Even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, the old adage is that the show must go on; and rather than announcing that their Awards program would be delayed, television’s Emmy Awards pushed through on Sunday night, September 20 (in the USA), and pulled out all the stops to come up with a virtual, safety-protocoled, Awards night – hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. It was a valiant, collective effort to make this a celebration despite the stringent, limiting conditions brought on by the virus, and up to 130 cameras were deployed all over the world to capture the reactions of nominees & winners at their own homes.
And of course, these nominees took advantage of the opportunity, making their appearances that much more memorable & engaging. Jennifer Anniston, nominated for (The Morning Show) on Apple TV+, surprised the world by having her ‘roommates’ Lisa Kudrow & Courteney Cox flanking her on the sofa. Jason Bateman even dropped by. The stars of Amazon Prime’s Little Fires Everywhere, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington were found in a garden party, celebrating New Year’s Eve – their joke, as Hollywood producers who can do anything, of putting 2020 in the rear view mirror.
As for the big winners, they were HBO’s The Watchmen in the Limited Series categories – Regina King for Lead Actress, Best Limited Series, Supporting Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; and in the Comedy Series category, the ironically last season of Pop’s Schitt’s Creek. For Schitt’s Creek, besides the Outstanding Comedy Series win, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, & Annie Murphy were all big winners. Zendaya (Euphoria), Billy Crudup (The Morning Show), Jeremy Strong (Succession), and Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True) took home Acting statuettes. And Succession was the Outstanding Drama Series. Taking home Outstanding Variety Talk series was Last Week Tonight with Britisher John Oliver, and Outstanding Reality/Competition series went to RuPaul’s Drag Race.
As to whether the show came off as an unqualified success, I guess that would depend on how much you’re willing to be swayed by effort and earnestness. On those counts, I’ll give the show high marks for trying to make things light & celebratory during a trying time. The messages from the winners calling for people to stay vigilant and vote come November wasn’t lost on me, how this is precisely why Donald hates the liberal Hollywood creative community. And I’ll be curious to hear about the ratings of the show, as even last year with Game of Thrones still on board, the Emmy Awards ratings suffered a decline.
But if you’ll push me against the wall and ask was it engaging viewing, I’ll have to confess that much too often, it ran like it was some Jimmy Kimmel Late Night special or extended show, and not like the Emmy Awards it was supposed to be. And the alpaca appearance was so random. The sense of true occasion was diminished, and the glitz and glamour we rightly associate with Hollywood got lost in digital translation. We can only hope that this time next year will see us going back to a live show.