Jennifer Aniston puts out a small fire as Jimmy Kimmel gets ready to open a now-sanitized award envelope during the Emmys. Credit: ABC.

Emmys 2020: Tuxedo Hazmat Suits, BLM and an Empty Staples Center

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The Emmys took place virtually last night, just like everything else these days. Celebrities, they’re just like us: confined to their (probably nicer) homes amid a global pandemic, raging wildfires and a general sense of dystopian malaise. At least we’ve got TV!

The Winners

TV’s big winner last night was Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek,” which swept categories including lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor and supporting actress in a comedy series, as well as the award for outstanding comedy series. In all, “Schitt’s Creek” won nine awards, the most ever won in a single season by a comedy. The series ended in April, so it was a fitting farewell for the beloved family comedy, though it had tough competition from “The Good Place” and “Insecure,” among others.

“Succession” took seven wins, including outstanding drama series as well as outstanding lead actor in a drama series for Jeremy Strong. The lead actress award went to Zendaya for her performance in “Euphoria,” while supporting actor went to Billy Crudup from “The Morning Show” and supporting actress to Julia Garner from “Ozark.” At 24 years old, Zendaya is the youngest person to ever win in her category.

“Watchmen” snatched up the outstanding limited series award, beating out “Unbelievable” and “Mrs. America.” Regina King won for lead actress and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for supporting actor. Notably, he was up against two other “Watchmen” actors, Jovan Adepo and Louis Gossett Jr. In total, the superhero drama took home 11 awards.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” took home the award for outstanding reality/competition series, while “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” won for outstanding variety talk series.

A complete list of winners is available here. The page lists all the nominees and places a little Emmys statuette next to each winner.

The Host

Jimmy Kimmel presented the show live from the Staples Center. He pondered why one would host the “Pand-Emmys,” as he called them, and then quipped, “But you know what else seems frivolous and unnecessary? Doing it every other year.” Though he admitted the Emmys were at least “fun,” which we could all use right now. Plus, “television is your friend,” he pointed out. (It’s true. I just watched 24 episodes of “Doom Patrol,” but haven’t seen my best friends in seven months.)

At the start of his opening monologue, footage from previous years was interspersed with Kimmel’s jokes, which made it seem as though an audience was present. But after telling a particularly spicy joke — “Isn’t ‘Watchmen’ also what Jerry Falwell, Jr. was into?” — Kimmel notices himself in the audience. After a moment of pretend confusion, he reveals that he’s just standing in a completely empty Staples Center.

The only audience members were cardboard cutouts of nominees and, for just a moment, a socially distant Jason Bateman, who was nominated for both “Ozark” and “The Outsider.”

But He Wasn’t Really Alone

A few people did drop by to interact from 6 or more feet away, including Jennifer Aniston — who had to put out a small trash can fire during a sanitization gag — Tracee Ellis Ross, Laverne Cox, Randall Park — alongside a very cute alpaca — and Anthony Carrigan, who seemed to be reprising his role as NoHo Hank in postal worker form. Anthony Anderson, who also presented in person, discussed how this would have been the Blackest Emmys ever and led Kimmel in a “Black Lives Matter” chant.

Some of the virtual presenters included teachers, delivery drivers and nurses from across the nation — as well as an astronaut on the International Space Station, which is extremely socially distant.

The Acceptance Speeches

Acceptance speeches took place throughout the world, depending on where the winner was stationed. The “Schitt’s Creek” team, for example, sat masked at socially distant tables in the same room, while others dropped in from their couches. Speeches included the usual breathless thank-you’s, but many also featured activism that mirrored the times.

Director Tyler Perry took home the Governors Award as the first Black person to ever receive the honor. In his speech, he recalled receiving a quilt from his grandmother when he was 19. At the time, he said he didn’t value it, but later, he saw a similar quilt in an antique shop. A worker told him a Black woman who was a former slave made the quilt, each patch representing a different part of her life. He then became embarrassed for not recognizing how precious his grandmother’s quilt was.

“I stand here tonight to say thank you to all of the people who are celebrating and know the value of every patch, and every story, and every color that makes up this quilt that is our business, this quilt that is our lives, this quilt that is America,” Perry said. “Because in my grandmother’s quilt, there are no patches that represented Black people on television. But in my quilt, her grandson is being celebrated by the Television Academy.”

Mark Ruffalo’s wife Sunrise Coigney’s unabashedly joyous reaction to his win for “I Know This Much is True” was a true delight. But Ruffalo also used his platform to encourage those with privilege to fight for those with less.

“We have a big, important moment ahead of us,” he said. “Are we going to be a country of division and hatred, a country only for a certain kind of people, or are we going to be one of love and strength and fighting [until] all of us have the American dream and the pursuit of life, and liberty and happiness in this great country of ours? That’s what we’re facing right now, so get out and vote, make a plan, and vote for love and compassion and kindness.”

The Fashion 

With no red carpet this year, celebrities donned everything from ball gowns and tuxes to T-shirts and maybe pants, we don’t know! John Oliver accepted his award from his vacant studio in a lovely Liverpool F.C. hoodie.

King wore a fuchsia pantsuit and a T-shirt that featured Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old woman who was shot and killed by Louisville officers in March. Uzo Aduba, who won for “Mrs. America,” also wore a T-shirt with Breonna Taylor’s name on it.

The Statues

This year, the Emmys had to be delivered in a more sterile fashion. Some came in boxes from which the Emmy and a burst of gold confetti exploded. Oliver won such a box while Samantha Bee, who lost to Oliver, received a difficult-to-open box containing a $28 bottle of champagne.

Some awards were delivered by presenters in hazmat tuxedos because everything is just totally fine right now. 

Because the awards were being announced live, presenters had to go to each nominee’s house. The funny thing about that is, if you didn’t win, you got to watch the presenter leave without giving you an award, as captured here by Ramy Youssef.

And here, by the “Insecure” team.

Los Angeleno