2021 Emmy Awards: 7 best moments (and 4 worst)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Michaela Coel attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Michaela Coel attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

The 2021 Emmy Awards came with their fair share of heartwarming moments, epic wins, and great speeches, but among that mix is always some weird or groan-worthy content that we have to point out, too.

We’re discussing all of the most significant moments from last night’s award show, from Michaela Coel’s win to The Queen’s Gambit‘s weird speeches. There was a lot of content to wade through during the 3+ hour-long show hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.

The best and worst moments from the 2021 Emmy Awards

BEST: Ted Lasso wins big

Ted Lasso fans had a lot to celebrate last night as the Apple TV+ comedy won big at the 2021 Emmy Awards. Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein started the night strong with adorable speeches as they won for Supporting Actress and Actor for their roles as Rebecca Welton and Roy Kent, respectively. Jason Sudeikis also won for Lead Actor and the comedy capped off the night by winning Outstanding Comedy Series.

We loved Waddingham’s special shoutout to co-star and BFF Juno Temple, who plays Keeley Jones on the show.  She joked that“if I could break one [of the statuette’s] arms,” she’d give it to Temple because there is “no Rebecca without Keeley.” And in true Roy Kent fashion, Goldstein couldn’t get through his speech without dropping a few (censored) f-bombs.

WORST: A fly joke… really?

Cedric the Entertainer did an alright job as this year’s Emmys host, although many of his bits fell flat, including the bit about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the stuff with his co-stars from The Neighborhood (it seemed like no one in the audience had even heard of the show). He looks like a nice guy who did his best to pull together an entertaining show, but honestly, I think the Emmys are better off host-less.

Easily the most groan-worthy moment was when Cedric made a joke about the buzz heard ’round the world, a.k.a. the fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head during the debate. That happened forever ago, so long it feels like another lifetime, and it just reminded everyone of an unpleasant time in this country that we could have done without. And the “all flies matter” thing just didn’t land.

2021 Emmy Awards
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 19: Seth Rogen attends the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

BEST: Seth Rogen questions the COVID safety protocols

Seth Rogen was one of the night’s first presenters and hilariously said what we were all thinking. Why did they pick such a small venue? “Why is there a roof?” It seemed a little crazy to have so many celebrities packed into a relatively tiny theater with a pandemic still raging on.

Rogen joked that they told him the event was outside, and if he knew it would be indoors, he wouldn’t have come. “It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than that we make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy tonight.”

WORST: The Queen’s Gambit speeches

Kudos to The Queen’s Gambit cast and crew for winning Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series and Outstanding Limited Series, but they fumbled the bag hard when it came to delivering speeches. First, there was Scott Frank, who arrogantly shooed off the play-off music at the 2021 Emmy Awards (Debbie Allen, he is not) in a way that came off pompous and rude more than anything else. Nothing he said was that important.

Then when the show won for the overall best series, executive producer William Horberg talked about fighting the patriarchy…and then objectified his leading lady Anya Taylor-Joy by saying she “brought the sexy back to chess,” in the same breath.

BEST: Michaela Coel’s speech blows Scott Frank’s out of the water

It was especially glaring that Michaela Coel stepped up to deliver a succinct and profound speech for her well-deserved win for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series for I May Destroy You immediately following Scott Frank’s long-winded, self-indulgent speech on multiple pages of printer paper. Coel said more in her short speech than Frank did in the entirety of his.

WORST: Lack of diversity

Despite a record number of 49 non-white performers being nominated, the winner’s list at the 2021 Emmy Awards was shockingly white. All of the major performance categories winners were white, which felt especially glaring given how many excellent performances were recognized this year from such a diverse pool of talent. It’s not surprising that many people on social media were discussing the glaring issue still present in Hollywood. #EmmysSoWhite

BEST: Schitt’s Creek cast presents

After sweeping the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, the Schitt’s Creek cast reunited to present the best writing and directing awards in comedy categories and proved why we all loved the show so much. Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy and Catherine O’Hara were all in attendance as they performed a hilarious bit about the teleprompter supposedly not working at the 2021 Emmy Awards. Can they host next year?

WORST: Genre shows shutout yet again

It’s par for the course at this point, but it was really disappointing that none of the big genre shows (WandaVision, The Mandalorian, Lovecraft Country) managed to pick up any awards. Marvel fans were hopeful that Elizabeth Olsen or Kathryn Hahn would win for WandaVision, and Hahn was the favorite in that category, so it was surprising when she was beaten out by Julianne Nicholson (not that Nicholson didn’t also deserve it).

Then there was Lovecraft Country, which received 18 nominations in total. It would have been a nice sendoff for the show to get at least one win after HBO canceled it despite all of the acclaim it received. What hurt even worse is that Kerry Washington delivered a beautiful tribute to the late Michael K. Williams. Then he lost to Tobias Menzies for The Crown, a white British guy who wasn’t even present to accept the award.

BEST: Debbie Allen wins the Governors Award

When Debbie Allen tells them to “turn that clock off!” to accept her well-deserved Governor’s Award, it’s incredibly endearing, a far cry from Scott Frank’s later hogging of the microphone. Allen is an incredible talent who doubles as a choreographer, producer, director, and actress. She received recognition at the 2021 Emmy Awards for her endless contributions to television and her many philanthropic endeavors.

“I am trembling with gratitude and grace, I’m trying not to cry and be equal to the situation because it’s been many years in the making, taking a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time, a lot of courage and creativity and faith to believe that I could keep going. And I have, and I brought a whole lot of people with me, so I want to say thank you for this glorious moment in the sun,” said Allen.

BEST: Women pick up writing and directing awards

It was great to see so many women win writing and directing awards at the 2021 Emmy Awards. Women swept the directing awards in comedy and drama for the first time, with Jessica Hobbs winning for Outstanding Directing in The Crown and Lucia Aniello winning for Outstanding Directing in Hacks. Jen Statsky, Aniello and Paul W. Downs also won for best writing for Hacks.

BEST: No Emmy Support Group

While most of Cedric’s bits were unfunny and didn’t get so much as a chuckle from the audience, this prerecorded sketch where actors who have never won an Emmy get together to complain about it was hilarious. This sketch was a hit, including people like Alyson Hannigan, Scott Bakula, Jason Alexander, Fred Savage, Zooey Deschanel, and even Dr. Phil.

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What did you think were the best and worst moments of the 2021 Emmy Awards? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.