The 2020 Emmys had their share of surprises – besides being virtual, pretty funny and surprisingly glitch-free.
A sweep by Canadian import Schitt’s Creek for Pop TV was widely anticipated but not quite to the extent we got, a complete vacuuming up of everything touching the comedy category with seven wins. Any space — for Ramy Youseff or Yvonne Orji, say, who’d been mentioned as, maybe, having a shot at best supporting actor and actress, respectively — were disposed of in short order.
Eugene Levy, who played the father of a dysfunctional, down-on-its-luck, once-privileged family holing out in a Schitt-y town, said even he was surprised by his own acting win, calling it his “straightest role in 43 years of doing comedy.” It’s true — he kind of plays the straight man to his obsessively over-the-top wife and kids.
Host Jimmy Kimmel noted a real inconvenience to the broadcast: every time he said “Schitt’s Creek” on air, ABC had to flash the two words on screen so everyone would know it’s not what it sounds like.
The Schitt’s Creek gang got a little self-conscious. “Okay. The Internet is about to turn on me,” said Eugene’s son Daniel Levy, after his Supporting Actor win.
It’s the first time in Emmy history a show has swept every award in the category. And because of that, why halfway through tonight’s ceremony only two networks, Pop TV and HBO, had won anything — even in today’s era of proliferating television outlets.
The question was whether Succession would sweep too. It did and it didn’t. It won best drama, best writing and directing and best actor in a drama for Jeremy Strong as troubled and impulsive Kendall Roy. That itself was a surprise – the award was expected to go to Brian Cox, who plays his vicious, flamboyant father and patriarch of the family media empire. Jason Bateman was also a contender as Marty Byrde, the stressed suburban money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, in Ozark.
Laura Linney, who played Marty’s wife Wendy on the Netflix series, was a favorite for best actress in a drama — where there was a real upset as Zendaya took that crown for HBO series Euphoria. She’s the youngest person to win the category. It was hugely competitive this year and she beat out not just Linney but Jennifer Aniston from Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, Olivia Colman from The Crown and Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh from Killing Eve.
With her second win for Ozark, Julia Garner also surprised, with many anticipating Succession’s Sarah Snook would be recognized this year for her role as Shiv, Logan Roy’s feisty only daughter.
Billy Crudup of The Morning Show also beat Succession for supporting actor in a drama – three Succession nominations in fact for Kieran Culkin (favored, along with Giancarlo Esposito for AMC’s Better Call Saul), Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun – which probably split the Succession vote. Crudup repped the first Emmy win for Apple TV+.
Surprisingly funny bit tonight: last year’s Emmy-nominated Anthony Carrigan from Barry as a fake postal service worker with a thick Russian accent from St. Petersburg – Florida, he insisted – trying to get Kimmel to give up his ballot.
And there were strange black boxes the host said were delivered to all nominees in his category. They were popped open by remote control — surprise! — ejecting a statue if they won. Things are so odd this year it’s not clear if that was a joke or not.