When we were planning all our coverage last night, we talked about how some ensemble casts come in with high energy, feeling like it could be their night – like the Barbie group, who seemed to deflate a little bit more with each award bringing them closer to a shutout (I know, I hate it as much as you do) while others, like the team from Anatomy of a Fall, seemed pleased, but not all that surprised, as they won one award, then another (super refreshing, actually!).
But the performers from BEEF seemed – I don’t know what, exactly. Stunned? A little alarmed? When Ali Wong’s name was called from a nominee list of heavy hitters, it was clearly unexpected and maybe disorienting?
She, and Steven Yuen who also won a few minutes later, both pulled it together, but I found their surprise kind of telling, because BEEF does not flinch. It’s got a lot of fun and delicious darkness and everyone’s having fun with how bad the characters behave but – this is about suppressed anger and the helplessness of not having anywhere to put it, and what happens when you’re not allowed to express emotions that are ‘unattractive’, and that’s not something we’re used to seeing from Asian characters. It’s exciting, and I think maybe why even creator Lee Sung Jin seemed a little amazed… like, is this really happening?
And I mean, just to call it out, we also could see the stunned in this, the (apparently surprise) kiss heard ‘round the internet:
BILL HADER AND ALI WONG???? pic.twitter.com/P4SSiEjRa7— audrey (@audrey_hbw) January 8, 2024
Yes, Ali Wong and Bill Hader. And, not that he should have to, but he didn’t hesitate to lean in, right? Bill Hader is apparently one of those guys who likes being a boyfriend, and likes people to know it. And, um, not to compare, but a few years ago, I saw him leading Rachel Bilson protectively around this very same event, and he wasn’t nominated when he was dating Anna Kendrick but… I digress, but it’s interesting, right?
Anyway, by the time she appears onstage Ali Wong is back on form, and for the second time tonight we have a speech that’s entirely new by awards show standards – she thanks her co-parent and former husband, Justin Hakuta, for all his support: “It’s because of you that I’m able to be a working mother”.
She also refers to him as ‘my best friend’ and – who knew the hottest new element of an awards speech was …respect?
Speaking of best friends, look at this smile between Ali Wong and Steven Yeun:
His speech is equally as heartfelt and unpolished, in the best way possible – understated and unremarkable. Because it’s so clear that the remarkable part happened before they got up there. That letting two Asian actors play characters who are flawed and petty and craven, a pretty good representation of what Simu Liu and Issa Rae will later call ‘white people roles’, minus the alcoholism, and to let them be responsible and celebrated only for themselves for one moment in time, is remarkable in itself.
But seriously. Look how incredulous they look! Like, “Wait, really? Hold them both up?”
For the record, she’s wearing a Dior Haute Couture dress, and the necklace is Swarovski. I’ve never really thought of myself as a Swarovski person, but I really want the necklace that looks like the real life version of one I would have drawn on every ‘glamorous lady’ picture I created in Grade 5.