Best Surprises at the 2016 Emmy Awards
Television’s biggest stars took over Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on Sunday, September 18th for the 68th annual Emmy Awards, with Jimmy Kimmel returning to the stage for his second stint as host for the live show. The glamorous event will be remembered for offering a few surprises as well as two big winners: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story earning five awards, the most awards of the night, and the fantasy drama Game of Thrones winning for best drama series. As for Veep, it took home the top comedy award, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who made history with her fifth consecutive Emmy win in the lead comedy actress category. The ceremony was marked with intense emotions with indications that the diversity of the winners is a call to act and change for television creators and consumers.
“This must be very strange for you,” Kimmel kidded Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, who was in attendance as the guest of nominee Sarah Paulson. “Are you rooting for O.J. to win this time?”. As for the HBO series Game of Thrones, it led the field this year with 11 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series for the second straight year. The show also won for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, which makes it the most-awarded series in Emmy history.
It was a bid night for Kate McKinnon as well. She won her first Emmy for her work on Saturday Night Live. It seemed to come completely as a shock to the comedian who charmingly flustered “I’m shaking guys” when thanking her SNL writers and castmates, but the most affecting moment was when she thanked her mother, sister, and her late father who “made me start watching SNL when I was 12.” McKinnon also remembered to thank Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres who she has famously impersonated, which garnered a nod from a certain Democratic presidential candidate on Twitter later that says: “Congratulations on your Emmy, Kate! Big fan of yours too.”
Jill Saloway and Jeffrey Tambor each earned their second consecutive Emmy for Amazon’s Transparent for Directing and Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, respectively. They took the opportunity to stamp for increased transgender and female visibility. “When you take people of color, women, trans people, queer people as the subjects of stories, you change the world.” For his part, Tambor called for transgender actors to finally get a seat at the table.
In the wake of this year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the other big award shows have been quick to point out their own relative inclusivity. However, the Emmys delivered the most diverse roster of nominees to date. Actors, writers, and directors of color featured big in multi-nominated shows like Master of None, The People v. O.J. Simpson, Black-ish, American Crime, and Key & Peele, and many won as well.
Television has been doing a much better job than mainstream film at representing how the real world is diverse. Thankfully, Emmy voters took notice.