No matter what they did on Monday night, the Emmys were bound to seem like old news. Bumped from the originally scheduled date of Sept. 18 and dropped into January because of the writers and actors strikes, the ceremony came at the end of a two-week stretch that had included the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics Choice Awards, both of which had already given awards to a lot of the people and shows that won at the Emmys.
And yet it didn’t really matter. The show, which celebrated the Emmys’ 75th anniversary, was itself a well-done tribute to nostalgia fueled by reunions of casts from “All in the Family” to “Cheers” to “Grey’s Anatomy” to “The Sopranos.” So what’s wrong with a little more looking back when the envelopes were opened?
Fox’s Emmy broadcast brought us the third acceptance speeches in eight days for “The Bear” leads Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri, for “Beef” stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong and for “Succession” actors Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook.
And it delivered those same three shows dominating the main categories for the third time in those eight days: “Succession” winning six out of seven categories in the drama series field, “The Bear” doing the same thing in comedy series and “Beef” taking five of seven in limited series.
When you throw in the fact that the Emmys were being given out for programs that aired between June 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023 – in other words, shows that aired a long time ago – old news was indeed the operative word for what took place on the stage of the Peacock Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
“Déjà vu all over again” has pretty much always been the modus operandi for Emmys voters. Television Academy voters are used to giving awards to people who’ve gotten them before, and for the most part that’s not a problem – and the fact that “Succession,” “The Bear” and “Beef” have piled up trophies in the first two weeks of 2024 might simply mean that Emmy voters agree with all the other voters that those were the best shows of 2023.
Still, the by-the-numbers nature of the winners meant that the show itself zipped along without any of the shocks or surprises on which awards shows often depend. The most delayed Emmys ceremony was also the most predictable one; out of the 26 categories handed out on Monday night, a grand total of one didn’t go to the preshow favorite.
The only surprise, and it was a mild one, came because the Television Academy decided to move “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” out of the talk series category and into the new scripted-variety category. The talk category was thrown into slight disarray with the departure of the show that had won the last seven years in a row, and opened the door for “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” to edge out the favored “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” for the win.
“Last Week Tonight,” on the other hand, moved into the new Scripted Variety Series category and proved to be the kryptonite to the Superman of “Saturday Night Live,” which had won for six consecutive years on its way to becoming the winningest show in Emmy history.
Another show that had to move, Mike White’s “The White Lotus,” didn’t fare as well. At the previous Emmy ceremony, which took place way back in September 2022, the show’s first season won five awards in the limited series categories, and another five at that year’s Creative Arts ceremonies. This year, it was moved into the more competitive drama series categories and had to go up against “Succession” and “The Last of Us”; it ended up with a single award for Jennifer Coolidge on Monday, plus another four at last week’s Creative Arts shows.
So you can call this a pleasantly predictable Emmys, one in which the show managed to be entertaining even though it traveled a well-worn path.
But we ought to sound a cautionary note about the Emmys ceremony that we’ll most likely see in September of this year, when the Television Academy will presumably return to its normal schedule with a smaller-than-usual, post-strike crop of contenders.
When “The Bear” won all those awards at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, the wins were for Season 2 of the series, which aired over the summer. But when it won its Emmys on Monday, they came for Season 1, because the second season didn’t begin until after the Emmy eligibility cutoff. (That first season, for the record, won Globes and Critics Choice Awards last January.)
Season 2, the one that won the awards from those other groups last week, will be eligible for the next Emmys.
So eight months from now, we might just see all those people back up on the Emmy stage again. And at that point, it might really seem like old news.