At this point, it takes a lot to shock us, particularly when it comes to a major award show like the Emmys.
The network announces most of the presenters days in advance, the Academy loves to reward the same people and series year after year, and, thanks to the Internet chop-up-and-rehash of shows that so many people like to indulge in, there just aren't as many people watching plain old TV anymore. The fashion isn't racy, security is too tight for streakers. Heck, even the F-bombs are tasteful.
But while the 2016 Emmys may not have been the place if you were seeking out a Halloween Horror Night's worth of shocks and thrills, there were plenty of moments that deserved a rewind (or several) during the ceremony—and that merit another helping of reflection this morning.
And here they are:
1. What a Night for O.J.: To say the least. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story dominated the night with five wins, including Outstanding Limited Series, en route to a total of 10 Emmys for the series (obviously hair styling and casting were big winners at the Creative Arts Emmys the previous weekend), a hefty chunk of FX's personal best 18 total wins this year. And at this point, we may as well acknowledge it's been quite the year for O.J., in prison in Nevada for the time being for armed robbery but still looming large over the zeitgeist, 21 years after being found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
As expected, Courtney B. Vance and Sarah Paulson won for acting in a limited series or movie for playing opposing counsel Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark—and while Vance dedicated his win to the woman who's been rocking his chain for almost 20 years, Angela Bassett, Paulson took the opportunity to apologize to Clark (her date for the evening) for the judgment passed upon her by those who couldn't possibly understand what she was going through as she tried in vain to prosecute O.J. all those years ago.
"I have to believe that Johnnie Cochran is somewhere, smiling up at us tonight," host Jimmy Kimmel cracked after Vance won, twisting the phrase just so for maximum effect.
2. The Outsiders Break In: "He did it!" And "Oh my Gaaaaahd!" Such were the reactions here, at least, when, first, Rami Malek toppled the establishment to win Best Actor in a Drama Series for the mind-bending hacker psychodrama Mr. Robot and, moments later, when Tatiana Maslany finally—as her many devoted fans will attest—won Best Actress in a Drama Series for juggling 10 roles over the years on the sci-fi drama Orphan Black. Both actors were charmingly surprised hear their name called and it was, frankly, a shock to see the Academy open its doors to the critical and fan favorites instead of the usual Emmy favorites.
"Please tell me you're seeing this too," began Malek, whose loner hacker Elliot can't always trust his own eyes, when he took the stage.
"I should've had this written down," Maslany noted as she embarked on her own long-awaited speech.
Kate McKinnon wept on stage when she managed to topple perennial winner Allison Janney for Best Supporting Actress in a comedy. "I am really crying—I'm not making it up," the Saturday Night Live standout assured.
3. Jimmy Kimmel's Pointed Jabs: We know that Kimmel isn't as warm and fuzzy as Jimmy Fallon, nor as caustic and ultimately self-defeating as Ricky Gervais (when it comes to award shows, that is), and he's not quite as good at gender-fueled humor as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are, but this year's Emmys host really displayed an interesting mix of wink-wink humor, his persistent air of sounding put-upon and some astute social commentary.
There was the moment where he swooped in to take away the absent Maggie Smith's third Best Supporting Actress Emmy for Downton Abbey, gruffly saying it would be "in the Lost and Found" when she wanted to come get it in person. And he allowed his ongoing "feud" with Matt Damon to play a major assist when the apple-chomping movie star popped up to shame Jimmy for losing Best Variety Series to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. (P.S. The Daily Show torch has officially been passed.)
But there were also some very loaded, albeit humorous, punches: about how TV has far surpassed film when it comes to inclusiveness and diversity—and how Hollywood just loves to pat itself on the back when it can point to instances of diversity; about who was "to blame for Donald Trump" (Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett did not enjoy having the finger pointed at him); and, as mentioned, about O.J., with Kimmel refusing to let the irony of the moment pass.
Then, of course, there was the moment when the announcer entreated the audience to "please welcome Dr. Bill Cosby" to the stage. "He's not really here, I just wanted to see what you'd do," Kimmel offered.
4. Fifth Time's Still a Charm: It may seem as though the Academy is being a little indulgent with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, bestowing her with seven Emmys over the years, including her fifth win in a row tonight for her role as the relentlessly self-absorbed Selina Meyer on HBO's scathing political satire/"sobering documentary" Veep. But Louis-Dreyfus can't help it: she's just that good.
The actress' comedic timing was spot-on as she announced that she wanted to "personally apologize for the current political climate," since Veep had torn down the wall between comedy and politics and all. But it turned out that Louis-Dreyfus was in mourning tonight. The hand holding her speech shaking with emotion, she dedicated her award to her father, William Louis-Dreyfus, who had passed away on Friday. "I'm so glad that he liked Veep because his opinion was the one that really mattered," she said, vulnerably allowing the bittersweetness of the moment to sink in.
And though season five is behind them and every character's future is up in the air, Veep's ensemble continued to please when the show won its second consecutive Emmy for Best Comedy Series toward the end of the night: Louis-Dreyfus stumbled on her way to the stage—and Tony Hale was on hand to help her up.
5. Jeb! Drives Uber: Guess once Rick Perry signed on for Dancing With the Stars, all bets were off as to where the next thwarted would've-been presidential candidate would show up next. But still, hats off to Jimmy Kimmel for getting Jeb Bush to do a fairly dialogue-heavy bit in the opening montage tonight in which the former governor of Florida played a chatty, God-fearing limo driver who's "between jobs." Surprisingly Donald Trump did not feel compelled to tweet that the Emmys are a failing, low-energy show—but maybe he too was pleasantly startled by Jeb's pretty decent comedic timing.