2020 Emmy Awards: Technologically Reimagined in COVID-Era

Opinion by Christy Kim

Jimmy Kimmel, center, appears in the audience with celebrity cut-outs during the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT/5:00 PM PDT on ABC. (Invision for the Television Academy/AP)

72nd Emmy Awards

“Welcome to the virtual 72nd annual Emmy Awards. I’m your host Jimmy Kimmel!” These were the first words at this year’s ceremony. The Emmys celebrate the excellence of actors and actresses in the television industry. There are musical performances, speeches, and well-deserved wins.

However, 2020 brought upon a unique challenge with COVID-19. There are mandated practices like social distancing, wearing masks, and limits on large group gatherings. The Emmy Awards came up with a creative solution to combat these conditions. They set the precedent, as the Emmys was the first pandemic award ceremony.

Pandemic Solutions

The Emmys were virtually produced this year. Celebrities attended from the comfort of their own homes. We saw Zendaya, who took home the “best actress in a drama” award, in her living room. Jennifer Anniston and Courtney Cox and the entire cast of Friends attended as a group in their hotel room.

Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted this year, delivered his opening monologue to an empty crowd. The ceremony tried to compensate this by placing cardboard cutouts of celebrities.

The Emmys pre-recorded performers and presenters. H.E.R delivered a heartrending song in memory of Chadwick Boseman. He was a well-known actor in the Marvel series who passed away from cancer. Ty Burrell, Ken Jeong, Mindy Kaling, Tatiana Maslany and Bob Newhart all participated in presenting awards to the designated winners. The producers cut video segments to create a cohesive show.

The Emmys included essential workers, like doctors and nurses, as part of the ceremony. These workers would deliver the awards. The ceremony wanted to pay proper gratitude to those who are keeping COVID numbers down.

The most interesting part of this virtual Emmys ceremony was the ever-present question. If the participants and recipients of these awards are virtual, how will they receive their statues? The award ceremony lightened the mood by having staff in hazmat tuxedo suits deliver these statues to quarantined celebrities. 

The Emmys took the time to fully embrace this virtual reality by paying proper tribute to current events. They wanted to create the correct tone by addressing hardships.

This award ceremony excelled in this by incorporating these sentiments into Kimmel’s monologue throughout the show. Kimmel touched on police brutality, racial unrest, and the wildfires in California.

Raising Awareness for Recent Events

Some participants went as far as attending the virtual ceremony in political attire. Regina King and Uzo Aduba sported Breonna Taylor attire. Jimmy Kimmel and Jennifer Anniston performed a pithy skit about the importance of fire safety. The Emmys set the precedent for how ceremonies should approach these important subjects.

Monologues will be delivered in an empty stadium. Celebrities will zoom in wearing pajamas and relaxing with a glass of champagne from their living room chairs. Presenters will be wearing masks and socially distanced as they stand on stage. 

“We deserve to have some fun. In these times, we must come together.” –Kimmel

Kimmel said it best. Fun is exactly the word to describe this technologically reimagined awards event.