With no dragons in sight, The Emmy’s award diversity across the board.
History was made in numerous ways at the 2017 Emmy Awards. Perhaps this was all possible thanks to the contribution from HBO. Game of Thrones was ineligible this year because of the delayed start time of season 7. Host Stephen Colbert was quick to remind audiences of that fact in his opening monologue. His quip was “If you do win, don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you get up here — namely, “Game of Thrones” for not being eligible.” Categories were more interesting across the board but didn’t help HBO’s main rival Netflix.
Netflix had plenty of shows eligible for awards with Stranger Things, The Crown, and Master of None leading the way. What could’ve been a marvelous weekend for The Crown‘s Claire Foy, ended up being a joy for someone else. In fact, it went that way for most of the big awards. This was all thanks to Hulu and The Handmaid’s Tale. Despite not putting in nearly as many resources into original programming that Netflix and Amazon have, Hulu apparently had the crown jewel with The Handmaid’s Tale. The program based on the novel by Margaret Atwood won five Emmy awards including highly sought after prizes for Best Actress (Elizabeth Moss) and Best Drama Series. Reed Morano won a directing Emmy for the pilot episode and was the first woman to win the award since Mimi Leder in 1995. Netflix and Amazon will still be trying to find their own series that will take home the coveted prize of Best Drama, but for now, Hulu has them beat.
This is not to say Netflix walked away empty handed. Altogether Netflix walked away with 20 Emmy awards including a supporting actor award for John Lithgow’s performance in The Crown. They also won awards in unexpected categories as well. The Black Mirror episode San Junipero won Best Television Movie. Certainly, it was a case of category fraud, but when a light gets shined on a lovely biracial lesbian story everyone wins. The critical darling Master of None was also able to make history in its own right. Lena Waithe, who co-wrote the episode Thanksgiving with Aziz Ansari, was the first black woman to ever win for comedy writing.
There were plenty of other firsts in the evening as well. Donald Glover’s Atlanta was highly regarded at the Emmys. His work on the FX show bought him the first-ever award for a black actor to direct a comedy. He was also the second black actor to win an acting award for a comedy. The show, unfortunately, fell short to the comedy juggernaut that is Julia-Louis Dreyfuss’ Veep, which once again took home the prize for Best Comedy Series. One of the other big acting awards of the night went to This Is Us star, Sterling K. Brown. He is the first black actor to win the award for Best Actor – Drama this century and the fourth man to do so. This was his second Emmy in as many years since he also won an award for his performance in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Even without Game of Thrones, HBO did alright for itself. Westworld ended up just getting participation awards across the board since no one from the hit show ended up winning an award. Thankfully, they also had the limited series, Big Little Lies, which raked in the awards all night. The Television Academy absolutely loved the show, showering it with five awards including Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress (Nicole Kidman), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Alexander Skarsgård), Outstanding Supporting Actress (Laura Dern), and Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series (Jean-Marc Vallèe). Even with their pet dragons, HBO ended up winning 29 awards on the night, so don’t cry too much for their lack of Game of Thrones.
Overall it was an entertaining broadcast, even if some material was better off on the cutting room floor. If nothing else it proved that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s, Rachel Bloom needs to host the Emmy’s next year. If there was one thing to take away from the show, the Television Academy really loves female-centric stories. This year shouldn’t end up just being a one-off opportunity to award diversity, it should be a continuing trend going forward.