The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards kicked off Monday night where hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che wasted no time diving into issues on the tip of everyone’s tongues: politics, diversity in Hollywood and the slew of powerful people in the entertainment industry that were exposed by the #MeToo movement this year.
The show began with a musical number from “Saturday Night Live” cast members Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson who immediately noted that the 2018 show had the most diverse crop of nominees in history; more than a third of the 101 acting nods announced in July going to ethnic minorities compared to a quarter of the field in 2017.
They launched into a comedic number boasting that Hollywood had solved racism and were joined by Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Sterling K. Brown, Ricky Martin, RuPaul and Andy Samberg. The number boasted that women and people of color are having their year, prompting Samberg to ask if there’s any place for him in the song — there wasn’t.
Politics didn’t rear its head too much in the song, other than a jab at Roseanne Barr mocking her politics that she claims got her fired from her self-titled ABC reboot.
Then hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che took the stage for a politically-driven opening monologue.
“It is an honor to be here sharing this night with the many, many talented people in Hollywood who haven’t been caught yet,” Che said, pointing to the crowd of A-listers.
“My mother is not watching,” Che continued. “She says she doesn’t like watching white award shows because you guys don’t thank Jesus enough… that’s true. The only white people that thank Jesus are republicans and ex-crackheads.”
Jost followed suit with a line about what the times were like during the first Emmy Awards in 1949, noting that people back then all agreed Nazis were bad.
“Netflix, of course, has the most nominations tonight. And if you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear,” Jost continued. “Except maybe, ‘Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line 1.’”
When the opening was done, the hosts wasted no time jumping into the first award, which was given to former “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler for supporting actor in a comedy series for his role in HBO’s “Barry.”
After that, Amazon Prime’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” took home the next four categories with Alex Borstein winning best supporting actress in a comedy and series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino with a pair of wins for directing and writing for a comedy series. The show’s star, Rachel Brosnahan, took home the coveted trophy for best lead actress in a comedy series.
The star used her time to encourage viewers and fans to get out and vote in the upcoming midterm elections.
The winning streak was broken by “Barry” once again, with creator and star Bill Hader taking home the award for best lead actor in a comedy series.
Later in the show, McKinnon took the stage again, this time flanked by Alec Baldwin. Together they gave special mention to actress Betty White, who has been in attendance at many Emmy Awards in the past.
“Little did I dream then that I would be here and it’s incredible that I’m still in this business, and you are still putting up with me,” White, 96, told the crowd to thunderous applause. “No please, I’m thanking you. It’s incredibly that you can stay in a career this long and still have people put up with you. I wish they did that at home.”
Notably, Darren Criss, who is of Filipino descent won best lead actor in a limited series for his role in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” making him the second person of Asian-American to take home an acting award after Riz Ahmed won for “The Night Of” in 2017.
The star ended his speech with a simple message about voting, “Go blue.”
The Associated Press contribued to this report.