The Biggest Takeaways From the 2022 Emmys

Zendaya took home her second Emmy, Sheryl Lee Ralph gave a heartfelt speech, Quinta Brunson won, and more. Here are the biggest moments from this year's Emmys.

What Happened at the 2022 Emmys

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What Happened at the 2022 Emmys

The Emmys are usually one of the least popular of all the award shows, but this year, the Television Academy put in some effort to make it a tad more exciting. 

For starters, Black women in Hollywood had a fantastic night. Zendaya, Quinta Brunson, Lizzo and Sheryl Lee Ralph all walked away with much-deserved trophies. To follow that, Squid Game made history with various wins for Netflix, breaking language barriers and giving other non-English TV shows an opportunity to do the same going forward. Kenan Thompson was also a highlight as the host, especially with the Kel Mitchell reunion. Sure, the award show wasn’t perfect. There were some misses like Ted Lasso beating out Abbott Elementary in the Best Comedy category, Better Call Saul going home empty-handed and Jimmy Kimmel almost sullying Brunson’s big night.

TV seems to be doing strides in terms of diversity and advancement, and we can only hope that continues, especially when it comes to awards. TV is also at such a high point and there are so many award-worthy shows currently on the air and on streaming that give fans and the Television Academy voters plenty to choose from, and makes the competition even tougher for the stars and creators. The Emmys are a celebration of the high-quality entertainment we get to watch on the small screen, so here are some of the best and most standout moments from last night’s 74th Primetime Emmy Awards

Zendaya Makes History, Again

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If you were at all surprised about Zendaya winning in the Lead Actress in a Drama category, then you must have slept your way through Euphoria Season 2. Her performance in the second season’s fifth episode “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” solidified that she would be walking away with yet another trophy after winning in the same category for Season 1. Zendaya is the now and the future, and there is no telling how far she will go.

At 26, she is already breaking barriers and records, and with this year’s win, she becomes the first Black woman to win twice in this category and is still the youngest two-time winner of any Emmy in history. She is one of those actresses that makes you excited to watch as she continues to ascend in Hollywood, and this is truly just the beginning. 

Quinta Brunson Got Her Well-Deserved Emmy

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Absolutely no one has had a more inspiring career trajectory than Quinta Brunson in the last decade. Watching her journey from being a meme girl to an Internet star to a book author and now the showrunner and creator of Abbott Elementary has been remarkable. Her name being called in the Best Writing for a Comedy Series category was just the missing piece to making her an all-around success story. Her moment may have been overshadowed by Jimmy Kimmel laying on the ground as she accepted the award, but she remained as gracious as ever while giving her speech. The comedy will be back next week, and hopefully, Season 2 will give Ted Lasso a run for its money next year in the Best Comedy category. 

No One Had a Better Night Than Sheryl Lee Ralph

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Sheryl Lee Ralph did it. The actress, whose career spans decades, took home the trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary. As if the video of the moment she learned she was nominated wasn’t motivating enough, Ralph got on stage and gave one of the most mesmerizing and moving acceptance speeches I’ve heard in a really long time. (I keep a running list of my favorite award show acceptance speeches and this is high up there right next to Kanye West’s at the 2005 Grammys.) 

She kicked it off by singing the powerful Dianne Reeves song “Endangered Species,” and followed it up with a heartfelt speech. “To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream, and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you this is what believing looks like,” Ralph said. “This is what striving looks like and don’t you ever, ever give up on you.” She added: “Because if you’ve got a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you’ve got a husband like mine in your corner, if you’ve got children in your corner like mine, and if you’ve got friends like everyone who voted for me and cheered for me in your corner, thank you, thank you.”

Winning my Emmy was a career highlight, but it was also a lonely experience.

For 35 years I’ve been the only black woman to win Outstanding Supporting Actresses in a Comedy Series.

But that all changes tonight… and it’s come full circle! #Emmys

— Jackée Harry (@JackeeHarry) September 13, 2022

Ralph is the second Black woman in history to win in the Supporting Actress category, about 35 years after Jackée Harry won for her role in 227. There are several Black actresses that could have and should have won that award since 1987, so here’s to hoping another three decades don’t have to pass by before we see a third take home the trophy.

'Squid Game' Continues to Make History

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As if Squid Game hadn’t already broken all kinds of viewership records and made history as the first-ever non-English series to get a nomination for Best Drama, the Netflix show broke more ground last night with its six wins. But perhaps the splashiest win of all went to series lead Lee Jung-jae, who became the first-ever Asian actor to win the category. With a second season on the way at some point, we have a feeling Squid Game will only further its overall legacy.

HBO Had a Big Comeback

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Despite big wins for Apple TV+ and some splashy awards for Netflix, HBO and HBO Max returned to Emmy dominance with a staggering 38 wins, 10 of which came from The White Lotus’ command of the limited series category. Succession’s superlative third season finale won the Best Drama Writing prize and the series took home the award for Best Drama. Other notable wins for the network included a deserved, back-to-back win for Hacks star Jean Smart in the Best Actress in a Comedy Series and Zendaya’s history-making win. All-in-all, the awards were a much-needed victory for a company in desperate need of a win.

'Better Call Saul' Shut Out

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Better Call Saul was ultimately shut out from any big awards last night including acting awards for stars Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn, as well as the Best Drama prize. (You can watch the moment Odenkirk’s consoled him when he lost in the Best Actor category in the video above.) While the series will have another shot in next year’s consideration—that’s the reason the show split its final season in half to compete for both this year and next—we’re starting to wonder if the superlative series will end without a single major award (the series, to date, has 46 total nominations). As strong as the first batch of episodes in Season 6 were, however, the real fireworks—and waterworks—came in that critical back stretch. Let’s hope Saul’s planned strategy of living to fight another day proves to be a savvy one, or there are going to be a lot of folks feeling like Saul actor Michael McKean did.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Gaff

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Look, it probably wasn’t done with any sort of malice towards Quinta Brunson but Jimmy Kimmel’s continuation of his bit with presenter Will Arnett—one wherein he laid on the ground and pretend to be too drunk or playing fake dead to stand up—while she won her first Emmy wasn’t a particularly good look. Arnett said that Kimmel was passed out after he lost out to John Oliver in the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series category yet again.

Quinta Brunson deserved better than giving her acceptance over Jimmy Kimmel’s “dead” body. #Emmys #AbbottElementary

— Garin Pirnia (@gpirnia) September 13, 2022

In the backstage press room, Brunson went on to say the bit didn’t bother her too much and sang his praises accordingly saying he gave her her first late-night interview, but also stated she may feel differently in the days to come. She’ll guest on his show later this week where I’m sure the topic will be discussed. While there’s something to be said for committing to the bit, doing so while a first-time Emmy winner gives a speech isn’t the best time to continue it.

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