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73rd Primetime Emmy Awards embraces spirit of community, celebration

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards celebrated community and uplifting spirits. Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series was won by writers (left to right) Jen Statsky, Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs of HBO Max’s “Hacks.” The award was presented by the main cast of “Schitt’s Creek,” including Catherine O’Hara (right). (Courtesy of Phil McCarten/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

By Janice Yun

Sept. 19, 2021 10:04 p.m.

Kicking off the fall season in elegant black and gold, this year’s Emmy Awards brought an air of celebration to small screens far and wide.

Relocated from the usual Microsoft Theater venue for the second year in a row, this year’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards were held at the L.A. Live entertainment complex. Award show host Cedric the Entertainer began his opening monologue wearing a fluffy bathrobe in a living room before reappearing in a snazzy floral suit on the awards stage.

Following a warm and upbeat opening, he led the audience in a karaoke session of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” joined by celebrity guests like LL Cool J, Lil Dicky and Rita Wilson, along with the rest of the star-studded crowd. Attendees like Mandy Moore, Tracee Ellis Ross and Billy Porter bursted into song together, celebrating togetherness after a year of being apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scooping up categories left and right, the biggest winners of the night were “Ted Lasso,” “The Queen’s Gambit” and “The Crown,” as the shows won seven, eleven and eleven Emmys, respectively. “Ted Lasso” co-creator and actor Jason Sudeikis won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and said he dedicated the win to his colleagues behind the scenes.

“I would say that this show’s about family, this show is about mentors and teachers, this show is about teammates, and I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” Sudeikis said.

A familiar lineup of shows swept the categories with early awards like Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series both going to cast members of “Ted Lasso.” Similarly, Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie were won by Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters, respectively, both of whom starred in “Mare of Easttown.” Following this repetition, the next four categories were dominated by “The Crown,” garnering wins for its writing, directing and acting.

As for one of the most highly anticipated awards of the night, actress, dancer, director and producer Debbie Allen accepted the esteemed Governors Award, presented by Chairman and CEO of the Television Academy Frank Scherma. Joined by friends and colleagues, including Jada Pinkett Smith and fellow “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, Allen said she was grateful to celebrate her long journey of fighting and climbing her way up in the entertainment industry.

“Let this moment resonate with women across the world and across this country, from Texas to Afghanistan,” Allen said. “For young people who have no vote, who can’t even get a vaccine – they’re inheriting the world that we live in and where we lead them. It’s time for you to claim your power.”

Heartfelt and momentous acceptance speeches were balanced with comedy sketches led by Cedric the Entertainer, which took form in both live and pre-recorded skits featuring notable television stars like Zooey Deschanel and Alyson Hannigan. The show also made plenty of references to pop culture and the past year’s political climate, with nods to memorable Met Gala looks, TikTok dances and the California recall election. 

With many mentions of the world outside of television, other noteworthy winners gave reflective speeches on their craft. Writer and actress Michaela Coel, who won Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, prepared a written encouragement in her acceptance speech, which she said she dedicated to all writers. 

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” Coel said. “I dare you – in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success – do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”

Adding to the elevated emotions of the night, R&B and soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges gave a sentimental stripped-down performance of his song “River” in front of a memorial video, which paid homage to late figures in the television industry such as Larry King, Alex Trebek and Biz Markie.

Overall, the night was filled with plenty of humorous sketches, touching speeches from nominees and surprising guest stars who appeared both at the live event and in pre-recorded skits. After over a year of uncertainty for the television industry and world at large, the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards provided a space to celebrate casts and crews who trailblazed the art of television despite all odds. 

And for the first time in a long time, nominees could bask in the glow of the ceremony side by side.

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Janice Yun | Daily Bruin senior staff
Yun is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television editor from 2021-2022 and an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a fourth-year communication and Asian American studies student.
Yun is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television editor from 2021-2022 and an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a fourth-year communication and Asian American studies student.
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