5 Takeaways From Emmys Night: Zendaya, “Friends” and HBO
Sunday’s Emmy Awards had a bit of everything, from tributes to late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to history made by the young actress Zendaya, to big wins for HBO.
Here are five key takeaways from the event, which honors the best in television:
Stars honor RBG
Host Jimmy Kimmel and several stars paid tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday after a long battle with cancer at age 87.
“On Friday, we lost a great American,” Kimmel said. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a compassionate and tireless champion of equality and justice. She said her legacy was to make her life a little better for people less fortunate than she.”
Regina King, who took home the award for best actress in a limited series for her role in HBO’s “Watchmen,” honored Ginsburg in her acceptance speech, saying “Rest in power, RBG.”
Uzo Aduba, who nabbed a supporting actress Emmy for FX limited series “Mrs America,” for her part described the feminist icon’s death as “absolutely devastating.”
Zendaya makes history
At 24, Zendaya on Sunday became the youngest winner in the lead actress in a drama series category for her searing breakthrough turn on “Euphoria.”
The actress won for her gritty portrayal of teenage drug addict Rue in HBO’s bleak drama that follows a group of high school students as they navigate drugs, sex, love, identity and trauma.
“I appreciate you so much, you’re my family,” said Zendaya, addressing Sam Levinson, creator of the controversial show, who based the series on his own battle with addiction.
“I’m so grateful for Rue. I’m so grateful that you trusted me with your story.”
HBO prospers without ‘Game of Thrones’
HBO is used to winning the annual Emmys battle-of-the-networks, despite recent fierce competition from streaming upstart Netflix.
But if executives were worried about their first year without “Game of Thrones,” a behemoth that amassed a record 59 Emmys, it didn’t show.
Sunday proved that there is life beyond the dragons of Westeros for HBO, with “Succession” and “Watchmen” scoring big wins across the drama and limited series categories, plus “Euphoria” delivering a surprise bonus victory for young starlet Zendaya.
HBO ends this television year with a whopping 30 statuettes.
Netflix had to settle for 21 total, including just two handed out during the main broadcast — acting and director wins for dramas “Ozark” and “Unorthodox.”
HBO’s own streaming service was meant to launch this summer with a much-hyped “Friends” reunion, which would have drawn new subscribers to the platform.
But the planned, unscripted show featuring the six stars of the popular 1990s sitcom has been delayed indefinitely, with Los Angeles under tough coronavirus-related restrictions.
On Sunday, the show’s three female leads — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow — dialed in from Aniston’s “home” to the apparent surprise of Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel.
“Of course I am (here). We live together,” joked Cox.
“Yeah, we’ve been roommates since 1994,” Aniston chimed in.
“Where else would I live?” added Kudrow.
Virtual Emmys zoom onward
Anyone who has suffered endless, technically-challenged Zoom calls during lockdown will have questioned the wisdom of hosting a prestigious awards ceremony while relying on dozens of remote video calls.
Listing 2020’s many miseries in his opening monologue, host Kimmel inserted “Zoom school” alongside “division, injustice, disease… disaster and death.”
But the internet connections ran smoothly throughout, surprising and even disappointing those predicting a high-tech car crash on the night.
“Everything went off flawlessly from a technical point of view,” Deadline said in its review of the night. Its analysis called it “an awards show for the ages.”
“To all the winners tonight and all the nominees, I’ll see you guys at the sad Zoom after-party,” Kimmel signed off. “Meeting ID: 459 956 7155. Stay safe.”