By Esalan Gates
The 71st Emmys took place just over a month ago, and everyone has an opinion. We have had time to process our feelings, and, whether or not we are outraged by the winners, the general consensus is that the acceptance speeches were the highlights of the evening. The broadcast of this year’s Emmys actually seemed to encapsulate the nature of television and film in 2019; volumes of sprawling and multi-faceted media are being produced in a way the awards show has not had to deal with until recently.
Many have commented that the hostless awards show was unfocused and far behind the voters themselves in an understanding of television today. Multiple acceptance speeches were expressions of the winner’s surprise at winning amongst such worthy nominees in their category. There was also a sense of progression as Billy Porter became the first openly gay black man to be nominated and win an Emmy award for his role in Pose, winning Outstanding Drama Actor.
Michelle Williams used her acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in Fosse/Vernon to advocate for gender equality, “The next time a woman, and especially a woman of colour – because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart – tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” It was revealed earlier this year to both the public and Williams herself that she was paid drastically less than her co-star Mark Wahlberg for reshoots of All the Money in the World. Certainly, the most interesting moments of the night were the emotional acceptance speeches which arguably should be the focus on a night meant to celebrate excellence in film and television.
Game of Thrones was nominated for a record-breaking 32 awards this year, walking away with the final prize of the night for Outstanding Drama Series. However, fans’ less-than-lukewarm response to the final season has caused some to question just how much the HBO fantasy series deserved the recognition compared to other nominees such as BBC’s Killing Eve which enjoyed a very positive response from its dedicated fan base for its second season. Many of the headlines reporting the award show the following day stated that Game of Thrones was a big winner and yet, other than Outstanding Drama Series, the show only won one other major award through Peter Dinklage’s win for Supporting Actor in a Drama Show.
While Killing Eve did not win for Outstanding Drama Series, Jodie Comer, who plays the psychopathic assassin Villanelle on the show, won Outstanding Drama Actress and gave a shocked speech, apologising to her parents, “My mum and dad who are in Liverpool who I didn’t invite because I didn’t think this was going to be my time, one, I’m sorry. Two, I love you, I’m going to bring it home.” The show’s acclaimed writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, won several awards across the evening; her BBC comedy Fleabag won Outstanding Comedy Series, despite the popular belief that Veep would win after its final season. Waller-Bridge commented, “I mean, to be honest, this just feels like the most beautiful, beautiful way to say goodbye to it, actually,” with regard to her Emmy wins.
While Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer won Directing for a Comedy Series, Waller-Bridge and her shows had multiple surprise-wins this year, one of the most notable being Waller-Bridge’s own win over Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Outstanding Comedy Actress, who would have become the most-awarded Emmys performer if she had won a ninth award for her performance as Veep’s Selina Meyer.
One show that seemed notably absent, even from nominations, was NBC’s The Good Place, nicknamed ‘the smartest, dumbest show on television’ by its cast as it takes philosophical concepts and translates them through comical situations in under 22 minutes, engaging the audience in a highly relevant conversation about what it means to be a good person. D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet on the show, spent an entire episode of The Good Place playing the roles of all her co-stars as well as her own in a feat of comedic brilliance, and certainly deserved a nomination.
It is going to be interesting to watch the development of the Emmys over the next few years as film and television is unlikely to become less diverse or exemplary. We watch the Emmys because we have an interest in television or a love for a particular show, and so perhaps it is right that the show focuses on the people in the industry instead of a host.
Image by screenmagazin.com via Flickr