Last night did not go well for the hosts, NBC or diversity. See why critics tore the 70th Primetime Emmys apart.
FX's critically acclaimed spy series "The Americans" never won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in its flawless six-year run, and "Killing Eve" star Sandra Oh did not make history as the first actress of Asian descent to take home the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. (But at least she made history simply by being nominated.)
Actually, even Oscars telecast director Glenn Weiss's successful proposal to his girlfriend got slammed by the ladies of "The View," so there was very little everyone could collectively delight in.
But before we get into all of the reasons critics hated this year's ceremony, a few exceptions to this generality: Henry Winkler finally winning an Emmy for his performance in HBO comedy "Barry," Regina King winning a trophy for her Netflix limited series "Seven Seconds," comedian Hannah Gadsby hilariously presenting an award to a winner who wasn't around to accept it, and a fun sketch handing out "reparation Emmys" to prominent black entertainers from the past.
The rest was generally met with a shrug, culminating in a landslide of bad reviews and news about all-time low ratings landing online Tuesday morning. Deadline reported only 10.172 million viewers tuned in -- an 11 percent decrease from last year, which also set a new low at the time.
"The real problem was simply a preponderance of bad ideas and feeble writing, typified by a recurring series of skits featuring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as bored and clueless Emmys 'experts' that set back the alt-comedy cause by decades," The New York Times critic Mike Hale wrote, also dinging the producers for having popular animated characters Rick and Morty ask "How do you think ‘Atlanta’’s doing?" after the FX comedy had lost in five of its six categories.
Vulture critic Jen Chaney described their performance as "more listless than I expected them to be" and complained they "somehow managed to suck the funny out of Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, which is a thing I did not think was possible."
"Every time two people walked out to present an award, I thought, 'Why didn’t they ask them to host this thing instead?'" Chaney continued. "Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan? Would have been better. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson? Also a stronger choice. Connie Britton and Eric Bana? Look, I don’t know if they have comedic chemistry, but I am willing to find out. Also, even though they didn’t present anything, I will sign any petition necessary to get Keri Russell, who was robbed of an Emmy for 'The Americans,' and Matthew Rhys, who was not, to co-host this sucker next year."
In one of the more brutal reviews, Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield described the show as "toothless, flaccid, cramped and tedious."
"What can you say about a show-biz gala where the highlight is Betty White picking up a lifetime achievement award? Or the guy who directed the Oscars dropping to his knees to ask his girlfriend to marry him? All you can really say is it was the Emmys —- now and always, the dorky underling of the glitzy award shows," he wrote. "Bumping it to a Monday night is just a polite way of saying 'Yeah, we got nothing' —- kind of like bringing in hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che to do agonizingly bland 'Weekend Update' schtick. 'Jesus Christ Superstar Live' might have turned John Legend into an EGOT winner, but not even he could raise this ceremony from the dead."
Hollywood Reporter critic Daniel Fienberg piled on the hosts, too, noting they "did a flat monologue and essentially vanished, confirming pre-show suspicions that the 'Weekend Update' anchors were ill-matched to the event."
He also thought the new format for handing out awards made for awkward presentations, which are normally opportunities for writers and performers to liven up the evening with short and sweet hits.
"For the most part, presenters were shoehorned in as part of a rarely attempted innovation in show structure. Categories were introduced and clips were played and then presenters came out. Getting clips in always benefits awards shows, and I'm sure there's some way that this improved show efficiency, but it left presenters doing banter between the reading of nominee names and the announcement of winners, a major momentum suck," Fienberg wrote. "When the presenters didn't have funny things to do, the result was both peculiar and awkward, like, why did they bother having Eric Bana come out onstage at all if he was just going to say "They make the news funny" and leave?"
Kevin Fallon's Daily Beast review was bluntly headline, "The Emmys Telecast Was a Cringe-Worthy, Tone-Deaf Embarrassment."
"From lackluster hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che to an unearned demand to be applauded for meager steps toward diversity and inclusion, this was the worst award show in years," the critic wrote at the top of his blistering review, criticizing the show for relishing in the Emmys most diverse and inclusive group of nominees ever, then making viewers wait 75 minutes for a person of color to win anything.
"It was a show that treated its progress in nomination diversity as a finish line, expecting the telecast to function as a victory lap, cheering for a job well done when it should have fired a starting gun for the work just getting started," Fallon wrote. "Most confusingly, however, is how the show opened with what was supposed to be a self-aware joke about the fallacy of that exact attitude, the one it then seemed intent on parading around like a proud peacock."
April Reign, the activist who sparked the #OscarSoWhite movement, also complained the Emmys weren't truly as diverse as the show was touting. Read her Twitter thoughts below, complete with fun GIFs and memes.
Let's talk a bit more about what "diversity" is and isn't, and whether that should be the goal. Last night, @TheEmmys Chairman/CEO Hayma Washington encouraged everyone to give themselves a round of applause for diversity. But... why? pic.twitter.com/wTzU9siKQh— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
We should start with the fact that @TheEmmys made history less than two years ago by making Hayma Washington the first.... THE FIRST.... Black Chairman & CEO. In 2016. But they want to be proud of their "diversity." pic.twitter.com/IG4vSi54FP— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
I also want to make clear to @theEmmys and anyone else who is under a mistaken impression, that "diversity" doesn't just mean "more Blacks." That was never the point of #OscarsSoWhite. I'm sure that wasn't the point of @JKCorden saying #EmmysSoWhite last night. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/z0rxgO9XXX— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
In other words, how many non-Black people of color do you remember during @TheEmmys last night? How many openly LGBT+ people? How many visibly disabled folks were part of the staff handing out awards? Right. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/ZztiEucJM0— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
I saw it described this way recently and really love it:— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
Diversity is inviting everyone to the party.
Equity is making sure tickets are of a manageable price to everyone invited.
Inclusion is asking folks to dance.
So... yeah. @TheEmmys were "diverse." But go further. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/3KyDVsD8io
If you can count on one hand the number of people from a particular marginalized community that were on @TheEmmys stage last night, and still have fingers left over? You're not doing enough. Especially w/ the shows on TV today. #Emmys <== Nor will this cutesy emoji do it. pic.twitter.com/gpMPjrixsF— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018
To tout "diversity" improvements, when I can only remember two AAPI presenters (Constance Wu and Sandra Oh), to literally have a song & dance routine when I can only remember two Latinx presenters (Gina Rodriguez & Benicio Del Toro), seems to have missed @Theemmys mark. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/q2hAxAILGM— April (@ReignOfApril) September 18, 2018