this means that many of us expected this year’s party to have the same kind of feel done even with its clearly nominated number of illustrious newcomers (to cut! Murder in the building only! yellow jackets! Abbott Elementary!) The Television Academy can easily choose to celebrate.
Not that the year looked like deja vu as it did in years past. I mean, sure, there were a lot of repeat winners (hacksJane Smart Ted Lasso The boys, and the show itself) but Netflix’s lack of royal drama allowed for some much-needed versatility on the drama side. Oh, and it allowed HBO to dominate everyone else in a way it hadn’t done a few years ago.
Sure, everyone else The feuding family’s favorite reigned supreme once again after taking a year’s leave allowed the crown To get the trophy in 2021, but Succession It wasn’t as huge as it could be. Preferred audience and critic such as Cheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott ElementaryLee Jong Jaesquid game) managed to win amid a list of repeat winners that reminds us that no matter how much Peak TV we all watch, a night of Emmy Awards will always make it seem like only five shows air in any given year.
NBC brings the funny
With TV airing going, we have to admit that this year’s show moved quite a bit too fast (a bit more) and provided a lot of laughs in the process. And that’s what happens when you deliver witty banter to adorable comedic duos like Molly Shannon and Vanessa Bayer, and comedic trios like Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez (arguably the strongest case for hosting something, anything sometime in the future), and frank comic legends are in the making like Puen Yang, who had the best Murder in the building only Night joke.
With Kenan Thompson describing himself as the self-described “television mayor” as the manager of the night, it might have been a given that we’d all be in good hands. The SNL A vet is nothing if professionalism is not a body. And if his parts weren’t funny out loud or instantly imaginative in the ways we’ve come to expect from recent award show hosts (hey, at least he didn’t have a slap deal with it!), he played the room and the stage like a pro. And you have to hand it to him, and getting plenty of Netflix-is-poor hits while Ted Sarandos is in sight was fun.
And if Thompson’s straight routine helped add some mild fun (Kumail Nanjiani bartending; contemporary dancers reinterpret songs with a popular TV character), it’s Sam Jay’s voice and presence that helped define this year’s party. The SNL The writer helped keep things fresh, casual, and often funny: “There’s nothing to see here, just two great presenters,” Kerry Washington and Gael García Bernal introduced.
Oh, and while we talk about the A+ production options, let’s not pass up the applause for DJ Zedd’s music cues. Anyone who helps greet Jennifer Coolidge with Cece Peniston’s “Finally” and Jason Sudeikis with Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” is fine with me.
It’s sermons, you idiot
I find myself baffling year after year of picking award show producers when deciding what to spend airtime on. Namely, I’m constantly screaming at my TV when I realize that the thing they’re choosing to cut back on is the thing we’re all set to watch: speeches!
Listen, I get it, disguised car ads have to be aired as comedy charades and dance teams need to hire a competent opening number if it’s embarrassing, but can we allow a TV award to air, well, the awards themselves?
By the time the third discourse of the night was in full swing (SuccessionMatthew Macfadyen talking about the “gift of madness for a role” that earned him the figurine), was the harshness of the on-screen speech timer; The English actor knew right away that he was being played and tried to play it casually. But it got worse as night fell. When Jason Sudeikis and the rest Ted Lasso The team finally reached the stage, they were stunned by the fact that they only had 30 seconds left in their allotted time.
As always, though, the greatest events of the night came courtesy of a host of great speeches that either sadly challenged or silenced those pesky timekeepers. Watching Jennifer Coolidge refuse to be manipulated, and eventually glimpse her way while trying to keep her hilarious speech going (music damn it!) was totally fun. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the lavender bath you took? Ditto, Mike White’s various letters of white lotusMany wins (“Don’t vote me off the island, please!” I admit that by winning he may have violated the main rule that keeps you in the game survivor: keep a low profile).
But nothing comes close to the moment the show stops at night. I’m talking, of course, about the sight of the entire room getting close to their feet at the sight of Cheryl Lee Ralph picking up her first Emmy award for her work. Abbott Elementary. The standing ovation was astonishing, in celebration of a veteran actress who paid her dues and was finally handed flowers. That alone was worth mentioning here, but then, the outstanding performance was the previous the girl of dreams She, broke into the song as soon as she pulled herself together, and gave a great performance of Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered” song: “I’m an endangered species but I don’t sing a victim song. I’m a woman. I’m an artist. My voice straps, and I know where my voice belongs from. – Not just the win but the beauty of Ralph’s speech given during his acceptance – enough to make you believe that watching a three-hour show where actors award other actors with glossy awards while thanking their agents and networks might be something a little more limitless.
If Ralph’s speech is emblematic of tonight’s actions, it is because of her impassioned call to arms in the face of disapproval (“Don’t do Ever Abandon you! It was on topic. Tonight, after all, she and Oprah herself started talking about the odds of someone winning an Emmy—300 million for one, a statistic that proves that those who persevere against all odds make it. Not just in life but at the Emmys “The thing you can never lose is faith in yourself,” she told the audience, adding a tone for a night that would constantly highlight the power of betting on yourself.
This was definitely the result of the sudden win Lizzo watch out for Big Grrrrls In the Distinguished Competition Program category. khul RuPaul’s Drag Race After a four-year winning streak, Lizzo’s win allowed the “Truth Hurts” singer to enjoy her own achievement. High and emotional as she accepted the award, she talked about how she hoped to tell her younger self that she would one day see someone like her on TV—noting that, in a twist of fate, she would be the one who made it happen.
It stands to reason that Geena Davis, shortly after accepting the Conservative Award on behalf of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, would repeat Lizzo’s speech. “If she can see it, she can be,” is known to be a core tenet of the long-running Davis Institute, which advocates for gender equality and representation, particularly in children’s media.
Believe the likes of Ralph, Oprah, Lizzo, and Davis – not to mention writing winners like Quinta Bronson (Abbott Elementaryand Jerrod CarmichaelRuthaniel) —Make this potentially deceptive message appear effective, not cliched. Television has a way of giving us windows that show who we are. If tonight’s final prize has forced us to wonder what it says about us that we are attached to the Machiavellian machinations of a group of super spoiled rich people, the night’s many touching speeches and montages served as a reminder that boob tube still has the power to inspire girls and boys alike.
And if that gives us more heartwarming network sitcoms, more spirited satires from around the world, and more good competition shows, we might be better off than that.