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The People v. OJ (& Some Other Things That Won): A Recap of the 68th Emmy Awards

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McGill chapter.

As someone who spends over 100 hours per week (possibly an underestimate) voraciously consuming TV, the Emmy Awards are a pretty big night for me. I would argue that it is a bigger night for me than it is for the people who actually attend the event as nominees, seeing as they get to go back to being famous and I have to go back to pretending I like Mr. Robot. Life can be really hard.

Anyway, besides my full-time television obsession, I also dabble in part-time fashion critiquing, so let’s start with the red carpet rundown. 

Credit: Frazer Harrison / Staff Getty Images

We do not deserve Priyanka Chopra.

Credit: Phil McCarten/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

She looks so fabulous that I forgive her for those insipid refrigerator commercials that she does with her husband. 

Credit: Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

This is like that terrible movie with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson where the brides try to sabotage each other and Kate Hudson turns Anne Hathaway orange with a botched spray tan. I like to think that Robin Wright did this to Claire.

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images​

Studio 54 realness. Thanks for this, Constance.

Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images​

Sarah Paulson looking freaking flawless. WERQ. 

Credit: Steve Granitz, WireImage​

Everyone else might as well go home. Also, Millie is the only person I have ever seen that pulls off Valentino’s whimsy-obsessed collection flawlessly.

After that cavalcade of celebs in couture, they all piled inside the Microsoft Theater to start the show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

I missed a lot of Kimmel’s opening to be perfectly honest with you. This was due to the fact that I currently possess the bone-chilling death rattle of a courtesan suffering from tuberculosis. I caught enough of it to get the gist, though.

So, Jimmy Kimmel was trying to get to the Emmy’s. He started out in the White Bronco from American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson (which will be referred to as PvOJ for the remainder of this article because I am absolutely not going to type that out each time I have to mention it. *Spoiler alert: it is a lot of times*), then moved to the Dunphy family’s van from Modern Family. James Corden picked him up and they sang some of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” I really wanted to hate it, but I find everything involved with Carpool Karaoke to be inherently charming. After that Selina Meyer from Veep pulled up in her presidential limo to deliver this gem of a line: “LBJ, that was my nickname in high school Spanish club.” 

Jeb Bush then made a really, really bizarre cameo as an Uber driver. Eventually, he ended up on the back of Daenarys Targaryen’s dragon before he arrived at the theater. 

His opening monologue was pretty solid, physically though, he looked really exhausted. He gave Jeffrey Tambor an Emmy straightaway to “save time,” he made some jokes about OJ Simpson, Game of Thrones and masturbating to Kit Harrington, and rounded it out with blaming Mark Burnett (helped create The Apprentice) for the rise of Donald Trump. He also spent a bit of time disucssing the Maggie Smith Rule, in which if a winner is not present, they do not recieve their Emmy. 

Anthony Anderson and queen of life, Tracee Ellis Ross, presented the first award of the evening to Louie Anderson for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his role in Baskets. I do not watch this, so I have no opinion. Moving on.

Julie Bowen and Matt le Blanc bestowed the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Comedy to Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang for Master of None, more specifically, the episode “Parents”. I was genuinely teary, and Aziz was adorable as they played him off before he could even speak and ran up and down the stage steps holding his award. The whole show is fabulous, but this episode especially was deeply poignant.

Kristen Bell, looking extra shiny, and Joel McHale gave Kate McKinnon the Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on SNL. She was really sweet and very deserving, and reminds me of a time when Jennifer Lawrence was likeable. I missed her speech because I was coughing up one of my lungs, but Tina and Lorne looked like proud parents in the audience. 

Jil Solloway won for Directing in a Comedy Series for Transparent. A show that Jimmy Kimmel later, and perfectly, described as “born a drama, but identifies as a comedy.” 

Keegan Michael Key, the tall glass of water that he is, presented Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series to my personal hero, Julia Louis Dreyfus. This is her fifth consecutive win, and 22nd nomination. Bow down, everyone. That is a career. She took time in her speech to personally apologize for the current political climate, and shakily thanked her father for everything he had done for her, as he had just recently passed away. She is the epitome of poise and hilarity and I just adore her.

