Despite a delayed show (the Emmys usually happen in September, but the WGA and SAG-ACTRA strikes led to the show getting pushed four months), the Emmy Awards ceremony was an appropriately frothy celebration of television.
The major story out of this year’s awards pertains to Beef, one of this year’s most-celebrated shows, which dominated the wins with major wins in acting, writing and directing categories. The televised awards ceremony also paid tribute to iconic TV shows in history with cast reunions that were suspiciously missing certain actors.
Here were some of the biggest moments from the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Asians once again slay on the red carpet
Asian stars, writers and directors attending the Emmys demonstrated real red carpet excellence. On our best dressed list: Young Mazino sporting the sexy but classy shirtless suit look, Padma Lakshmi in a chartreuse satin custom Marchesa Couture gown, Joel Kim Booster in a deep brown suit and Yellowjackets’ Courtney Eaton in a sheer black lacy Jason Wu dress.
Having swept at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, Beef continued their awards season domination by nabbing five wins out of their nine nominations. Among the wins were Steven Yeun’s for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series, creator Lee Sung Jin for directing and writing and the series won Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.
In his acceptance speech for Outstanding Limited Series, Lee gave a heartfelt thanks to those who “reached out about their own personal struggles.” He also talked about how working on the show, and the response to it, has been “life affirming”: “I think for some of us when we live in a world [that’s kept separate], you begin to think there’s no way anyone can ever understand you or like you or much less no potential at being loved. So the greatest joy of working on ‘Beef’ has truly been working with the folks up here who loved so unconditionally.”
Again, the David Choe controversy was ignored. (Read more here on what exactly happened). It’s exciting to watch Beef dominate these big awards shows, and take home so much hardware. But it’s also disappointing for a show about confronting the hard things just… not.
Ali Wong becomes the first Asian woman to win
Among Beef’s wins last night was Ali Wong’s historic win as the first Asian woman to win a leading actress Emmy—not just in this particular category, but in all leading actress categories. Upon accepting her award, Wong thanked her parents and two daughters. “I wouldn’t be standing here without my parents, my amazing parents. My mother and my father who I so wish was alive to share this moment with me. My hilarious father, who loved me unconditionally and taught me the value of failure. And to my beautiful daughters, Mari, Nikki. You are my everything and thank you for inspiring me; this is for you.”
As heartening as Wong’s win is, it’s a sobering reminder of how much progress is still to be made. Just as Quinta Brunson and Ayo Edibiri were the first two Black women to win in both the lead and supporting actress categories for comedy (in fact, Brunson is the first Black woman to win as a lead actress in a comedy in 40 years), it’s mind-boggling that in 75 years of the Emmys, not a single Asian woman has ever won as a lead—and shows how much work there is still to do.
Ke Huy Quan sparks joy
Ke Huy Quan took the stage last night with his Loki co-star Tom Hiddleston to present the award for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series. And, with his typical happy fun-loving uncle energy, exploded in excitement as he announced Lee Sung Jin’s name. We love to see a supportive and joyful king.
Asian castmates from iconic shows strangely missing
Throughout the broadcast, the Emmys celebrated some of TV’s most beloved shows by having cast members of the show present awards and talk about their program in front of a recreated set. Two of the shows honoured, Grey’s Anatomy and Ally McBeal, had some cast members missing, however: Sandra Oh (the iconic Dr. Christina Yang from Grey’s) and Lucy Liu (who played Ling Woo in Ally McBeal) didn’t appear alongside their castmates in their shows’ tributes.
Especially given how both these actresses portrayed some of the first, prominent mainstream female Asian American characters on American TV, it’s confusing why they were left out. The legacy of these shows aren’t just in how many Emmys they won, or how many people tuned in each week—these women and their characters helped shape how TV viewers thought of Asian women (sometimes in not great ways, especially in the case of Liu’s Ling Woo whose hypersexuality and calculating nature has been criticized for their reinforcement of tired stereotypes). That is the legacy of a long-running TV show and representation and it’s a shame to see two pivotal actresses not be included.