Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lee Jung-Jae, Lizzo
Jan 15, 2023
The biggest compliment we can give Done + Dusted, the production company behind the past three Emmy Award ceremonies, is that they got it in at exactly three hours and they did it without straining the proceedings. They handed out 25 awards, had some great speeches and some funny bits. Was it as memorable a “telecast” as 2020 (a technical achievement handing out Emmys in lockdown) or 2021 (an almost back to normal but not really production)? No, but they won’t have headlines about one of the biggest stars slapping another major star during the ceremony either. A Best and Worst for this? Well, the winners and Television Academy members were the reason it will be remembered.
READ MORE: Complete Winner’s List for the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards
Here are our thoughts on a ceremony where Quinta Brunson became just the second Black writer to win an Emmy for Comedy Series, Lee Jung-jae broke new ground for international actors, Lizzo pulled a huge upset, Sheryl Lee Ralph gave one of the most incredible awards speeches ever, and, oh yeah, HBO/HBO Max took back the Emmy crown from Netflix.
Worst: Musical opening
Let’s start with “cleared” famous television theme songs with a little remix and uninspired dance numbers. Oh, my. The second it started with “Friends” we knew we were in trouble. This is Done + Dusted at their most basic.
Best and Worst: Kenan Thompson
Kenan was thrown into a terrible opening number but made up for it with a pretty solid opening monologue. He used the very safe Netflix as the butt of most of his jokes and had some good zingers including “Yellowjackets was hard to watch because it’s on Showtime” (true!). Unfortunately, like most hosts, he really disappeared through most of the show. And when he did return, it was Bowen Yang, Kumail Nanjiani, or Lizzo who made the bit work. But, that’s sort of giving as a performer, right?
Worst: Sam Jay
Sam Jay is a really funny comedian. Their standup is fantastic. Having them be the voice of the Emmys wasn’t the best use of their talents. Sam often sounded awkward making traditional award show announcements and their attempts to throw in a joke or two simply fell flat. Done + Dusted trying something different, but there are actually professional announcers who are worth hiring for this sort of gig.
Best: Sheryl Lee Ralph
With a surprise win over last year’s champ Hannah Waddingham and her “Abbott Elementary” co-star Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph won her first Emmy on her first nomination after four decades in the business. She then went to the stage and sang most of her acceptance speech while a pre-submitted “Thank You” copy was listed on the chyron. She then added a bit of a more traditional set of remarks including an emphatic “To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like!” Simply one of the best Emmy speeches in eons.
Best: Steve, Marty, and Selena
Listen, we know they were asked and reportedly were busy, but…damn the “Only Murders in the Building” stars should have hosted this year. In just one presenting bit they showed more chemistry and landed more zingers than anyone else on the show.
Worst: Those Comic-Con Hall H screens
Tables? That works. Having presenters appear in the middle of the room to hand out the trophies? Sure. We’re all for something different, but the gigantic screens playing videos like you’re at Hall H and the cast of “Lord of the Rings” is gonna come out (oh, wait, that happened didn’t it) was just a wee bit more MTV Movie and TV Awards than the Emmys? We’re all for new sets and new ideas, but you can’t ignore the prestige. This is one of the top four honors in entertainment!
Best: Jennifer Coolidge
“Hey Hi.” Jennifer Coolidge as Jennifer Coolidge when she accepted her first Emmy for “The White Lotus.” She was herself letting everyone know that she took a lavender bath beforehand it made her bloated in her dress. She then tried to list off some thanks only to be cut off (quite early) by the television truck. What did Jennifer do? She dance to the music as she got played off of course.
Worst: Jimmy Kimmel didn’t get up
OK, in theory, it was a funny bit. Jimmy Kimmel lost his 13th collective Emmy Award in a row earlier in the evening. So, he pretended to “faint” and co-presenter Will Arnett dragged him to the podium while he announced the winner for Writing for a Comedy Series. Except, when Quinta Brunson reached the stage he kept doing the bit. Arnett had to move Kimmel’s legs and Brunson had to acknowledge his presence in what should have been “her” moment for her first Emmy. Kimmel should have gotten up and ended the bit before she got there. Full stop. But, no.
Upset! Many thought “RuPaul’s Drag Race” would win Reality Competition Series once again, but, in a surprise, Amazon Prime Video’s “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls” succeeded in its first year. Lizzo was quite emotional recalling how as a youngster she never thought she’d see big, black, overweight, beautiful women like her on television. Years later, she changed that in a big, big way.
Best: Lee Jung-jae makes history
Not only did the “Squid Game” star become the first Asian Actor to win Lead Actor in a Drama Series, but also became just the fifth Asian actor to ever win an Emmy. “Squid Game” didn’t quite have a “Parasite” moment taking the top Drama Series prize that some hoped for, but Jung-jam and creator/director Hwang Dong-hyuk made history in their respective categories. It’s a remarkable achievement for an industry organization many mistakenly labeled as one of the more unsophisticated just five years ago.
Does anyone really get excited by a montage of…wait for it…medical procedural programs? Wait no one? We rest our case.
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