By Sebastian Moronta, Staff Writer
The 69th annual primetime Emmy awards aired on Sunday, September 17 on CBS, hosted by Stephen Colbert. The late-night talk-show host is known for lambasting and lampooning the president on a nightly basis, and brought some of that energy to the biggest night in television.
Among the winners were Emmy-regulars such as Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Veep, earning Julia Louis-Dreyfus her sixth Emmy in row for her role as Selina Meyer in the political comedy series.
The night was packed with record-breaking and historical announcements. Riz Ahmed became the first man of Asian descent to win an acting award at the Emmys for his performance in HBO’s The Night Of.
Master of None’s Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to achieve the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award, and Donald Glover was made the first black recipient of the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series award.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s win puts her ahead of former record holder Candice Bergen for most wins for a single role, and ties her with Cloris Leachman’s record for most wins by a singular performer.
This is Us actor Sterling K. Brown became the first black man in 19 years to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, and The Handmaid’s Tale’s Reed Morano is now the first woman to win Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series in 22 years.
Colbert made Trump a prominent figure of the show, primarily during the opening musical number where he set a Trump-centric tone, joined by Anthony Anderson, Allison Janney, Julia Louis -Dreyfus, and the lead of FX’s hit animated show Archer.
The number also featured a hip-hop interlude by Chance The Rapper, and a performance by a troupe of tap-dancers dressed as handmaids. “The world may be the worst we’ve ever seen” sang Colbert, “But it’s never looked better on your TV screen.”
His monologue followed suit, mocking Trump for being a former TV star devoid of a single award, joking “If he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president, so in a way this is all your fault.”
Attendees of the ceremony also used Trump as a punching bag throughout the evening. Julia Louis-Dreyfus said that HBO writers scrapped an impeachment storyline for Veep because “we were worried someone else might get to it first.”
Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin presented an award together, who starred in the 1980 film, Nine to Five.
Fonda described that in the movie they “refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot” and Ms. Tomlin added “and in 2017 we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
It was clear that Emmy voters had Trump in mind when voting for the guest and supporting comedy performances, handing all four awards to Saturday Night Live for their coverage of last year’s election.
Baldwin, who frequently played Trump on the long-running sketch series took home the supporting actor nod, while Kate McKinnon, who donned the wig and pant-suit, won the supporting actress nod for a comedy series.
Perhaps the most political moment of the evening came when Colbert brought out former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. He walked out with a podium on wheels, mimicking Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation of him on SNL this past year.
He joked that this Emmys was the “largest audience to witness an Emmys, period” harkening back to his defense of Trump’s exaggeration of the crowd size at his inauguration.
Many saw Spicer’s appearance at the ceremony as an attempt to rehabilitate his image, currently that of a documented liar and Trump stooge.
Celebrities and other figures criticized Spicer’s appearance. Actor Jason Isaacs captioned a picture of him at the after party on Instagram with “Hoping to forget politics for one night and bask in other people’s glory at the #Netflix #Emmys party and who do I spot at the bar late at night but the poisonous purveyor of lies #SeanSpicers. What were the Emmys thinking celebrating this modern-day Goebbels, who was the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak just moments ago?”
As The Atlantic’s Michelle Cottle put it, “Accountability is for non-celebrities.”