Emmys Review: Virtual Show Was a Surprising Triumph of Producing

Emmys Review: Virtual Show Was a Surprising Triumph of Producing

Opening this year’s Emmy Awards, host Jimmy Kimmel told the audience — the one at home, given that there was no one sitting before him in the stands of the Staples Center — that there were a great many moving parts in piecing together the ceremony. He asked, mordantly, “What could possibly go right?” It turns out: Quite a bit. Pieced together with just enough in the way of production value to feel nourishingly of the once-and-future world and with a happy willingness to indulge serendipity that felt brand-new, the first major awards ceremony of the COVID era was imperfect, and knew it. But it met its moment with elán, charm and a level of effort so profound as to seem effortless — the sort of thing live TV at its best, social distancing or no, has always done. That last point feels crucial to emphasize in part because it seems so likely to get lost: A massive passel of winners in various locations off-site were notified of their wins, handed Emmys (either by Hazmat-suited presenters meeting them where they were or automated cuckoo-clock-style boxes opening mechanically), and given the opportunity to speak, all of which went as well as it conceivably could have, give or take the participation of a few major nominees. The literal dispensation of awards went off seamlessly, and the requisite nods to the tension of the moment within the ceremony were done better than they often are. (Enlisting Americans affected by the COVID crisis in many ways, from a rancher to a ...
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