2021 Emmy Awards: Best and Worst Moments
The Emmy Awards were mostly back in person after last year’s virtual ceremony, with the best and brightest in television gathering in a listed event tent with banquet-style seating reminiscent of the Golden Globes.
It was a more informal take on the biggest night on TV, which was not appreciated by all attendees as the Delta variant rages on. (“There are far too many of us in this little room,” said Seth Rogen, the evening’s lead presenter.) The streaming-dominated era that most of us already take for granted.
For the first time, streaming services took home all major series awards, with Netflix’s “The Crown” taking home Best Drama and “The Queen’s Gambit,” also on Netflix, winning Best Limited Series. “Ted Lasso”, on Apple TV +, was named best comedy. These shows and a few worthy challengers – “Hacks” on HBO Max, “Mare of Easttown” on HBO proper – topped the categories.
The result was an awards show that both signaled new beginnings and announced a handful of titles over and over again. In the meantime, this has suggested that for all of the evolution of television, there are aspects of the Emmys – missed tracks, overly long speeches, occasional moments of true inspiration – will always be with us. JEREMY EGNER
Cédric opened with a tribute to television… and to Biz Markie.
Cedric the Entertainer has promised that with him as host, the Emmys airing will be a little different this year. Different how? The first clues arrived immediately, when Cédric pushed aside the traditional opening monologue in favor of a song that immediately injected energy into the show.
“TV, you have what I need,” he sang, riffing on the song “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie, who passed away last July. Rita Wilson, LL Cool J, Lil Dicky and others joined them with their own verses.
Cedric finally offered a traditional monologue after the first two prizes, variously hooking up The Met Gala, Nicki Minaj and Billy Porter. “Look at this play, man, there are so many talented people in here,” Cedric said. “Actually, lock the doors – we won’t be leaving until we find a new host for ‘Jeopardy!’” MATT STEVENS
Is there an echo here?
In the first hour of the show, the top two prizes went to “Ted Lasso”, the second two to “Mare of Easttown”, the next four to “The Crown”, then the next two to “Last Week. Tonight With John Oliver. “
I’m not saying these aren’t good shows – some of them are great shows! But there’s a lot of variety on TV, more than the Emmys seem to know. Monotony is a vice. MARGARET LYON
‘Hacks’ gave ‘Ted Lasso’ a run for the money.
The relentlessly optimistic Apple TV + comedy “Ted Lasso” was expected by many tipsters to clean up in the various comedy categories on Sunday. But after a few hours, the night had unexpectedly turned into a two-horse race between this show and HBO showbiz’s more acerbic comedy Max “Hacks.”
“Ted Lasso” started off strong, taking top honors in three of four comedy actor categories, including a Best Actor Emmy for Jason Sudeikis. The show was also nominated for Best Comedy Writing and Directing, but in a bit of a surprise these two awards went to “Hacks”.
The HBO Max series won its third consecutive award when Jean Smart won the award for Best Comedic Actress. Suddenly, the category of best comedy, which had seemed to be a lock for “Ted Lasso”, became more interesting.
But only for about an hour. In the end, “Ted Lasso” won the first trophy, as expected. The suspense was fun as long as it lasted. SARAH BAHR
I love “Ted Lasso”, but it’s too often to hear the opening bars of his theme song.
Maybe the next time a show is nominated multiple times in multiple categories, the segments of the nominees’ clip can use a variety of music from the show, not just the same 1.5 seconds over and over again, and maybe when the folks on this show win, we can shake up some of the musical design as well. MARGARET LYON
Debbie Allen won the Governor’s Award
Debbie Allen, actress, screenwriter, director, choreographer and producer (among others), received this year’s Governor’s Award. It’s a de facto honor for her entire career, but Allen is still very productive – last week she won two Creative Arts Emmys for her work on “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” for Netflix.
“It took a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time,” Allen said in a sharp speech that paid tribute to all women, everywhere. “May this moment resonate with women in this country and around the world, from Texas to Afghanistan. “
Young people who do not have the right to vote, who cannot even get vaccinated, they inherit a world that we leave to them. It’s time for you to claim your power, claim your voice, say your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.
