Members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, celebrity guests, and nominees gathered on Monday, Sept. 12 to attend the 74th annual Emmy Awards—a show that recognizes and rewards artistic talents in television.
Aired on NBC, the show included an opening performance by the host Kenan Thompson and comedy bits given by presenters such as Jimmy Kimmel and Will Arnett. It also featured history-making award winners such as Quinta Brunson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Zendaya, and Lee Jung-jae.
Kimmel’s bit involved him appearing unconscious, getting dragged on stage by Arnett after he lost the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category he was nominated for. The bit started facing backlash for “pulling focus from Quinta Brunson’s acceptance speech by lying on the floor beneath her,” according to Vanity Fair.
Brunson accepted the award for Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance in ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.”
“I honestly was in such a moment of just having a good time, like I won my first Emmy! I was up there, you know, happy, and I was wrapped up in the moment and just having a good time,” said Brunson when addressing the controversy with Kimmel on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Even though Brunson herself cleared the air, viewers still had their own opinions on the situation.
“I personally didn’t let him distract me from her moment, but I do think he should have gotten up during the speech,” said junior Sarah Gurney, who tuned in to watch the show.
“He should not have kept the bit going,” junior Emma Wresch said, “especially since her award was so historic.”
The Emmys were frequently talked about after their air date because of the notable wins made by some of the nominees.
“Some cast members of ‘Abbott Elementary’ winning were definitely moments that stood out to me,” Gurney said.
Brunson, being one of them, won for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and became the first Black woman to win that award individually.
Another win for this show came from Sheryl Lee Ralph, who became the “second Black woman to win Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, 34 years after first winner Jackée Harry won for ‘227’ in 1987,” according to People.
Additionally, Zendaya won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for “Euphoria” and, according to People, “became the youngest actress to win an Emmy twice.”
“This recognition has allowed people of color whose voices typically aren’t heard, whose representations aren’t seen, to be honored and acknowledged,” said Dr. Lori Bindig Yousman, a Communications and Media studies professor at Sacred Heart University.
Lee Jung-jae won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for “Squid Game” and became the “first Asian and first native Korean to win,” and “Squid Game’s” director Hwang Dong-hyuk became the first South Korean to win Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
“As a culture, the more stories we get to hear from diverse perspectives, the better understanding that we’re going to have of ourselves, of each other and of the world,” Bindig Yousman said.
Despite these memorable moments that took place, the ratings of the Emmys have been declining. According to Vanity Fair, “The Emmys flopped this year, pulling in all-time low ratings down a whopping 24% from last year’s telecast.”
The show was three hours long, and even as someone who watched the whole show, Wresch said, “It can get boring, and people don’t care as much as they used to.”
With so many different streaming platforms, television is much broader than it used to be.
“I haven’t even seen any of the shows nominated,” said Gurney.
There is such a wide selection of TV shows that the ones recognized at the Emmys may not be seen by a large audience.
“[Television] is so segmented into these niche audiences,” Bindig Yousman said. “People are watching more television than ever; we’re just not thinking about television in the same way anymore.”