For 50 years since first year my parents have allowed me to stay awake and watch most Oscar TV shows, the awards show has been my guilty pleasures this time of year.
After the 2020 Tony Awards were canceled, I figured that, like going to the movies and having dinner with friends, these shows would just be another little cultural treat that the pandemic would put on the back burner.
I didn’t need to worry.
While celebrities in expensive clothes may not walk the red carpet and gather in large crowds in their usual venues, the producers of these shows have managed to add new and unexpected dimensions to my enjoyment of these annual celebrations of everything. which concerns showbiz.
From the moment host Jimmy Kimmel stood alone on stage last September and faced a cavernous Staples Center filled with empty seats welcoming viewers to the Pand-Emmys, I knew we were going to have a wild ride that will last until the end of the next few months.
The Emmys presented a model for how the rewards were built throughout the pandemic. Although some of the presenters appear on stage in their usual sartorial splendor, the winners accept their prizes via a computer screen or cellphone camera from their living room sofas or hotel rooms, in America or the other. beside the pond, alone or with their pets and the exuberant family bubbles that surround them. their.
The home video screens of nominees in a given award category are laid out like a giant Zoom gallery view. Sometimes the nominees can chat with each other. Break a leg! or What a cute dog! within earshot of the public, while the broadcast switches to advertising.
While I still get my annual dose of high fashion via new-dressed kid presenters and winners in their homes, I also get a dose of delicious and surprising reality or as real as Hollywood.
I can pause the show and try to read the book titles and watch the tchotchkes sitting on the celebrity shelves.
At the last Sunday Grammy Awards, with a selection of awards presented at an outdoor ceremony and top nominees seated at spaced tables, masks have become a fun fashion accessory. Taylor Swifts’ flowery mask, matching her flowery dress, appeared to be blooming directly from her face.
Jason Sudeikis accepted the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards wearing hoodies in his living room in London (where his show Ted Lasso is filmed).
Jodie Foster accepted her best Golden Globe actress while looking comfy on the sofa with wife Alexandra Hedison, both dressed in fancy pajamas and cuddling her big white dog.
After accepting the special prize for best comedy, Michelle Buteau walked away from the comrades who were jumping up and down and photographing on a sofa in the background and showing off her jogging pants under her sparkly top.
Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham ended a acceptance speech by lifting her dress and showing off her bare feet.
Mark Ruffalo accepted an award with his children’s hands resting on his shoulders. And Seth Meyers’ parents, fully vaccinated, were laughing right in front of the camera as he accepted the award for best talk show.
Of course, there were awkward moments.
Many of the jokes from Critics Choice host Taye Diggs failed because there was no laughter from the audience to punctuate them.
A technical glitch nearly torpedoed a better supporting actor speech from Daniel Kaluuya, with host Laura Dern standing in awkward silence, probably wanting to yell, You have to wake up, Daniel!
And I think I only heard one word out of two of Gillian Andersons’ two acceptance speeches at 1 am from Prague.
But the awards show also rewarded my loyalty with some fun pieces this year.
The masked cast of Schitts Creek, reunited in what looked like an outdoor glass igloo in Canada, received some of their Emmys from people dressed in hazmat suits.
On another TV show, Schitts Creek winner’s husband Catherine OHaras, Bo Welch, used his cell phone to play both applause and louder music as his wife spoke.
And Diggs laughed at the fact that I’m not a cat filter, by accident, by introducing some presenters while appearing as a cartoon moose and an animated banana.
And, as always, there are those memorable speeches that could have been delivered from a stage or from a couch.
Accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Globes, Jane Fonda delivered a speech that propelled my personal pantheon of great award acceptances. Fonda beautifully explained how art and storytelling can help us understand each other better in these difficult times.
I felt something about the privacy of the winners’ faces so close to the camera as they sat in the dark little corners of their home, or on their comfy sofas, made even more poignant speeches.
Chlo Zhao, winner of the best director for Nomadland, quietly paid tribute to her sound mixer, Mark Wolf Snyder, who died by suicide a few days earlier. And, with her voice broken, Taylor Simone Ledward gave two moving speeches on behalf of her late husband, actor Chadwick Boseman.
I’m not prepared to say that pandemic-altered price shows are, on the whole, better than red carpet fashion show nights, tough walks to the catwalk and celebrities chatting and drinking champagne. at their co-star tables.
I miss these reliable award conventions, some of which date back almost a century.
But I know they will return someday, in one form or another, when COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic but just another manageable seasonal disease. And I will come back to watch some of them, unmasked, in the company of my family or my urban tribe.
And that will be the best part of all.
(You can see a schedule of the season’s remaining awards shows, and a recap of some of the winners, on Lanc.news/2021AwardsShows.)
Unscripted is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers.