BY LORRAINE ALI
LOS ANGELES TIMES
TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Though the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 18 celebrated television’s best moments, the ceremony gave near equal time to celebrating its own newfound diversity – and joking about the Oscars’ lack of it.
“This year’s nominees are the most diverse ever,” host Jimmy Kimmel said in his opening monologue of a field that included 18 nominees of color for acting awards and several women in directing categories.
“And here in Hollywood, the only thing that we value more than diversity is congratulating ourselves on how much we value diversity. I’ll tell you, the Emmys are so diverse this year, the Oscars are now telling people we’re one of their closest friends.”
Diverse acting awards
The night’s big winners reflected television’s move toward a more realistic and representative mix of shows, and away from the industry’s very male, very White traditions.
Top winners included “Mr. Robot’s” Rami Malek for lead actor in a drama, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’s” Courtney B. Vance for lead actor in a limited series or movie and “The Night Manager’s” Susanne Bier for directing a limited series, movie or dramatic special.
Where the Oscars almost felt uncomfortable joking about race — there were no acting nominees of color, thus the #OscarsSoWhite movement — during its telecast this year, the Emmys reveled in it — and also patted itself on the back.
“We need to appreciate how far we’ve come,” said Kimmel. “In fact, if you are a person of color in our audience tonight — especially if you’re a nominee — please find a White person right now.
“Go ahead, it shouldn’t be hard. I see a bunch of them right here. Just take a moment to reach out and say thanks for your bravery. There ya go, make a rainbow connection.” In the audience, Aziz Ansari (Netflix’s “Master of None”) hugged Ty Burrell (ABC’s “Modern Family”).
A Trump joke
Television as a whole has been quicker than film to react to the discussion about race and gender. Shows such as ABC’s “black-ish” (nominated three times, but won nothing) tackled issues of race, class and police shootings, while HBO’s satirical “Veep” (comedy series winner) lampooned American politics with a female president at the helm.
Ansari riffed off the charged anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric while presenting an award mid-evening: “I want everyone to know that after careful consideration, I’ve decided I’m going with Trump, which is why I’m also recommending we get rid of all Muslim and Hispanic nominees from the ceremony immediately. Wow, this would be so much easier if we were at the Oscars.”
He continued: “America Ferrara, nice try changing your name to America, you’re not fooling anybody. You’re out!”