When lockdown first started everyone inevitably found themselves on Zoom, attending virtual pub quizzes, virtual festivals, and virtual concerts. Months later, amid the ongoing restrictions, it is safe to say nothing has changed. The 72nd annual Emmy Awards hosted on Sunday night was held online, and the audience watched as Watchmen, Succession, and Schitt’s Creek won big.
With Jimmy Kimmel as the host, keeping everyone entertained with pandemic quips (he jokingly called the Emmys the pandemmys), the empty chairs in LA’s Staples Center were filled with cardboard cut-outs of celebrities to make up for the lack of an audience. Unlike other award ceremonies that have taken place during the pandemic with pre-recorded sections, the Emmys decided to go fully live. Cameras were sent out to 130 nominees in 20 different cities around the world, and some winners even received their actual statues in-person, delivered by presenters wearing hazmat suits to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Kicking off the show, Schitt’s Creek dominated the early part of the ceremony by winning in the first six categories to be announced, taking home Best Comedy Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. In addition to this, actress Zendaya, best known for her portrayal as MJ in the Spider-man movies, made Emmy history. Aged 24, she is the youngest person to win Lead Actress for her portrayal of drug addict Rue in the dark academia high school drama Euphoria.
Accepting the award from her home, she expressed her thanks by stating: “I know this feels like a weird time to be celebrating, but I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there.” Zendaya continued: “I know our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that, but there is hope in the young people, and I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”
With the ceremony taking place amid the coronavirus crisis and ahead of the upcoming US election, it was also no surprise that several stars spoke out about political issues. Winner Regina King, best known for her role in Watchmen, a show which explores systematic racism and white supremacy, wore a T-shirt bearing the image of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot and killed by police in Kentucky in March. Watchmen swept the limited series category, picking up 11 Emmys overall.
Succession creator Jesse Armstrong also used his speech to criticise Boris Johnson and Donald Trump for their responses to the pandemic. He stated he wanted to deliver a series of “un-thank yous”: “Un-thank you to the virus, for keeping us all apart this year,” he stated, “Un-thank you to President Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response, Un-thank you to Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country.” Succession dominated the Emmys, winning seven in total alongside the top honour of the Outstanding Drama Series award.
However, despite these wins, there were inevitable snubs in many categories. While Schitt’s Creek took home numerous awards, it was disappointing to see The Good Place go home with zero especially considering the show has now ended its run. Interestingly enough, The Good Place did not receive a Best Comedy Series nomination until its third season with the showrunner Michael Schur not winning a single Emmy for his previous show, Parks and Recreation.
For Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category, it was also surprising that Paul Mescal did not receive an Emmy for his heart-throbbing portrayal of Connell in Normal People. The same goes for Hugh Jackman’s performance in Bad Education. Instead, Mark Ruffalo surprised us all with a win for his dual performance in the HBO Limited Series I Know This Much Is True in which he played twin brothers.
The Emmy Awards had its wins, its snubs and it also had its highlights… For example, we were blessed with half a Friends reunion with Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Courteney Cox. The Always Be My Maybe actor Randall Park was also on-site at the Staples Center to present an award…with an alpaca as his sidekick. All part of a joke about reading an email too fast and thinking he was going to present with Al Pacino, it was definitely something you wouldn’t see at a normal awards show.
The “Pandemmys” of 2020 will truly go down in history as an awards ceremony like no other.
Words by Lucy Lillystone