Viewers might have glanced, occasionally, at their Apple watches, but only because HOLY COW, THAT’S AN APPLE WATCH! and not to see why this was taking so long.
It was, in short (ended right at 11, too, giving everyone time to get that thinkpiece in and still get rested for the pope) a good evening.
This is seldom something that you say of an awards show. “Watchable awards show” is usually, like “Facebook privacy,” an oxymoron.
The job of awards show hosts is thankless. You are supposed to be delightful, not memorable. You do a good job, no one notices. You do a bad job, and everyone buzzes about you for days. (I’M STILL LOOKING AT YOU, SETH MACFARLANE!) So, for the record: Andy, we noticed that you did a good job! And we appreciated it!
The essence of politeness is the same as the essence of hosting an awards show: not outstaying your welcome.
Just to add to the discussion of comedy, censorship and thin skins. Hey, look! It is possible to be both polite and self-aware and funny! Even if you’re a man in a suit hosting an awards show! It’s tricky, sure. But not impossible, by a long shot. Ham-fisted efforts to be “edgy” are not the only way to go!
Samberg’s opening monologue included a reference to Dagwood Bumstead, for crying out loud. Dagwood Bumstead, from the comics pages! His opening song included Javert! (The presence of Javert is always a sign that you are going to have a good time, or be arrested for bread thievery.)
Samberg and his writers deserve credit. (Hooray, Scott Aukerman, Neil Campbell, David Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Jon Macks, Mitch Marchand, Lauren McGuire, Jennifer Mischer, Joe Saunders, and Chris Spencer! If you are ever in this neck of the woods, I will buy you a big tureen of champagne!)
Sure, every so often there was a limper bit (and your mileage may vary on puns like “all of/Olive Kitteridge”) but you had someone like Gina Rodriguez delivering it so that you could not tell.
And introducing some of the awards were the Ghost of Hosts Past, as if to remind you of the horrible fate that could have befallen you. Jimmy Kimmel ate an award envelope. Ricky Gervais grabbed an Emmy and faked tears. Even this was charming, in its way, because you knew you would not have to endure a whole night of it. Anything can amuse you for two minutes, except possibly [INSERT NAME OF PERSON HERE, CRACK TEAM OF SAMBERG WRITERS!].
In short, Samberg got out of the way and let the real stars of the evening shine. And TV is rife with stars this year.
(And what else is there but TV? What are movies for, nowadays, other than to introduce you to Marvel’s deep back-catalog, or, around about awards season, to force you to watch a pasty man squint at a Very Important Machine while his Woman stands next to him in a nice shirt asking Why He Must Do the Brave Thing? TV is where you meet people who are recognizably people, people with whom you are willing to spend your time — either once a week, or in intense hours-long bursts.)
The theme of Sunday’s awards was that if you give people the chance, they will make incredible things. Viola Davis, winner for “How to Get Away With Murder,” delivered a tremendous speech to this effect. She said it better than any summary will.
‘In my mind, I see a line, and over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s… Let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.
This was, justly, the buzzy moment of the evening. It got to be the moment of the evening because no one did anything asinine like put Sofia Vergara on a turntable.