Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MTVP Emmys Coverage 2017: The Aftermath

“I thought you loved morally compromised anti-heroes!”
-Stephen Colbert

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards telecast is in the books, and to say it was a memorable telecast would be an understatement. With our current national turmoil and Stephen Colbert as host, politics was front and center. There was a rather controversial politico cameo in the show’s opener, which I’ll get to in just a minute. The winners of the night were, for the most part, satisfying. Many of my picks from Sunday’s “The Players” post won their awards. Donald Glover actually won two awards. How exciting is that! The slate of winners was satisfyingly diverse, representing many unique perspectives. The show also moved at a good clip, finishing just a few minutes after 11:00. Overall, with the exception of the misstep that was the political cameo I alluded to, I would say that Stephen Colbert’s turn as host was a success.

Colbert opened the show with a partly pre-taped, partly live song and dance number about how television is a great distraction from the state of the world right now. He entered the stage with backup dancers dressed as Handmaids in red robes and white hats. Colbert pointed out how upset Donald Trump has been over the years with the fact that his shows never won an Emmy, so he half-jokingly blamed Trump’s current Presidential reign of terror on the Emmy voters. The crescendo of the Trump-ified opener was none other than Sean Spicer himself appearing on a rolling podium to declare the Emmy audience the biggest ever. At first I laughed out of the shock of it, but as I thought about it more, the Spicer appearance didn’t seem that funny. Up until very recently, he was enabling the destruction of our country and blatantly lying to the American people. It’s soon for that to be funny. If Melissa McCarthy as Spicer had rolled up, that might have been funny. The real Spicer, though? Not as much.

There were a lot of winners that made me happy, were groundbreaking, or both. John Lithgow won for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Crown,” and while his win wasn’t groundbreaking, I thought it was much deserved, as Lithgow brought gravitas to the role. Even Lithgow couldn’t escape the political climate, however, as he thanked the real Winston Churchill for demonstrating what government service should look like. Kate McKinnon also won for her work on “Saturday Night Live” for a second year in a row, including her work as Hillary Clinton. McKinnon thanked the First Lady for her example of grace. One of the presenters of that particular Emmy, however, was Gina Rodriguez, and I wondered to myself why she has never won. Gina Rodriguez is a fabulous actress who brings such heart to the title character of “Jane the Virgin,” and she deserves all the awards.

Donald Glover won not just one, but two Emmys. Both for his creation, “Atlanta.” He won Outstanding Director of a Comedy Series for directing the episode “B.A.N.” which was an experimental episode that took the form of a show on a BET-like network, complete with commercials. He also won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Earn Marks on “Atlanta.” It was great to see someone who has worked so hard in the industry get some recognition. He had the distinction of being only the second Black man to ever win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Another favorite actor of mine (he played Eric Northman on TrueBlood…enough said), Alexander Skarsgard, won for his work on “Big Little Lies.” I haven’t seen all of “Big Little Lies” yet – I have only watched the premiere so far, but Alexander Skarsgard is a beautiful man, so I admit being shallow. I mostly just enjoyed watching him give his speech.

There were also a few random moments throughout the telecast that struck me as especially entertaining. I knew ahead of time that Rachel Bloom, of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” fame, would be doing some sort of song-and-dance number. Her song-and-dance ended up being a bit to introduce the accountants of all people. It was a fun little number that was vintage Rachel Bloom. Though I think they could have had more fun with an “our accountants are better than the Oscars’ accountants” angle. There was also a bit where Stephen Colbert interviewed “Emmy” herself, played by Ru Paul dressed up as the Emmy statuette and sassy as ever. The In Memoriam segment was also rather memorable. Chris Jackson of “Hamilton” fame killed it with his song (I’m not sure what the actual song was). While I was watching it, I realized that many people had died since last year’s Emmys that I had completely forgotten about, like Mary Tyler Moore. Then I remembered that oh yeah, 2016 was basically shit (and yes, I know Mary Tyler Moore actually died in January 2017, but this past winter in general, there were just so many celebrity deaths).

As for the big two awards, Outstanding Comedy Series was won by “Veep.” As you know from my post on Sunday, I was rooting for “Atlanta,” but I can’t be too upset about the Armando Iannucci-created political comedy winning. I’ve liked the few episodes of it that I’ve seen. “The Handmaid’s Tale” won for Outstanding Drama Series, and while it wasn’t my top choice, I was okay with that, too. Between that and “Big Little Lies” winning for Outstanding Limited Series, it was a night to celebrate and fight for women. I haven’t been able to stomach the idea of watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” yet. I read the book the weekend the travel ban first started and everyone was rushing to the airports to protest, and it was just a little too real. It continues to be a little too real. I am glad, however, that such important work has been recognized.

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