So, as you know, the Emmys happened last night. The 71st annual edition of the television award ceremony featured no hosts, a fuck ton of weird commentary, and the casts of Veep and Game of Thrones awkwardly coming onto the stage like they were forced to by their parents. While some media outlets are declaring that Game of Thrones "won" the Emmys, they lost a majority of the writing and acting awards to shows like Ozark, Killing Eve, and Succession. And this writer thanks the universe for that.
Instead we saw EXCELLENCE, true TALENT, and compelling STORIES being awarded, shockingly! And while there are many things to be happy about (like Patricia Arquette paying tribute to her trans sister, Alexis, while accepting her award for her role in The Act and Michelle Williams calling for more opportunities to go to women of color during her acceptance speech for Fosse/Verdon), here are my three main highlights from last night:
"I'd like to say just honestly, from the bottom of my heart, that the reason that I do it is this." #Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge jokingly explains why she really writes while accepting her award for writing for a comedy series https://t.co/WmT1Fmyol4 #Emmys pic.twitter.com/Z1tuoJbm15
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 23, 2019
Even though everyone loved the second season of Fleabag—a show based on writer, director, actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one-woman play—there was an assumption that Veep and Julia Louis-Dreyfus would sweep the comedy category. To everyone's surprise, Waller-Bridge ended up being the one doing the sweeping and rightfully so. Waller-Bridge and Co. ended up taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Comedy Series.
She seemed just as flabbergasted as anyone, but I can't think of a more deserving winner. Fleabag was consistently perverse, dirty, sacrilegious, hilarious, sexy, heart-wrenching, and incredibly well-written. If you haven't seen it yet, PLEASE watch right now. She has stated that the second season will be Fleabag's last and it looks like she's holding firm on that. Why would you ever mess with perfection?
I literally, absolutely love to see it. As a Moonlight stan, this gratifies me to NO END. I will be frank and say that I haven't made time to watch When They See Us—an error I will correct very soon—but Issa Rae said it best: "I'm rooting for everybody black."
Jharrel Jerome won the award for his portrayal of Korey Wise in When They See Us, an Ava DuVernay-directed mini-series based on the trial of the Central Park Five, a group of five black teens who were falsely and unjustly accused and imprisoned for the rape and assault of a woman in New York City. The five innocent men—now known as the Exonerated Five—were present in the audience to see Jerome take home the award last night, which the actor dedicated to them.
At 21 years old, Jerome is the youngest person to ever receive an award in this category and is also the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy for acting. As a side note, it's really great to see the supremely talented actors from the Moonlight diaspora thriving and I hope that all of them will go on to have the careers of waifish white actors like Timothée Chalamet or Ansel Elgort. Check out this clip of the When They See Us crew cutting up at the afterparty with Wise holding the golden statue above them all.
Korey Wise holding up Jharrel Jerome’s Emmy as the young cast of #WhenTheySeeUs celebrate. A moment. I almost cried at the Netflix after party. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/MSoQSmtAT5
— Tre'vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) September 23, 2019
Billy Porter Winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
I also screamed at my TV when Porter won this award. God his opening line—"God bless you all, the category is love, y'all, LOVE!" Bitch, I teared up! He is the first openly gay black actor to when this award for his portrayal of Pray Tell in the FX series Pose, a drama created by Ryan Murphy about the queer ball scene in New York City in the 1980s, loosely based off of Paris Is Burning. It's a show that features a cast of predominately queer and trans actors of color, which you can see losing their shit in the crowd when Kerry Washington called Porter's name. In his speech, he quotes black gay icon and luminary James Baldwin: "It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed until I could walk around this Earth like I had the right to be here!" You do, Billy you do!
Also please watch him talk about the double layers of discrimination of being a black and gay actor to a table of mostly straight men who have all played gay characters from earlier this year.
Check out the rest of the winners from last night here.