The first Emmy Awards since a ratings-obsessed reality-TV star became our nation’s Commander-in-Chief predictably turned into a Donald Trump love-to-hate fest. For three hours, stars and showrunners blasted away at Trump during Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards while crediting him with their success and their show’s relevance.
Stephen Colbert, who floundered as new host of Late Show until the Celebrity Apprentice star set his sights on the Oval Office and gave Colbert back his mojo, presided over the CBS awards show, after previously declaring Trump “the biggest TV star of this year” and that anyone who says otherwise is “lying.”
Colbert opened Sunday blaming the TV industry for Trump’s presidency; it all could have been avoided, he explained, had they only given him the Emmy he so clearly coveted while hosting Celebrity Apprentice. “I thought you people liked morally compromised antiheroes,” Colbert scolded.
Not surprising, in all the heated political chatter, the Emmys forgot to hand out statuettes in some categories:
Best Cameo by Republican Seeking Image Rehabilitation Post-Trump Throttling
This Emmy category last year was won by GOP White House candidate Jeb Bush, who appeared in the opening monologue as the Uber driver for Veep‘s Selina Meyer’s. This year, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was rolled out onstage with his podium, Melissa McCarthy-style, during Colbert’s monologue and shouted “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys. Period. Both in person, and around the world.”
“Wow! That really soothes my fragile ego,” Colbert enthused.
“Melissa McCarthy, everyone!” Colbert added, causing even Spicer to laugh. The actress won an Emmy one week earlier, for playing unhinged Spicer on Saturday Night Live.
Best Conversion of Metaphor Into Reality
In his opening monologue, first-time Emmy host Colbert reminded the crowd how unhappy President Trump is at never having won an Emmy for The Apprentice. Colbert dusted off a 2014 tweet in which Trump blasted that year’s Emmy host Seth Meyers:
“That’s quite an accusation. Any response, Seth?” Colbert asked.
Cut to Meyers in the audience, as marbles fell out of his mouth.
Most Subtle Dig at Donald Trump
The Crown star John Lithgow, winning the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, thanked fellow cast and crew, before adding, “But, most of all, I have to thank Winston Churchill. In these crazy times, his life, even as an old man, reminds us what courage and leadership in government really looks like.”
Best Dumb-Down for the Subtlety Challenged
“Shout out to Winston Churchill!” Emmy announcer Jermaine Fowler explained, in case anyone missed Lithgow’s point.
Acceptance Speech Most Likely to Result In Invasion of North Korea
“At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” Alec Baldwin needled as he picked up his Emmy for Best Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series, for playing Trump on Saturday Night Live. Baldwin followed up that remark with another whack at POTUS,, mentioning he and his wife have had a baby every year except the one in which Baldwin had that SNL gig, explaining “You put that orange wig on, it’s birth control – trust me!”
Best Demonstration of Gratuitous Celebrity Power Over Social Media
Presenter Dave Chappelle went off teleprompter when he took the stage with McCarthy, then explained: “I should also tell you I skipped rehearsals. … Now I’m going to read the teleprompter. Please forgive me. Shout out: DC public schools.”
Later, when Last Week Tonight host John Oliver accepted the Variety Series Writing award, he picked up where Chappelle left off, saying, “I would like to unexpectedly thank D.C. Public Schools, just to get it trending on Twitter for no reason.”
Which it did.
Meritorious Award for Most Obsequiousness-Free Speech
Lorne Michaels managed to not bore us with the usual acceptance-speech ticking off of names, and brought in his acceptance speech at a little more than 37 seconds. This so wowed viewers, they nearly forgot Michaels is the guy who invited Donald Trump to become the first presidential candidate ever to guest-host Saturday Night Live, helping get Trump’s campaign off to a strong start.
“I remember the first time we won this award, it was after our first season in 1976,” Michaels said. “And I remember thinking as I was standing there, alone, that this was it. This was the high point. There would never be another season as crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting, or as exhilarating.”
“Turns out, I was wrong.”
First Innovation in Thanking Higher Power In Decades of Trophy Shows
“I want to thank the great algorithm that put us here,” Atlanta’s Donald Glover said in picking up the Emmy for Best Comedy Series Directing. Later, picking up the Emmy for Best Comedy Series Actor, Glover added, “I want to thank Trump for making black people No. 1 on the Most Oppressed List. He’s the reason I’m probably up here.”
Most Honest Family Acknowledgement By a Winning Actress. Ever.
After referring to the amount of time her work has kept her away from her two daughters with Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman said that she will put this Emmy on their shelf so they might think: “Every time my Momma didn’t put me to bed it’s because of this. I got something.” She also said it was all worth it because the show had “shown a light on domestic abuse.”