Jeffrey Tambor sweetly presented the dedication to his recently departed friend, Garry Shandling. Perfectly sad, but a beautiful dedication nonetheless.

After the commercial break, they announced “We would like to welcome to the stage, Dr. Bill Cosby”. They then showed everyone losing their collective minds. Jimmy Kimmel sauntered on stage and said “Don’t worry, he’s not really here. I just wanted to see what you guys would do.” Awkward, and one of the many off-colour jokes of the evening.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series went to the light of my life, Jeffrey Tambor. He began his speech by saying “There is no best actor,” which is really easy to say with an award in your hand. I still love you though, Mr. Tambor. 

Outstanding Reality Competition Program went to The Voice, which I am still convinced is watched by approximately two families in Kansas or Iowa or someplace equally flat and that is how it is still on the air. 

Then, as has become a requirement of award shows, the kids from Stranger Things passed out PB&J sandwiches to everyone in the audience. I would like the “passing out food to celebrities and laughing when they eat it because celebrities are thin so they must not eat at all” trope to be put to rest. I suppose this bit appeals to those who voted for Modern Family as Best Comedy for all of those years in a row, maybe? I am more beset upon by these running jokes than the millions of emails I get from Hillary Clinton’s campaign everyday. But like those emails, I signed up for this, so who am I to complain?

Mr. President and Olivia Pope (Tony Goldwyn and Kerry Washington) presented Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series to PvOJ for the episode “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” which was just perfect. One, it was a fabulous episode. Two, that is my favourite Brady Bunch reference. I realize as a young, vivacious 20-year-old being in tune with television of the early 60’s is sort of off-brand, but there is not a day that goes by when I am not thinking about that lost third episode of the Brady Hawaii trip. (Readers over 50, you know exactly what I am talking about.)

Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series went to the incomparable and flawless Regina King for American Crime. I would like to think that this Emmy makes up for the lack of nominations for The Leftovers, where Ms. King is also cranking out some incredible work. 

Priyanka Chopra and Tom Hiddleston then floated, honestly floated, onto the stage and I was not sure who I was more in love with. Hiddleston needs some major PR rehab after his stint with She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, so if they do not end up dating I will riot. Suzanne Bier took home the Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series for The Night Manager. I have some quibbles about the direction of the show overall, but there are so many close-ups of Hiddleston that I see no need for any sort of formal complaint.

Then commenced the unstoppable train of PvOJ. Sterling K. Brown swooped up the Emmy for his role as Chris Darden, Sarah Paulson for Marcia Clark, and Courtney B. Vance for Johnnie Cochran. Sterling started the ball rolling for people to reference their wives “rocking their chains,” which was honestly something that 4 men did after that to varied levels of awkwardness. Courtney ended his speech with “Obama out, Hillary in!”

Ms. Paulson personally apologized to Marcia Clark on behalf of, well, everyone and ended her speech with “Holland, I love you.” (Her girlfriend, not the country, in case you are not up to date on all the who’s who of celebrity dating.) The point is, I was a puddle of tears. Sarah is one of our greatest actors and the fact that she is just now being awarded is criminal (which is also a song she sang on American Horror Story: Freak Show. She can do it all!)

Kyle Chandler and Michelle Dockery (what a bizarre duo) presented Outstanding TV Movie to Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. Was it the best they can do? No. Is Benedict Cumberbatch in it? Yes, just give them the award. 

Outstanding Limited Series went to, you guessed it, American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. It was not annoying to see them win so many, because it really was a modern masterpiece. The only problem with all of its success is the fact that people will now be inclined to give Ryan Murphy more money and resources to fulfill his creative visions, which is something I do not think any of us are prepared for after those last couple seasons of Glee. 

Aziz Ansari then took a moment to do what he wanted to do earlier, and thank his parents for inspiring him and being so cool. He presented Outstanding Variety Special Writing to Patton Oswalt and his stand-up special Talking for Clapping. I was prepared to be sobbing throughout it, as he just unexpectedly lost his wife, but he remained incredibly composed and gracious. His stand-up special is really killer, if you need something to watch on Netflix. 

