The 2020 Emmys were destined to be strange. That could be said for pretty much any televised event taking place during a pandemic, but the Emmys had a special feeling around it last night, primarily because it looked like a dry run for all major award shows in the coming months.
Take note, Oscars: If you don’t end up going hostless for the third year in a row, go with Jimmy Kimmel. The talk show host and award season veteran was the glue that held the precarious night together. Between stilted comedy bits with the presenters and an extended Kia commercial that happened DURING the broadcast, Kimmel had the keen sense to keep the night moving at a decent pace.
That’s not to say everything went smoothly: A couple technical glitches popped up, and Jennifer Aniston almost burned down the Staples Center. Although that would have been tragic, it would have also made amazing television.
When it came to the actual awards, there was a clear winner of the night: Schitt’s Creek. The little Canadian show that could just wrapped its final season, and it looks like Emmy voters finally caught up with it (maybe it just took that long to get PopTV). Winning nine awards in total, all four of its main actors won in their respective categories, and the show itself won Outstanding Comedy Series.
Dan Levy, the show’s co-creator/writer/director, had a number of charmingly flustered speeches and amazing reactions to his co-stars throughout the night. Catherine O’Hara finally got her award show justice for the iconic character that is Moira Rose. Pull out your best wig, bebe, it’s time to celebrate.
On the drama front, Succession unsurprisingly nabbed a number of awards, including Emmys for writing and directing, as well as the award for Outstanding Drama Series. Jeremy Strong also took home the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as the struggling, heir-apparent Kendall Roy, the only cast member with an acting win for the show (he may not have won, but Cousin Greg still has the song of the summer).
As for some of the other awards of the night, Regina King and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won a pair of well-deserved Emmys for their performances in Watchmen. Zendaya became the youngest ever winner of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, at age 24, for her role in Euphoria (causing my existential crisis to jump-start a decade early when I realized she is less than two years older than me). RuPaul’s Drag Race won Outstanding Competition Program for the second year in a row. (Resident Diamondback Drag Race geek Jason Fontelieu: ecstatic. My roommates who watch The Masked Singer every Wednesday: inconsolable.)
Like I mentioned earlier, the problems with the broadcast were when they had to fill time between giving out statues. The gags between the awards were long and rote, and the fact that the ceremony was mostly just a glorified Zoom meeting didn’t help to contribute much energy. Still, there were moments to enjoy. The tuxedo/hazmat suits handing out awards were ridiculous and fun; David Letterman hitchhiking while standing in a random field was bizarrely on point; and the partial Friends reunion featuring Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow (and Jason Bateman!) warmed my cold, dead heart.
Overall, the night wasn’t actually that different from normal award shows. There were triumphs, speeches that went too long, awkward pauses and an overall sense that this could have taken about half as long as it ended up being. The Emmys are known for being looser and more fun than their stiff primetime brethren (that’s what happens when you let the stars drink during the ceremony), and last night’s show kept that same looseness going. Now if only we could all aspire to the level of relaxation that Alex Borstein had during the show.