My 6 Key Takeaways From the Emmys

Last night’s 70th Annual Emmy Awards were business as usual: hosts slightly missing the mark, this time via awkward banter between Michael Che and Colin Jost; everyone forgetting and then remembering the show is three whole hours long; Game of Thrones having an anticlimactic win (and for its laziest season); and, finally, the Emmys talking the “diversity and inclusivity” talk, but not actually walking the walk.

Andy Samberg (or Andy Sambae, if you will) eerily delivered the best non-joke of the night: “Is there any room out there for a straight white guy like me?” Last night proved there’s still plenty. Here are the six most memorable things that happened.

Pink Was the Color of The Night

All my faves graced the red carpet (and stage) in varying hues of pink, and looked damn good doing it. Millennial pink may feel overused and overplayed at this point, but these ladies were some of the best dressed of the night. Tracee Ellis Ross wore a billowy bubblegum-hued couture Maison Valentino dress, with pink lipstick and orange eyeshadow to match. Millie Bobby Brown wore a Calvin Klein floral pastel bell bottom dress fit for a princess. Leslie Jones wore a custom Christian Siriano suit and looked better than any man there. Thandie Newton wore a one-shouldered Brandon Maxwell dress, fresh off the Spring 2019 runway. And, Yara Shahidi wore a slinky Gucci halter dress in the perfect shade of salmon.

There Was an Emmy Proposal (Yes, Seriously)

The most exciting part of the Emmys was something that wasn’t even planned (by the showrunners at least). The surprise proposal from Oscars director Glenn Weiss to his girlfriend Jan Svendsen won the night. Though I’m not typically a fan of public proposals and am much more of a Meghan and Harry engagement chicken type, love is wonderful and the reactions from the audience were both priceless and endearing. Plus, it also inspired my favorite quote of the night from Keri Russell, who told her partner of six years Matthew Rhys if he proposed to her, she’d punch him “clean in the mouth.” A queen, ladies and gentlemen.

Diversity Stole The Show (But Not In A Good Way)

There was so much talk about diversity and inclusion last night — in speeches, in interviews, in performances — with such unsatisfying results that I’ve decided I’m canceling the words until further notice. The opening skit with Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, John Legend, Tituss Burgess, Sandra Oh, and literally not one black woman was a musical joke all about Hollywood’s diversity problems being “solved.” The show may have started with a focus on self-awareness, but the results spoke for themselves: Only three people of color won awards and the writing and directing awards mostly went to white men.

Then there was also an odd bit where Michael Che gave fake “reparation” Emmys to legendary-yet-overlooked-by-the-mainstream awards to black shows on television (A Different World, Martin, Good Times, Family Matters, Everybody Hates Chris). Something about it felt flippant and insulting. If Emmys producers really wanted to honor these shows and make up for historic systemic injustice, they could have invited these writers, actors and directors to the awards and honored them properly. It felt like the kind of performative progressiveness that often fails to dovetail with real change. When will Hollywood be ready to do the real work? Until then, I’m with Brian Tyree Henry.

There Were Some Awesome Wins

There were some surprising and long overdue wins at the Emmys last night. The Americans FINALLY got its due, with the show winning awards for Best Actor in a Drama Series (Matthew Rhys) and Best Writing in a Drama Series (for that finale episode). Regina King won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in the Netflix show Seven Seconds, and even she was surprised. Thandie Newton (a.k.a. the only character I can tolerate in Westworld) won for her role as Maeve, and said: “I don’t even believe in God, but I’m going to thank her.” Give her all the awards. And finally, Ryan Murphy (who I like to call the white Shonda Rhimes) won for his limited series American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which he said was a story about “homophobia, internalized and externalized” and dedicated his award to the LGBT community, “to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws, and mostly, this is for the memory of Jeff and David and Gianni and for all of those taken too soon.”

But Mostly: Snub, Snub, Snub

Then there were the SNUBS (at least in my view), and boy, were there a lot of them. I’m still hurt as I’m typing this and I’ll hold my grudges forever. I knew Keri Russell and Sandra Oh were going up for the same award, but I think at least ONE of them should have won. Keri Russell was, in my opinion, the best character on The Americans, and even Matthew Rhys admitted it in his acceptance speech. Sandra Oh should have won for her hair in Killing Eve alone. I mean, how hard is this Emmy voters? Pick one! Atlanta had one of the best seasons of television and an even better second season, but took home no awards. Did you see Ricky Martin in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace? Does he not deserve an EGOT? And…my favorite comedy on TV at the moment, The Good Place, wasn’t nominated for nearly enough awards, and Ted Danson tragically went home empty-handed. Honestly, what the fork?

Hannah Gadsby Should Have Hosted The Show

I found Michael Che and Colin Jost and their whole “let’s bring everyone from SNL to help host the Emmys” thing (though I love you dearly, Maya Rudolph) — soooo boring. And when Hannah Gadsby took the stage to present the award for Outstanding Director in a Drama Series, it was clear who the real host should have been. As she poked fun at her numerous male critics who called her unfunny and hateful — “Nobody knows what jokes are. Especially not men. Am I right, fellas? That’s why I’m presenting alone” — her bit was awkward, funny as hell, and just what the show needed.

Feature image by Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Tahirah Hairston

Tahirah Hairston is a writer living in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter @tahairyy and Instagram @tahairy.

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