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The 5 Best and Worst Moments of the 2021 Emmys

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards were LIVE last night

Schitts Creek Emmys 2021

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards were LIVE last night, and, as is the case with many awards shows recently, it was filled with moments that were both cringey and rewarding.

We admit that it was kind of nice seeing a bunch of people gathered safely in a room again. But from another whitewashed winning streak to a bizarre ode to the "sexiness" of chess, here are a few moments from last night's ceremony's that were either appalling or worth applauding.


Best: An Awkward Schitts Creek Reunion

After sweeping the comedy category of the 2020 Emmys, the Rose family reunited this year for a hilarious back and forth bit that should have been nominated for an Emmy itself. "Thank you so much, there's nothing on the prompter," Dan Levy began. "Is there a tech guy or something?" Annie Murphy asked.

As the cast fumbled to make the most out of an awkward situation, the back and forth between them slowly revealed that Eugene Levy had caused the writers to pull all of their lines after he pissed them off. Considering most of the ceremony's other comedy bits were atrocious this year, this awkward Schitts Creek reunion was a much needed moment of levity.

Worst: A Lack of Diversity...Again

Ted Lasso Emmys

Ted Lasso Emmys

After once again blabbing on about championing artists and stories of color, the Emmys once again awarded most of their awards to white talent. Pose, The Underground Railroad, and others were severely overlooked. Sure, Cedric the Entertainer was the host, and the nominations weren't nearly as white-washed as they have been in the past, but the ceremony was still rank with white privilege.

For example, in an awkward show of said privilege, The Queen Gambit's Scott Frank ordered that Emmy producers cease their lead-out music, for which they happily obliged. By the time Michela Cohen got her long-overdue award, it all felt rather tokenizing.

Best: Michela Cohen's Award

But that tokenization did not in any way diminish the award itself! Michela Cohen, who was cheated out of a Golden Globe nomination and other well deserved awards earlier this year, finally won an award for her critically-lauded masterpiece I May Destroy You. After two hours of predictable victories for many of the (white) shows this year, Coel snagged a win for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or Movie. Her speech was to the point and beautifully concise, and she dedicated her award to the survivors of sexual assault.

Worst: That Weird "Queen's Gambit" Speech

Queens Gambit

Queens Gambit

While The Queen's Gambit was one of the most widely watched shows of the year, the Outstanding Limited Series/Movie winner this year resulted in one of the oddest acceptance speeches of the night. While accepting the award, the show's producer thanked star Anya Taylor-Joy for bringing the "sexy back to chess," before going into tearing down the patriarchy.

It was an odd thing to praise someone for — not to mention that diluting a female artist's contribution down to just being sexy is right in line with what the patriarchy has done and continues to do?

Best: The Bizarre Biz Markie Tribute

When Cedric the Entertainer kicked off the show, he dove into a hilarious and charming parody of Biz Markie's hit "Just a Friend." Meant as an ode to the rapper, who died in July of this year, Cedric roped in other celebrities from around the room to partake in the song including Rita Wilson, who oddly stole the show with her cringe-worthy rapping abilities.

Every Emmys opening is undoubtedly awkward, but this year it was nice to see everyone in person having some fun and letting loose, even if the results were at times uncomfortable.

TV News

HBO "Euphoria's" Makeup Won an Emmy (and Zendaya Is Better Than All of Us)

HBO's "Euphoria" was honored for making mental illness and queer identity literally shine in the spotlight.

At just 24 years old, Zendaya has become the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress–further proving that Gen Z is better at getting sh*t done.

Beating her fellow nominees Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show) and Laura Linney (Ozark), Zendaya was honored for her performance in HBO's glitter-and-hormone-soaked Euphoria and made history at last night's Emmy Awards. She beat the prior record held by Jodie Comer, who won for her work in Killing Eve just last year–at the ripe old age of 26.

Perhaps these respective icons of Zoomer ennui and homicidal Millennial burnout are symbols that younger generations are finally assuming their own positions of power and using their collective voice to highlight issues that have been historically shamed and marginalized, such as mental illness and queer identity. Or maybe their makeup's just really pretty.

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Could an At-Home Show Be a Turning Point for the Emmys?

'Watchmen' and 'Schitt's Creek' won big, but some snubs left fans feeling burned.

Emmys Nominations 2020

Last year, the Emmys logged its lowest viewer count ever.

Flash forward a year and the world has completely changed. A pandemic has shut down lingering dreams of a red carpet spectacle, and months of protests have re-terraformed the public dialogue about racial justice.

For many people, television has been a balm and a source of life during lockdown. Because of that, this year's Emmys could potentially be a turning point for the awards show, which—like many other awards shows—has felt increasingly out of touch over the past few years.


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"Ramy" Creator Ramy Youssef Is Humble About His Show's Historic Emmy Nominations

The lovable young star and creator of Ramy was just nominated for Emmys for his acting and directing.

At just 29 years old, Ramy Youssef—not to be confused with his character Ramy Hassan—has already created and starred in his own breakout series on Hulu, and won both a Golden Globe and a Peabody award.

But it wasn't long ago that the country at large hadn't heard of him.

