For a while, it looked like the no-host Emmys might actually work.
There was a brilliant bit with Ben Stiller and Bob Newhart. There were funny moments from Anthony Anderson and from three people who should have hosted – Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. The show was fast and funny and …
Then it skidded to a stop, reminding us why hosts are crucial. Sure, there were a few great moments, including the acceptance speech of Michelle Williams, a winner in the “Fosse/Verdon” mini-series; more often, people drably thanked their agents and such.
The show’s early part was easy, because it was about comedy. Once things switched to drama, the drab droning took over. That’s when we needed to be rescued by a host.
Yes, there were stirring exceptions throughout the show. Alex Borstein told of her grandmother stepping out of line en route to the gas chamber. Williams talked passionately about women. Jharrel Jerome introduced the men who were exonerated, after spending years in prison, falsely convicted of the “Central Park jogger” rape.
Patricia Arquette spoke about her sister Alexis, who died three years ago (at 47, after complications from AIDS), after facing biases during her transition to female.
It was a sobering moment …. soon followed by the triumphant arrival of Billy Porter, who is openly gay, a Tony-winner and now an Emmy winner for “Pose,” a show that has trans stars and producers.
In moments like that, the Emmycast had real substance. In some early moments, it had real humor. In between … it often had people thanking their agents.