The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards had its highs and lows, and then it had those moments that were lower than low. Between scripted bits that felt like they were written on a napkin seconds before they were performed and odd production choices (a chipper Nina Simone ditty playing on Chernobyl, one of the most depressing shows of the year?), the 71st Annual Primetime Emmys may have been television’s biggest night, but it wasn’t a big night for actually watching television.
These are the moments that almost made us turn off the Emmys:
Ben Stiller salutes comedy legends with the wax statues
Before handing out the trophy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy (which went to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Tony Shalhoub), Ben Stiller paid tribute to comedy legends by walking up to wax statues of Lucille Ball, George Burns, and Bob Newhart. Except the Bob Newhart “statue” was actually the very much alive Bob Newhart! Ho ho ho. Newhart is wonderful, and he was funny here, but c’mon Emmys, wax statues give us nightmares.
The cringe-worthy Family Guy kickoff to the awards
Given everything that happened in the night, it’s easy to forget that the show kicked off with a bit from Family Guy referencing past Emmy winners Roseanne Barr and Bill Cosby, which why? Racism and alleged sexual assault aren’t funny.
Maya Rudolph and Ike Barinholtz’s blind bit
Look, we love Maya and Ike. But when they showed up for a corny AF gag about how they just got LASIK eye surgery earlier that day and pretended like they everything was bright and they couldn’t read the teleprompter, it became a bad joke that we wish we could unsee.
Emmy commentator Thomas Lennon
Apparently not content to let the (totally fine!) host-free format breathe on its own, Fox shoehorned in comic actor Thomas Lennon to make quippy remarks during the ceremony. But more often than not, his odd jokes were completely unnecessary and occasionally problematic, like when he dropped a zinger about “fleabagging” after Phoebe Waller-Bridge won her second trophy. What 14-year-old boy wrote this material?
Say NO to putting a commentator in your awards show. #Emmys2019
— Joel Meares (@joelmeares) September 23, 2019
Egregious corporate integration and product placement
Look, this happens every year no matter which network is hosting the ceremony, but with the Disney+ trailer, the FX sizzle reels, and serial The Masked Singer placements happening every other minute, the Emmys at times felt like an opportunity to remind everyone that Fox and Disney now own everything we could ever dream of wanting to watch.
That dancing intro for Best Variety Talk Series
Before Last Week Tonight With John Oliver won for Best Writing for a Variety Series, someone thought it was a good idea to have The Righteous Gemstones‘ Adam Devine lead a big dance number to, uhhh, show off some variety, we guess? Flanked by more of those Masked Singer monstrosities, Devine pranced and shimmied while singing (or moving his mouth at the right time) in a bit that didn’t even seem like it was part of the same show. There was a Meryl Streep mask for some reason, too. Can anyone explain this one to us?