Halfway through the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, actor and comedian Thoman Lenon let out a big sigh and said, “This is why people don’t do this. Because it sucks.” These words by Lennon—the actor, comedian, and writer enlisted as the live voiceover commentator for the ceremony- more or less summed up what the evening felt like- an utter fiasco.
Falling in the footsteps of the Academy Awards earlier this year, the Emmys had decided to let go the pesky formality of finding a host. While the Oscars were a hit, surprisingly, the Emmys weren’t able to pull off their evening with similar finesse. There were awkward moments, bumpy sequences, and dull montages and transition were assigned to fill the gnawing hole the absence of a host had created.
The beginning was…well, the end
It was as if FOX was desperate to prove its presence at the award show as none of its series were nominated. The ceremony was kicked off with an animated appearance from Homer Simpson, the fictional character Fox still owns after Disney whisked away most its cherished possessions in a merger earlier this year.
The fact that the event was hostless was further punctuated by exaggerated bits like the one where an animated piano fell on Homer Simpson. Hey! Anyone looking for a bad idea? You should probably ask the ones who arranged the chaos that was the Emmys.
Anthony Anderson, Bryan Cranston, and Fox in the throes of its self-promotion
Even actor and comedian Anthony Anderson, the next presentation for the evening, appeared lost and uncoordinated as he searched for jokes. His replacement, actor Bryan Cranston may have been the saving grace had he not been merely there to introduce a video segment about the power of television. Sounds boring right? Then you should be glad that you didn’t get to watch it. While montages are, more or less, boring in general, this one was supposed to be the host the event was sorely missing! And it so didn’t help that it had incorporated clips from shows that aren’t even nominated!
But was Fox done self-promoting itself? Nooo. Not only did Gotham lead the montage of shows that we are bidding farewell this year, the dripping-spoilers video somehow failed to include Orange Is The New Black. Blasphemy? We think it is. But you know what was the most nauseating, I-am-gonna-turn-this-off-NOW moments? Whenever Fox’s reality show, The Masked Singer, made its presence known- which was every-single-second!
The promos of the show were inserted in commercials, someone came onstage in the form of the character Thingamajig, it was even there in the best of the year montage!
The wonder moments that saved the show from being a complete failure
It were the surprise wins (which were plenty), spot-on speeches (Billy Porter, the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy in acting, was perfect!), and of course, Phoebe Waller-Bridge who took home three Emmys- Best Comedy Series, Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, and Best Writing for a Comedy Series- for her show, Fleabag. “I find acting really, really hard and really painful … I do it for this!” she had said when she won the first Emmy. But when she was called up on stage to receive Outstanding Comedy Actress for Fleabag, just minutes after snagging the first price, the surprise in the audience was palpable as everyone (including Phoebe) were expecting Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win it (again) for Veep.
Phoebe began her speech with a big “Nooo!” before she went on to hilariously repeat herself: “I find acting really, really hard and really painful … I do it for this!” she joked, following her double win.
Such moments were far and few between the show that seemed to drag on. Like Bill Hader saying that he thought that “a limited series is a show that was cancelled” was perhaps the funniest thing, we heard that night.
Putting her name in the list of the best speeches of the night, Alex Borstein, who won best-supporting actress for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, accept her award and paid tribute to her Holocaust survivor grandparents as she encouraged women to ‘step out of line.”
“My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit. She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’ He said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will,’ and she stepped out of line. For that, I am here and my children are here. So step out of line, ladies! Step out of line!” she recollected.
But despite these rare gems, we have to see the Emmys for what it was- lacking originality, spontaneity, not really entertaining, and a barely-concealed Fox commercial, the biggest night of the world of television was a forgettable mess.