Lizzo came as a sinister red Boeing 747 struggling to take off in a storm. Melanie Lynskey was a bright green Christmas candy. Reporting from the red carpet for E!, Laverne Cox appeared as an extra of Thunderbirds – not one of the astronauts, but a spare part of a rocket.
The Emmys are the precursor to all major awards ceremonies. As with the others, we watched in disbelief as Fraggle Rock hit the road – all because a misguided person had said earlier that evening, “You look really great!”
It was Laverne’s first time hosting the network’s red carpet event (acquisition from Giuliana Rancic). Sporting two silver chest pyramids (cone bra, if you want to say it technically), she threatened the eyeballs of guests who came within kissing distance while gushing enthusiastically over every other hideous outfit.
Christina Ricci looked like her top half had gotten her own visa and was already off to new pastures; Sarah Paulson, in bizarrely angled Louis Vuitton black (they really should stick to luggage), appeared to have been invaded by a sinister cubist. Nicole Bayer, in turquoise pants and an unmatched top, convinced millions reaching for the remote that their TVs had suffered a horrific color jamming.
Up and away? The Emmys are the precursor to all major awards shows, but this year we all watched Fraggle Rock in disbelief, as Lizzo dressed up as a sinister red Boeing 747 struggling to take off in a storm.
There were some elegant, welcome exceptions: Amanda Seyfried in Armani – ‘I have come as a mermaid’; Jean Smart in a glamorous white Laura Basci pillow and dripping with diamonds; Lily James in Versace gold. Their fine taste and grace stood out amid the sewage of sequins elsewhere.
And let’s not forget the men – Nicholas Braun in gorgeous Christian Dior white, and so many in traditional, stylish suits and ties that never fail – Steve Martin, Matthew Macfadyen, Seth Meyers. Maybe the men should start dressing the women.
Skits and dance routines introduced each category, so although Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson had been announced as host, his contribution, other than the opening monologue, was rather lost in a show that was a century too long at three. A second stand-up comedy piece, with a few digs at Netflix, was entertaining, but hardly sidetracked, though in all honesty, the red carpet was a tough act to follow in terms of inducing belly laughs.
The most dreaded expression in the English language is ‘resident DJ’. It is a euphemism for the approaching hell. So hearts sank when Kenan introduced house DJ Zedd. He made such a noise, for the first time in my life I prayed that the thanks would last longer.
Comedian Sam Jay joined the crowd as the “announcer.” Boy, was she happy to announce! Competing with Zedd’s cacophony of horrors for the most irritating sound of the night, it was impossible to see what her contribution was adding. So many cooks spoiling the broth could have served as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare.
Presenters were stars in their own right. You could only sympathize with their pain because they delivered supposedly funny lines that were clearly written by writers with a sense of humor sidestepped. Unbearable does not start to cover.
The normally hilarious Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (who probably wrote their own sketch) stumbled through a routine that was as unfunny as it was embarrassing; so did Will Arnett and Jimmy Kimmel, the latter to be jokingly dragged onto the stage as if unconscious, had had too many drinks after losing to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, enjoying his seventh Emmy for Variety Talk series in a row .
A notable exception to the failed couples were Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, who were hilarious. Novak poked fun at writers with a series of jokes that they basically did nothing at home all day. On the evidence of this night, if only.
Also welcome was the contribution of Law & Order stars Christopher Meloni (Organized Crime) and Mariska Hargitay (SVU), who honestly can’t hurt. It’s always nice to see them reunited, either on their respective shows (they worked together on SVU) or in real life.
Will Elliot and Olivia pull it off is the question we’ve been asking for ages (Mariska comes to 25 years on the show), and the pair teased the lingering tension with an almost kiss onstage. Looks like we’ll have to wait longer for the real deal.
The inevitable screaming banshees sobbing over their dream performance were in effect.
Oprah Winfrey, who looked gorgeous in white, led the way with a talk about the difficulties of winning “the world’s most coveted television prize” and the importance of never losing faith in yourself. She got one of the evening’s many ovations—or maybe everyone kept getting up hoping to do a runner from Zedd and his noise machine.
Although Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson had been announced as the host, his contribution, other than the opening monologue, was rather lost in a show that was a century too long at three o’clock. The normally hilarious Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (who probably wrote their own sketch) stumbled through a routine that was as unfunny as it was embarrassing
The most dreaded expression in the English language is ‘resident DJ’. It is a euphemism for the approaching hell. So hearts sank when Kenan introduced house DJ Zedd. He made such a racket, for the first time in my life I prayed that the thanks would last longer
Sheryl Lee Ralph, who won a supporting actress in a comedy series for Abbott Elementary, also received an ovation and burst into song before declaring, “To anyone who has ever had a dream, never give up on YOU.”
Unfortunately, when the night dream turned into a nightmare where daylight seemed to disappear forever, there was a real shock to many winners.
Without wanting to rain on the parade, it was clear that as with all award ceremonies, more than a passing nod should now be given to diversity, whether or not the person was the best in their category. The highest-earned winners were Succession—Matthew Macfadyen for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and the Show itself for Drama Series—and the inventive Squid Game (the most-watched Netflix show ever), with awards going to Hwang Dong-hyuk for Directing and Lee Jung-jae for Leading Actor in a Drama Series.
Thank goodness, at the end of a long night, to Pete Davidson, presenting the penultimate award for Comedy Series. One of the most naturally funny people who was on stage all night, and as he made fun of the microphone that wasn’t tuned for his ten-foot frame (you had one job, mic adjuster! One job!), he ordered the stage.
There is a sadness that barely lurks beneath the surface in Davidson, as you can imagine for a boy who lost his firefighter father in the 9/11 attacks at the age of seven. Perhaps an inherent sadness that is often just a breath away from the biggest laugh is characteristic of all the best comedians.
And so, with Selma Blair announcing Succession as the winner of the final gong, it was all over. My lasting memory will be of Lizzo, in her Jason Rembert cloud, who took the Competition Program award (for Watch Out for the Big Grrrls) and flooded the stage with color as if she were the Red Sea. The dress was bigger than my New York apartment. The next time I go camping, I know who to call.