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It Was a Big Night for White Folks at the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 20, 2021 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 20, 2021 |


Last night’s Emmy Awards were something of a mixed bag in a lot of ways. It kicked off with a rap number set to the late Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” and as well-intentioned as it might have been, Cedric the Entertainer’s first verse was cringey as hell. But LL Cool J popped in and gave it some life, and then Lil Dicky arrived, and I thought, “Whoa!” this might be OK.

It wasn’t. At least as far as the hosting went. It was bad. CBS put on the show this year, and so there were a parade of CBS television stars in sketches and presenting. You know how they say that television is the new movie? That is true for much of television, but not network television, and the stars of the NCIS franchise and The Neighborhood, etc., felt out of place amid the likes of Kate Winslet and the stars of The Crown. It was a very CBS production, and Cedric put on a very Leno-like show. In fact, his monologue didn’t come until after the first commercial break, because Seth Rogen — as a presenter — kicked off the jokes by mostly asking why the hell they were in a “hermetically sealed tent” during a pandemic.

Perhaps the only truly funny moments came from Conan O’Brien, who didn’t win or present any awards but made his presence felt when he drew a standing ovation by heckling the President of the Television Academy and crashing Stephen Colbert’s win.

It was a mixed bag, too, in that the speeches were often the most entertaining part of the show. Ted Lasso was this year’s Schitt’s Creek and dominated the comedy awards, and it was a big old love-fest beginning with Hannah Waddingham’s effusive acceptance speech.

If you were watching the Emmys live, you may have noticed parts of Brett Goldstein’s speech were muted. Here’s the unedited version:

Lasso did at least leave some room for Jean Smart, who won lead actress and gave a terrific, heartfelt speech. (Hacks also won for writing and directing.)

Mare of Easttown, meanwhile, dominated in the limited-series acting categories, although it was Queen’s Gambit that took home the surprise win for best limited-series.

While Ted Lasso took home many of the comedy awards, it was The Crown that completely dominated the drama awards, winning all four acting awards and Best Drama.

With very white shows Lasso, Hacks, Mare of Easttown, and The Crown completely dominating the show, it also meant that — though there were a historic number of people of color nominated — no actors of color won any of the acting awards, although Michaela Coel deservedly won the writing award for I May Destroy You and gave one of the night’s most memorable speeches, dedicating it to survivors of sexual assault, while RuPaul broke the record for most Emmy wins for a person of color with 11.

One of the highlights of the night actually came backstage, at least if you’re a Lasso fan, when the cast of Ted Lasso did the Roy Kent chant.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty Images