Recap of the 72nd Annual Emmy Awards

“Welcome to the ‘pandemmies,’ you know what they say, you can’t have a virus without a host.” As Jimmy Kimmel began his opening speech at the 72nd Emmy Awards ceremony, he turned to his audience for a response, but there was none because his audience consisted of cardboard cutouts of famous people.

Sunday night’s ceremony was not your typical Emmy awards.

“Schitt’s Creek,” a Canadian sitcom that just wrapped up its sixth and final season, became the first comedy series to win in all of the comedy categories: “Outstanding Comedy,” “Best Actor,” “Best Actress,” “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series,” “Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series,” “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Supporting Actress.”

There also wasn’t a live audience, nominees chimed in via Zoom Web Conferencing, trophies were handed out by men in tyvek suits, colored to look like tuxedos, and the Emmys were lit on fire on the premise of sanitization.

Kimmel was able to keep the show running despite technical glitches, and Jennifer Aniston almost burning down the Staples Center.

The hilarious pandemic modifications to the ceremony were not the only notable part of Sunday’s show. Zendaya, 24, made history when she became the youngest person to win “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series” for her role in “Euphoria.”

“I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating,” she said in her virtual speech, referring not only to the pandemic, but to the state of racial and political upheaval currently affecting Americans. “But I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there – I know that our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that – but there is hope in our young people and I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets, ‘I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

Actor Tyler Perry took home the “Governor’s award,” and gave an emotional speech about his family history and personal racial identity.

Anthony Anderson, who was nominated for “Lead Actor” for “Black-ish,” was one of the few to appear in person at the Staples Center. To Jimmy Kimmel he said, “I’m still rooting for everybody Black because Black stories, Black performances and Black lives matter.”

Anderson directed Kimmel in a chant of “Black lives matter.” He then turned to Kimmel and told the host to say it loud enough so Vice President “Mike Pence can hear it.”

The 2020 awards were a reminder that we cannot ignore the situation the country is in right now.
Actor Mark Ruffalo won an award for his lead role in “I Know This Much is True.” After accepting his award he urged viewers, “get out right now — make a plan and vote for love and compassion and kindness.”

Regina King, who won for “Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie,” ended her speech with a similar political call to action as she wore a shirt honoring Breonna Taylor.

“Be a good human,” King said, “rest in power, RBG.”

Emmy winners Uzo Aduba and Damon Lindelof also wore shirts supporting social justice causes, as did presenter Sterling K. Brown.

Kimmel ended the night by reminding the audience of the importance of the movie and TV industries in our society, especially in times like now when we are largely confined to our homes. Television is your “big brother, sister’s sister, your momma’s family, your two dads, your three sons,” he said. “Through the good times and the ‘Breaking Bads’ … television is there for you.”