Sunday, Sept 20th was a night of entertainment and firsts at the Emmys. The Emmys award show has been in existence since 1949, making this the 67th award show.
The night began with an opening by host Andy Samberg, which included a number of jokes, some of which were quite pointed such as: “The big story this year is diversity. This is the most diverse group of nominees in Emmys’ history. Racism is over! Don’t fact-check that.” In addition to all of the humorous jokes, he even included a short film about how he prepared for the position by living in a bunker for a year, in order to have time to watch all of the TV shows currently on air.
Each awards category was presented by one or two celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, the comedian Tracy Morgan, seen for the first time since his serious car accident last year, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel and many more. Each presenter stood on stage announced the nominees and cracked a few jokes at the various nominees’ expenses before announcing the final winners in each category.
With over 30 awards presented, it was a night filled with celebration and disappointment. Some of the most exciting winners included Viola Davis for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder, Jon Hamm as Best Lead Actor in a Drama for Mad Men, and the cast of Game of Thrones taking home their 12th Emmy with Peter Dinklage getting his own additional Emmy for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister.
Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the night was Viola Davis’ speech, after winning Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, as the first African- American woman to win that category. She began with, “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” which is a quote from Harriet Tubman in the 1800s, she explained, but is still incredibly relevant for black women in Hollywood.
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” she explained before going on to thank the writers, like Shonda Rhimes, who write interesting women of color and the other women of color actresses that have come before her and paved the way for complex characters like the one she plays on How to Get Away with Murder.
There were many other notable acceptance speeches. Peter Dinklage even went so far as to say in his speech, “I wasn’t prepared because the other actors in my category, I’m still sort of awed by all of their performances.” Jonathan Banks went on to thank the writers of Game of Thrones and give them most of the credit for his performance.
Another winner was Jeffrey Tambor, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, for his portrayal of a transgendered woman in Transparent. He went on to thank transgendered people for “your patience, thank you for your courage, thank you for your stories, thank you for your inspiration, and thank you for letting us be part of the change.”
After the creation #OscarsSoWhite from the Academy Awards this year, the diversity at awards shows has been an intense topic of discussion but with several wins by African-American women at the Emmys, hopefully things are starting to change for the better.
The Television Academy, who runs the Emmys, have made numerous changes to the rules on how votes are placed. New voting rules will hopefully continue this year’s trend of unpredictable winners.