Emmys: Nominees Advocate for Voting, Gay Rights in Political Speeches

Ryan Murphy Cast and Crew Outstanding Limited Series 70th Emmy Awards - Getty - H 2018
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Ryan Murphy, Rachel Brosnahan and Samantha Bee all used the Emmys platform to gesture at the news and justice issues.

After a red carpet that saw stars supporting political causes on pin- buttons, the 2018 Emmys ceremony was light on political speeches and presentations in Los Angeles on Monday night. Among the issues that were mentioned by creatives and performers, however, were criminal justice, the midterm elections and human rights.

Political jokes were scant in the opening number, which cheekily celebrated diversity in Hollywood, and monologue. The song's exception occurred when Sterling K. Brown sang in his verse of "We Solved It," "From Democrats to liberal Democrats, let's sing another verse." During his opening monologue with Colin Jost, Michael Che also threw in a crack at Republicans. After he joked that his mother doesn't watch the Emmys because they don't "thank Jesus enough", he said, "The only white people who thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads, so." 

Jost also spoke about the first-ever Emmys in 1949, when gas was cheap, "a new home was $7,000 ... and we all agreed that Nazis were bad."

Che and Jost additionally gestured at tensions between the black community and police, with Che arguing that Laurie Metcalf must have been very good to be nominated for Roseanne, after its namesake actress' tweet led to the show being canceled. "That's like nominating a cop for BET award. It just doesn't happen."

Che and Jost also made up a show called 15 Miles Outside of Atlanta, lampooning Atlanta, that was being developed in order to "balance out" all the diversity on television. "It focuses on white women who call the cops on the cast of Atlanta," Jost said.

During the ceremony itself, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Rachel Brosnahan threw in a plug for viewers to vote while accepting her best lead actress in a comedy prize. "One of the things I love about this show is that it's about a woman that's finding her voice anew. That's happening all over the country right now," Brosnahan said, adding, "One of the most important ways that we can find our voice is to vote." She then told the audience to register and show up to the polls.

When she went up to present, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee host Samantha Bee was asked by her co-presenter what she watched this year. "I've been watching this very shocking dystopian drama called the news. I'm on approximately season 3,000. It gets darker and darker. I really don't like the lead. They should really cast robin wright. Watch The Handmaid's Tale instead," she said, without saying President Donald Trump's name.

When accepting for his limited series Emmy for The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Ryan Murphy ended the speech by dedicating the prize to LGBT people, stricter hate crime laws and awareness. "The Assassination of Gianni Versace is about a lot of things. It's about homophobia, internalized and externalized, it's about a country that allows hate to run unchecked. One out of every four LGBT people in this country will be the victim of a hate crime," he said.

On the red carpet, some stars made political statements with their attire by wearing pins created by the TIME'S UP organization reading "I Still Believe Anita Hill," who previously accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, or "I Believe Christine Blasey Ford," the current accuser of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sarah Peretz, the wife of Glow director Jesse Peretz, wore her own anti-Kavanaugh statement: the words "Stop Kavanaugh" and a phone number written in marker on her arm.

Others, including Allison Janney, Kumail Nanjiani, Henry Winkler, Matt Iseman, Q’orianka Kilcher and Anthony Carrigan wore pins emblazoned with the phrase "I am a voter." from the entertainment industry-backed Civic Culture Coalition, which aims to boost voter participation in the 2018 midterms.

The 70th annual Primetime Emmys, hosted by Jost and Che, took place at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. on Monday and aired on NBC from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on NBC in all time zones.