The 2022 Emmy Awards aired on September 12, 2022, and the results were surprisingly …unsurprising? Bar a few categories, the show followed a fairly repetitive pattern with the major awards being doled out to about the same people as last year, much to the chagrin of its viewers.
Hosted by Saturday Night Live alum Kenan Thompson, the show returned to its full capacity for the first time since 2019 and is still struggling to return to its full glory. Gone are the days of meticulously planned skits with TV’s biggest shows and their casts involved or carefully choreographed musical numbers by the more musically trained hosts.
Thompson attempted, to the best of his ability, to add charm to the show, adding some levity and well timed jokes, but it was almost as if the Academy has lost its interest in the small screen, as the focus on TV and its grandeur seems completely amiss in the show. And that sentiment seems extended to the actual award ceremony itself as well.
In a year where several innovative TV shows, such as Apple TV’s psychological sci-fi thriller Severance and Showtime’s darkly twisted horror drama Yellowjackets, have been lauded for their newer and more innovative forms of storytelling, they have been pretty much barred from the awards with the former going home with zero wins despite being a fan favorite in the Directing category.
This indifference to the new followed its way to the famed Best Comedy award, widely known for being monopolized by a few shows every year, like HBO’s Veep with its 5-year long Emmys winning streak.
With both Jason Sudeikis and his Apple TV show, Ted Lasso, winning big awards, including Best Actor in Comedy Series and Best Comedy over shows like HBO’s critically acclaimed Barry or FX’s What we do in the Shadows, the section seemed to follow the same pattern, only broken by the pleasantly surprising win by Sheryl Lee Ralph for Best Supporting Actress — Comedy, as she is only the 2nd Black woman to win in the category. Winning for ABC’s Abbott Elementary, the veteran actor’s joy on stage was infectious as she burst into a rendition of Endangered Species by Dianne Reeves.
Internet darling and one of Buzzfeed’s most popular alumni, Quinta Brunson, also won Best Writing in a Comedy for Abbott Elementary. This was a milestone moment for the return of broadcast television into the Emmys as well as the larger online community who grew up watching her internet and media presence expand over the years.
Other surprise upsets include Lee Jung-Jae taking home the Best Actor award for his role in Netflix’s smash hit Squid Game, beating out strong contenders including Jeremy Strong from HBO’s Succession, who took home the award last year, and Lizzo dethroning Ru Paul’s Drag Race from the Best Reality Contest award with her glamorous reality show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.
Aside from this handful of surprises, the show ended up following a deeply monotonous and routined set of wins and losses. AMC’s Better Call Saul continued its series of losses this year despite being one of the more favored shows, particularly for Rhea Seehorn’s Best Supporting Actress nomination and HBO’s The White Lotus nabbing the entire Limited or Anthology Series category.
The show closed out with HBO’s Succession taking home Best Drama for its highly critically acclaimed season. Despite having some of the most varied shows in the nominations this season, most fans of the awards circuit were left with a mildly bitter taste in their mouth due to the sheer lack of creativity and originality punctuated by a poorly managed show of its own.
Many were baffled by weird creative choices such as the musical introductions being done to mostly 2010’s Pop Music by DJ Zedd and a very off-putting opening number which seems to have been “made for the pre-pandemic Emmys,” as many fans have commented.
Perhaps what highlights the dissatisfaction the most is the fact that the award show was down 25% from last year in total viewers and hit a new record low in ratings. The Monday night award ceremony drew in about 5.9 million viewers this year as compared to last year’s 7.9 million viewership.
This seems indicative of the fact that for many, the award ceremony that is supposed to be the biggest night for creative television has become a reminder of the failings of awards and their judges as a whole. And as time passes on, we begin to reflect on the need for the Emmy Awards and whether they too need to find an end akin to that of a longstanding show that overstayed its welcome.