The Emmys Shouldn’t Pat Themselves on the Back For Being More Inclusive

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Last night marked the first Emmys since America elected Donald Trump as president, and despite the deeply embarrassing cameo from Trump’s former mouthpiece, the show and its winners actually managed to be legitimately inclusive in many ways. It was also the kind of diversity that makes for feel-good television for all the straight white people. Dawww.

There were plenty of groundbreaking moments. Donald Glover became the first black person to win Outstanding Directing for a Comedy (and later gave us the only truly good Trump joke of the night). Lena Waithe was the first black woman to win or even be nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. Riz Ahmed was the first Muslim and South Asian to win any Emmy acting award. Sterling K. Brown was the first black man to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in nearly 20 years.

And stories that focused on women won big. Black Mirror: San Junipero took home Outstanding Television Movie. Big Little Lies took home Outstanding Limited Series, and The Handmaid’s Tale won a string of awards, including Outstanding Drama Series. Of course, the men behind these female-driven shows were more often than not the ones to take the honor and credit for their work.


This being Hollywood, though, things can’t go one damn step in the right direction in acknowledging the hard work and success that women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized people have created for themselves without everyone patting each other on the back. In a bizarre and unnecessary moment, the show screened a short video on how they’re promoting diversity, which I feel is responsible for Sterling K. Brown getting cut off during his fantastic acceptance speech. We’ll know that things are where they should be when a truly inclusive set of winners—both in front of and behind the camera—is the norm rather than a milestone. Until then, Hollywood needs to stop congratulating itself.

Hopefully, television can keep up the momentum, and the recognition of women, people of color, queer people (and those who may be all three) won’t keep having to wait until the election of an actual white supremacist!