In what may go down in history as one of the more creative and innovative awards shows of all time, Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 72nd Annual Emmy Awards on Sunday from an empty Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, while winners accepted their awards from remote locations around the world. But the night belonged to Schitt’s Creek, which made Emmys history by sweeping all 7 comedy categories, making it the first show in Emmys history to do so.
The night kicked off with two back-to-back wins for Schitt’s Creek as Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy won for OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS AND ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES, respectively. Out actor/writer/director Daniel Levy won the third award of the night for OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES. Levy then won again alongside Andrew Cividino for OUTSTANDING DIRECTING OF A COMEDY SERIES.
And it kept going, Levy then won for OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES. Right after that, Schitt’s Creek was six-for-six when Annie Murphy won for OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES. But it didn’t end there – Schitt’s Creek then went seven-for-seven — completing the full sweep — when it won for OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES. Schitt’s Creek recently won the 2020 GLAAD Media Award for Best Comedy Series.
“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance and that is something we need more of now than we’ve ever needed before,” Levy said after the show’s big win.
“I also want to thank this young man, who took our fish-out-of-water story about the Rose family and transformed it into a celebration of inclusivity, a castigation against homophobia, and a declaration of the power of love,” added Eugene Levy.
No comedy series has swept all four acting awards at the Emmys before, let alone all four acting awards plus the Emmys for Comedy writing and directing. All in the Family won three out of the four acting categories in 1978 and two of the four in 1972. In addition, the show won two Creative Arts Emmys earlier this week.
“Schitt’s Creek’s history-making nine Emmy Awards is a well-deserved breakthrough for LGBTQ inclusive television,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Dan Levy being awarded for his work in front of the camera as the pansexual David Rose — as well as behind the scenes — should be a clear sign to the industry about the power of out LGBTQ creators and showrunners. What’s particularly special about Schitt’s Creek is that the love and heart seen by viewers on the show are matched off-screen by the tremendous LGBTQ advocacy that Dan Levy and the cast members continue to be leaders in.”
In the virtual press room, GLAAD’s Megan Townsend had the chance to ask Dan Levy a question about the historic night. “Congratulations on the history-making wins,” she began. “It’s been great to see such happiness for queer characters at this moment that has so much at stake for LGBTQ people in the real world. For Dan specifically, I wanted to ask about what David and Patrick’s relationship has meant to you and the messages you’ve gotten about the queer representation in Schitt’s Creek?”
“Well, I think getting to write that storyline, you know, obviously was incredibly cathartic for me for a variety of reasons,” Levy replied. “One, just that I don’t often get to see those kinds of relationships depicted on TV. So, I felt like it was an incredible responsibility to be given that opportunity and to try to tell it as authentically as I possibly could. You know, I think we made a decision to not include the conversation of homophobia or bigotry on our show and by projecting a sweeter, gentler world, I feel like that was in a way a political statement. It seemed to have quite an incredible effect on people, and I think the letters we’ve received from families and from people who have been changed in one way or another by the stories we were telling. I mean, that is the gift to be perfectly honest. To know that you’ve done something that has not only brought laughs to people but has also changed conversations in people’s homes and changed people’s minds and changed people’s hearts. That is absolutely tremendous and all you can really hope for. All of this is just icing on the cake really.”
Last fall, Dan Levy was presented with GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco. In his speech, Levy reflected on the support, encouragement and love he received growing up and talks about how that went into creating the world of Schitt’s Creek.
The first non-Schitt’s win came for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver for OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES. And after that Regina King won for OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE for Watchmen, helping her tie the record (with Alfre Woodard) for most Emmy wins for a Black performer. Watchmen also won for OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES, OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE, OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL.
RuPaul’s Drag Race won the Emmy for OUTSTANDING COMPETITION SERIES. After accepting the show’s Emmy, a camera panned to reactions from Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall, who was seated with fellow contestants Widow Von’Du and Heidi N Closet.
In a huge surprise, Zendaya won the Emmy for OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES for playing the queer character Rue in Euphoria, winning over the heavily favored lead actresses from Killing Eve, Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, The win makes Zendaya — at age 24 — the youngest winner ever in the category. Comer previously held that title, winning last year at the age of 26. (also for playing a queer character, Villanelle, in Killing Eve!)
Tyler Perry and the Perry Foundation received the Television Academy’s Governor’s Award which honors outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences. During his acceptance speech, Perry cited the importance of telling diverse stories, including LGBTQ+ narratives. He told a story about a quilt his grandmother made and how it was a metaphor for his family’s struggles. “In my mother’s quilt, she couldn’t imagine me owning land that was once a Confederate army base where Confederate soldiers plotted and planned on how to keep Blacks enslaved,” Perry said. “Now, on that very land, Black people, white people, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, ex-cons, Latin, Asian, all of us, come together working — all coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best.”
A star-studded 60-second PSA titled “#SeeAll” aired during the Emmys, which featured stars including Billy Porter, Isis King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daniel Dae Kim, and Jamie Chung. The PSA called on industry leaders to make more efforts to increase diversity and representation in the media. The PSA was created by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), a division of the New York-based Association of National Advertisers, of which GLAAD is a member.
The Creative Arts Emmys — which typically take place the weekend before the Primetime Emmys — were given out over the course of five nights.
Amongst the LGBTQ winners, inclusive shows, or people playing LGBTQ characters were: Cherry Jones (OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES) in Succession, RuPaul (OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR COMPETITION SERIES) for RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ron Cephas Jones (OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES) for playing a bi character in This Is Us, Bad Education (OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE), Queer Eye (OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED REALITY SERIES), and Cheer (OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SERIES).