The 2020 Emmys were on fire last night. No literally. There was fire.
Despite the ‘new normal’ of the ‘virtual event’ (and all the other post-COVID words we are really sick of hearing), the broadcast was able to pull off a show fit for the storytellers they were honoring. Smiles, laughter, and even tears flowed throughout the night.
Gone were the red carpets, awaiting paparazzi, and screaming fans, and in their place were thousands of screens, an empty auditorium, and face masks. Gone were the standing ovations from a roomful of Hollywood’s most elite and in their place were empty seats and cardboard cutouts (and Jimmy Kimmel’s funniest joke of the night, when he likened the empty room to his prom night).
Even though we didn’t have moments like when the entire Game of Thrones cast came out together to present an award and thank their fans after their final season, we did get a peek into the intimate lives of the people we watch on screen every day: Celebrities in their homes, with their families, getting to celebrate the wins and losses surrounded by those they love the most.
So, yes, the 2020 Emmys were different on so many levels, but the “virtual event” was able to deliver “new normal” moments that may just go down in Emmy history. Here are the 2020 Emmys moments you wouldn’t want to miss.
Jennifer Aniston Saved Jimmy Kimmel from Fire
When Kimmel, the evening’s host, lit the first envelope on fire in a sanitizing schtick that included Jennifer Aniston and a fire extinguisher, we all rolled our eyes. But when the fire kept coming back after she’d put it out a few times, we thought, “Oh look, it’s still burning. Kinda feels like 2020.” Fortunately, thanks to Aniston, Kimmel remained un-singed.
BLM Game Was Strong
Regina King, Uzo Aduba, and Sterling K. Brown were among the stars wearing t-shirts in support of BLM in lieu of gowns and the traditional “red carpet looks.” Several celebrities used the televised broadcast to make a statement about police brutality and the ongoing fight for equality, and Yvonne Orji even had the powerful symbol of a raised fist shaved into her hair.
The Tuxedo Hazmat Suit
This is taking lemons and making lemonade to the extreme. What else would you do when safety is a priority at a red carpet event? Well, you make tuxedo hazmat suits, obviously. Select Emmy employees wore this fancy protective clothing to deliver the awards to the winners on the day of the event in a united “Not today, Covid.”
All of the Families
When Uzo Aduba shouted “Mom! I won!” after winning the award for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series, and then called again “Mommy!” as she went to celebrate with her mother after she thought it was over, every viewer’s heart grew five times larger.
But it was not just Aduba that caused our hearts to swell. It was a rare treat to see the families that have supported these stars throughout their careers sitting on the couches alongside them and jumping up and down with all the joy that the winners usually restrain themselves from showing. And the thank yous, directed not at a screen or someone in the audience, but into the eyes of someone holding their hand during one of the most important moments of their life, was television magic in and of itself.
Succession Creator Jesse Armstrong's Un-Thank Yous
After winning the award for Outstanding Drama Series, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong gave an Emmy first with a scathing and merciless list of Un-thank yous: namely to the Coronavirus, President Trump, and Boris Johnson.
Regina King's Acceptance Speech
Watchmen‘s Regina King won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie. This is her fourth Emmy win, but by far one of the best speeches of the night (tied maybe with Mark Ruffalo‘s). King started off by exclaiming “This is so freaking weird!” as she was given her Emmy, presumably brought by a man in a hazmat suit. After she thanked all the folks on the show, she encouraged her audience to vote, research ballot measures on Ballotpedia, and vote in local elections. “Be a good human,” she said, and then she ended by honoring the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg with “Rest in power, RBG.”
Oops... Sorry Jason Bateman, But Can We Have That Emmy Back?
On Lala Land/Moonlight levels of awkward, the most unforgettable mishap would have to be when the television announcer proclaimed Jason Bateman the winner of the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series award, only to be cut off halfway through, followed by the screen changing to a blank slate, and then radio silence.
Five seconds of awkward ensued where nobody, not even Kimmel, knew what to say. This was probably due to the fact that under the voice announcing Bateman as the winner, the screen was displaying the winner as Ron Cephas Jones from This Is Us. The Emmys later confirmed the win went to Jones. Oops. Sorry, Bateman.
First Ever Father-Son and Father-Daughter Duos to Win Emmys the Same Year
It was indeed a family affair at the Emmys this year. Not only did they have the first ever father-daughter duo win Emmys in the same year when Ron Cephas Jones won for This is Us and his daughter, Jasmine Cephas Jones, won Best Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for #FreeRayshawn, but they also had the first father-son duo to win Emmys in the same year as well.
Schitt’s Creek father-son co-creators and co-stars, Eugene and Dan Levy, were one of the best parts about the night. Dan Levy watching his father win his award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series took Twitter by storm with all the feels. But it was the genuine, exuberant, and loving hug between father and son that won the award for most heartwarming moment of the night.