His stand-up comedy got him booked on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert back in 2017—in the lead-up to his three-episode stint on Mr. Robot as Elliot's obnoxious, rambling co-worker Samar. Prior to that performance he had never been on network television, and he jokes that even his mother didn't take his Hollywood ambition seriously—encouraging him to get into acting with the idea that he could infiltrate Hollywood and eventually "become a lawyer for actors."

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Merritt Wever and Toni Collette in Unbelieveable

Beth Dubber / Netflix

The race for the 2020 Emmys already has impressive contenders. On Netflix's Unbelievable, the trio of Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, and Merritt Wever should not only receive nominations but win for their moving performances.

Unbelievable is inspired by the 2015 Pulitzer-winning ProPublica and The Marshall Project's report, "An Unbelievable Story of Rape," which chronicles the 2008-2011 Washington and Colorado serial rape cases. Kaitlyn Dever plays Marie Adler, a teenager who experienced a brutal assault and rape at the hands of an attacker who broke into her apartment in 2008. At first, the police showed sympathy and care towards Marie. However, due to her crippling anxiety and inability to lean on and trust those in power, Marie began to forget and alter tiny details in the assault after days of constant torment and questioning from the detectives. Instead of focusing on the big picture (i.e.finding the culprit), the police berated Marie for these minute details and eventually coerced her into lying about the rape. Then they charged Marie with filing a false report and dropped the case entirely.

The pilot displays Marie's tragedy and its aftermath in the community. The episode includes harrowing and disturbing flashbacks to the night of Marie's assault. The 58-minute episode is tear-jerking with its depiction of the police's lack of compassion and the overall negligence.

Unbelievable | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com

In particular, the show gives Dever a chance to showcase her impressive acting ability. The 22-year-old is having a landmark year thanks to her starring role in Booksmart. Dever's performance is raw, gut-wrenching, and powerful. Throughout the series, her character's arc is uncomfortable to watch. You find yourself wanting to look away but feel compelled to see for yourself how the system failed this poor victim.

After the pilot, the series takes a much-needed emotional break from Marie's saga and introduces two new characters, Detective Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Detective Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever). Rasmussen and Duvall are detectives in neighboring Colorado towns who are brought together in 2011 when they discover similar characteristics in their respective rape cases. By sharing case details and interviews from new victims, it becomes clear that the same attacker in Colorado is more than likely the same criminal who assaulted Marie in Washington three years prior. Essentially, the series becomes two shows in one: a tragic look into Marie's case in 2008 and a buddy cop drama about two female detectives working together to solve the case.

The chemistry between Collette and Wever is magnetic. Collette's foul-mouthed and witty Rasmussen counteracts and meshes perfectly with Wever's patient and empathetic Duvall. While Marie's story is excruciating to witness, Rasmussen's and Duvall's relationship is far more entertaining and enjoyable. Collette and Wever keep the audience entertained and engaged despite discussing tough matters of sexual assault and domestic violence. The quest to find the serial rapist wraps you into the story and keeps you coming back even if it means revisiting disturbing case details.


Kaitlyn Dever Kaitlyn Dever in UnbelievableBeth Dubber / Netflix

Unbelievable has rightly been called one of the best shows of 2019 by Vulture, and both the series and its actors deserve Emmy nominations in the limited series categories next year (they sadly missed the cut off date for the 2019 Emmys). Both Collette and Wever have previously won Emmys (Collette for United States of Tara and Wever for Nurse Jackie and Godless), while Dever has given multiple noteworthy performances so far in her young career.

Sexual assault and victim shaming is a tricky topic to portray onscreen because of its sensitivity and likeness to real crimes. Marie's case is just one of the many sexual assault cases that are reported each day. According to RAINN, one American is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds. That's why Unbelievable treats this subject with the professionalism and respect it deserves. Thanks to three superb performances that channel the trauma of the case so expertly, Unbelievable is a difficult, but necessary watch.

TV

Best Emmys Moment: Kardashians Heckled

Is the Kardashian dynasty finally ending?

Love them or hate them, you have to respect the Kardashians for managing to keep the American public enthralled with their lives and careers for over a decade.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians has won four Emmys in its 17-season-run, a respectable number for any reality TV show. But, apparently, the success of the program doesn't mean the TV industry respects the sisters. Last night, when Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian-West took the stage to present at the 2019 Emmy's, Kardashian-West said seriously, "Our family knows firsthand how truly compelling television comes from real people just being themselves." In response, a wave of laughter came from the audience. To claim that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is some kind of truthful documentary about people "just being themselves" is pretty absurd, considering the reality show is known for its inflation of drama and general inauthenticity.

Kim Kardashian & Kendall Jenner LAUGHED AT While Presenting at 2019 Emmys? www.youtube.com

But then again, maybe the line was intended as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the show's vapid reputation. If that's the case, Kardashian-West was clearly not in on the joke. Frankly, regardless of the intention of the statement, it's difficult to imagine an awards show audience heckling the all-powerful Kardashians even as recently as a few years ago. But with so many shows featuring truthful depictions of women nominated across categories this year, perhaps the often toxic and shallow world of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is finally going out of style in Hollywood. Maybe the reign of the Kardashians is finally coming to an end, and figures like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alex Borstein, and Billy Porter will take their place and elevate the conversation.