Nearly one year after the start of the #MeToo movement, and just a week after the CEO of CBS stepped down, the 70th annual Emmy Awards began with an acknowledgement of the reckoning that’s still just starting to take hold.
Co-host Michael Che’s first crack was about sex crimes: “It is an honor to be here sharing this night with the many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood who haven’t been caught yet.”
Colin Jost followed up by saying “This year the audience is allowed to drink in their seats. Hope you’re excited about that.” After the crowd cheered, he said “the one thing Hollywood needs right now is people losing their inhibitions at a work function.”
Beneath all the humor was a serious statement about the entertainment industry’s shortcomings.
Monday night’s broadcast on NBC began with a musical skit that hit on abuse of power issues, treatment of women and representation in the media.
Jost and Che’s “SNL” colleagues Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson came on stage and led a song called “We Solved It.”
“This year’s Emmy Awards has the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history,” so obviously “we solved it,” Thompson said, tongue fully in cheek.
“We solved it!” the song began. “We’ve gotten with the times; there’s room for all our voices, but mostly Shonda Rhimes.”
McKinnon and Thompson pointed to one of Rhimes’ former collaborators, Sandra Oh, nominated this year for “Killing Eve.”
“Sandra Oh is the first Asian woman to be nominated for a lead actress Emmy ever,” Thompson said.
“Thank you,” Oh joked, “but it’s an honor just to be Asian.”
Cue Thompson: “You see? There were none. Now there’s one.”
“And so, we’re done,” McKinnon said, mocking the industry’s propensity for self-congratulation.
Kristen Bell and Titus Burgess joined them on stage with jokes at Harvey Weinstein’s expense.
“We solved it,” Bell sang – “banished every creep who broke the law, and now they’re serving hard time at that Arizona spa.”
Weinstein, of course, exiled himself to a treatment facility in Arizona late last year.
We “won’t cut them any slack,” Burgess added. “They’ve been away nine long months, now let them all come back.”
That, right there, was one of the most pointed lines in the skit – referencing the constant chatter about possible “comebacks” for men like Louis CK and Charlie Rose.
The musical also mocked Hollywood’s definitions of diversity, with Sterling K. Brown saying “we’re all different in the same way” and “this room is so diverse, from Democrat to liberal Democrat.”
A few minutes later, during the opening monologue, Jost also brought up politics and poked fun at President Trump.
“The Obamas now even have their own production deal at Netflix,” he said. “And my dream is that the only thing they produce is their own version of ‘The Apprentice.’ And it gets way higher ratings.”
Netflix’s high profile at the awards ceremony – the streaming service has more nominations than any other outlet – prompted Jost to say, “If you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear except maybe, ‘Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.’”
Farrow was watching. He posted a video clip of the joke on Instagram and said, “Guys, I am really not that unpleasant on the phone.”