Emmys 2018 highs and lows: RuPaul, a proposal, and Game of Thrones
High: The musical opening number
The show kicked off sans any sign of its lackluster hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost. Instead, their fellow Saturday Night Live castmates Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson walked out and launched into a tongue-in-cheek musical number titled "We Solved It,” which was about issues of inclusion and harassment in Hollywood. Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess lent Broadway-level vocal chops to the ditty, and others, including Sterling K. Brown, Ricky Martin, and Andy Samberg jumped into the fray before a phone call — delivered by RuPaul — informed them that they had not, in fact, "solved it." (Side note: Can we get Sterling K. Brown in a musical? Like, yesterday). With a nod to tokenism in Hollywood, the number closed with the "One of Each" dancers and vocal theatrics provided by John Legend.
Low: Michael Che and Colin Jost’s opening monologue
Unfortunately, SNL’s Michael Che and Colin Jost did not impress with their opening monologue, which largely fell flat with the audience. The jokes felt stale, almost as if they had recycled them from unused “Weekend Update” segments, and they failed to strike either an edgy or celebratory note.
High: LGBTQ-focused winners prove Emmy love is Emmy love
Two prominent LGBTQ-focused series cleaned up with awards going to both RuPaul’s Drag Race and Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Drag Race took home Outstanding Reality Competition Series with RuPaul intoning his signature message of self-love, and Versace scored wins for Outstanding Limited Series, its star Darren Criss, and its director Ryan Murphy. Criss paid tribute to his loving family, fiancé, and his alma mater (“Go Blue!”), while Murphy dedicated the win to killer Andrew Cunanan’s victims and all those who suffer LGBTQ hate crimes. "One out of every four LGBTQ people in this country will be the victim of a hate crime. We dedicate this award to them, we dedicate this award to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws,” Murphy said. “This is for the memory of Jeff and David and Gianni and all of those taken too soon."
High: And the proposal goes to…
Oscars director Glenn Weiss scored the most surprising moment of the night when he turned his Emmy win into a proposal for his fiancée Jan Svendsen. He stunned the audience, and his girlfriend, saying, “Jan, you are the sunshine in my life, and mom was right, don’t ever let go of your sunshine. You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend — because I want to call you my wife.” She then took the stage as he slipped his late mother’s ring on her finger, leaving the in-house audience on their feet applauding and at-home viewers crying their eyes out.
Low: Game of Thrones cannot be dethroned
Since its debut, Game of Thrones has been an Emmys darling, and it scored the least surprising victory of the night when it took home its third Outstanding Drama Series Emmy. It previously won in 2015 and 2016, but was not eligible for the awards in 2017. In a year which said goodbye to The Americans and this iteration of The Crown cast, it was a disappointment to see a lackluster season of the HBO drama get the gold — particularly when it’s expected that its final season in 2019 will be a major trophy collector.
High: Henry Winkler wins his very first Emmy at 72
Winkler joked he wrote his acceptance speech 43 years ago when he was first nominated for portraying Fonzie on Happy Days, and the joy of watching him win after so many years in the business was definitely one of the best moments of the night. “I was 27 when I started doing the Fonz. I'm now 72 standing in front of you,” he said later in the press room. “Wow.”
High: Mrs. Maisel has a marvelous night
Amazon’s critical darling The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel brought home plenty of Emmy gold for its freshman showing. The comedy series about a 1950s housewife turned stand-up comic was awarded for its writing and directing, while also celebrating the two actresses at its heart — Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan. Borstein hilariously shed an outer robe before taking the stage and joking about her lack of a bra and encouraging women to sit down on the toilet. Meanwhile, Brosnahan paid tribute to her character’s outspoken voice and implored viewers to use their voices to vote in November midterm elections. And, best of all, the sparkling gem from Gilmore Girls creators Amy and Dan Sherman-Palladino took home one of the top prizes of the night for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The night kicked off with winking nods to the need for more diversity and inclusion on television, while also celebrating the nominations of people of color. But pretty soon, James Corden was joking “#EmmysSoWhite” should be trending as winner after winner was…white. It took until an hour and fifteen minutes into the show to get a winner of color when Seven Seconds star Regina King was awarded with her third Emmy.
High: The Americans gets some Emmy love at last
Fans of The Americans have long bemoaned the lack of respect the FX drama gets from the Television Academy, but matters were slightly rectified on Monday night. The series won for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, as did star Matthew Rhys, who scored his first Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama. Rhys thanked creator Joseph Weisberg, saying, “What you created, wrote, and risked, I will be forever in your debt.” He called the cast and crew “ones you could only wish for in a fairytale” before paying tribute to his costar and real-life partner Keri Russell, earning one of the biggest laughs of the night when he joked, “She said, ’If you propose to me, I will punch you clean in the mouth.’”
High: In Memoriam segment touched by "Amazing Grace"
There were some big names in this year’s In Memoriam, including Anthony Bourdain, Charlotte Rae, Craig Zadan, and Burt Reynolds, with clips honoring many of the fallen stars in touching ways. But perhaps the most poignant aspect of the segment was producers’ decision to forego a live performance as accompaniment and instead set the montage to the late Aretha Franklin’s recording of “Amazing Grace.” From its first notes, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Low: Saturday Night Live… from the Emmys
SNL alums played a large role in the show throughout the night, most notably in the form of Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph regularly doing bits about the history of the Emmys. The alums appeared to have been directed to make each moment as excruciatingly awkward as possible, but instead of reading as funny, they just ran as cringe-worthy bad writing. Kenan Thompson slightly improved the proceedings with his presentation of the night’s final award, but all in all, the SNL vets did not make a strong showing
High: First-time winners – Thandie Newton Darren Criss, Rachel Brosnahan, Matthew Rhys, Claire Foy, and more
There was a wealth of first-time winners at the 70th annual Emmy awards, including Thandie Newton, Darren Criss, Rachel Brosnahan, Matthew Rhys, and Claire Foy. It was refreshing to see so many fresh faces on the stage giving earnest, heartfelt speeches, often dedicated to their costars, family, and significant others. Brosnahan made an impassioned plea for viewers to vote; Criss name-checked his alma mater the University of Michigan with a "Go Blue"; Foy called out costar Matt Smith; and Newton thanked God, even though she doesn’t believe in "her." It was quite the night for Emmy first-timers.