Politics still play role in record breaking year at the Emmys

The 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards proved to be a diverse and deserving year for this past Sunday’s winners. Stars sang and danced, records were broken, people of color and women dominated the stage, and Sean Spicer even made a surprise appearance.

Stephen Colbert hosted the evening’s ceremonies opening with a musical number where he danced his way through the settings of our favorite shows. Colbert sung praise of how “The World’s a Little Better on TV,” while backed by a kick line of handmaiden dancers in bonnets. After the song and dance Colbert got into the always anticipated monologue. As is it typical to Colbert’s “Late Show” on CBS, political jokes, particularly ones aimed at President Trump ended up forming half of his monologue. “These days, everyone loves streaming video – Just ask Ted Cruz,” Colbert joked. All this came to a head when Sean Spicer shocked the crowd, riding a mobile podium onto the stage in homage to Melissa McCarthy’s SNL impression of him.

Saturday Night Live took home six awards in total. McCarthy won Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series or her portrayal of Sean Spicer, while Alec Baldwin won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series after his season long impression of the President. “At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” Baldwin said, mocking President Trump’s grudge for his show’s “The Apprentice” losing in Emmy’s past. The show also took home Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series which went to Kate McKinnon for her multiple memorable characters and impressions, though she really is more deserving an award for a lead on SNL as she steals the show every week.

As has been more and more common over the last few years, despite SNL’s strong showing, streaming services and premium channels seemed to take home many of the awards. Hulu dominated the stage winning six awards for its original show “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” Despite being a newcomer in the world of online streaming, Hulu boxed out the competition for drama series’, taking home Best Writing and Best Directing for a Drama series. Elizabeth Moss took home the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series. “The Handmaiden’s Tale” wasn’t the only show to take home multiple awards for women.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has been portraying the beloved yet disgruntled character Selina Meyer on “Veep” on HBO since 2012, took home her sixth Emmy in a row for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, she is the first actor or actress to ever win an Emmy six times for the same role.

“Big Little Lies,” a show starring women and focusing on domestic violence won five awards for HBO. Nicole Kidman, primarily a movie actress, won for Best Actress in a Limited Series and Laura Dern, who has been acting since the age of 11 followed up with the win for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series. The show took home three more awards for HBO, adding to the channel’s total of nine wins.

More records were made when “Master of None” took home Best Writing for a Comedy. Lena Waithe, who stars in the series and wrote the award winning episode, became the first ever African-American woman to win an Emmy for comedy-series writing. “Thanksgiving,” touches beautifully on the difficulties of coming out to your family for the LGBT community and was based on Waithe’s early life. Creator and writer Aziz Ansari stood by Waithe as she accepted the award. Waithe, who is lesbian, gave a shout out to the “L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.” community.

“The things that make us different, those are our superpowers,” she said. “Every day, when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world — because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”

Donald Glover, one of the few winners for basic cable based series set even more records. He took home Best Actor in a Comedy Series, but more importantly he became the first African-American to win for Directing a Comedy Series for his FX show “Atlanta.” The show, created by Glover, follows two cousins as they navigate their way through the Atlanta rap scene in an effort to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Glover couldn’t resist making a joke about President Donald Trump in his acceptance speech. “He’s probably the reason I’m up here,” Glover joked, thanking him “for making black people number one on the most oppressed list.” Glover thanked his partner and un-born son, as well as Hiro Murai a producer and writer for his show “Atlanta” who Glover said taught him the art of directing.

The Emmy’s opened praising television for being a distraction from the world we live in, and while the shows we love do just that for us, the awards night still seemed bogged down by the weight of the political world around it, causing many of the jokes meant to lighten the mood to land with a thud. However, if  you were able to weed through the thicket of political jokes and commentary you witnessed one of the most diverse and record breaking years at the Emmy’s.

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Zack DeLuca
Zack studies Journalism and Film/Media at the University of Rhode Island. He studies narrative screenwriting and production, as well as documentary production. Zack is the Entertainment Editor for The Good 5 Cent Cigar, URI’s school newspaper, and has had articles appear in publications like the Cranston Herald.