Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
Television was somewhat honored last night at the 73rd Emmys. There was some good and quite a bit bad from the broadcast to the winners. Personally, my predictions were abysmal with only 8 out of 21 correct predictions. I mistakenly underestimated the power of The Crown and called for some silly episodes that, in hindsight, were ridiculous, but could have been fun.
The broadcast was definitely more bad than good. From the positives, the set up of the room was innovative and fresh with tables and various stages throughout the room. The Schitt’s Creek reunion was another highlight where they absolutely sold their sketch without missing a beat. While most were present, nominees were not required to be present to accept the awards, a rule that was intelligent and sensitive to the ongoing pandemic. Finally, unlike the Oscars, this broadcast showed clips of performances but compromised with quick cuts of each performance to help move the show along.
In terms of the negative, the show is only as good as its host and Cedric the Entertainer was subpar at best. His opening was quite charming and included him and many other celebrities rapping and dancing, which could have been cringe, but seemed to work. However, it then devolved into terrible jokes and poorly made skits with stale humor where even the audience couldn’t even politely laugh. This was CBS’s chance to plug their shows and this helped me realize I won’t be watching a CBS show for some time.
In terms of the comedy awards, the night quickly turned into Hacks vs Ted Lasso with the latter winning three performance awards and Hacks winning the fourth performance along with writing and directing. It was literally a neck and neck race, but Ted Lasso won in the end due to do it’s higher popularity.
The drama categories were the least interesting as The Crown swept them all. Some wins were deserved, others were expected, but some wins were just momentum from the show’s popularity.
The Limited Series category had a similar battle to the comedy category with Queen’s Gambit winning behind the camera awards and Mare of Easttown winning three performance awards. Queen’s Gambit took the top prize, showing that technical merit can dominate. It was interesting that the limited series went last in the broadcast. It was the most difficult to predict because audiences genuinely cared about both shows this year. Is this a sign of things to change? Are limited series becoming the more popular form of television? It seems likely after this year of television.
The toughest part of the conversation in last night’s Emmys was the subject of race. All twelve performances were awarded to white actors and actresses. This does not mean that those performances didn’t deserve their wins. However, it’s still not a good look and some of the wins were snubs that were unforgivable. Michael K Williams has been a titan of television acting and was the frontrunner to win as the voting closed, which was before his untimely death. However, he lost to a commendable yet forgettable performance by Tobias Menzies in The Crown. This can be explained by that fact that The Crown is a very popular show while Lovecraft Country, which starred Michael K Williams, was fairly divisive among audiences, but that didn’t stop Menzies’s win from being a shame and a symptom of an unconscious problem.
Pose was another show that deserved performance wins for Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez but The Crown swept through those categories as well. Many respond to this criticism stating that this is about the performance and not the performer, but this is an example where the performances from a more diverse pool were better and more impactful than the ones that won, This is not meant to diminish those who won, because many of those performances are fine, but there were better performances that show a greater variety and perspective.
Race felt deliberate even before the end of the night. Michaela Coel made history as the first black woman to win for Best Writing in a Limited Series. She is an activist and a powerful voice who, when accepting her award, graciously, humbly, and promptly left the stage, while several older white men were incredibly rude in demanding more time for their speech. The inspirational speech honoring Debbie Allen and later in the night celebrating diversity with the cast of Reservation Dogs were some beautiful moments, but these felt like empty and programmed intentional gestures.
Even with the negatives of the night, it was still a night that honored some of the best of television. While a wider variety of shows and more diverse performers should have won, it’s great to continue enjoying great shows. With Succession, Ozark, and many more shows coming back, enjoyable television won’t let up.