Host Stephen Colbert led a politically charged 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards that took on President Donald Trump and celebrated progression and inclusivity in the industry. Despite Colbert’s mockery and constant Trump jabs from both him and presenters alike, it was a relatively uncontroversial night, save for a cameo appearance from former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. While the appearance was played for laughs, social media exploded over the appearance, criticizing the inclusion of Spicer as enabling both him and the White House and making a mockery of serious issues surrounding Spicer’s tenure as the Press Secretary.
Once the awards got under way, the night cooled down into a celebration of minority groups in television. The big winner of the night was women, with Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s famous feminist dystopian novel, leading the way. The show became the first streaming program to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama, a major blow to Netflix as Hulu took the award first despite being relatively new to the original programming game. The show also took home major acting awards, with Elizabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) and Ann Dowd (“Compliance”) winning Outstanding Actress in Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress, respectively.
HBO’s women-starring programming was also a hit with Emmy, as “Big Little Lies” and “Veep” taking home statues. “Big Little Lies” won a majority of the awards for limited series, including Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series for Nicole Kidman (“The Others”) and Outstanding Direction for a Limited Series for showrunner Jean-Marc Vallée (“Wild”). “Veep” also took home what now feels like its customary awards for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”), making that her sixth consecutive wins in the category and making history as the most Emmys won by a single performer for the same role.
People of color also made history as Aziz Ansari (“Parks and Recreation”) and Lena Waithe (“Bones”) won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for “Master of None”, making Waithe the first African-American woman to win the award. Donald Glover become the African-American man to win for Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series for his show “Atlanta,” also taking home the award Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for the same program. HBO also notched another big win with Riz Ahmed winning Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series for “The Night Of”, becoming the first South Asian man to win the award.
While overall it seemed like an uneventful and calm night at the Emmys, it’s important to note that the awards show took real strides to recognize minority groups and take a moment to appreciate the progress that’s been made. However, as “The Handmaid’s Tale” showrunner Bruce Miller noted in his acceptance speech, there is a lot more left to fight for.