2020 Emmy Awards show review: a surprising production triumph


Opening this year’s Emmy Awards, host Jimmy Kimmel told the audience – whoever was at home, given that there was no one sitting in front of him in the stands at Staples Center – that there was had a large number of moving elements in the reenactment of the ceremony. He asked, bitingly, “What could be going right?” “It turns out: A little. Assembled with just enough production value to feel nourished by the world past and future, and with a willingness to indulge in a chance that felt brand new, the first major awards ceremony in the COVID era was flawed, and he knew. But he met his moment with momentum, charm, and a level of effort so deep that it seemed effortless – the kind of thing live television at its best, social distancing or not, has always done.

This last point seems crucial to emphasize in part because it seems so likely to get lost: A large number of winners in various off-site locations have been told of their victories, handed the Emmys (either by presenters in Hazmat costumes the meeting where they were either automated cuckoo style boxes opening mechanically), and had the opportunity to talk, all of this went as well as he could have given or accepted the participation of a few big nominees . The literal distribution of the rewards went seamlessly, and the nods necessary for the tension of the moment within the ceremony were done better than they often are. (Enlisting Americans affected by the COVID crisis in many ways, from a breeder to a New York nurse, to present awards was a seemingly bizarre move that ended up injecting charm and a bit of reality into the series.)

The speeches, too, felt distinctly unrelated. From the comfort of their own homes, without having to scorch time walking around the stage and understanding the peculiar nature of the moment, the winners almost spoke with a combination of eloquence, effusion, wit and grace. Particularly charming winners included Zendaya, the surprise winner of the Best Actress in a Drama trophy, defeated, and Jesse Armstrong, the much-awaited winner for Best Drama for her show ‘Succession’, sourly describing the state of the world as it is. ‘he saw it. Between these two poles of enthusiasm and lucid understanding of the state of affairs lies the best of the ceremony, which only faltered in some of its longest moments but which flourished in a kind of theatrical passion. -child both for the arts and for the use. the arts to say something. Some of the winders – Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Strong’s speeches seemed to go on longer than ever allowed on a live stage – partly moved for their attempt to achieve something and their search without repeating the truth in the moment. Watching them, along with the surprisingly unrelated reaction shots of some losers also released from the comforts of home to be actively disappointed, was to watch high-profile drama.

The speeches and reactions of those not allowed to speak seemed to provide an implicit answer to the question of why the Emmys were happening at all. (Considering the many delays that the 2001 ceremony faced in the weeks following September 11, 2001, this is hardly a new question.) One answer: In September, a bunch of prizes are handed out to people at television to encourage them to continue doing a good job. This is what this industry does, and finding a way to maintain that with a sense of camaraderie and togetherness gives a sense of hope that a return to order may be closer than it looks. Kimmel, often an overly cool host for the room he’s in, modulated his tone slightly for an empty room; he noted that he participated in presenter Anthony Anderson’s “Black Lives Matter” discussion rather than maintaining his usual detachment. His presence suggested some sort of guideline with rewards that had preceded even as he effectively redefined his involvement in it.

Another is that such a large platform – even with Emmy audiences declining in recent years – provides an opportunity to say something. Emmy said something, for example, celebrating the work of Zendaya, Uzo Aduba, and Regina King; these winners – the last two of whom wore shirts celebrating the life and mourning the loss of Breonna Taylor – had things to say too. The show around these winners also included meaningful interludes with Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and America Ferrera in recorded tracks celebrating their perspective with what seemed like significant curiosity and the desire to amplify their vocals.

Emmys were intentionally flawed, and they were often weird. A little early in the ceremony where Kimmel lit an envelope on fire and found it was taking a little more than he expected (forcing a game even, Jennifer Aniston put it out for a bit long ) felt about: This show burned down tradition, and so did it in a way that was both highly entertaining and barely under control. But Kimmel, in charge of an impossible concert, kept the spectacle moving and light in the moments when he was conducting it; the show itself, thanks to the producers as well as Emmy voters, took the necessary seriousness without ever congratulating itself on moving forward. It was the last crucial trap the show avoided: Instead of saying he was brave to exist or Hollywood to celebrate himself, the Emmys, burning an envelope and torching their usual ways of doing business, acknowledged that they were basically frivolous. , then pushed each other to do a little more to celebrate black Americans and essential workers in a way that made sense for the show. The end result was a show with a strange and compelling power: one that recalls both the tried and true ways of doing business in Hollywood and a new franchise and opening that, even after the end of COVID and the delivery of awards, will be always welcome. .


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