The 2017 Emmys took three steps forward, two steps back

Breaking down the show’s celebration of diversity, women and Sean Spicer

Image supplied by: Supplied via Wikipedia

The annual Emmy Awards bring around a night where television’s biggest stars get together and separate the great from the legendary. But behind the glitz and the glamour, the Emmys have given me some trust issues.

For years, the winning shows at the Emmys always seemed a little inaccessible to me. I like shows with fresh perspectives that explore uncharted television territory. For a while, it seemed the Emmys only rewarded stale voices preaching to the same choir in their fifth season — the Big Bang Theory and Downton Abbey’s of the world. 

This year’s awards ceremony could’ve easily doubled as a love letter to unsung heroes — the voices often relegated to the background now taking center stage. It was a massive step in the right direction, and the show made sure to tell us about it. However, this isn’t to say this year’s Emmys didn’t come with its downfalls. Here are some highlights and lowlights from Sunday’s ceremony:

Step forward: Diverse winners make history.

Donald Glover was the first black director to win an Emmy for directing a comedy. Lena Waithe was the first black woman to win for writing a comedy. Riz Ahmed was the first male actor of Asian descent to win an acting Emmy… ever. In an industry that has historically lacked diverse racial and cultural representation, having this positive recognition of shows and actors that break this typical mold in television is a great step forward.

Step backwards: Shamelessly celebrating diversity prematurely.

While I agree these record-breakers are worth celebrating, their unprecedented wins also serve to emphasize the overwhelming white and male presence in the TV industry. With this in mind, it might be a little too soon to air a literal montage commending diversity in the media, especially on a network (CBS) premiering six new shows starring six men and only one man of colour. 

Step forward: Women-centric stories sweep.

You would never guess from this year’s Emmys that women are still largely portrayed on TV as sidekicks to men. The Handmaid’s TaleBig Little Lies and Veep — shows dominated by women both in-front and behind the camera — all cleaned up in their respective categories. These three shows paint powerful narratives of independent women who are the heroes of their own story, and could swing right back at anyone who tries to take them down.

Step backwards: Supporting Sean Spicer’s image rehabilitation.

In case your Facebook friends aren’t as politically passionate as mine are, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer made a surprise appearance at this year’s Emmys in which he mocked his own exaggerations about the Inauguration attendance numbers. Considering this man straight-up lied to the American people on a regular basis, I’m not sure if he’s earned the ability to get in on the jokes we use to try and process America’s brokenness.

Step forward: Anna Chulmsky’s GIF-ed reaction to Sean Spicer.


While Sean Spicer’s appearance may not have been conducive to society’s well-being, this phenomenal GIF sums up the typical audience reaction to his presence and will be sure to serve our civilization’s meme needs until the end of time. Veep star Anna Chulmsky’s awestruck reaction showed on screen was a step forward because it verified the seemingly inappropriate nature of Spicer’s guest appearance.

Another year, another night full of awkward jokes and emotional speeches but this year’s Emmy Awards took some important steps forward.




Television Emmys

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