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The 2021 Emmy Awards went down on Sunday evening and what could have been a history-making night for Black talent fell flat.
When this year’s nominations were announced in July, the list was Blacker than ever and hopes were high that the winner’s circle would be more melanated than usual.
Aside from the magical moment when Debbie Allen refused to surrender her time while accepting the coveted Governor’s Award and Michaela Coel making history as the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series, there wasn’t that much to cheer about.
Watching the show was practically painful even though we had high hopes for the night’s host, Cedric the Entertainer.
Here are the top 5 fails of the night:
No matter who hosts the Emmys, there are usually some hilarious skits featuring some of TV’s biggest names but it seemed like every attempt to make us laugh left us scratching our heads and rolling our eyes. Ken Jeong and the confusing COVID-19 bit he delivered before announcing Best Variety Sketch series was almost as bad as the cringe-worthy sketch featuring Tichina Arnold and Beth Behrs pretending to chastise Cedric the Entertainer for getting them bad seats.
One thing that was surprisingly distracting for viewers at home was how tightly packed the celebs were at the ceremony. The scaled-down event was set up as a dinner, with celebs crammed together at tables with very little wiggle room. While we’re certain there were tons of strident protocols in place for attendees, who were likely tested and re-tested before gaining entry, watching so many mask-less people so close together was uncomfortable. At a time where the country continues to struggle against the ongoing pandemic, the optics of the event were all wrong.
We know there were a ton of worthy projects and performances this year and each acting race was extremely tight, but our hearts sank when we realized that the late Michael K. Williams would not be winning an Emmy posthumously for his role as Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country. His final role was worthy of the honor and considering he was snubbed SO MANY TIMES for his role in The Wire, it felt like his award to win. To add insult to injury, the person who won (Tobias Menzies) wasn’t even there to claim the trophy.
Overall, the show was pretty boring but there were a few eyebrow-raising moments, thanks to a few white men who forgot their manners. Conan O’Brien interrupted the ceremony with an unexpected outburst right after RuPaul made history as the most-awarded Black artist in history. It turns out the former late-night host was heckling Television Academy President Frank Scherma, but the commotion he caused made those at home feel pretty out of the loop.
That was nothing compared to the blatant disrespect and disgusting display of entitlement that Scott Frank delivered during his acceptance speech for winning Outstanding Directing For A Limited Or Anthology Series or Movie for Queen’s Gambit. The director refused to cut his speech short even after being signaled by music and production to wrap things up numerous times. His refusal wasn’t the endearing “Oh my goodness, I’m so overcome with emotion, I’m so sorry, I don’t want to forget anyone” type of rambling, but instead, it was an indignant refusal to respect anyone else’s time and came off like a self-centered, ego-feeding frenzy as if this awards show was created just for him. Maybe he was inspired by Debbie Allen’s claiming of her time, but he is no Debbie Allen and he certainly wasn’t winning the Governors Award.
Lovecraft Country went home empty-handed on Sunday despite being nominated in several categories. Even though Courtney B. Vance did snag the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Limited Series earlier in the week, none of his co-stars, including Jurnee Smollett, Aunjanue Ellis, or Jonathan Majors won in their acting categories. It was also beat out by Queen’s Gambit for Outstanding Drama Series. The show’s creator, Misha Green, failed to win for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
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Author: Cortney Wills