If there was ever any doubt that our current generation of television is the best its ever been, that doubt was quickly squashed by this year’s Emmy Awards. The winners this year proved that we as a society are finally ready to denounce mainstream formulaic plotlines, traditional style characters, and shows that shy away from the issues that are actually important. I walked away from this year’s Emmys feeling like we actually accomplished something, and we finally celebrated the stories that were inclusive, heartfelt, passionate, and fearless.
The night started off with some clever political commentary from the master of the genre — host Stephen Colbert. Colbert spent most of his monologues poking fun at the current state of our government and Trump’s bitterness after losing the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Show during his time on The Apprentice. Lucky for Trump, many of this year’s winners dedicated their win to Trump for providing both the material which they could parody and the social climate which they could combat through art.
A big name this year was comedian Donald Glover (Atlanta), who was nominated in 3 categories (Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) and won in 2 (Directing & Lead Actor), and cemented his place as the first African-American director to win the category. Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) also commented on this year’s diversity improvement when he won for Lead Actor in a Drama Series — a category an African-American had not won in 19 years.
Glover wasn’t the only person to make history at this year’s Emmys. It was actually a huge night for diversity. Lena Waithe (Master of None) was the first African-American women to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and her acceptance speech thanked her girlfriend LGBTQIA+ family, making her a role model for two majorly marginalized groups, especially in Hollywood. Waithe was co-nominated with Aziz Ansari for the Master of None episode “Thanksgiving,” which tackled the story of Waithe’s young character coming out as lesbian to her family and her family ultimately growing to accept her.
LGBT+ representation continued to win this year when the BBC/Netflix anthology drama Black Mirror won Outstanding Television Movie for the episode “San Junipero,” which chronicled the love, loss, and triumph of a biracial lesbian couple — all to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place on Earth”. The episode was already hailed as a masterful piece of art, fan favorite, and series distinct episode, perhaps because it is the only episode in the series with a happy ending, proving that love really does win.
And last but not least, Riz Ahmed (The Night Of)was the first man of Asian decent to win an acting Emmy.
This year’s big series winners were HBO’s Big Little Lies and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, both of which are series depicting violence against women and manipulative abuse of power.
In addition to all these wins being incredible for inclusion and social progression in media, they are also just really, really good. All of these shows are prime examples of excellent acting, directing, and cinematography, as were the other nominees in the categories. It was a tough race this year, and there were many deserving candidates, but in the end I’m glad it was these shows and performances that won.
This year made me proud to be an aspiring television writer/creator. This year was proof that television is just as artful, prestigious, and powerful as film, and even more accessible. We have finally decided that we will not settle for the same old stories which promote racial inequality, social injustice, and just plain laziness. I hope we continue on this trend of creativity, love, and expression, and I hope that I get to be a part of it someday.