The highs and lows of the 2021 Emmy Awards

View of the atmosphere during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) (Rich Fury, 2021 Getty Images)

It was TV’s biggest night on Sunday as the Emmy Awards took place, and it finally felt like the first awards show since the pandemic started that didn’t totally seem like it was happening during a global pandemic.

With a year of fantastic TV shows, this year’s categories were stacked with insane talent, but of course, only one person could win per category.

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So without further ado, here were the highs and lows from this year’s Emmy ceremony.

HIGH: At least the show started on a high. The host, Cedric the Entertainer, decided to pay homage to the late Biz Markie with a spoof of his hit “Just a Friend.” It was like a fever dream of random celebrities rapping, and hilarious audience shots. It was wacky and weird, but that’s what you love to see during the Emmys.

HIGH: Seth Rogen gave away the first award of the night, and took his time to call out how the award show wasn’t very COVID-friendly. It didn’t look like any of the attendees were wearing masks, and Rogen thought the ceremony was happening outside, and not inside a covered tent. He made it funny while still calling out the show.

HIGH: “Ted Lasso” wins! Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein of “Ted Lasso” won the first two awards of the night, and their pure excitement and glee was a great start to the night.

LOW: Cedric the Entertainer as the host. His opening monologue was funny, but it got pretty bleak after that. The little sketches that were pre-recorded for the broadcast just never worked. We could have cut so much time from the broadcast if these little bits didn’t exist.

LOW: Some of the presenters. Because it was CBS that broadcasted this year’s show, it seemed like the network made sure to have the presenters be celebrities that are on CBS shows. While we respect the product placement, a lot of these presenters were ... a little boring.

HIGH: But then, some presenters truly stole the show. From “SNL’s” Bowen Yang to Jennifer Coolidge, Amy Poehler and the cast of “Schitt’s Creek,” when funny people present awards, you usually end up with a pretty good bit that will get some laughs.

HIGH: Jean Smart wins Best Actress in a Comedy. Just when it felt like “Ted Lasso” was going to take all the comedy awards, Smart and the “Hacks” creators won three Emmys and stopped “Ted Lasso” from lassoing the awards entirely. The standing ovation that Smart received when she won was truly icing on the cake.

LOW: “The Crown” sweeping the drama categories. It’s not that “The Crown” isn’t good, but it’s just kind of boring when people from the same show win all the awards. Plus, they were all mostly in England and not in L.A. for the ceremony. Props to them for staying up into the wee hours of the morning, though!

LOW: The man who won Best Directing for a Drama Series decided he wasn’t going to listen to the orchestra music during his speech, and he ignored the music four times. It would be different if his speech was actually good, but no, it was dull. The audacity he had to just ignore the “wrap it up” cues -- truly astounding.

HIGH: Michaela Coel! The creator and star of HBO’s “I May Destroy You” won a well-deserved writing award and kept her speech short, thoughtful and emotional. She dedicated it to all the victims of sexual assault in the world.

HIGH: Kate Winslet! It’s not very often we get to see Winslet at the Emmys, but the actress won for her leading role in HBO’s “Mare of Easttown,” which truly was one of the TV events of the year.

LOW: It is the year 2021 and “Hamilton” is still winning awards. We love “Hamilton,” but this was an insane win.

HIGH: Conan O’Brien! No one was funnier at this year’s Emmys, and he didn’t even present an award. Just his presence was hilarious. It seemed that O’Brien was determined to have the most fun on Sunday night, and whenever the camera cut to him in the audience, he just looked so funny. At one point, while some man was giving a serious speech, O’Brien was the only person standing in the room and he was saluting toward the stage. When the camera cut to him, everyone around him was dying of laughter. The best part was when Stephen Colbert and his show won an award later on, and O’Brien decided to join them on stage and just giggle. He was the MVP of the night, hands down.

HIGH: If there is anything the Emmys should continue to do in the future, it’s have the guests at tables, just like how the Golden Globes does it. It made the vibe way more relaxed, and the celebrities in attendance looked like they were having way more fun. Keep it this way, Emmys!

LOW: This was a long show! Skip the pre-recorded unfunny sketches, book more funny people to present awards, and we could have had this show done in 2 1/2 hours.

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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