2021 Emmy Awards: 5 biggest fails of the night

Aside from a few big moments, this year's Emmys were a bust

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The 2021 Emmy Awards went down on Sunday evening and what could have been a history-making night for Black talent fell flat. 

When this year’s nominations were announced in July, the list was Blacker than ever and hopes were high that the winner’s circle would be more melanated than usual. 

Aside from the magical moment when Debbie Allen refused to surrender her time while accepting the coveted Governor’s Award and Michaela Coel making history as the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series, there wasn’t that much to cheer about.

Watching the show was practically painful even though we had high hopes for the night’s host, Cedric the Entertainer. 

Here are the top 5 fails of the night: 

View of the atmosphere during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

The comedy segments flopped. 

No matter who hosts the Emmys, there are usually some hilarious skits featuring some of TV’s biggest names but it seemed like every attempt to make us laugh left us scratching our heads and rolling our eyes. Ken Jeong and the confusing COVID-19 bit he delivered before announcing Best Variety Sketch series was almost as bad as the cringe-worthy sketch featuring Tichina Arnold and Beth Behrs pretending to chastise Cedric the Entertainer for getting them bad seats.

The room was too tiny. 

One thing that was surprisingly distracting for viewers at home was how tightly packed the celebs were at the ceremony. The scaled-down event was set up as a dinner, with celebs crammed together at tables with very little wiggle room. While we’re certain there were tons of strident protocols in place for attendees, who were likely tested and re-tested before gaining entry, watching so many mask-less people so close together was uncomfortable. At a time where the country continues to struggle against the ongoing pandemic, the optics of the event were all wrong. 

Celebrities Get Ready For The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Michael K. Williams is seen in his award show look for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the 2021 SAG Awards will be a one-hour, pre-taped event airing April 4 on TNT and TBS. (Photo by Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)

MJ Rodriguez got robbed.

Even though we think that Olivia Colman did an impeccable job portraying Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, we were rooting for MJ Rodriguez to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Pose. For starters, Rodriguez didn’t have a real-life person to model her character Blanca after and in fact, we’ve never seen a character like hers on the small screen before. The impact of her work on the show is immeasurable and opened so many eyes to issues they ignored for so long. She should have made history as the first trans woman to win a major acting Emmy and the fact that she didn’t feels like a missed opportunity to affect real change. 

White men gone wild. 

Overall, the show was pretty boring but there were a few eyebrow-raising moments, thanks to a few white men who forgot their manners. Conan O’Brien interrupted the ceremony with an unexpected outburst right after RuPaul made history as the most-awarded Black artist in history. It turns out the former late-night host was heckling Television Academy President Frank Scherma, but the commotion he caused made those at home feel pretty out of the loop.

73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room
Marielle Heller, Scott Frank, Anya Taylor-Joy, and William Horberg, winners of the Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series award for ‘The Queen’s Gambit,’ pose in the press room during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

That was nothing compared to the blatant disrespect and disgusting display of entitlement that Scott Frank delivered during his acceptance speech for winning Outstanding Directing For A Limited Or Anthology Series or Movie for Queen’s Gambit. The director refused to cut his speech short even after being signaled by music and production to wrap things up numerous times. His refusal wasn’t the endearing “Oh my goodness, I’m so overcome with emotion, I’m so sorry, I don’t want to forget anyone” type of rambling, but instead, it was an indignant refusal to respect anyone else’s time and came off like a self-centered, ego-feeding frenzy as if this awards show was created just for him. Maybe he was inspired by Debbie Allen’s claiming of her time, but he is no Debbie Allen and he certainly wasn’t winning the Governors Award. 

No love for ‘Lovecraft’.

Lovecraft Country went home empty-handed on Sunday despite being nominated in several categories. Even though Courtney B. Vance did snag the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Limited Series earlier in the week, none of his co-stars, including Jurnee Smollett, Aunjanue Ellis, or Jonathan Majors won in their acting categories. The show that was cancelled after one season was also beat out by Queen’s Gambit for Outstanding Drama Series. Misha Green failed to win for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and worst of all, Michael K. Williams didn’t win his much-deserved award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, posthumously as we’d hoped. Our hearts sank when we realized that the late actor would not be winning the Emmy for his role as Montrose Freeman. His final role was worthy of the honor and considering how he was snubbed SO MANY TIMES for his role of Omar in The Wire, it felt like this was his award to win.  Then, to add insult to injury, the person who won (Tobias Menzies) wasn’t even there to claim the trophy. 

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