Now that Hollywood is back in action after both the writers' strike and the actors’ strike came to a resolution late last year, the much delayed and much anticipated 75th Annual Emmy Awards have finally come to pass. While the Emmys are traditionally held in September, they were postponed due to the strikes and landed during Hollywood's traditional awards season, and, less traditionally, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This year’s shindig was hosted by actor and comedian Anthony Anderson, who is no stranger to the Emmys, having been nominated for multiple awards himself for his role on black-ish. He had a big job ahead of him as this was the awards' diamond anniversary and producers were determined to put on a show. He was also following a Golden Globes broadcast where which host Jo Koy's performance was heavily scrutinized and criticized. Anderson, and producers' decision to tap him as host, was also subject to criticism himself, as Anderson has previously been accused of assault, allegations which he has denied.
On Monday night, Anderson took a different path than Koy, keeping his opening number largely musical. Throughout the night, in addition to the cavalcade of actors being handed awards, the ceremony paid tribute to the history of television from the 1950s to the present with a number of cast reunions, including for Ally McBeal, Cheers, and Martin.
The night saw winners made of The Bear and Succession, which tied for the most wins with six, and Beef (which took home an impressive five). Many of the wins felt deserved but somewhat anticlimactic, given the unusual timing of the Emmys following the Globes, and the fact that so many of the shows that won swept multiple categories, keeping the number of winning series relatively low overall.
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And as always, we saw a whole bunch of strange songs, flopping jokes, surprises and upsets. We are here to recount the good, bad, absolutely hilarious and hilariously awkward moments.
Most Divisive New Time-Keeping Method
Anderson kicked off the show with a little housekeeping announcement. The show was going to give out 27 awards, which means 27 acceptance speeches. To keep those speeches tight, he suggested just thanking “Jesus and your mama,” and to encourage brevity, his own mother, Doris Bowman, would be there to cut people off. To prove it, his mother shouted from the crowd, “Time’s up, baby, cut to the chase!” Some on Twitter, however, chimed in to say they found the bit disrespectful.
The Emmys' Most VMA Moment
Even though this was the Emmys and not the MTV Video Music Awards, Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker showed up on stage to play the drum fill from Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” in Anderson’s tribute to Miami Vice.
Best Way to Kick Off A Show
Christina Applegate, who shared her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 2021, got a standing ovation as she appeared on stage, mentioning her roles in Married... With Children, Samantha Who?, Dead to Me, and as a baby on Days of Our Lives. She joked the audience was “shaming” her disability “by standing up” and then chided the audience for clapping: “You don’t have to applaud me every time I do something!”
Most Enthusiastic Way to Announce a Winner
When Applegate announced The Bear's Ayo Edibiri as winner of Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series—for which Edibiri went on to give a humorous and meaningful speech thanking her family—she opened the envelope and yelled: “Ayo, get your ass up here!”
“Thank you so much for loving me and letting me feel beautiful and Black and proud of all that. It’s probably not, like, a dream to immigrate to this country and have your child be like ‘I want to do improv!,’ but you’re real ones”
—Ayo Edebiri thanking her parents
— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) January 16, 2024
Best Back-to-Back Reunions
Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli were invited as one of many cast reunions throughout the evening, as well as to mark the 25th anniversary of The Sopranos and announce the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. The award went to Jennifer Coolidge and when she arrived to accept her trophy, she was reunited with her The White Lotus Season 2 co-star, Imperioli.
Most Disappointing Casting Confirmation
When Coolidge won for her performance in The White Lotus, she naturally thanked creator Mike White. However, fans may not be thanking him in return, because Coolidge confirmed she won’t be back for future seasons. “He says I’m definitely dead, so I’m going along with it,” she said, before taking a moment to “thank all the evil gays” for making her an icon.
Best Beef and Best Bleep
Keiran Culkin started a tiny feud with Pedro Pascal during the Golden Globes and when Pascal came to announce an award at the Emmys, he used his moment to (jokingly) blow it up. Sadly, audiences at home didn't get to hear exactly what he said about Culkin, because the entire line was bleeped (at least in the telecast), but based on the look on Culkin’s face, the war is not over yet.
Biggest Snub (From Days of Yore)
While Martin was never nominated for an Emmy throughout its run in the 1990s, members of the cast (Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II, and Tichina Arnold) reunited on stage and pointed out all the reasons they should have been. That’s when Anthony Anderson joined them on the stage to thank them for their contribution to television history and to confirm that, indeed, they were never getting an Emmy.
Most Creative Use of Time
As John Oliver accepted his award, he announced that he would not leave until he got played off by Anthony Anderson’s mom, so after making his thank you's, he started listing every member of Liverpool’s soccer team and their positions. He got through three players when Bowman stood up and cut him off with one disappointed word: "Baby.” He quickly thanked Jesus and his family, as instructed, and took off.
Most Honest Appreciation
Niecy Nash-Betts’s incredible speech after her Emmy win pic.twitter.com/oHfEbt5Xe1
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) January 16, 2024
When Niecy Nash-Betts accepted her award for her performance in Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, she thanked many people, but then paused and said, “You know who I want to thank? I want to thank me.” She continued, “And I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful people, 'Go on girl with your bad self. You did that!'” Nash-Betts said she accepts the award on behalf of Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, and every other Black and brown woman who has gone "unheard yet over-policed," saying it is her job as an artist to speak truth to power.
