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Fame and celebrity

For all the talk of diversity at the Emmys, it would be all-white on the night (well, almost)

‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Mrs Maisel’ triumphed at the Emmys, which boasted a diverse list of nominees, but a familiar-feeling list of winners

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 12:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 9:28pm

The Primetime Emmy Awards show opened with a clever song-and-dance number exuberantly called We Solved It, touting the diversity of this year’s nominees, with the twist being that nothing’s solved.

Want proof? Make way for a bunch of awards for a comedy about a white Jewish woman trying to reinvent herself in 1950s New York.

That would be Amazon’s enjoyable The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, which took Emmys for comedy series, supporting actress (Alex Borstein), writing and directing for creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, and lead actress for Rachel Brosnahan – pronounced “Buh … Brazh-na-hahn,” by presenter Angela Bassett, who, like many of us, might have been hoping for a different winner, or was at least unprepared to say Brosnahan’s name.

Emmys fashion: sweatshirts, goddesses and rainbows

‘Black-ish’ is also how I’ve been asked to behave tonight. We’ll see how that goes
Michael Che

Monday night seemed slightly at odds with its own cultural expectations. Nearly devoid of jokes about US President Donald Trump, it instead made light of the industry’s own ability to pat its back over some notable progress in how TV is made, who makes it, and who stars in it.

While co-presenting a comedy acting award, actor Tracy Morgan remarked that “I’m only rooting for the black people.” In a later sketch, co-host Michael Che presented “reparations Emmys” to black sitcom actors of yore – Marla Gibbs of The Jeffersons, Jimmie Walker of Good Times, Kadeem Hardison of A Different World, and others.

Che’s funniest joke, in the opening monologue with co-host Colin Jost, was about a show like FX’s Atlanta, only it’s about white people and it’s called 15 Miles North of Atlanta, which, Che said, “focuses on white women who call the police on the cast of Atlanta.”

All funny bits, sure. But aside from giving Emmys to Thandie Newton (supporting actress in Westworld), Regina King (lead actress in a limited series for Netflix’s Seven Seconds) and RuPaul’s Drag Race (reality-competition programme), voters in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences managed to select winners that looked pretty much like any Emmy night from five years ago.

Besides Maisel, the night’s big awards went to HBO’s Game of Thrones for best drama series (fending off defending champ The Handmaid’s Tale) and FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story for limited series.

Claire Foy picked up the best actress (drama) award for her swan song as Queen Elizabeth in Netflix’s The Crown. (Olivia Colman will take over as an older Elizabeth when the show returns). Matthew Rhys won for best actor (drama) in the final, superb season of FX’s The Americans.

Other acting awards went to Bill Hader (lead actor in a comedy) for his surprisingly moving role as a hit man in HBO’s Barry; Peter Dinklage, for supporting actor in HBO’s Game of Thrones – his third time winning for that role; and Darren Criss (lead actor in a limited series in Versace).

In the battle of the networks, Netflix tied with HBO on 23 apiece.

The show played things pretty much by the book – entertaining but not memorable. Che and Jost, the current anchors of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, kept things capably moving without any threat to the rafters. A sampling:

Jost: “Netflix, of course, has the most nominations tonight. If you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear, except ‘Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.’ ”

Che: “ ‘Black-ish’ is also how I’ve been asked to behave tonight. We’ll see how that goes.”

The show’s highlight might have been the ceremony’s special honour for 96-year-old Betty White, who has been working in TV since there was TV – 1949, the same year the Emmys started. Viewers may have held their breath slightly, seeing White reach haltingly for words in a way that seemed somewhat diminished, yet still comical. Her overwhelmedness is perfectly understandable in a nonagenarian facing a live auditorium and TV audience that loves her to pieces. “All I can say is, it’s such a blessed business to be in, and how lucky can I be?”

For all the jokes about the end of television (they’ve made those jokes at every Emmys since at least 2009), longevity was a fitting sub-theme of Monday’s proceedings. Aside from White’s gratitude and grace, it was Lorne Michaels, accepting SNL’s zillionth Emmy (for best variety sketch series), who reminded the audience that TV – as a platform, as a business – has been on the endangered list since he started the show in 1975.

The complete list of Primetime Emmy winners

Outstanding drama series: Game of Thrones (HBO)

Outstanding comedy series: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series: Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series: Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series: Bill Hader, Barry (HBO)

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series: Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series: Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series: Henry Winkler, Barry (Netflix)

Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie: Regina King, Seven Seconds (Netflix)

Outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie: Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie: Merritt Wever, Godless (Netflix)

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie: Jeff Daniels, Godless (Netflix)

Outstanding limited series: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

Outstanding variety talk series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Outstanding variety sketch series: Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Outstanding reality-competition programme: RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo)

Outstanding writing for a drama series: Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, The Americans for the episode Start (FX)

Outstanding directing for a drama series: Stephen Daldry, The Crown (Netflix)

Outstanding writing for a comedy series: Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

Outstanding directing for a comedy series: Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon)

Outstanding writing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special: William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror: USS Callister (Netflix)

Outstanding directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special: Ryan Murphy, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace (FX)

Outstanding writing for a variety special: John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City (Netflix)

Outstanding directing for a variety special: Glenn Weiss, The Oscars (ABC)