The Emmys spotlight television, see activism from celebrities

Peter Dinklage, won his fourth Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for “Game of Thrones,” Sunday at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards.

By Jamie O'Toole, Columnist

The 71st Emmy Awards premiered at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Like last year’s Emmy Award Show, no one hosted this year, but there were a variety of award presenters, including the casts of “Veep,” “Game of Thrones,” “Empire” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” 

Talk show hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert acknowledged the lack of a host in a comedic way. “How’s the whole ‘no host thing’ going?” Colbert asked. “What a dumb idea,” Kimmel said. “You know what has a host? Applebee’s has a host.” 

“You know who else didn’t have a host? The Titanic. And look what happened to them,” Kimmel said. The audience roared in laughter. 

Having presenters, however, allowed for more appearances and jokes from an array of celebrities who did not win awards. 

The stars that did win used their spotlight as an opportunity to share issues sweeping the world today. Alex Borstein, who won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” dedicated her award to the strength of a woman. 

Her grandmother, an immigrant and Holocaust survivor, was in line to be shot in a pit by German soldiers. “She asked the guard, ‘what happens if I step out of line?’ He said ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you but somebody will.’ So she stepped out of line and for that she is here. For that her children are here,” said Borstein. “So step out of line, ladies.”

Drag queen RuPaul, winner of the Outstanding Reality Show Award, advised viewers to register to vote for the 2020 election. “Go and register to vote, vote, vote,” they said.

For actress Patricia Arquette, who won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in the Hulu original series “The Act,” this was a very emotional moment. Despite being a successful show and her having an honorable piece of metal in her hand, she acknowledged the sadness in her heart. 

“I will mourn until trans people are not persecuted and given jobs. They’re human beings, give them jobs. Let’s get rid of this bias we have everywhere.”

She lost her sister Alexis Arquette in 2016 to HIV/AIDS, and she wishes trans people weren’t still being persecuted.

Another successful limited series, Netflix original “When They See Us,” reveled in its well deserved spotlight. Jharrel Jerome won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for his role in “When They See Us,” and brought his fellow cast members and other actors of color to tears. 

“This is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Men,” Jerome said; the black and latino teenagers from Harlem who inspired the show were wrongly convicted of a 1989 crime because of their race. The five Exonerated Men stood up in unison, with their fists up and tears streaming down their faces. 

Although starring in films and television shows seems respectable, it can be less than glamorous, especially for women, according to Michelle Williams, who won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in “Fosse/Verdon.” 

“A woman, and especially a woman of color, stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterparts,” she said. She believes it’s important to give a woman what she needs to do her job, “because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her work place environment and not in spite of it.”

With its ending this year, “Game of Thrones” received several awards. Viola Davis graciously entered the stage in a simple yet elegant half black, half white dress dramatically explaining what drama truly means. 

When a script becomes a vision, that vision becomes a reality. “Painted, dressed, and brought to life. When these elements fall into place, it’s impossible to look away. And that is drama,” she said. 

Davis announced Peter Dinklage from “Game of Thrones” as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Tyrion Lannister. He set the record with his fourth Emmy for a supporting actor.

Other shows, including “Gotham,” “House of Cards,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Broad City” and “The Big Bang Theory,” said goodbye this year.  

Billie Porter, who won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role in “Pose,” encapsulated the impact of an actor’s role in viewers’ daily life. 

“We, as artists, are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the heart and minds of the people on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth,” he said. 

“Fleabag” turned out to be the night’s big winner, receiving the awards for Outstanding Comedy series, Outstanding Lead Actress (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Harry Bradbeer). Up against other successful shows such as “Veep” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” this came as a surprise for viewers and the talented amateurs who made the show possible.