It was a good reminder that while much of television is vastly different from what it was just a few years ago, some of its most transcendent talents have been around for decades. JEREMY EGNER
Michaela Coel won her first Emmy.
After being snubbed by the Golden Globes, HBO’s limited series “I May Destroy You” received some measure of justice when it received six Primetime Emmy nominations.
And on Sunday night, Michaela Coel – the show’s creator and star, as well as a writer and co-director – won her first-ever Emmy Award, for writing limited series. It also made her the first black woman win in this category. In his acceptance speech, Coel told the audience to “write the story that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that is uncomfortable.”
“I challenge you,” she continued. “Nowadays, visibility seems to be synonymous with success. Don’t be afraid to disappear from her, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence. I dedicate this story to every survivor of sexual assault. LAURA ZORNOSA
Conan won only our hearts.
Conan O’Brien, who finished nearly 30 years as a late night host in June, didn’t win any awards on Sunday night. But maybe no one had fun anymore.
He assaulted the cameras when John Oliver – who once again won the Variety Emmy talk – paid tribute to him during his acceptance speech. He animated the annual energy vacuum that is the speech of the president of the Academy of Television. And when “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” won the award for Best Variety Special, for its live election show, O’Brien leapt onto stage with the show’s contingent.
“More there are people behind me that really deserve this Emmy right now, ”Colbert said. But O’Brien deserves our appreciation for inserting a note of chaos into a long night of predictable self-righteousness. JEREMY EGNER
“Mare of Easttown” thwarted “The Queen’s Gambit” … but not for long.
As has often been the case in recent years, the best limited-series trophy seemed to be the most up for grabs among the top prizes before Sunday night. The picture turned sunny early for HBO’s grim murder mystery “Mare of Easttown,” after the supporting actress and actor awards were snatched by Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters.
The series, which garnered praise for how it managed to showcase the look, feel, sound and salty demeanor of residents of Delaware County, Pa., Has become a fixture at last spring. Her odds of winning the top prize only seemed to increase when Kate Winslet also won the Best Actress award for her role as the main character, Detective Mare Sheehan.
Like Anya Taylor-Joy’s drugged chess champion, “The Queen’s Gambit” was not easily defeated. Although he failed in the acting categories, he won a top prize in terms of appearance – 11 Emmy Awards in total, including for directing, cinematography, editing, costumes, makeup, and acting. music – and won the first prize in the limited series. SARAH BAHR
Robin Thede melted.
HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” may not have won an Emmy against the eternal material collector “Saturday Night Live”. But in seconds, her star Robin Thede showed why she is one of the hottest talents in TV comedy right now. Her comically exasperated response to the ad was a sketch in itself, a testament to the outsized characters she plays on her own show. Maybe before long that will lead her to the acceptance podium. JAMES PONIEWOZIK
Hamilton is not television.
The musical Revolutionary War, which won the Emmy for the special prerecorded variety (!), Is a remarkable theatrical work. It rightly won Tonys for it.
That it was captured on camera doesn’t make it a TV – at least not the kind of TV art the Emmys should be awarding over Bo Burnham’s “Inside”, a stunning and quirky treatment of isolation. and digital overload in much of its audience has spent bouncing off the walls. JAMES PONIEWOZIK
Olivia Colman has started a new royal tradition.
Olivia Colman’s Emmy win for Best Leading Actress in a Drama for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown” created an unusual situation on Sunday. Two different actors have now won this award for playing the same role in the same series.
Colman reprized the role for the third and fourth seasons of the popular Netflix series as part of a large, preplanned change in the series’ main characters to better reflect their advanced age.
And now Colman is leaving after her two-season turn as Queen. And in the Imelda Staunton stage for seasons 5 and 6. We won’t know until next year if she will complete a Royal Emmy trifecta. MAT STEVENS
Scott Frank may still be up there.
Beth Harmon spent less time on many wins than Scott Frank on his victory speech.
The co-creator of “The Queen’s Gambit”, which won an Emmy for making a limited series, challenged the music of the play-offs not once, not twice, but thrice as he read his acceptance essay. Twitter, as usual, remark.
The series may be limited but the self-esteem of a creator? Maybe not. TV keeps changing, but the Emmys are forever. JEREMY EGNER