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The Emmys Are in Desperate Need of a New Kind of Host

Remember when Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes? If you need an example of the sharp wit women in the midst of change bring to these programs, look no further than the three years these titans of comedy delivered three back-to-back years of solid awards show opening. Even before the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, they didn’t shy away from uncomfortable truths. Remember, for example, the perfect bit when they congratulated Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. As Poehler said, without missing a beat: “I haven’t really been following the controversy over Zero Dark Thirty, but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.” The women also teased George Clooney for only co-starring with much-younger women, and poked fun at the Bill Cosby controversy. Jokes that felt salient from the mouths of women.

Why, then, haven’t women or trans or gender non-conforming comedians and actors been gifted the same opportunity to stand on a grandiose stage and make the same jabs in this most pertinent of eras? In the season of #MeToo, the Golden Globes were hosted by Seth Meyers, the Oscars by Jimmy Kimmel, and now the Emmys by Saturday Night Live cast members Colin Jost and Michael Che, two male comedians with a track record of unapologetic misogyny and transphobia. To quote a popular segment from their Weekend Update predecessors: “Really?

Che’s outward misogyny has been spotlighted a number of times. Just last month, he slammed female comedian Hannah Gadsby’s revolutionary Netflix special Nanette for telling “rape stories” instead of “rape jokes,” calling her program “not funny” and “not comedy,” then later admitting he hadn’t even seen it. Che has also been vocally defensive about his poor-taste jokes, and both he and Jost have often used transgender people as the butt of their SNL Weekend Update jabs and comedy routines. Neither has apologized.

Not only did their presence on the Emmys stage feel insulting in the midst of a movement that’s changing Hollywood in bold new ways, but their segments were stale, full of repeated jokes that felt out of place in 2018. They made note of the diversity of this year’s nominees, even as the first handful of awards went only to white people. They made crass comments about Filipino nurses. There seemed an abundant lack of incisive, easily quotable moments, which is what the best hosts bring to this sort of excessive pageantry. There is enough privilege emanating off of awards shows, why not imbue them with humor that bites and attacks a system in the middle of evolution?

What’s worse, the 70th annual broadcast of the Emmys introduced several celebrity presenting partners who seemed way better equipped to host a year like 2018: Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Bob Odenkirk, Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, Tiffany Haddish and Angela Bassett, RuPaul and Leslie Jones, the Queer Eye men, Hannah Gadsby all by her damn self. All human beings who might challenge the system, the norm, the rudimentary offerings of a stale series of awards that mean increasingly less as time barrels along.

This is an era of change. We should let it actually change.

Image: NBC

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