Dreams do Come True Right?!

Moments from our sleep deprived night in the press room. Vision attends the 75th Emmys…via zoom

On a night where The Bear and Succession swept awards, Elton John secured a long sought after EGOT, and overlong speeches were cut short by host Anthony Anderson’s mother instead of the traditional musical interruption, Vision gained access to the ‘Virtual Media Center’ at the 75th Emmys. 

Access to the ‘media center’ meant being able to stream the ceremony itself and access to the press-room where winners were interviewed. 

Press were able to ask questions by raising the virtual zoom hand that haunted many a pandemic-era education, however it became fairly clear as organisers selected questions from major publications (including USA Today and Entertainment Weekly) that we would struggle to ask any ourselves. 

Spirits were also slightly dampened by the fact that, due to the joy of time zones, the event ran from one o’clock to five o’clock in the morning in the middle of our assessment period. The sacrifices we make during awards season…

There was, however, light at the end of the tunnel (quite a minor tunnel given the immense privilege it was just to attend). 

After a long night of zoom hand-raising and ad-break power naps, Vision editor Kaitlyn Beattie-Zarb was finally able to ask a question! 

Colman Domingo and Hannah Waddingham had just presented the Governor’s Award to GLAAD – an advocacy group for accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation in media. As the group waltzed into the press room, and the host dashed around the main stage as the live thread of the show continued, we prepared the perfect question.

What were the members of GLAAD’s favourite LGBTQ+ performances from last year?

Lo and behold, our question was selected and delivered by an incredibly tired and ill-prepared editor, who was now conversing with media icons live on the zoom microphone, in front of hoards of Hollywood press…at 3am. Dreams do come true right?!

Well, the recent award winners leapt at the chance to talk about their favourite television shows, raising a number of notable performances, including the increase in representation in Ted Lasso, Ayo Edibiri’s work in The Bear, and both Bella Ramsey and Murray Bartlett’s work in The Last of Us, before Wilson Cruz lightheartedly referenced his own pioneering work in Star Trek: Discovery.

Let’s return now to some other moments from our sleep deprived night in the press room, and what they mean for the evolution of television itself.

John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight and winner of  the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series every year since 2016, was asked how it felt to ‘play a very dynamic character’ by someone who obviously hadn’t been paying attention. He responded by thanking her profusely and describing his life as a major Hollywood star, including a reference to a Calvin Klein photoshoot that was eerily similar to Jeremy Allen White’s…

An issue that was raised repeatedly to various cast-members of The Bear was its categorization; while the show swept the awards for best comedy at the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and the Emmys, there has been some suggestion that it would have fit much more comfortably in the Dramatic categories; its humour present but often second to its emotional reality and adrenaline. 

One of the show’s executive producers, Joanna Calo, visibly frustrated, said quite simply “I think it’s funny and stressful.” 

Best Supporting Actor winner Ebon Moss-Bachrach pointed out that the lines between comedy and drama are frequently becoming more blurred – raising the comic elements that were so crucial to Succession, the winner of Outstanding Drama Series. The cast and crew also frequently pointed out that the show’s half-hour run time meant that traditionally it would be placed amongst comedies; this distinction was enforced by the rules of the Emmys themselves until 2021. 

Categorisation now mainly depends on what showrunners submit the show for, but the legacy of time-based distinctions remains, and the show (in our opinion) does have the comic chops to qualify – frustrating though it may be to see more overtly comedic shows such as Abbot Elementary and Barry miss out. Ayo Edibiri, who won Outstanding Supporting Actress, is an established stand-up comedian, while Jeremy Allen White played a lead role in Shameless, a programme which similarly blurred the line, switching its categorization at the Emmys from drama to comedy three seasons into its run.

Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary), who became the first black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy since 1981, utilised her press room time to express admiration for many of the comedy heroes she had met over the course of the night. When asked if there were any shows she would particularly like to guest-star on, the former Buzzfeed star also mentioned her enjoyment of Jury Duty, prefacing it with an acceptance that she couldn’t guest star on it before changing her mind: “I don’t know, that guy didn’t know who James Marsden was so maybe I could!”

Other highlights included Paul Walter Hauser (Black-Bird, The Afterparty, Cobra Kai) plugging his rap alter-ego Signet Ringer (which currently has 70 monthly listeners on Spotify), Brian Cox (Succession) sitting off camera in jovial protest at having to speak to us, and the general bemusement of major stars at the technical difficulties posed by journalists asking questions virtually with terrible microphones, wildly varying volume levels and even wilder variations in sleep levels and coherence.

Jesse Armstrong and Mark Mylod provided fascinating insight into the writing process of Succession, particularly Connor’s Wedding (if you know you know), while Niecy Nash-Betts, winner of Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series – took the time to expand upon thanking herself in her acceptance speech, explaining “I’m the only one who knows what it cost me, I’m the only one who knows how many nights I cried because I couldn’t be seen for a certain type of role […] I believed in me […] I hope my speech was a delicious invitation for people to do just that.”

At a crisp ten to five in the morning, as the cast of Succession filed jubilantly out of shot after the last interview of the night and the 75th Emmys came to a close, three key thoughts stuck in the mind. 

The first of these was that the event had been an incredible celebration of the influence and joy of television: and a historic one at that, with this the first year that both Actress in a Comedy awards went to black women.

The second was that it had been an immense privilege to be a part of the process and contribute to coverage of the joy of such talented actors and showrunners at being formally recognised. 

And the third? That it was probably time to go to bed.