The numbers are in and the 2019 Emmy Awards show slumped to the lowest ratings in many years. That’s a shame because there really was something for everyone – and maybe that’s the reason why, we don’t have as many of those moments where we all watch the same thing at the same time.
Heck, half of Sunday night’s winners weren’t even born when J.R. was shot or we said “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” to M*A*S*H in 1983. That’s the problem with award shows, they honor what has happened while trying to attract new viewers to the show.
But let’s start with some highlights: the big winner was the show Fleabag, a hilariously moving series on Amazon by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who took home three Emmys (best comedy, writing, acting) and HBO’s Game of Thrones won big, although it probably suffered from “How Can We Miss You If You Never Leave” syndrome. (Yes, we’re still mad that the last season was spread over three years.)
Billy Porter made history as the first, openly gay winner in the best actor in a drama category for his star-turn as Pray Tell in the FX drama Pose, about the New York City ball and underground club scene of the 1980s. Porter, who has gained a reputation for his red carpet appearances this year, did not disappoint in his fashion choices for the show or in his acceptance speech in which he quoted James Baldwin.
The Porter-directed production of The Purists is running at the Huntington Theatre Company until Oct. 6. The Tony Award-winning Porter has previously directed Topdog/Underdog and The Colored Museum at the Huntington.
Another standout was Michelle Williams, who took home the Emmy for lead actress in a limited series for her embodiment of Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Williams used her time on the stage (and with a world-wide audience) to call for pay equity, which she had on this project, and for producers to listen to their female actors.
“The next time a woman — and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said. “Believe her.”
Williams was another one who was on our “Best Dressed” list from her time on the carpet, which was purple this year. Williams was a show-stopper in a strapless Louis Vuitton gown, with stunning embroidered sequins, by Nicolas Ghesquière, which was accented by Fred Leighton jewelry.
One theme on that purple carpet was a dazzling array of light-blue gowns, with none shining brighter than Regina King (Watchmen) in a Jason Wu halter-neck gown that was remarkable for its color, a (very) high slit and raw hem. Also notable was Kristen Bell (The Good Place) in Dior.
There were some odd choices that also seemed to work like Nick Cannon and Niecy Nash both wearing turbans. And mega-supermodel Kendall Jenner wore a Richard Quinn gown with a latex turtleneck and oddly clashing floral-patterned skirt.
Holding down the purple carpet for Fox (the network host for this year’s Emmys) was Jenny McCarthy, who in Boston is known as the gal who keeps Donny Wahlberg in line and now cheers for the Red Sox. McCarthy’s interviewing style was a perfect match for the mishmash that was the entire Emmy season, light-enough to keep viewers interested, heavy-enough for the nominees and stars to take her seriously, and fun, which fit the whimsy of the TV show that honors TV shows. Plus, the girl knows her fashion.
Some other local ties included New Hampshire’s Sarah Silverman, who was nominated for her special I Love You America, noted that this year’s Emmy Awards didn’t have a host because “They don’t want comedians to talk.”
American Repertory Theater alum Cherry Jones won an Emmy for “outstanding guest actress in a drama series” for her portrayal of Holly in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. This is the second Emmy for Jones, who previously won – in the same category – for her role as President Taylor in 24. Styleboston’s Jan Saragoni interviewed Jones when she was in Cambridge for The Glass Menagerie.
Others with local accents, including fellow American Repertory Theater veteran Bryan Cranston (All The Way, for which he won a Tony Award), who “saved” the host-less Emmy show opening sequence and Tony Shaloub, an ART alum, who won his fourth Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series getting the first broadcast award of the night for his work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.