Yesterday night’s 69th Emmy Awards was a dazzling event, as television’s most acclaimed actors gathered together to celebrate the best of this year’s talent on the small screen. The night was full of strong political statements and history-making moments as diversity was acknowledged and celebrated in this year’s selection of Emmy nominees.
The night kicked off with host Stephen Colbert delivering an introductory musical number called “Everything’s Better on TV”, featuring some of the most popular current TV shows, including This Is Us, Veep, The Handmaid’s Tale, and a special performance by Chance the Rapper. It’s no surprise that Colbert’s opening monologue was steeped in politics, with many direct and indirect references to Trump’s presidency.
What was unexpected though, was the Emmy’s choice to bring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on stage. Although Spicer’s cameo left everyone in the auditorium agog, the choice to bring such a politically controversial figure on stage left many feeling it was in poor taste. Melissa McCarthy’s SNL impression of Spicer has been highly commended for its hilarity this past year, but while Spicer’s guest appearance got a lot of laughs from the Emmy crowd, the awkwardness of the former press secretary thinking people were laughing with him and not at him was tangibly uncomfortable.
In better news, this year’s Emmys were groundbreaking in many different ways. Donald Glover made history as the first black director to win the award for outstanding directing for a comedy series , for his FX show Atlanta. He also went on to win the award for outstanding lead actor in in a comedy series, for his role as Earnest Marks, an ambitious yet struggling resident of Atlanta who is determined to make his cousin the next big thing in rap music.
Sterling K. Brown was also one of the big winners of the night, receiving the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. Brown is the first black actor to be win in this category in over two decades.
Lena Waithe also made history last night after penning the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None. Last night Waithe became the first ever black woman to be nominated and win in the comedy writing category. “My LGBTQI family,” she said, when accepting her award, “I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers … Every day put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world.”
Julia Louis Dreyfus also went on to forge new ground in Emmy history, becoming the first person to win six Emmys for the same role, as Selina Meyer in HBO’s Veep. “This … continues to be the role of a lifetime and an adventure of utter joy,” Louis-Dreyfus, who’s been nominated for 24 Emmys in her career, said when accepting the award.
Riz Ahmed also marked history by becoming the first man of Asian descent to win an Emmy Award for acting. Only one other actor of Asian descent has ever won an acting Emmy before: The Good Wife‘s Archie Panjabi, who won outstanding supporting actress in a drama series in 2010. Ahmed took home the Emmy for his portrayal of Nasir “Naz” Khan, a Pakistani college student who becomes embroiled in a homicide investigation, in HBO’s The Night Of.
“Hamilton” star Chris Jackson performed a moving tribute to remember the actors, and those who helped create our favourite TV shows, who passed away this year. Those remembered in the touching tribute included Glen Campbell, Nelsan Ellis, Zsa Zsa Gabor, John Heard, Gwen Ifill, Adam West, Don Rickles, and Mary Tyler Moore, among others.
After winning an impressive 13 nominations, The Handmaid’s Tale, took home the evening’s top prize for outstanding drama series.