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19 Oct 2019 14:45
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  •   Home > News > International

    The Emmys gave us a British invasion, two powerful speeches and two censored moments

    Here's all the most important, entertaining and scandalous things that happened at that big television awards ceremony.

    The Emmys are done for another year, giving you a better understanding of which TV shows, in this so-called golden age, are worth your time.

    It was a fairly standard awards ceremony: some pretty mindless comedy skits, a lot of thank-yous to people you've never heard of, and just as many intriguing outfits.

    Aside from that, ol' Blighty got a real showing, which was a surprise given this was a night celebrating American television. And a few speeches did what Hollywood speeches should do, which is punch up.

    Here are some of the key moments.

    The British invasion, and a TV censor

    There certainly were a lot of very happy British people at the Emmys.

    Fleabag won numerous awards — including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series — putting its writer/creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge on stage more than once, as well as the show's director Harry Bradbeer, who picked the comedy directing prize.

    Ben Whishaw won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series for (the appropriately named) A Very English Scandal.

    Jodie Comer won Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for playing the assassin in Killing Eve. John Oliver took out a couple of variety-show awards for Last Week Tonight. And Jesse Armstrong won for his writing on Succession, the is-this-based-on-the-Murdochs family dynasty thriller.

    It was Armstrong who pointed this whole British thing out at the podium, and when he did, it caused a bit of a kerfuffle for Fox, the American network airing the broadcast.

    "Quite a lot of British winners," he said. "Maybe too many.

    "Maybe you should have a think about those immigration restrictions."

    According to Esquire, what he said next was beeped-out for US viewers.

    But not for us Aussies. What Armstrong said, and we're paraphrasing, was that maybe there should be a rethink of what constitutes one of those "shithole countries", the ones from which President Donald Trump had talked about restricting immigration.

    It was the second dunk on Britain that night.

    Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, accepting an award for Bandersnatch, told the audience: "Being British, I think we were pre-conditioned for 52 per cent of you to vote for Brexit."

    It's likely the censoring was for reasons of colourful language, rather than the political views expressed, because also beeped-out in the US was the part of Peter Dinklage's acceptance speech where he talked about spending 10 years alongside "the most incredible, talented, funniest m*********ing people".

    Chernobyl's award hopes did not … melt down

    There has been a lot of talk about this mini-series in Australia, and it clearly had an impact in the US as well. It had a really strong showing at this year's Emmys.

    If you ask comedy writer James Colley (and we did), he would probably frame the success this way: "Chernobyl, the story of a horrible disaster, caused by ego and hubris, that threatens the entire world and can be blamed on Russia, somehow found a way to resonate with a contemporary American audience."

    In all seriousness, it was widely praised by critics for its ability to build suspense and for the careful way this true story (although it took some liberties) was plotted for the screen.

    It picked up several key Emmys in the limited series categories.

    • Outstanding Limited Series
    • Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Sequel (Johan Renck)
    • Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Sequel

    That controversial-but-also-not win for Game of Thrones

    Was Game of Thrones ever going to come away empty-handed?


    It went into this year's Emmys with 32 nominations.

    But did its final season, which aired earlier this year, deserve to win it the award for best drama series?

    That's a tough question. The reaction to the show this year was mixed. On Mondays through 2019, as people working office hours tried desperately to shut down the internet, social media filled up with other people complaining about Westeros plot developments.

    In the end, Game of Thrones took out the plum prize of Outstanding Drama Series, along with Dinklage's Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

    Ironically, where many Emmys watchers and fans thought the show really deserved a gong was in the female acting categories, which were full of the show's stars, among them Emelia Clarke and Lena Headey.

    Michelle Williams gave the first of two great speeches …

    Michelle Williams, collecting the Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series award for her role in Fosse/Verdon, spoke about the need for equality and representation.

    Both have been difficult concepts in the film and television industries for some time, though there's been some progress.

    "The next time a woman, and especially a woman of colour — because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it."

    … and Billy Porter, making history, gave the other

    The actor and singer, who stars in the series Pose, made history as the first openly gay black man to win the Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series award, one of the two major acting gongs.

    He also took home the Emmy for Best Hat:

    Pose is about the underground African-American and Latino LGBTIQ dance scene in New York City in the 1980s, and Porter used his Emmys stage time to point out the significance of his presence.

    First, he quoted that great African-American writer James Baldwin: "It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I'd been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here."

    "I have the right to be here," Porter told the audience.

    "I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right.

    "We are the people, we as artists are the people, that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don't ever stop doing that. Please don't ever stop telling the truth."

    It was a sentiment that echoed one shared by Patricia Arquette who, when accepting the award for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series, called for greater acceptance of transgender people, citing her late sister Alexis, a transgender activist who died in 2016.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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