“There are eight billion folks on this planet,” Oprah Winfrey stated on Monday evening, close to the beginning of the Seventy-fourth Primetime Emmy Awards, “however solely twenty-five Emmys to be given out tonight.” That, the Queen of All Media calculated, gave every particular person on this planet a three-hundred-million-to-one probability. Should you occurred to be watching at house, clinging to some shred of hope that you just, someway, would possibly find yourself one of many winners, you may have Oprah to thank for crushing your dream.
Awards exhibits have had so much to grapple with through the previous few years: Trumpism, racial imbalance, sexual assault, the pandemic. Only a yr in the past, Seth Rogen was on the Emmy stage, freaking out that the place had a roof and may not be covid-proof. However the 2022 Emmys appeared to retreat to the comfy echo chamber of present biz. Earlier than Winfrey got here on, the host, Kenan Thompson, carrying a prime hat and tails and flanked by interpretive dancers, carried out a dismal quantity to the themes of “Mates,” “Recreation of Thrones,” and “The Brady Bunch” (whose surviving forged members have been seen for an unceremonious second). In order that’s the place awards exhibits go once they determine that there is nothing on this planet price worrying about: up their very own boob tube.
Regardless of celebrating the craft of tv, the ceremony was ineptly written and paced. Thompson’s comedy interludes had a wocka-wocka desperation about them, and the previously low-key job of announcer went to the comic Sam Jay, who stole focus with contrived introductions of the presenters. (“You’ve got seen them on ‘Black Chook,’ however they’ve by no means been talked about on Black Twitter. . . .”) For no matter purpose, not all of the presenters could possibly be trusted to learn off the nominees, which have been typically introduced earlier than the presenters walked onstage, and the “In Memoriam” sequence was shot from angles that made it troublesome to see the names of a number of the departed. Within the dj sales space—as a result of someway having a celeb dj has turn out to be obligatory at awards exhibits—was a fellow referred to as Zedd, whose thought of wit was citing “Succession” ‘s Jesse Armstrong to “Shake Your Booty.” The play-off music, simply as subtly, included “Time to Say Goodbye,” and saved issues shifting at a brutal clip. As an alternative of letting the winners construct as much as actual emotion, the printed shooed them off to find time for the celebrities of “Legislation & Order: Particular Victims Unit” (tastelessly launched as “two cops nobody desires to see defunded”) to go on a chase for a stolen Emmy.
Do not blame the winners, who have been, most of the time, nicely chosen and nicely spoken. The night’s emotional excessive level got here early, when Sheryl Lee Ralph received Excellent Supporting Actress in a Comedy Sequence, for “Abbott Elementary,” and commenced her speech by belting out a verse from Dianne Reeves’s “Endangered Species.” She pumped her statuette into the air thrice, every with an emphatic “Thanks,” and introduced the electrified crowd to her toes. Then she was whisked off, in order that Kenan Thompson and Lizzo may do a gag about time zones.
Ralph’s speech wasn’t only a barn burner—it was additionally a uncommon win for a present on a significant TV community. The Emmys of streaming have been a masochistic affair, throughout which the networks (this yr it was NBC’s flip) should dedicate three hours to honoring the likes of HBO, Apple TV+, Netflix, and Hulu. The only real NBC present to win something was “Saturday Night time Stay,” which had one different competitor for the variety-sketch-series prize, “A Black Girl Sketch Present.” And “Abbott Elementary” was, in reality, the one community present moreover “SNL” that was honored—for Ralph and for its creator and star, Quinta Brunson, who received for writing the pilot episode. As for drama, the Large 4 have all however given up, although there have been loads of commercials to remind us of the upcoming season of “La Brea,” an NBC present a few large sinkhole in the midst of Los Angeles. The purpose makes itself.
Final yr at the moment, I predicted that the theme of the 2022 Emmys could be “every thing’s developing lotus,” and, guess what, I deserve a Mai Tai. “The White Lotus” received 5 awards, essentially the most of any present, together with for its actors Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge, the latter of whom appears to be transitioning into her true kind as a Muppet, and thank God. “I took a lavender bathtub tonight proper earlier than the present, and it made me swell up inside my costume,” she cooed, from inside a shiny inexperienced robe. When the play-off music got here, she merely boogied to it. The present’s creator, Mike White, was onstage thrice—for the directing, writing, and limited-series awards—and, true to “The White Lotus,” there was a straightforward pleasure in seeing what such a self-lacerating soul would do when pressured into repeated self-celebration. “The White Lotus” was variety sufficient to not have lead actors in any respect, leaving room for Michael Keaton (“Dopesick”) and the supremely deserving Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”).
Many winners have been returning friends, squeezing out worthy new arrivals like “Severance” and “Yellowjackets.” For the second yr in a row, “Ted Lasso” received for Excellent Comedy Sequence (introduced by Pete Davidson, wanting like a nasty first date from the twenty-fifth century), as did its main man, Jason Sudeikis, and its supporting actor Brett Goldstein. Jean Sensible received her second consecutive Emmy, for her divine efficiency of her in “Hacks,” and cracked a Botox joke, so no complaints right here. Zendaya repeated her 2020 lead-actress win for “Euphoria.” And “Succession,” which was out of rivalry final yr, returned to select up a supporting-actor award for Matthew Macfadyen and a second Excellent Drama Sequence honor (regardless of being a darkish comedy), buying and selling wins with “Squid Recreation,” which acquired honors in performing (Lee Jung-jae) and directing (Hwang Dong-hyuk). Armstrong, making a succession joke as cringey as “Succession,” noticed that his present’s ascent was extra democratic than King Charles III’s. “Hold it Royalist,” the actor Brian Cox warned him.
That was a step again from Logan Roy’s catchphrase, “Fuck off!” However there was sufficient merry swearing that the Emmys themselves may be too scorching for community TV. I counted two F-bombs, from Goldstein and John Oliver, the host of “Final Week Tonight,” which received the variety-talk-show award for the seventh time in a row. (His friends on the nightly discuss exhibits are likely to resent this, as a result of Oliver has to end up episodes simply as soon as every week.) There have been additionally “shit”s from Coolidge and Regina Corridor, and “bitch”es from Mindy Kaling, Molly Shannon , Vanessa Bayer, and Lizzo (accepting Excellent Competitors Program, for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Large Grrrls”). Simply transfer the ceremony to HBO and let the fucks fly! Should you have been in search of a bit of dignity, there was Geena Davis, accepting the Governors Award on behalf of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which makes use of information to remind leisure executives to place feminine characters of their content material.
Finally, Oprah Winfrey was proper: I did not win an Emmy, and neither did you. However do not feel dangerous. You were not obliged to sit down by the ceremony, and, moreover, what are you purported to do after you win? Jerrod Carmichael, who received for his soul-baring comedy particular “Rothaniel,” introduced, “I am not, like, a sore winner, however I am gonna go house, as a result of I can not prime this proper now.” Examine Mike White, who clutched one among his three Emmys and deadpanned, “I really like all people right here tonight. I wish to occasion with you guys later.” That is the spirit. ♦