Jimmy Kimmel might have made his life a lot easier if he had just hosted “The 72nd Emmy Awards” from Eugene Levy’s house.
The SCTV veteran’s comeback series, “Schitt’s Creek” completely swept the comedy categories Sunday night, an unprecedented accomplishment.
Four sitcoms had previously pulled off the trifecta of best series, lead actor and lead actress. But “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All In the Family” and “30 Rock” never won all seven major races. Creator Dan Levy alone took home four awards, including co-director and supporting actor. “Come on!” he said, taking the microphone at his dad Eugene’s tent party in Canada. “Oh, no. Oh, no. The internet is about to turn on me.”
What made the feat even more jaw-dropping is that “Creek” flew under the radar during its first four seasons, languishing on something called Pop TV. But in its final two seasons, audiences finally discovered the show, reigniting the careers of Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, both of whom had only previously earned Emmys for writing.
“You see? I told you I was good,” said Levy, nodding to his house guests, which included his son and co-stars.
Kimmel noted the show’s utter domination during the show’s first hour by noting that one out of every four Canadians now has an Emmy. If the series had won just one more award, he quipped, they could have traded it in for the Stanley Cup. The fact that producers had a replica ready to go was proof that “Creek’s” big night wasn’t a complete shocker.
The sitcom’s success wasn’t the only way this Emmys celebration made history.
Because of the pandemic, the awards were handed out virtually, with nominees appearing on 114 live feeds from 10 countries.
Kimmel largely steered away from politics, keeping matters light in bits that included setting an envelope on fire to kill any viruses. Watching his co-arsonist Jennifer Aniston’s reactions when her fire extinguisher failed to do its job may be the funniest acting she’s done since “Friends.”
Many of the winners and nominees embraced a come-as-you-are approach.
John Oliver, who won for best variety series for the fifth year in the row, donned sweats. Regina King, whose performance in best limited series winner “Watchmen” earned her a fifth acting award, sported a Breonna Taylor T-shirt.
After her acceptance speech, “Mrs. America” actor Uzo Aduba, also wearing a Taylor shirt, screamed out to her “mommy” in the next room.
Before the winner was announced in Aduba’s category, Kimmel noticed that Tracy Morgan was on the screen instead of nominee Tracey Ullman.
“All Tracys stick together,” Morgan said.
“I Know This Much Is True” star Mark Ruffalo, a winner for best actor in a limited series, accepted from a couch too small to accommodate the Hulk. Aniston, who rushed home after her stage appearance, revealed that she’s been roomies since 1994 with Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, who temporarily shared the screen with her.
The team behind “Little Fires Everywhere” threw a New Year’s Eve party in a backyard.
“We’re just ready for this year to be over,” producer and star Reese Witherspoon said.
Many of the nominees and winners used their camera time to preach about the importance of wearing masks and voting.
But producers wisely recruited lots of comedians to put laughs out front. In a prerecorded bit, David Letterman announced the variety series winner from the back of a pickup truck. In a segment on how celebrities are surviving the pandemic, Mindy Kaling showed off embroidery that read: “Help! I’m going insane” and Tatiana Maslany sampled wine she made in her bathroom toilet.
The ceremonies also leaned on many stars who showed up in person at the Staples Center, including Jason Bateman of “Ozark,” who temporarily pretended to be a cardboard cutout in the otherwise empty audience.
Singer-songwriter H.E.R. took to the piano and guitar to perform Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” as stills paid tribute to Hollywood favorites who had passed away over the past year.
It was impossible not to get the chills as H.E.R. paused from her playing long enough for viewers to hear inspiring words from the late Chadwick Boseman.