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Emmys recap: a celebration of the best that television has to offer

There are a lot of television shows out there and it can be hard to decide which one to watch. That is why it is nice to have a reliable opinion on the matter. This is where the Emmy Awards come in. The Emmys celebrate the absolute best in television every year. The 74th Annual Emmy Awards were held this past Monday, Sept. 12, and they surely showed what makes television special. Hosted by “Saturday Night Live” legend Kenan Thompson, it was a night of hilarity, celebration and glamor. The night started with an opening sketch of dance groups dancing to the theme songs of various shows, from “The Brady Bunch” to “Stranger Things.” I believe they could have gone bigger with this opening, but it was still a lovely start. There weren’t that many jokey parts of the night, but Thompson still did a great job in transitions between presenters. We got a “Kenan and Kel” reunion when Kel Mitchell appeared, and that’s the sign of any great program. Of course, this is a night about the awards, and those were the parts of the night that created the most thrills and the most anticipation.

There is one group of categories where the television shows have only one chance to impress people. That is, of course, the limited series categories. There were a lot of exciting shows as nominees. By the end of the night, it seemed clear that this was a terrific ceremony for the hit series “The White Lotus.” This drama about the guests and employees at a resort hotel took home four of the main award categories for limited series, including the top prize of Best Limited Series. It also received Best Directing and Best Writing, which both went to creator Mike White, who wrote the whole series himself. In terms of acting awards, the show received Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, which went to Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge respectively. That’s right: Jennifer Coolidge is an Emmy winner now, what a fun world we live in. Even with this great showing, “The White Lotus” was not the only limited series to receive awards. Best Actor went to Michael Keaton for “Dopesick,” a harsh story about the opioid epidemic. Somehow this was Keaton’s first Emmy, when he should always get all of the awards. Best Actress went to Amanda Seyfried for “The Dropout,” which was about disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. Seyfried really gave it her all in that performance and it is great that we are in an era where people take her seriously as an actress.

Get ready for some laughs, because we are moving on to the comedy categories. There were a lot of comedies competing and they all would have deserved the awards. The best showing in the comedy categories was certainly “Ted Lasso,” the heartwarming story of a football coach coaching a soccer team. The first season captured people’s hearts and it seems that the second season is continuing the magic. It took home the top prize of Best Comedy Series as well as Best Directing. It also received Best Actor which went to Jason Sudeikis who plays the titular character. To think this all started with Sudeikis’ commercial for NBC Sports, and now he’s winning Emmys for the role. The show also received Best Supporting Actor for Brett Goldstein’s performance. Other than directing, “Ted Lasso” received all of these awards last year, and this demonstrates that the success of this show is here to stay. 

“Abbott Elementary,” a workplace comedy about elementary school teachers, also did a fantastic job in the comedy categories. This was especially impressive considering it was the only nominated freshman comedy this season. Best Supporting Actress went to Sheryl Lee Ralph from “Abbott Elementary,” and that is definitely well deserved. Her speech also involved her singing “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves as a part of her acceptance, and she is a Tony nominated actress, so obviously she killed it. The shows also recieved Best Writing, which was accepted by the show’s creator Quinta Brunson. As someone who grew up watching Buzzfeed videos that starred Brunson, I feel proud of her in a way. She has always been hilarious and now people can see that YouTube success can be replicated in the real world. Then there was Best Actress, which went to Jean Smart for her role in “Hacks,” where she plays an aging comedian trying to make a comeback. Smart won this role last year and she is constantly proving why we should applaud her. Between her and Ralph, older women in Hollywood are finally getting their appreciation and respect.

Then there are the serious categories of the dramas. This is usually regarded as the most important category, as Best Drama is always the last award. To probably nobody’s surprise, that award went to “Succession,” a show about a ruthless family and their billion-dollar company. People have sung the praises of that show for a long time and it was basically a lock that it would win. It also took home Best Writing and Best Supporting Actor, with the latter going to Matthew Macfayden. The line of the night came from creator Jesse Armstrong in his acceptance speech for Best Drama series: “A big week for successions: A new king in the U.K., this for us. Evidently a little bit more voting involved in our winning than Prince Charles.” It is these kinds of sharp remarks that have made “Succession” so watchable, so it makes sense that the creator can create these lines for real life. This satire on the business world has provided a sense of escapism for society and is sure to impress the public yet again with its next season.

 Even though “Succession” was basically a lock to win, a lot of other dramas got to shine at this ceremony. “Squid Game,” the wildly popular Korean show about deadly games for money, also had a nice showing by taking home Best Directing. It also received Best Actor, which went to Lee Jung-jae. Lee’s win makes him the first actor to win for a non-English-speaking series. This is certainly a sign of progress and shows that we—meaning American society—are allowing non-English voices to be heard. For the second year in a row, the Best Actress award went to Zendaya for “Euphoria,” the hot and gritty high school drama. Zendaya won this award last year, and this win makes her the youngest actress to win two Emmys. Our paper has shared a lot of opinions on her acting and the show, so I don’t think I need to get into it if you have been paying attention. Best Supporting Actress went to Julia Garner for “Ozark,” a crime drama about a family that has to move to the Ozarks. Garner’s performance has been a consistent win for this show, usually being the only part of the show that takes home an award, and her win has always been well deserved. While some of the award winners may be going through a new experience, others have constantly done fantastic and are always turning in an award winning performance.

There were also non-acting categories that got recognition, such as “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” winning Best Variety Talk Series for the seventh year in a row (so it must have been a real shock to win again), “Saturday Night Live” winning Best Variety Sketch Series for the sixth year in a row (again, real shock) and “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls” winning Best Competition Series for the first time (yay for something different). Even though these shows don’t tell full scripted stories, they can still make us laugh while also sharing true stories of the world. Then there was the non competitive award: the Governor’s Award. This is an award that is meant to recognize someone’s contribution to the arts and society by the governor’s board. That went to the widely revered actress Geena Davis, specifically the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media. Davis created this institute to look into gender representation in film and make sure there is equal representation and her work to create gender equality. She showed why she has been an important figure for years and her speech expressed her beliefs of feminism and how they belong in the media. This is what happens when a celebrity sees the power and status that they have and uses it responsibly.

Overall, it was a fairly predictable night and everyone that won was definitely worthy of their award. You are going to find people who say things like “‘Better Call Saul’ was robbed” or “‘Barry’ was a victim of category fraud” or maybe some other takes that are actually hot takes. While those people may be making a point, this was still a night of worthy celebration. This is one of the award shows that I look forward to every year. Even when I don’t watch all of the shows, I still pay attention to the predictions and see what is expected to win. Watching this show is always a thrill and I look forward to the competition to come next year.

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