Emmy Awards 2022: Key Takeaways
Emmy Awards night, as always, was full of all sorts of interesting things. The music choices for the show were strange (who awards an Emmy for Succession and plays “Shake Your Booty” on the stage?), and there were a lot of lagging bits that dragged on past tense people’s wins. But there was also great speech making and encouraging wins, and here are five takeaways from the entire awards show.
Sheryl Lee Ralph’s spectacular speech
It was not easy to figure out what the best moment of the ceremony was this year.
With her poignant speech, Sheryl Lee Ralph stole the show at the Emmy Awards. That event in Los Angeles may have was up there for the best moment in history too.
At the NEA’s annual awards ceremony, Ralph took to the stage unannounced to perform a cappella of Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species.” Dianne then spoke passionately and beautifully about never giving up on your dreams and how important it is to appreciate those who take care of you. The speech, which you can download for your own listening pleasure, is one that really only belongs to her. It was long overdue, but it was fantastic for her to win this award – she is only the second Black woman ever to do so. More female African American artists should win these awards from this category as they have been historically less likely to receive them than men.
The Emmy Awards show still needs more time for speeches and less for montages and scripted banter
For the most part, the Emmy Awards had some people, like Jennifer Coolidge, quickly finding out that they were cut off even though she was very entertaining. Coolidge won the award for best supporting actress in a limited series for her work on The White Lotus; after trying and trying to get the show to let her say a couple more things, Coolidge heard “Hit The Road Jack” start up and, rather than hurrying off stage, she danced with a roar from the crowd.
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One strategy that award show producers often use is to weave together montages and scripted bits with comedic speeches from their hosts. This strategy can work well when the things in between awards are entertaining, but sometimes they’re not.
There weren’t a lot of big surprises
Ted Lasso and Succession won Emmy Awards in their respective categories of comedy and drama-series, with each winning the award for best series. The White Lotus cleaned up in the limited-series awards with wins for Coolidge, Murray Bartlett, Mike White, and directing and writing awards.
Lee Jung-jae was the first Asian actor to win leads in a drama series for Squid Game, which undoubtedly sent a shock-wave through the Korean entertainment industry. It had received a lot of nominations and was seen as a potential Oscar contender. However, it didn’t get much recognition among other top nominees.
Perhaps the nicest surprise of the night came when Lizzo’s “Watch Out For The Big Grrrls” broke RuPaul’s streak of four wins in the reality competition category. Then, following that win, Lizzo “spoke it up,” asking America to think about how important representation is for minorities. This point actually runs through a lot of the speeches that were given as well.
Still a lot of repetition is present
With increased competition, in almost every category, the awards lacked any shows dominating the awards like Frasier and Modern Family once did.
Saturday Night Live defeated its two rival shows, A Black Lady Sketch Show, to win the variety sketch category. It has now won for six consecutive years. Succession and Ted Lasso repeated their respective wins in 2020 and 2019, respectively, which was disappointing.
Despite winning an award the night before, Zendaya was able to win again by taking home an award in the outstanding lead actress category. Jean Smart also won a second year in a row for her work as lead actress on Hacks. The more impressive feat? Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has now won its seventh straight awards in the “Variety Talk Series” category, beating out other online sources like The Daily Show and all of late night television on network TV.
Possible fields of winners
It is an observation of public reaction and not the show itself, but there has been a significant shift in when something is too much. In the past when there were fewer shows to choose from, It wasn’t until something racked up five or six wins that pressure started to mount to get something else, anything else, on stage with a win.
Since there is so much to choose from and the quality of shows, it can seem like Ted Lasso has two wins, especially with a show as new as Abbott Elementary.
The Emmy Awards are beginning to experience an unenviable problem: Even when people disagree with the results of a competition, it may not necessarily be the case that a show was undeserved, but rather that there was another option that should have been considered in a crowded field.
Even the legendary Jean Smart, who won countless fans over the course of a remarkable career and was superb on Hacks, may not have been everyone’s first pick. That wasn’t due to her skill; rather, it was because she had to compete against freshmen like Brunson and Issa Rae, who has been nominated for Insecure numerous times but has never won. The Squid Game wins has a fresh feel because of this; it’s a new show.
It’s one thing for a wins to feel deserved; it can be another for it to feel exciting. Even a third or second win can seem rote by now, so let’s bring on the new contenders, and we’ll be glad to see them.