Emmys 2019: The Women Who Won Awards and Our Hearts

As an avid fan of television, of course, I stayed up this past Sunday night to watch the 2019 Emmy Awards. Hunkered down on my twin-sized bed eating popcorn out of the bag, I was ready. Emmy season is one of my favorite times of the year since I get to see the TV shows I’ve devoted countless hours to get recognized and unfortunately, in some cases, snubbed. This year’s award season held similar ups and downs, yet one aspect was hard to overlook: the abundance of women nominated and awarded. 

Women in television have often gone overlooked, especially female writers and directors. The first woman writer nominated for a television drama, Joanna Lee, did not win an Emmy until the late 1970s. In 2017, Reed Morano, a director for The Handmaid’s Tale, was the first woman to win for directing in 22 years. This year held better prospects for women in television; hopefully, a trend that will brazenly continue. Brilliant female-driven shows such as Sharp Objects, Fleabag, and Russian Doll have been adored by fans and critics across the globe (an impressive number of nominated shows came from the UK this year). I wanted to reflect on the amazing women who won an Emmy and shine a light on those who might have been snubbed.  Many would say 2019 has been the breakout year for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an actor, writer, and director hailing from London. You might recognize her as the voice of L3-37 from Solo: A Star Wars Story, but Waller-Bridge is infinitely more. This past Sunday her show Fleabag, which she adapted from her one-woman play, won an astounding four Emmys. Sweeping the floor, the show won Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Director for a Comedy Series (Harry Bradbeer), and Writing for a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). In her first acceptance speech, Waller-Bridge fumbled for her words before saying, “I find writing really, really hard and really painful. But I’d like to say, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, that the reason that I do it is this.” She held up her award, causing an uproar of laughter from the crowd. In her final speech, she joked: “This is just getting ridiculous.” But that wasn’t it for Waller-Bridge. Another show of hers, Killing Eve, was nominated for five Emmys and won Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (Jodie Comer). As Fleabag and Killing Eve are two of my favorite television shows to date, I can verify they deserve every ounce of recognition. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius, and it is about time that the rest of the world finally appreciates her. 

On the other hand, many people know who Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Manchester by the Sea) is. She has been nominated for four Academy Awards, won a Golden Globe, and was even nominated for a Tony Award. And now she can add an Emmy to her collection. This year Michelle Williams played Gwen Verdon in the limited series Fosse/Verdon, a biographical glance into the lives of choreographer Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon. Starring alongside Sam Rockwell, Williams’ performance is spectacular. Her Emmy acceptance speech was similarly profound. Michelle Williams called out the gender income inequality in Hollywood, specifically for women of color. She began her speech saying, “I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they’ll be heard.” Thanking the production company of the show, FX, for paying her equally to Sam Rockwell, Williams recognizes how unusual that is in the industry. She hits the point home in her closing remarks: “So the next time a woman, and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make fifty-two cents to the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her.” I think she deserves a second Emmy simply for that speech.  Michelle Williams was not the only winner to give a powerful acceptance speech. Patricia Arquette, who won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Act, urged for equal rights of the transgender community. She told a story about her trans sister, with tears in her eyes, captivating the audience. Other moving moments during the ceremony included newcomer Jodie Comer, the star of Killing Eve, winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama in an upset. Her reaction of pure shock and horror was the most memorable part. Another upset was the snub of Amy Adams. She carried the limited series, Sharp Objects, on her back and only got a nomination. This has been a recurring theme in Adams’ career, getting nominated countless times and never winning anything. It is something I could never understand, for I would give Amy Adams everything if I could. Similarly, Ava DuVernay did not win an Emmy for the brilliant miniseries she directed, When They See Us, about the Central Park Five. Not only does DuVernay bring a refreshing creativity to everything she directs, but she also continually fights for the representation of women of color in front of and behind the camera. I recommend watching her other show Queen Sugar, for it is a stunning piece of television, not to mention every episode has been directed by a woman.  This year’s Emmys ceremony was dominated by women and I couldn’t be happier. It was about time the women of television got the recognition they so ardently deserved. It means a great deal to me to see myself represented on and off the small screen, so it is all I can wish for that Hollywood eventually gets to the point where everyone can see a part of themselves on screen. That is more powerful than you’d expect.

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