Best Use of Stage as Soapbox
When RuPaul arrived to collect the prize for Outstanding Reality Competition Program for RuPaul's Drag Race, he used the moment to preach. “If a drag queen wants to read you a story at a library, listen to her,” he said. “Because knowledge is power and if someone tries to restrict your access to power they are trying to scare you.”
Most Legit But Unfortunate Excuse
The Bear creator Christopher Storer won awards for both best writing and directing in a comedy, but couldn’t attend the show because he reportedly is home sick with Covid-19. He's not the only one watching from home: The Last of Us and Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama, also posted to Instagram that she was stuck at home with Covid-19.
Best Reality Check
The Daily Show took home the top prize for a talk show and (now former) host Trevor Noah knew why. “I told you we would beat John Oliver if he wasn’t in our category,” he said on stage. “We did it! We got rid of John Oliver!” Oliver had won two awards previously in the evening for Last Week Tonight, which has been nominated for 61 Emmys.
Most Self-Deprecating Award
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the longest-running live-action American sitcom on television, but despite that (and a wildly ardent and very online fanbase), they’ve never been nominated for an Emmy. So naturally the cast, who reunited as presenters Monday night, had to skewer the TV Academy and themselves. “You’ve been doing this every year??”
Biggest Missed Opportunities
The cast of Cheers reunited in a bar on stage, but they couldn’t let the Always Sunny cast present from their own? The bar set was right there!! The producers missed a real opportunity. Also, Jon Hamm but no one else from the cast of Mad Men? Gray's Anatomy reunion but neither McSteamy nor McDreamy?
Most Surprising Speech
Paul Walter Hauser, who won for his performing on the Apple TV+ thriller Black Bird, read his acceptance speech right off his phone. That’s not to say he wasn’t prepared to win (other than the fact that he seemed to be finishing chewing a little snack when they called his name), because his speech was rhyming and if someone had dropped a beat, it would have been a rap. At the very least, it was in the vicinity of spoken word poetry.
Best Format Change
To present the award for Variety Special, the show cut to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sitting behind a desk, reviving their roles as hosts of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. “We’ve reached the stage in life where we will only present awards sitting down,” explained Fey. They then presented each nominee with quips in much the same way as they presented headlines in that segment.
Winner Least Likely to Let the Sun Go Down on Him
When Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium took the prize for Variety (Special), the Emmy win meant that John became the latest EGOT winner, adding an Emmy to his previously won Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys. As Poehler quipped, “EGOT to be excited about that.”
Best Back-to-Back Wins
Steven Yeun and Ali Wong each earned their first Emmy Awards for best actor and actress in a limited series for their work in Beef. They both gave short, sweet, and sincere acceptance speeches, in keeping with the speeches both gave when they won Golden Globes earlier this month. Creator Lee Sung Jin also took home multiple statues for the show Monday night.
Best Dressed Duo
Alexis Colby and Cookie Lyon were brought together at last as actors. Dynasty star Joan Collins and Empire star Taraji P. Henson showcased the importance of costume design, with the latter speaking about how much her character's looks were inspired by the former. If only we could get a crossover episode.
Most Bizarre Moments in Television History
As the Emmys mark 75 years, the producers put together a montage of the best moments in television history. There were important and memorable moments from I Love Lucy and The Beatles' TV debut, iconic scenes from Ellen and Maude, and then for some reason a clip of 9/11 news coverage. Was that really one of the best moments in TV history?
Weirdest Song Choice
This year’s In Memoriam segment was soundtracked by Charlie Puth and The War and Treaty. While they are all wildly talented, the decision to have them sing a heartfelt rendition of the Friends theme song felt odd, as many remarked upon on social media. The segment recalled many great losses since the previous emmys, from Matthew Perry to Harry Belafonte, Leslie Jordan to Ron Cephas Jones to Paul Reubens.
Most Apt Reunion Set
The cast of Ally McBeal reunited in a bathroom for a dance routine, which was so perfect it felt like it was scripted by the show’s writers. Sadly, no dancing baby showed up to dance with them.
Most Fitting Victory
In a triumph worthy of Succession, Keiran Culkin beat out both his on-screen father (Brian Cox) and his eldest brother (Jeremy Strong) for Best Actor in a Drama, a feat his character could only have dreamed of.
Best Use of a Spotlight
While on stage, Culkin reminded his wife that she said if he won, she would consider having more children, and well, he won. No pressure!
Best Excuse to Speak With Your Mouth Full
In a delightful moment, Tracee Ellis Ross and Natasha Lyonne recreated the famous chocolate factory scene from I Love Lucy. They were so busy shoving chocolates down their shirts and into their mouths that they were still swimming in chocolate when they presented the award for Best Comedy Series to The Bear.
When the cast and crew of The Bear came to collect their final award of the evening, real-life chef and supporting actor Matty Matheson took the mic. He was halfway through giving a shout-out to the beauty of the restaurant industry when Ebon Moss-Bachrach walked up and kissed him full on the mouth for a surprisingly long time. Matheson told him he loved him and then continued his speech, before the night finished with a no surprises but much deserved win for Succession in the Best Drama category, for its fourth and final season.
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