The production duo of Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner came close to saying something as funny as anything late night host Stephen Colbert could deliver during the 69th Emmy Awards telecast. The show directors attempted to downplay the social commentary expected to arrive from the stage Sunday night.
It was for good reason. They were hoping to stem the trend of declining ratings for the broadcast, which hit a record low last night 2 percent below last year’s audience numbers. (Because of Hurricane Irma those ratings, unlike last year’s, reflect the markets outside Florida.)
Ratings: Emmys Eye New All-Time Low https://t.co/yUjKxi14zw via @TVLine
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) September 18, 2017
In declaring there would be less topical content, you cannot help but be skeptical. “We’ve got some scripted bits, some pre-taped bits. He has provided a bunch of material which is not at all politically based,” claimed Weiss. There is a solid reason behind this preshow deflection. Earlier this year the Academy Awards took a decidedly political slant, and it led to a drop in the ratings, the lowest in a decade.
That Colbert would end up delivering numerous barbs towards President Trump and the GOP throughout the night was a foregone conclusion. The host mentioned Trump being nominated numerous times for an Emmy yet never winning as a motivator for him to become president. Then there was this weak barb: “Everyone likes streaming video — just ask Ted Cruz!”
That the Right would be targeted at an awards show is not at all surprising. It is rather amazing, though, there could be no material found to skewer Democrats.
Colbert Was Only Reflecting the Awards
Even had the producers been successful in reining in Colbert, the political tone of the show would hardly have been reduced. The shows awarded easily transmit the feel of the room. Political commentary or making political statements was the driving force, and that is beyond the big wins for HBO’s “Veep” and actors’ speeches referencing Trump. The other shows receiving multiple accolades were “Saturday Night Live” and the Hulu series getting massive media traction, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
SNL completed a rather tepid year, one I covered weekly. The writing was little more than touching on the surface of the Trump administration. There was little in the form of insightful commentary or biting satire; mostly it was a regurgitation of the previous week’s events. This effort was all the show needed, however, as SNL received a significant ratings spike following the Trump election.
The show also was further encouraged with numerous Emmy nominations, and it won nine times in total, including three acting trophies, direction, and Best Variety Series. In accepting her trophy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Kate McKinnon (who delivered that infamous mawkish rendition of “Hallelujah” after the election) thanked Hillary Clinton for her “grace and grit.” I guess Kate has missed Hillary’s current Blame Tour and book pairing the best whines with an election loss.
In similar fashion, all of the late-night talk shows were acknowledged in numerous categories, with one glaring omission. Jimmy Fallon and “The Tonight Show” could not be found. This is clearly a sign Fallon is still reeling from the industry backlash he received when he hosted candidate Trump on his show last October. His brief six-minute segment, during which he was polite to the reviled Republican, is still causing tremors in Hollywood, it seems.
The Ironies Were Unintended
On the dramatic side, the big winner of the night was of little surprise. Since its debut on Hulu, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become a socio-political touchstone for many on the Left. This series has been held up as an object lesson, a dire warning for what could be in store in our nation’s foreseeable future. More than that, the self-important set has declared this show’s central premise of women becoming subjugated by an oppressive Christian leadership to be a bona fide doctrine held by Republicans in today’s America.
The idiocy behind this abounds. While hurling the accusation that conservatives “believe” and “follow” this line of thinking, those in Hollywood, and on the Left in general who hew to this belief, ignore some basic truths. For starters, it’s a work of fiction! This niggling detail seems lost on those wishing to make a trenchant social point.
Further, the show is based upon the novel of the same name. It was written by Margaret Atwood, a Canadian feminist who delivered this piece of cultural agitprop as a treatise against the United States and religious fundamentalism. For anyone to ascribe this 30-year-old leftist nightmare scenario as a working document for contemporary conservatives is beyond mere political projection, it is sophomoric argumentation by ascribing feared yet unknown motivations in a prejudicial fashion.
Imagine if conservatives accused all liberals of wanting a forced extermination program, as displayed in “Logan’s Run,” based on the fears of global overpopulation. To walk around and declare that sci-fi dystopian narrative was actually the working agenda of Democrats would result in being laughed out of whatever discussion was taking place. Yet somehow Atwood’s fantasy of male oppression is not only accepted but reinforced in media circles.
To see the level of obliviousness at play with this show, let us look at lead actress Elisabeth Moss. She was awarded the Emmy for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series. As Hollywood hailed her portrayal of a woman under religious duress, they had to ignore a rather stark detail. Moss is an avowed Scientologist. For her to portray and be celebrated for portraying religious fundamentalist oppression cuts slightly deeper than irony.