The show was uneven. There were some good bits, but there were too many bits. And Sarah and Duana will be following with posts about what the Emmys got wrong. In this post, we’re starting with the Emmys’ good start – which was Cedric the Entertainer doing an Emmys version of Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend”, bringing in special guests like LL Cool J and Rita Wilson, and everyone in the audience singing along. It turned into a dance party.
Did it sort of kind of feel like your aunts and uncles and maybe grandparents on the dance floor at a wedding doing “YMCA”? Sure. But did it bring the energy? Did it look fun? Yes. That’s the point. Otherwise, why would we all be at home watching on a Sunday night? I’m not mad at that opening at all. And overall, I quite enjoyed Cedric’s vibe. Again, there were too many bits, totally. But given how long it’s been since people have been together, and how much Hollywood and famous people missed being together and missed being seen and celebrated, Cedric’s job was to host a party – and that opening number was meant to feel like a party. It worked. There are a lot of things that didn’t work but that opening worked.
The set design worked too – with one disappointing exception, which we’ll get into in the next post. I think the set design was the thing I mentioned most in our group chat, particularly the digital backdrop that kept changing colour, and my early theory was that they would change it to best complement whatever colour the presenter on stage was wearing. It probably wasn’t that precise but for all its content flaws, the show itself LOOKED great. I didn’t even mind that people were missing cues and walking around from stage to stage, or backstage, and into the shot at the wrong time. It likely drove the control room crazy, that someone with a clipboard and a headset on would occasionally poke around the corner, but for me that added to the unstuffy, loose and relaxed vibe to the night, and it didn’t take away from how bright that room felt, and how brightly people popped onscreen when they were onstage.
And so many of them dressed for it too.
As we’ve been seeing for weeks now, starting in fashion, celebrities missed being celebrities, the glamorous part of being celebrities, more than anyone else. So the fashion trend of the night was …well… all and every fashion trend. Everybody was doing the most. And that ever changing backdrop was doing the most to highlight those clothes.
Yara Shahidi’s Kelly green Dior dress, for example, looked so much more special when she was presenting than it did on the carpet. It’s a surprising choice for her, a totally different style lane not just from when we saw her last at the Met Gala but from all her previous red carpet appearances. This is classic Hollywood, a throwback to Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, and it’s not that I don’t think Yara can pull it off, and the lighting and that backdrop definitely helped elevate it, but I can’t say it’s my favourite Yara fashion moment.
Same goes for MJ Rodriguez. This Versace came alive on stage, no doubt, and of course she’s sooooo pretty in it. But we’ve also seen Versace do this cut before, we’ve been seeing it for years. And when you’re wearing turquoise, in this particular silhouette, it can feel a little dated. Like it could be the Emmys in 2011 and not MJ Rodriguez at the Emmys in 2021.
Mandy Moore is another who was helped by the set and the lighting. On the carpet her dress was underwhelming, and I wanted to give it a good yank from the bottom to straighten everything out. On stage though, perhaps after someone did give it a pull, and with the benefit of those lights and that enhancing backdrop, it looked a lot better in motion than it did in photos.
I really, really loved the purple dress and turquoise earrings combination on America Ferrera and the whole beachy feel to it all. She’s one of the few who went with “effortless” instead of “extra” on a night when almost everyone was full “extra” and it worked for her. There’s an Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica vibe to her look here that I very much enjoyed.
As for Awkwafina – I would never have predicted this colour for her, and since she stuck to mostly pantsuits for the Shang-Chi promo tour this blue gown felt super fresh and airy and it really looked great against the turquoise backdrop.
And then there’s Angela Bassett, who did not need a backdrop, and never does because WOW, did she ever wear the sh-t out of this Greta Constantine. Greta Constantine is a Canadian label and they have been consistently showing up at major shows for a few years now, and not for the first time here on Angela. This dress is SO good, but it’s also dangerous because it could easily overwhelm a person. You need the right person to take hold of it instead of the other way around, to not let it dominate but to dominate in it. And, well, that’s Angela Bassett.
And finally, Robin Thede, who did not get the benefit of that stage lighting to amplify the prettiness of her dress, not as a presenter or as a winner, and that’s a real shame. Because I really would have liked to see what the tulle in this colour looked like up there. She would have too – and she didn’t bother to hide her feelings about that. I know it was a joke, and a great one, because it’s a send-up of the “gracious loser” cutaways that we have seen so often at award shows.
God that made me laugh. And I would say here that they should consider having her host the Emmys but she’s too good for them, considering how they benefit from all this talent being there, and nominate the talent that is pushing television and Hollywood further, but not actually rewarding them. That’s coming up in the next posts.