Emmys 2022 Highs and Lows: Kimmel faces backlash while others are praised for powerful acceptance speeches
There were a lot of standing ovations throughout the night during the 74th Emmy Awards — for incredible moments like Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph’s powerful speech, in which she belted out a song, and when actress Selma Blair took the stage to present the award for Outstanding Drama Series. But one A-lister spent part of the night lying down — and not without controversy.
When actor Will Arnett and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel came onstage to announce the winner for Best Writing in a Comedy Series, they did so with Arnett dragging Kimmel out by his ankles as he lay on his back — a comedy stunt about how Kimmel reacted so poorly to losing his Emmy nomination earlier in the evening (one of many times that’s happened over the years) that he hit the "skinny margaritas" backstage and drank himself into a stupor. But when Arnett then announced the winner — Abbott Elementary creator and writer Quinta Brunson — and she took the stage, Kimmel remained sprawled out next to her.
"Jimmy, wake up. I won. Jimmy?" Brunson said. Kimmel, committed to his bit, lay right at the base of the mic stand throughout her entire acceptance speech.
Brunson proceeded to give her acceptance speech and later told the press backstage that it did not ruffle her feathers. "I don’t know. I know Jimmy Kimmel. The bit didn’t bother me that much. I don’t know what the internet thinks. Honestly, Jimmy gave me my first big late night spot, he was one of the first people to see Abbott. He was the first person to message me on Instagram … he was so excited it was going to be on ABC. So I think in that moment I was just really happy that it it was Jimmy up there … he’s one of the comedy godfathers. So, I don’t know," she said, adding, "Tomorrow maybe I’ll be mad at him. I’m going to be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face. We’ll see what happens."
Plenty of viewers knew exactly how they felt, though, and took to Twitter on Monday night with scathing tweets about Kimmel’s behavior:
Other winners did not have to accept their awards with a passed-out human at their feet. In fact, the night was filled with some very powerful and emotional speeches. Here is Yahoo Entertainment’s guide to the highs, lows and head-scratchers of this year’s Emmy Awards.
HEAD-SCRATCHER: Kenan Thompson’s opening dance to remixed versions of beloved TV theme songs
Last year’s first Emmys held back in person post-COVID opened with Cedric the Entertainer enlisting LL Cool J, Dave "Lil Dicky" Burd and Rita Wilson to do a TV-themed version of the 1989 favorite "Just a Friend."
While Thompson didn’t bust out his vocal skills, he did bust out some moves as he danced to some of the best TV theme songs from Friends, The Brady Bunch, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, leaving plenty of viewers to ask why Thompson decided to remix the beloved Friends theme song. Still, others were thoroughly entertained.
HIGH: Sheryl Lee Ralph belting out a song before delivering an epic speech
When the Abbott Elementary star took the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the first thing that came out of her mouth was a song, powerfully delivered: Dianne Reeves’s 1993 "Endangered Species."
"I am an endangered species/ But I sing no victim’s song/ I am a woman, I am an artist/ and I know where my voice belongs," belted Ralph, who then launched into an impassioned speech as she stated, "To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your treatment wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like. This is what striving looks like and don’t you ever, ever give up on you, because if you get a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you get a husband like mine in your corner, if you get children like mine in your corner, and if you’ve got friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, loved me. Thank you."
Viewers appeared blown away by Ralph’s moment, with some calling it "the best acceptance speech of all time."
HIGH: More powerful and emotional acceptance speeches from Lizzo and Zendaya
Pop star Lizzo, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program for Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, teared up as she shared, "First of all, I’m very emotional, and the trophy is nice but my emotion is for these people who are on the stage with me. The stories that they shared, they’re not that unique, they just don’t get the platform telling stories. Let’s just tell more stories. When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me."
Later in the night, Zendaya won her second Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her performance in Season 2 of Euphoria, and eloquently shared, "My greatest wish for Euphoria was that it could help heal people and I just want to say thank you to everyone who shared their story with me. I want you to know that anyone who has loved a Rue, or feels like you are a Rue, I want you to know that I am so grateful for your stories and I carry them with me and carry them with her. Thank you so much."
LOW: Winners’ speeches being abruptly cut off
A few of the winners pointed out how once they hit the stage they only had 30 seconds to give their acceptance speech, but when The White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge accepted her award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie, the veteran actress was cut off by not one but two walk-off tunes. "Wait. Hold on. Wait. Hold on. Wait, hold on… okay," said Coolidge as she ultimately accepted her cut off and hilariously started dancing to the upbeat song telling her to wrap it up.
The audience laughed and cheered as Coolidge was, well, Coolidge.
HIGH: So many fun, surprise cameos!
While most of the night’s presenters were announced ahead of time, a few A-listers surprised the audience Monday night — including the Queen of Media herself, Oprah Winfrey, who presented the Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie award to Michael Keaton for Dopesick; former Voice judge and music superstar Kelly Clarkson, who presented Zendaya with her award; Selma Blair, who presented the big award of the night — Outstanding Drama Series — to Succession; and former SNL comedian Pete Davidson, who made his first big public appearance since his split from Kim Kardashian.
Davidson provided some laughs before presenting the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to Ted Lasso, when he took the time to praise his former SNL cast member Kenan Thompson and joked, "This is just like SNL because Kenan is doing all the work, and I’m refusing to say what the writers want."
But one of the most surprising cameos of the night came during the Good Burger reunion between Thompson and his former co-star Kel Mitchell, likely to promote a possible Good Burger 2 sequel, which Thompson recently teased.
Watch ‘Abbott Elementary’ star Sheryl Lee Ralph belting out her emotional Emmy acceptance speech:
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