It is insanely late at this point and I cannot stop coughing, but here comes the two dopiest looking fools on planet earth, Kit Harrington and Andy Samberg to do a bit that isn’t funny and present Outstanding Variety Series Talk Show to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I love that show, it is witty and informative and wonderful, but you should know that already.

One of the biggest upset of the night came in the form of Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski of Grease: Live! beating out Beyoncé’s Lemonade for Outstanding Direction. Kail directed Hamilton, so I cannot really throw any hate his way, but I think it was probably for the best that Kanye West was not at the awards to jump on stage in Beyoncé’s defense.

Key and Peele won Outstanding Variety TV Series Sketch. Good stuff, good stuff.

Outstanding Writing in a Drama went to David and Dan (ignore the colloquial phrasing) from Game of Thrones. I think Game of Thrones is great and all, but the writing on this show does not hold a lighted match to Mad Men at its peak. I could go on forever, but it is 12:10 pm and I am running on the energy from one bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios so I will spare you.

This is where I stop to apologize for any damage that may have been done to your eardrums as I screamed bloody murder when Lena Heady lost Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama to who of all people? Maggie freaking Smith.

I am ready to burn all of Downton Abbey to the ground over this. It is wholly ironic that the season finale of Game of Thrones involved Lena’s character incinerating the city and the people who wronged her, because I now relate to that on a deeply spiritual level. 

Outstanding Directing in a Drama went to the love of my life, Miguel Sapochnick for “Battle of the Bastards”. I whine and complain about this show constantly, but this episode was so visually stunning. It could win an Oscar for directing; it was that good. 

Taraji P. Henson, who changed her entire outfit just to present an award, took Ben Mendelsohn of Bloodline’s Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama with her since he was not there to accept it. Michael Kelly did some fantastic work on House of Cards this season and he was robbed. Whatever.

Henry Winkler (for those under 40, “The Fonz” from Happy Days) gave a touching tribute to Gary Marshall. The In Memorium portion of the evening was sad as always, and a reminder that 2016 took a lot of really amazingly talented people from us.

As things wrapped up, the internet’s new boyfriend, Rami Malek, won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama for his two-line role as a college classmate of Lane’s on Gilmore Girls, even though formally it was for Mr. Robot. As the kids say, started from the bottom, now we’re here.

I was weirdly emotional for his win. Maybe it is because he a flawless speciman of a human being, but still. To quote Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson, “I want Rami Malek to cook me a nice dinner while I stand at the kitchen island drinking wine.” 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama went to Tatiana Maslany. She seems lovely, though, I do not watch Orphan Black. I hear she is super compelling on it, so kudos to her.

Outstanding Comedy Series went, predictably, to Veep. Despite the change in showrunners, this season was perfection and it is so consistently wonderful I cannot be upset that it wins every year. To those who get annoyed, remember when Modern Family won, like, 20-years in a row? Do we really want to go back to those times? It was as dark as the time of the Black Death, so I think not. 

Outstanding Drama Series went, predicatably again, to Game of Thrones. As much as I was rooting for The Americans, who were probably just “happy to be nominated,” the latest season of GoT was one of the best ones yet. I am still a bit bitter, though, because when it won last year, it was not deserved at all. To quote a friend, and longtime esteemed colleague of mine, “last year was embarassing”. And I do not disagree.

Well, that’s a wrap on the 2016 Emmy Awards. They were fun, predictable, fairly snappy, and everyone was so glistening with sweat that they looked like they were trying to be Leonardo Dicaprio. The fashion was okay, and Bryan Cranston is still hot, which is a weird sensation for me to unpack, but here we are. All is right in the world. See you at the Golden Globes.

For a complete list of winners, see here. 



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Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gabrielle is a fourth year student at McGill University. She watches a lot (some might say too much TV) and has gotten into screaming matches over movies. In her spare time, she enjoys being utterly self-deprecating. For clever tweets, typically composed by her favorite television writers, follow her twitter. For overly-posed (but pretending not to be) photographs follow her Instagram.