If you did a shot every time a critic or commentator uttered the words “it’s an important year for women in television” yesterday, you’d be on the floor, under your desk and not at all capable of reading this article.
But despite its strong potential as a drinking game, there’s also a lot of relevance and truth in this overused statement.
The shows honored at this year’s Emmy Awards ceremony depicted and celebrated women’s stories and issues in a way that has never been done before. In fact, the list of nominated shows and performers read like a page pulled straight out of a film feminist’s dream journal.
There was Big Little Lies, an exquisitely shot drama that featured a range of strong female performances who all explored a range of topics from domestic abuse to sexual violence, parenthood, infidelity and female friendships.
Feud boasted an equally strong femalecentric cast, led by Hollywood legends Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, whose portrayals of Hollywood icons Joan Crawford and Bette Davis dove deep into ageism and sexism in the workplace and in pop-culture.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Clare Stephens explain why the Emmy speeches will all sound a little bit different this year on The Binge.
Meanwhile, Veep was celebrated in the comedy category, with the female-led show scoring a historic win for leading lady Julia Louis-Dreyfus while also taking out the prize for Outstanding Comedy Series, proving once and for all with a slew of wins that the whole “women behaving badly” comedy troupe is not an anomaly or flash in the pan. It’s here to stay.
And of course there was the big winner of the night, and one of the most compelling TV shows of the year, The Handmaid’s Tale. A show so committed to its quest to depict a world where the very worst things imaginable to women all come true, that it shook audiences to their core while also giving rich acting material to its female cast. So much so that the award categories were littered with actresses who had donned those iconic red hoods.
If you needed more proof that this year’s Emmys were all about the power of women, the justification was not just in the nominations and winners lists, but in the speeches as well.
From an outsiders perspective, it appeared that every actress who was fortunate enough to have her name printed on a nomination ballot was part of an unspoken, yet important pact to make their acceptance speeches count.
It’s a trend that started earlier in the week, when Alexis Bledel and Melissa McCarthy took to the stage at the Creative Emmy Awards to accept their Guest Actress gongs for their politically charged roles in The Handmaid’s Tale and Saturday Night Live, and delivered socially conscious speeches and post-ceremony interviews.
On the main stage, the speech stakes were equally as high. First time winner Nicole Kidman used her time on stage, after winning Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie for her role as Celeste in Big Little Lies, to highlight the plight of women suffering from domestic violence.
“We shone a light on domestic abuse. It is a complicated insidious disease that exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy and by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more,” she said.