I’ve rewritten this sentence about nine times. What I want to say is “Watchmen deserved every Emmy it got and more” but that seems to discount the incredible Unbelievable and Unorthodox and others, and look – we just need to accept the fact that there’s too much that’s spectacular. All the losers are winners, yes?
That said, Watchmen is on another level altogether. Having only finished the series recently (and, I should say, not having read the comics/graphic novel, which I recommend, no matter what the Watchmen fans in your life say), I’m evangelical about why it had to win Best Limited Series. Every episode is basically a self-contained feature film, with unique visual styles, rhythms, character journeys - it’s astounding and it’s confident which is important, because Watchmen has a lot to say.
I was a Watchmen virgin, yes, but faithful fans have been delighted with the series, and how it revisits the famous story but also grounds it in the actual Tulsa Massacre of 1921, which writer Cord Jefferson references as “our show’s original sin”. It gives 2020 context to stories created in 1985 that are themselves steeped in history of the Vietnam War, and it’s fun and surprising and visually stunning television.
Ergo, every win felt significant. Even special? Cord Jefferson and Damon Lindelof won for writing, where Jefferson shouted out therapy – easily a first in an acceptance speech, at least where it wasn’t a punchline. In the Best Limited Series win, Lindelof’s speech gave me goosebumps: (I’m still debating whether it was scripted – I’d be thrilled if it was, but I also believe his brain is bionic-intelligent enough to come up with it on the fly)
“Be careful, be clumsy, run hot, stay cool, be the bull in the china shop. Pick up what you broke and glue it back together. Don’t stop until it’s great. Affirm. It’s never great enough. Dissent. Be consistent. Embrace paradox. Never contradict yourself. And, finally, stop worrying about getting canceled and ask yourself what you’re doing to get renewed.”
Last night a lot of people met and fell in love with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who really does look like that, and can act, in a way that makes the show take an exhilarating third-act left turn, and had an incredibly moving speech, (three for three from Watchmen winners) dedicating his award to “ … all the Black women in my life — the people who believed in me first. I call you my early investors. I love you. I appreciate you, and this one is for you.”
I know. Let’s remember again that those words and that brain come in this package…
So. Beautiful, significant stories, a long history that was treated with care, three beautiful speeches (were the speeches from home uniformly better than they would have been in the theatre? If you go by Watchmen, there’s no question)… and the whole thing rests on the incredible shoulders of Regina King.
Honestly, there is no frame of Watchmen that can work without her strength and vulnerability and curiosity. She led it, she ran it. It breathed because she breathed, no joke. I know we’ve long known she can act, but this show makes her weave so many people and personas together at one time, and she does it all like she’s having the best adventure of her life. Meanwhile, like in her spare time (!?), her directorial debut One Night In Miami premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was the runner up for People’s Choice at TIFF …
…is it any wonder she appeared to be feeling herself on Emmy night?
I have watched it eleven times and FAR overshot my estimate on when I was going to be done with this piece, but I can’t stop! That Schiapparelli dress. That hair! The delight in her face – and then she came back inside, sat in a club chair dressed in a pink suit and a ‘Say Her Name’ Breonna Taylor t-shirt, and proceeded to win in what is clearly a houseful of delighted supporters, and then accepted with a fluid speech that uses the words ‘prescient’ and ‘thespian’, and without seeming pretentious, exhorted people to vote, shouted out RBG, and then just left us all dazzled while she went off to live her life.
Regina King won best actress in a limited series at the 72nd #Emmys. During her virtual acceptance speech, the 'Watchmen' star honored Breonna Taylor by wearing a t-shirt with Taylorâ€™s face & the words 'SAY HER NAME' across the front. pic.twitter.com/23gkpRUjbu— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 21, 2020
I… are you okay? Are you there? I’m barely here. I tend to think this expression is overused, but in this instance we might actually not deserve Regina King at all. I’m going to spend the rest of the day thinking she’s looking at me from this picture, daring me to be a fraction as awesome as she is daily.