Shortly after the Emmys started Sunday, Cedric the Entertainer quipped about vaccinations: “We had to get vaxxed to come. I got vaxxed. I did not have a reaction like Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend.”
The reference to the the singer’s now infamous tweet — one that drew attention of Tucker Carlson and Joe Biden’s White House — was a prelude to what was to come for much of the show.
As in recent years, representation and diversity were an enduring theme: The cast of Reservation Dogs made a statement about the representation of Indigenous people, and the hopes for change.
Yet in general, winners’ speeches avoided partisan statements, nor was there much in the way of the PSA: The night didn’t see stars message, in speech after speech, the need for everyone to get vaxxed, though it was pretty clear that those in the room were just that. Ken Jeong did a skit in which he’s held up by a guard outside the Emmy venue to show proof of vaccination. “This ivermectin is not mine, it’s left over from my Joe Rogan swag bag,” Jeong says.
The more blatant partisan statements were made in jest, and fleeting at that, as when presenter Stephen Colbert mocked last week’s California recall election. “First I have the results of the special recall election for the 2018 Emmy for outstanding comedy,” he said, referring to the state’s overwhelming vote last week to retain Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“California law does allow for the recall of any Emmy Award if enough signatures are first obtained, meaning the 2018 Emmy winner for best comedy could soon be The Marvelous Mrs. Larry Elder.“
Then he noted that Mrs. Maisel survived the recall and “it only cost California $275 million.” The bit may have gone over the heads of those not paying a whole lot of attention to the special election, but the cost is what may be most remembered within the state.
The Late Show lost to HBO’s Last Week Tonight in the comedy/variety category, but Colbert did win for his election night Showtime special. In his acceptance speech, Colbert thanked the writing staff, in part for the many nights of scrambling they did when The Late Show had to respond to the late-afternoon news events out of the Donald Trump White House.
Viewers also experienced several moments when the sound seemed to drop, when in fact it was a presenter or winner getting bleeped. It’s a reminder that while much has changed in television and in politics, the FCC’s rules on obscenity have not.
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