I’ve decided that the best thing about Sheryl Lee Ralph’s win last night is that it was all the things.
It was unexpected – in a stacked category, she was not favoured to win, particularly, though I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love her demure, poised performance. It was immediately heartrending – those moments when she doesn’t believe, truly, that it’s finally happening? You grow more and more overwhelmed as she lets it sink in for a full ten seconds:
And then, of course, that voice. That speech. I had forgotten, until I watched it back, how long she takes on that note at the :39 mark – this is what we dream of from a live production, from a winner committing to a television moment (not to mention a practiced performer NAILING her intended moments) and look, is it a bit over the top? Sure is. But if you can’t have a moment like this when you’ve dreamed of it all your life, giving another generation a reason to care about these shows… when can you?
It also celebrates my favourite tweet of the night – if you know, you know. (Thanks Noelle!)
i guess singing does put food on the table. https://t.co/gbhv6E28vU— Your Friendâ€™s Friend (@walkgoodetienne) September 13, 2022
That said, last night was actually just the opening act in the musical that is Quinta Brunson, and the career that’s about to open up in front of her, even more than it already has.
First of all, she looked incredible. Custom Dolce & Gabbana, natch. That’s a confidence move and I’m here for all of it. Why don’t more people wear copper!? Christina Ricci did, too, and I love it so much. Please, people, wear copper and save me from overdressing.
Then, too, she was having the time of her life, knowing it was her night even before anything happened. Check out Quinta and The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri just being absolute goofy goobers for one another, caring not even a little bit whether it lands for anyone else:
this is literally me and oomfs pic.twitter.com/aCyunGmCIm— ÙŽ (@ungodlywests) September 13, 2022
And then there was the win – officially for writing for Abbott Elementary. Now, the show used its Emmy budget on school supplies for teachers in need. That is 100% a classy move that is also a very good PR move, and you know what, nothing is more Abbott than that. The ‘network show that could’ is allowed to know exactly who and what it is, and the confidence is intoxicating.
Maybe that’s why Quinta was so blasé when she was asked backstage whether she was mad at Jimmy Kimmel for taking up space on her award-winning stage. Now, as people online have pointed out, this is literally the definition of white male privilege: just being there, just existing, while other people literally put a show on around you – and she shouldn’t have to put up with it, or have to step over him or make him a part of her moment.
That said, I truly believe her when she says she didn’t care (she also pointed out she’s going to be on his show Wednesday, so she’s got time to work out a way to get him back) because this is the beginning of her empire. It’s not just that she has an enormously successful show that everyone loves – this is only the beginning. If she plays this right, and she absolutely will, she’s going to be the next big mega-showrunner, the one who is charged with saving network comedy as a whole.
Look at her smiling. Look how ready she is for all of it. We are so incredibly lucky to get to watch it all happen right in front of us – and Quinta Brunson knows it, too.