Random Reflections on the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards

By Ed Martin Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Random Reflections on the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards

NBC's telecast of the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards somehow turned out to be simultaneously annoying and entertaining. Moment by moment, the experience of watching at home shifted from one extreme to the other. One minute it was dreadful and deadening; the next it was exciting and uplifting. That's because while the production itself left much to be desired, the infectious enthusiasm of many winners literally stopped the show, saving it in the process.

Overall, the winners all deserved to be honored. That certainly helped. To be honest, when the show was over all I could think about was, "Is Ozark really going to come and go without Laura Linney winning an award?" (More on that below.)

Invite job candidates to apply live during the Media and Advertising Community’s Black Talent Outreach Week at MediaVillage.com and AdvancingDiversity.org October 17-20. Apply for jobs/submit your resume here.

So, what made the Emmys telecast so clunky? Consider the following suggestions: The uninspired opening number that attempted to celebrate such beloved classic series as Friends, The Brady Bunch and … Stranger Things? Kenan Thompson -- for as long as I can remember my favorite cast member on Saturday Night Live -- barely registering as a host. (Let's blame his material). The poorly directed In Memoriam segment that didn't come across very well on TV. (To be fair, they rarely do … which begs the question, "Don't the producers of these things ever watch awards shows at home?") The dinner theater seating plan within the cavernous Microsoft Theater, in which guests frequently looked bored or, at best, uncomfortable. (There was no palpable energy in the room, except during those priceless moments when Sheryl Lee Ralph (pictured below, right), Jennifer Coolidge and Lizzo (pictured at top) took turns stealing the show. If only everybody could have had that much fun.) The random pop music that played while the winners made their way to wherever they could receive their awards. (Whatever happened to TV theme songs? Why does Hollywood hate them so?)

Speaking of music, in my wildest dreams the cast of the Apple TV+ delight Schmigadoon! would have taken to the stage for a rousing rendition of "Corn Pudding." But that was not to be.

Despite these gripes (and many others) I found myself engaged throughout, and often quite pleased with what I was watching. I attribute this 100% to the fact that every person and program that was honored with one or more Emmys deserved everything they got, which made it easier for me to get past my issues with the production itself. I've read all the complaints about too few shows receiving too many awards, and how all those repeat winners say more about the utter bloody laziness of Emmy voters than the talent of the nominees. Those gripes are not entirely incorrect. And yet, collectively I was very pleased with all the winners -- and I say this as someone whose predictions were way more wrong than right.

Squid Game. Succession. Ted Lasso. Euphoria. Abbott Elementary. The White Lotus. Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel. Saturday Night Live. Hacks. Dopesick. Ozark. The Dropout.All those great shows were honored in one way or another. What is there to complain about?

Ok … I'll repeat myself. With all due respect to Zendaya, who acted her heart out in season two of HBO's Euphoria … again I have to ask, why no love for Laura Linney? Her work on Ozark has been a masterclass in acting.

Getting back to the titanic trio … the on-the-spot decision by Jennifer Coolidge (pictured above) to bust a move when the producers attempted to play her off the stage had me marveling at her spontaneity and wondering why nobody at any award show ever thought to dance when the music played.

Coolidge's win was not at all unexpected. In fact, had she not received the Emmy the room might have rebelled. As for Lizzo (producer and star of Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls) and Sheryl Lee Ralph (of Abbott Elementary), their respective exuberant acceptances, which certainly woke up the room, came as a result of two surprise wins. Best Competition Program was expected to once again go to RuPaul's Drag Race, while it seemed that Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso was a lock for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Genuine surprise wins are a relative rarity; jubilant acceptance performances (which I would call them, rather than speeches) even more so.

These three talented women provided the best moments of the night. So I can't help but wonder: When will the producers of the Emmys (and all such shows) learn to cut the pointless banter between presenters and all the other tiresome award show filler that is almost never works and make more room for winners to entertain us if they are so moved?

In closing I'd like to echo two requests that I have seen included in almost every review that I have read today.

First, it really is time for the Emmy Awards to rotate among the streamers, since with very rare exceptions these awards do little to serve any of the broadcast networks that continue to carry them. They belong on Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV+ and any other streamer that would like to include them.

Second, Steve Martin, Martin Short and (if she'll do it) Selena Gomez really should host next year's awards. The comic energy they bring to every episode of Hulu's Only Murders in the Building filled the cavernous room last night when they took the stage to present an award. In fact, I can imagine multiple pairings or groupings from Abbott Elementary and Ted Lasso handling the hosting duties, as well.

Photos courtesy of NBCUniversal.

Click the social buttons to share this content with your friends and colleagues.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this content are exclusively the views of the author and/or subject(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated writers.

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.