Emmys Recap: Diversity Was the Buzz Word, but the Winners Told a Different Story

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Diversity was the word of the night at the 70th Annual Emmy Awards last night. The entire opening skit, starring Sterling K. Brown, RuPaul, and Kate McKinnon among others, applauded the Emmys on their most diverse pool of nominees in history. Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) became the first Asian-American actress to be nominated for a lead role in a drama series and at the Creative Arts Emmys, all four Guest Acting Emmys went to black actors. Tiffany Haddish (Saturday Night Live), Katt Williams (Atlanta), Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us), and Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) all took home golden statues. Nevertheless, it took exactly one hour for a person of color to win a televised award (Regina King for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/T.V. Movie for her role in Seven Seconds). Furthermore, a grand total of three people of color won televised awards. The second was Thandie Newton for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Westworld; the third, Darren Criss for Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series/T.V. Movie for his role in American Crime StoryThe Assassination of Gianni Versace.

What happened last night was one of the most grandiose examples of the world’s worst current trend. We celebrate diversity and pat ourselves on the back, but ultimately people of color are nominated for show and don’t win. That’s not to say that last night’s winners did not deserve their wins. Harry Winkler (Barry) is a comedy icon and was way overdue for an Emmy victory, but did he really give a more nuanced and better performance than Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta? Peter Dinklage has done consistently great work on Game of Thrones, but did he really need a third win over Matt Smith (The Crown) and David Harbour (Stranger Things)? Speaking of Games of Thrones, they somehow captured a third win for Best Drama Series over the incredible final season of The Americans and pretty much every other nominee… debatable.

Here are the best and worst moments of last night’s show:

Colin Jost and Michael Che

1. WORST: Michael Che and Colin Jost Bomb as Hosts

Who would’ve thought that two SNL cast members could deliver such an unfunny opening monologue and overall hosting job? Their bits with Maya Rudolph on Emmy history were painful to sit through and their jokes were tepid at best. Michael Che’s “Reparation Emmys” sketch was emotional and admittedly genius, but one truly great moment in a three-hour telecast is nothing to boast about.

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From left to right: Peter Dinklage, Thandie Newton, Matthew Rhys, Claire Foy, the cast of Game of Thrones.

2. BEST: Academy Spreads the Wealth in the Drama Categories

It was refreshing that one series did not sweep all of their nominations last night. The Americans picked up Drama Writing and Lead Actor (Matthew Rhys), Games of Thrones scored Drama Supporting Actor (Dinklage) and Drama Series, The Crown scooped up Drama Directing and Lead Actress (Claire Foy), Westword nabbed a win for Drama Supporting Actress (Newton). In the era of peak T.V., it ttruly is hard to give every series their due. Each show in the Drama categories delivered incredibly strong seasons, so the fact that four different series won televised awards was great.

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From left to right: Yvonne Strahovski; Penelope Cruz & Judith Light; Hiro Murai, Brian Tyree Henry, and Donald Glover

3. WORST: Vote Splitting Sabotages Frontrunners

If you were following the race it was clear that FX’s Atlanta, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and FX’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace were the frontrunners in the comedy, drama, and limited series/T.V. movie categories, respectively. Each of these shows was showered with nominations, sometimes twice or thrice in a given category. So, fans of these shows had more options to vote for to show support for these series. If only one actress from The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated as opposed to three, would Thandie Newton still have won? If Atlanta had one nomination (instead of two) in both Comedy Directing and Writing, would The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel still have prevailed? If only one actor and actress were nominated in each category for Versace, would last night’s winners have been the same?

Glenn Weiss pops the question

4. BEST: Glenn Weiss Tops Off His Emmy Win by Proposing to His Girlfriend

Glenn Weiss, who won Best Variety Special Directing for his work on the Oscars telecast, used his acceptance speech to propose to his girlfriend. Thankfully, she said yes and we were gifted with a beautiful moment in a flawed telecast.

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