This Year’s Emmys Were Really All About Fleabag and Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The great irony of the Emmys is that for an event honouring the best television of the year, it often happens to be one of its blandest nights of TV. Last year’s event was hosted by SNL duo Michael Che and Colin Jost and flatlined its way to being the least-watched in Emmy’s history.
The year before that, Stephen Colbert brought former White House Press Secretary (and current Dancing With the Stars contestant) Sean Spicer out on stage, which went down like a lead balloon.
But this year, the event announced it would be going the Oscars route and forgoing hosts altogether. No more awkward opening monologue, stale Trump jokes or industry self-flattery about just how important acting is as a ‘craft’.
Though old habits clearly die hard, as this year’s event still opted for an opening number, this time starring Homer Simpson as a host. That segued into a fairly weird Bryan Cranston intro about how great television is because it allowed us to watch the moon landing 50 years ago and now it also allows us to watch Modern Family (because they’re pretty much the same thing).
“Television has never mattered more,” Cranston announced to the audience in an ominous baritone. “And television has never been this damn good!”
We get it. It’s the Emmys. Television!
Anyway, then it was time for the awards. And to be fair, there was a lot of very good television released this year. Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Killing Eve, Veep, Chernobyl, Succession. The list goes on.
It meant that not only were there so many worthy nominees, but there were also a lot of very competitive categories. But perhaps none more so than the battle of the double-barrelled surnames, with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge up against Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
It’s a role Louis-Dreyfus has won six times already and with Veep all done and dusted this year, it could have been a nice way to cap off the show’s run. But it wasn’t to be. Fleabag scooped four Emmys on the night with Waller-Bridge denying Louis-Dreyfus a final gong for the show, which actually happens to be quite an on-brand ending for Selena Meyer.
Besides Game of Thrones beating out Succession, Pose, Killing Eve, This Is Us and others for Best Drama Series, the yawnfest that is SNL winning Best Sketch Series, and a truly excruciating bit about TikTok by presenters Ken Jeong and Nick Cannon, the night was relatively free of controversy.
Other big winners were a very worth Peter Dinklage for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Barry’s Bill Hader for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Pose’s Billy Porter for Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and the fantastic Jharrel Jerome, who won for his performance in When They See Us, the powerful limited series about the treatment of the Central Park Five.
But this year was really all about Waller-Bridge. Which is to say that if you haven’t seen both seasons of Fleabag yet, you should do what everyone has probably already been telling you to do all year, and watch them immediately. But despite calls for a third series, Waller-Bridge made it clear she’s keen to move on.
“To be honest this just feels like the most beautiful, beautiful way to say goodbye to it,” she told reporters after the awards. “It does feel like the story is complete.”
It seems Cranston was probably right; television is damn good at the moment. And now with Emmy Awards for Best Comedy, Best Writing, Best Directing and Best Actress – and with a new HBO series Run currently in the works – it’s pretty clear that even without more Fleabag, Waller-Bridge is set to keep it that way for at least a few years to come.