It didn’t take long for the 70th annual Emmy Awards to get political Monday night.
First, there was a star-filled musical opener titled “We Solved It!” tackling social justice and diversity in Hollywood — both celebrating progress made while also mocking a lack of progress overall. Stars such as Kristen Bell, Sterling K. Brown, Ricky Martin, RuPaul and John Legend chimed in (“There’s room for all the voices, but mostly Shonda Rhimes”).
Then, during the opening monologue, hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che — who also work the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live — let loose with a slew of topical jokes about #MeToo, depressing headlines and, of course, the current political climate.
— “Roseanne was canceled by herself and then picked up by white nationalists.”
— “The Emmys were first held in 1949 …things were very different back then: We all agreed that Nazis were bad.”
— “It’s an honor to share the room with the many talented people that haven’t been caught yet.”
— “Handmaid’s Tale is nominated … it takes place in an imaginary future where an entire group of people are forced to work and make babies against their will. It’s what black people call history. It’s Roots for white women.”
— “The only white people who thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.” (Later in the telecast, Che followed this one up with, “Just want to say: Six awards, all white winners, no one’s thanked Jesus yet.”)
— Regarding the Obamas making programming for Netflix: “My dream is the only thing they produce is their own version of The Apprentice and it gets way higher ratings.”
— “Netflix has the most nominations … if you’re a network executive that’s the scariest thing you could possibly hear other than, ‘Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line 1.'”
— “This year the audience is allowed to drink in their seats. Because the one thing Hollywood needs right now is people to lose their inhibitions at a work function.”
A few minutes later, when presenting Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, presenter Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones) joked the category used to be dominated by “white male nerds,” while winner Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) quipped when she took the stage, “whoever put that carpet down hates women.”
When Rachel Brosnahan won the award for lead actress in a comedy series for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, she took the opportunity to urge fans to vote. “If you haven’t already registered, do it on your cell phone now. Vote! Show up!”
There was also a mid-show sketch titled “The Reparations Emmys” where Che gave out Emmys to black TV actors who were never honored when their hit shows were on the air. The surprisingly moving sketch included mock awards given out to Jimmie Walker for Good Times, Kadeem Hardison for A Different World, Jaleel White for Family Matters and Tichina Arnold for Martin, among others.
Talk show host Samantha Bee, while presenting an award, joked, “I’ve been watching this dystopian drama called ‘The News.’ I’m on season 9,000. They need to recast the lead, I prefer Robin Wright.”
Aussie comedian Hannah Gadsby, during her presentation of an award, joked that she got the gig just because she doesn’t like men. “That’s a joke of course. Just jokes fellas … but what are jokes these days, we don’t know. Nobody knows what jokes are, especially not men.”
And when accepting the award for best limited series for FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, executive produce Ryan Murphy declared his acclaimed drama was “about a country that allows hatred to grow unfettered and unchecked. One out of every four LGBTQ people in this country is the victim of a hate crime. We dedicate this award to them, we dedicate this award to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws and mostly this for the memory…of all those taken too soon.”
Here is the full list of winners from the 2018 Emmy Awards.