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From surprise wins to diversity discussion to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this year’s Emmy Awards served up a handful of memorable moments. Although the ceremony hit an all-time low of 11.3 million viewers (most are probably just waiting to watch YouTube clips of their favorite moments), it still didn’t take away from the fact that the Emmys, if done right, are an awards show that can actually be fun to watch. With Jimmy Kimmel as the experienced cruise director, the Emmys moved swiftly, had plenty of jokes that hit in all the right places, and welcomed commentary on the state of television and our culture in general. In doing so, Kimmel and his producer Don Mischer continued to prove that the Emmys tend to do a far better job than the Oscars when it comes to making the televised award ceremony palatable. Here are 11 highlights that made last night’s ceremony worthwhile.
Here are 11 highlights that made last night’s ceremony worthwhile.
Jimmy Kimmel is the Master of Being the Master of Ceremonies
The late night talk show host slayed his hosting duties, starting with an “I gotta get to the Emmys!” opening spoof where he hitched rides with various TV characters and personalities including the Dunphies from Modern Family, Selina Meyer’s motorcade from Veep (with a very much appreciated cameo from Jeb Bush), and Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon from Game of Thrones. He continued to prove that he was the best man for the job with his opening monologue where he riffed on Sarah Paulson bringing Marcia Clark as her plus one, diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, Donald Trump — all of which would prove to be subjects touched on again and again throughout the evening.
The Acceptance Speeches Were On-Point
Acceptance speeches at the Emmys can often come off as scripted and rote, in part because they tend to be won by the same ol’ people. But when someone unexpected wins, it is a breath of fresh air. When a tearful Kate McKinnon won for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the Saturday Night Live favorite playfully thanked Ellen Degeneres and Hillary Clinton. Best Actor in a Drama winner Rami Malek of Mr. Robot was graciously surprised when he stepped on the stage and talked about playing a young man “who is, like many of us, profoundly alienated” and said how there was a little Elliot in all of us.
Meanwhile, Transparent star Jefferey Tambor accepted his award for Best Actor (again) and urged Hollywood to give transgender actors a chance and Julia Louis-Dreyfus nabbed her fifth consecutive Emmy for Veep and gave an emotional speech that was equal parts hilarious and heartfelt, calling the HBO comedy more of a sobering documentary rather than satire and dedicating the award to her late father saying “I’m so glad he liked me because his opinion was the only one that mattered.”
A Whole Lotta Trump-Bashing Going On
The Emmys did not hold back when it came to the Republican Presidential nominee. At the top of the show Kimmel blamed The Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett for making Trump the GOP nominee. Veep star Louis-Dreyfus even joked “I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall and make Mexico pay for it” during her speech.
Master of None‘s Aziz Ansari jokingly said that he was supporting Trump and demanded that all Muslim and Hispanic nominees be removed from the Emmy ceremony because it would make things so much easier – just “like the Oscars.”
Transparent creator Jill Soloway was very vocal when accepting her Emmy, but it was in her backstage speech where she called Trump “the most dangerous monster to ever approach our lifetime. He’s a complete dangerous monster, and at any moment that I have to call him out for being an inheritor of Hitler, I will.” She went on to say that he is responsible for “otherizing people. He calls women pigs if they don’t look like beauty pageant contestants. He blames Muslims and Mexicans for our problems. He makes fun of disabled people.”
But People v. OJ Best Actor winner Courtney B. Vance kept it short and simple with his political speak by shouted “Obama out – Hillary in!” as he walked off the stage with his trophy.
PBJ Sammies For Everyone!
Remember when Ellen Degeneres ordered pizza for the starving actors during the Emmys? Well, Jimmy Kimmel decided to do the same but make it a little bit more personalized with sack lunches complete with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (made by his mom), juice boxes, and special little notes. All delivered via bicycle by the young cast of Stranger Things (in costume, by the way).
The Stranger Things Kids Steal the Show
Speaking of super-likable cast of Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo were the real stars of the Emmys. Not only did they dress up in character and deliver sandwiches to celebrities in ball gowns and tuxedos, but they provided pre-show entertainment with a lively performance of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” How could you not like these kids?
Andy Samberg and Kit Harington’s Charmingly Bad Jokes and Proposal
The unlikely pair of the SNL alum and Game of Thrones came out with a “soundbite jokes for next year’s Emmy highlight reel” that ended with Harington proposing to Samberg. It didn’t quite go over well, but still made us laugh because they are just so darn cute.
Leslie Jones Takes Charge
In what is usually an incredibly boring part of the show – that weird moment when they introduce the Ernst and Young accountants in charge of the ballots – things were made a bit more interesting as the men were accompanied by SNL‘s Leslie Jones. She told them that they are “protecting something that nobody is trying to steal” and went on to say that they need to be protecting her recently hacked Twitter account. It was the perfect way for Jones to own it.
Game of Thrones Rules the Emmys
When the HBO fantastical drama snagged Best Drama, that put their tally at 38 Emmys. This officially broke the record of most Emmys won by a series, previously set by the sitcom Frasier. Sorry, Kelsey.
The Kimmel v. Damon Feud Continues
The hilarious rivalry between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel took the stage when Damon humiliated Kimmel for losing the Emmy for Variety Talk Series to John Oliver. It may have been painful for Kimmel, but wildly entertaining for the rest of us. How ’bout them apples.
Diversity & Inclusion Wins the Evening
In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, the Emmys demonstrated that television is a medium that continues to grow in its diversity and inclusion. Jeffrey Tambor spoke about wanting to be the last cisgender male to play a trans character on TV while Transparent creator Jill Soloway sang praises about her job and the progress of minorities in TV, saying, “It’s a privilege and it creates privilege when you take women, people of color, trans people, queer people and put them in the center of the story — the subjects instead of the objects — you change the world!”
But it was Master of None co-creator Alan Yang’s acceptance speech that was inspiring and urged the telling of more Asian-American stories.
“There’s 17 million Asian-Americans in this country, and there’s 17 million Italian-Americans,” he said when accepting the award for Best Writing in a Comedy with Aziz Ansari. “They have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We got Long Duk Dong, so we’ve got a long way to go.”
He added a bit of advice for Asian-American parents: “Just a couple of you get your kids cameras instead of violins, we’ll be all good.”
The Shortest Emmy Ceremony Ever?
Award shows usually last long. Real long. But the pace of this year’s Emmys moved like a well-oiled machine and at such an efficient pace that it clocked in at 2 hours and 58 minutes. Other award shows — mainly the Oscars — should take note.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer