The 2017 Primetime Emmys: “The Handmaid’s Tale” surprise big night

Stephen Colbert hosted the 69th Annual Emmy Awards Sunday.

Diversity shines during Emmy telecast, but presentation showcases the worst of Hollywood 

The 69th Annual Emmy Awards took place Sunday night described as Hollywood’s annual self-congratulatory fest.

Oh wait, this takes also place during the Oscars, too. Whatever.

The event was televised live to all time zones with Stephen Colbert as host of the festivities. Among notable winners, Sterling K. Brown won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series for This Is Us, marking the first time an African-American won since Andre Braugher won in 1998 for Homicide: Life On The Street.

Another big winner is Lena Waithe – becoming the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None, with both sharing the honor. What makes this special – at least for yours truly – she is a South Side Chicago native.

The show who had the biggest night was indeed a big surprise: Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, hauling away a total of five Emmys, including one for Outstanding Drama Series – besting favorites such as This Is Us and Stranger Things. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Veep won for Outstanding Comedy Series, while John Oliver won a writing award and best late night series for the awesome Last Week Tonight.

And among streaming services, Hulu topped Netflix, five to four – all of them from Handmaid’s Tale alone.

To see the full list of winners, click here.

The Creative Arts Emmys took place a week earlier with HBO taking nineteen trophies home and Bob’s Burgers winning Outstanding Animated Series. To see a complete list of winners, click here for night one and here for night two.

As for the telecast, the presentation for the most part was lackluster. The opening sequence with Colbert and a cameo appearance from Chance The rapper was the major exception, but went downhill from there. There were a lot of shots at President Trump – 21 of them to be exact. That’s nice, but was expected since the nation’s leader is not a fan of Hollywood (and vice versa.)

Sean Spicer crashes the party via motorized podium. (ABC News)

The biggest buzz of the night was the surprise appearance of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, coming out on a motorized podium – similar to one Melissa McCarthy used (on SNL) parodying him (yours truly thought it was McCarthy when Spicer came out.) Yours truly didn’t know what to make of this – it was just bizarre. Reaction to Spicer’s appearance was overwhelmingly negative, with a few opposing tweets (“you’re normalizing bigotry!”) a little over-the-top. Colbert later starred in some Westwood skit I didn’t understand, or found funny. As for him as host – meh.

And the less said about announcer Jermaine Fowler, the better – even the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler would’ve been better. With absolutely no experience, his hire is a slap in the face to more deserving radio and voiceover artists everywhere in an industry where their jobs are already being phased out and replaced by imbeciles like Steve Harvey and Ryan Seacrest. Then again, we were fortunate neither one of those two were behind the mic.

And outside of the opening sequence or Waithe’s awesome victory, the best part of the Emmys: no anti-soda tax commercials aired. Leave it to Hollywood and the media industry to make even the Cook County Board look…at least competent.

The Emmy awards – which drew 11.4 million viewers and an all time-low of a 2.5 Nielsen adult demo rating – reminds yours truly of the atrocious 2013 Academy Award show hosted by Seth MacFarlane. And Spicer’s cameo was definitely ill-timed in this volatile culture climate. In an era of Big Media and media consolidation, it is the same stuff over and over again as ruthless media companies continue to cut jobs, cable and satellite companies continue to raise our bills, and viewers continue to bail on prime-time network television in droves. What is there to exactly celebrate in television (or in radio) these days? How streaming services are destroying the ecosystem? But hey, Hollywood celebrities get to laugh it up with Spicer while the media industry – and America – is heading down the toilet.

In a world where the public clamors for crap like American Idol, cable news, Eric & Kathy (until a few months ago), and Real Housewives of any city, state, zip code and/or province, the 2017 Emmy Awards presentation fits in just fine – even as it hands out trophies to programming meant to escape from this dreck.