Touted as the first big televised awards event, the 72nd Emmy Awards aired on September 20 on ABC. The host of the virtual event was late night show host Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel's jokes and bits in front of no live audience were cringe-inducing. Two notable instances came when his opening monologue took a hit at MAGA rallies and when banter with actor Anthony Anderson included a demand for Kimmel to shout "Black Lives Matter!" so "Mike Pence can hear it."
Schitt’s Creek was the big winner of the evening. The cast and crew were participating remotely from Canada, where the show hails from. Kimmel made a crack after one award saying, “Trump should have built that wall on the northern border.” Kimmel went on to ask if the president had tweeted about the awards show yet. He pretended to remember that it was Sunday so Trump was "probably at church." The winners for Schitt’s Creek were apolitical until their last award and even then it was mild by Hollywood standards.
Daniel Levy: Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance. We need it now more than ever before. If you have not registered to vote, please do so, and then go out and vote. That’s the only way, we need love and acceptance out there. Dad, do the rest of the fun stuff -- sorry for making this political.
There was an odd skit with Kimmel and an actor portraying a Russian mail carrier. It was a play on the liberal narrative that President Trump is using the USPS to rig the election combined with a rehash of the old Russian hoax conspiracy.
Kimmel also introduced nominees for Outstanding Competition Program by first saying, “Past losers of this category have gone on to become the president of the United States.”
Political activist and actor Mark Ruffalo can always be counted on to spout off in a political way. Surprisingly, during his acceptance speech, he mostly spoke in general terms about taking care of vulnerable people but he also talked about "privilege" and "division and hatred." He concluded by reminding people to vote, without saying for whom, but it was still pretty obvious.
Ruffalo: ...Our story was about a man, it's about family. t's about a man who is fighting for his brother who is living with mental illness. It's a story that is common throughout so much of the world today. And it asks a big question, how are we going to deal and honor and take care of each other and our most vulnerable people? And we do that with love, and we do that with compassion, and by fighting for them. And that is what we have to do today. We have to come together with love, for each other. And if you have privilege, you have to fight for those who are less fortunate, and more vulnerable. And that is what a great about America, our diversity. One thing I've learned from my wife and children, we're stronger together when we love each other and we respect each other's diversity. And so we have a big, important moment ahead of us. Are we going to be a country of division and hatred, a country only for certain kind of people, or are we going to be one of love, strength, and fighting for all of us, who have the American dream and the pursuit of life, liberty, love, and happiness, in this great country of ours. That's what we're facing right now. So get out and vote, make a plan, and vote for love and compassion and kindness. I love you all. Thank you so much. And God bless you.”
Since it was a virtual event, the dress code was loosey-goosey. Some were dressed casually and others dressed up. Several Black Lives Matter t-shirts showed up and banners, too. A few shirts referenced the 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was depicted in HBO's Watchmen, with creator Damon Lindelof declaring, "The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today."
Regina King won Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Watchmen. She wore a t-shirt with Breonna Taylor’s face, with "Say her name" written on it. She reminded people to vote and ended with a mention of recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Rest in Power, RBG.” Bader Ginsburg was also mentioned before the "in memoriam" tributes.
Actress Lena Waithe combined racial grievance with the LGBTQ agenda in a segment titled "The Right to Tell Our Stories," saying, “I still think there’s a lot more territory to be covered in terms of intersectionality with blackness and queerness.”
Young singer and actress Zendaya, who won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, gave a shout out "to my peers out there doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, and I thank you" – a reference to the BLM protests.
Actor Sterling K. Brown ended the evening by presenting the Outstanding Drama Series award in a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. The HBO show Succession won. The thank you from creator Jesse Armstrong was particularly ungracious – it was an “unthank you” speech especially to President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as "nationalists and quasi-nationalists."
Armstrong: ...But for being robbed of the opportunity to spend this time with our peers and with the cast and crew, I think I'd like to do a couple of un-thank yous. Un-thank you to the virus for keeping us apart. Un-thank you to President Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response. Un-thank you to Boris Johnson for the same thing in our country. Un-thank you to the nationalists and quasi-nationalists. And un-thank you to all the media moguls who keep them in power. So, un-thank you.”
The coronavirus has made 2020 a miserable year. This virtual awards show sure didn’t do anything to improve that. For a successful Hollywood figure to end the often awkward and boring show with such gracelessness, just to take a shot at two political leaders, was completely tone-deaf, but also completely expected.