10 unforgettable moments from the 2020 Emmys
The virtual 2020 Emmys were unlike any awards show we've seen. All in all, Sunday's broadcast went pretty smoothly, considering that producers had to put on a show in which few of the nominees were in the same location. But boy, did a major awards show of its kind happening in the middle of a global pandemic make for some surreal sights.
From some big surprises to the bits that were just plain bizarre, here are the moments we'll never forget from the 2020 Emmys.
1. The weirdly chilling opening monologue
The opening of this mid-pandemic Emmys was so surreal, it felt like something straight out of The Twilight Zone.
The night kicked off with host Jimmy Kimmel delivering typical awards show zingers in a monologue as the producers cut to old footage from Emmys past to create the impression he was speaking to a packed, roaring audience. This continued for roughly five full minutes until the grand reveal came: Kimmel saw himself in the fake audience, only for the crowd footage to disappear and show that he was actually standing in an empty room the entire time.
Suddenly, the illusion that things were close to being back to normal all came crashing down, as it became clear once again that we're still living in a horrifyingly lonely reality. Television's biggest night, baby!
2. The jaw-dropping Schitt's sweep
Schitt's Creek was expected to fare well, but not this well. The show on Sunday unexpectedly won every single comedy award of the broadcast and took home the most Emmys for a single season of a comedy ever, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Not too shabby for a series that prior to this year had zero Emmy wins to its name.
What we might remember most of all from the grand Schitt's Creek sweep, though, was not only co-creator and star Dan Levy's increasingly overwhelmed reactions while at an in-person gathering of the cast, but also his apologies to viewers at home.
"Okay, the internet's about to turn on me," Levy said after winning the supporting actor Emmy. "I'm so sorry."
As Sandra Oh joked, "Dan Levy — a true Canadian, just apologized for winning!"
3. The hazmat suits
Thought the opening monologue was surreal? Get a load of this: Emmys being given to winners by people in hazmat suits.
I do also like the bonkers Emmy-delivering hazmat suits printed to look like tuxedos pic.twitter.com/10JmzgtG78
— Kathryn VanArendonk (@kvanaren) September 21, 2020
In fact, the most memorable moment of the Emmys may have not come from the show itself, but from Ramy Youssef's Twitter account, where he showed a video of what it apparently looked like when you lose: a person in a hazmat suit leaving your house with the Emmy you didn't win.
when you lose the emmy pic.twitter.com/ECkbGcoHBA
— ramy youssef (@ramy) September 21, 2020
4. John Oliver accepts an Emmy from a box
That wasn't the only weird way Emmys were delivered, as with some categories, producers evidently shipped nominees a box opened remotely at the winner's house — leading to a hilariously strange moment where John Oliver had to brace for a fake hand to suddenly pop out holding his prize.
"A decapitated hand gave me an Emmy out of a box and that's how I always dreamt it," Oliver later joked.
5. Randall Park presents an Emmy with an alpaca
To present an Emmy at one point during the show was … Randall Park, in person at the Staples Center, with an alpaca, making a pun about Al Pacino? It seems the Emmys producers were determined to ensure that wherever possible, the show left viewers wondering the next morning whether the entire thing was some strange dream.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 21, 2020
6. Uzo Aduba yells to her mom off camera that she won
Uzo Aduba accepted a well-deserved Emmy for Mrs. America, but this being a virtual show, after her name was read, she didn't rush up onto a stage as an audience went wild. Instead, while in the comfort of her own home, she yelled into the other room, "Mom, I won!"
7. Regina King and Damon Lindelof's Watchmen speeches
It was a great night for Watchmen, leading to some stirring speeches from star Regina King and creator Damon Lindelof. King took home a fourth Emmy while wearing a Breonna Taylor shirt, urging those watching to vote in November.
Later, Lindelof accepted the Limited Series prize for Watchmen, dedicating it to the victims and survivors of the 1921 Tulsa massacre.
"The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today," Lindelof said. "The only way to put them out is if we all fight them together."
8. Zendaya makes history with her surprise upset
Pundits weren't even certain that Euphoria star Zendaya would get nominated this year at all, so it was a big surprise when she ended up with the night's most significant upset, taking the lead drama actress prize and making history as the youngest winner in this category ever at 24-years-old. Zendaya herself appeared, well, euphoric.
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) September 21, 2020
In fact, with the help of this surprise Zendaya win, this year's Emmys set a new record for most wins for Black actors in one year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
9. The Friends reunion
Jennifer Aniston may have come up short on winning her first Emmy since Friends, but fans were still thrown a bone. After Aniston took part in a bit that saw her actually joining Kimmel in person and putting out a fire on stage (for sanitation purposes), she, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow had a surprise Friends reunion; Aniston's former co-stars showed up on her live feed to joke to Kimmel that "we live together" and have "been roommates since 1994." That HBO Max reunion may be repeatedly delayed for the rest of time, but hey, this was something.
10. Succession's phone call blooper
As expected, Succession snagged the top drama Emmy, though it wasn't as celebratory a moment as it would have been in a normal year, with creator Jesse Armstrong somberly noting that "it's very sad not to be with the cast and some of the crew to share it with you all tonight." And just moments after Armstrong remarked upon this highly unusual year, this observation was hammered home as his speech was interrupted by a phone loudly going off in the room, a blooper that clearly delighted Kieran Culkin.
The good news, though, is that repeat Emmy wins for Succession in future seasons seem inevitable, and by next time, maybe it can even happen in a packed crowd again. Fingers crossed.
Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.