Despite being hosted by first-timer Stephen Colbert, whose late-night surge can be directly attributed to Donald Trump, this year’s Emmys didn’t feel that much more political than usual. At least not compared to the Golden Globes and Oscars, which both aired within weeks of his inauguration.
Women were actually the stars of this year’s show, with female-fronted shows taking top honors in the comedy, drama and limited series categories (Veep, The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies, respectively). Women also took home trophies in the directing and writing categories, including Master of None’s Lena Waithe, who became the first black woman to win the comedy writing award.
Still, Colbert did acknowledge that Trump was the biggest TV star of the year.
“However you feel about the president — and you do feel about the president, you can’t deny that every show was influenced by Donald Trump in some way,” he noted, pointing to his impact on late-night shows and drama series like Netflix’s House of Cards (whose social media accounts have trolled the president since he declared his candidacy) and FX’s American Horror Story: Cult, which features a post-election theme this season. “And of course, next year’s Latin Grammys, hosted by (recently pardoned) Sheriff Joe Arpaio. ¡Muy caliente!”
Acutely aware that nothing matters to Trump more than his ratings, Colbert turned to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer for a ratings update.
Sean Spicer finally got the last laugh about crowd sizes. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)
Spicer rolled on what might have been the same motorized podium made famous in Melisssa McCarthy’s Emmy-winning portrayal of him.
“This will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period, both in person and around the world,” he proclaimed, parroting the declaration that cost him his credibility on the second day of the administration. But he seemed to be having much more fun at the podium this time around — plus, his suit actually fit.
“Wow, that really soothes my fragile ego,” Colbert noted. “I can see why you’d want one of these guys around.”
Donald Glover, who won for lead actor and director in a comedy series in FX’s Atlanta, gave Trump a shoutout for “making black people No. 1 on the most-oppressed list. He’s probably the reason I’m up here.”
Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has frequently mocked Trump in award-show speeches since he first ran for president, kept up the streak up on winning a record-setting six consecutive Emmy for lead actress in a comedy, without naming him specifically.
Teasing the upcoming seventh and final season of the HBO political comedy, she admitted, “We did have a whole storyline about impeachment but we abandoned that because we feared someone else might get to it first.”
During the 9 to 5 reunion, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin noted how little things have changed.
“Back in 1980 in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” Fonda began, before Tomlin broke in, noting, “and in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
Charlie Brooker, who won the limited-series writing prize for the “San Junipero’ episode of Netflix’s dystopian anthology Black Mirror, acknowledged, “I’ve heard 2017 described as like being trapped in one long, unending Black MIrror episode — but I’d like to think that if I’d written it, it wouldn’t be quite so on-the-nose, with all the Nazis and hate. ‘San Junipero’ was a story about love, and love will defeat hate. But it will need a bit of help.”
The most memorable Trump mention may have come from Alec Baldwin, who won supporting actor in a comedy series for playing Trump on Saturday Night Live.
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“I suppose I should say, at long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” he said, ribbing Trump, who has complained that he never won for The Celebrity Apprentice because the Emmys are rigged.
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Baldwin also wondered if the frequent sight of him in his orange Trump wig this past season was the reason he and wife Hilaria didn’t add to their family this year, calling it “birth control.”
He also turned serious, offering words of encouragement to other artists.
“I always remember someone telling me that when you die, you don’t remember a bill that Congress passed or a decision the Supreme Court made or an address the president made. You remember a song, a line from a movie. You remember a play, a book, a painting, a poem. What we do is important. For all of you out there in motion pictures and television, don’t stop doing what you’re doing. The audience is counting on you.”