While diversity was not necessarily at the forefront of this year’s Emmy nominations, Monday night’s show did include historic wins. We know that media has the power to reinforce harmful stereotypes, but it also has the power to push back against those stereotypes with meaningful representation–both on screen and behind-the-scenes. A few significant wins did just that.
Abbott Elementary had a great night at the Emmys. The show was nominated in multiple categories, with multiple actors receiving nominations of their own. Abbott took home three awards. Sheryl Lee Ralph made history as the second Black woman to win Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, in a wonderful full-circle moment. Creator and star Quinta Brunson won for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, the second Black woman to ever win in the category. Abbott Elementary is making history and furthering representation both on and off the screen, and this is only in its first season (with a second on the way!). Imagine what it will accomplish throughout its run.
Squid Game was making history before even winning any awards! The survival thriller was the first non-English series to receive an Emmy nomination–and they received a total of fourteen, including Creative Arts Emmy Awards nominations. The series received two historic awards last night: Lee Jung-jae for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series. In his speech, Hwang expressed his hope that “Squid Game won’t be the last non-English series to be here at the Emmys.”
Lizzo won her first Emmy for her dance competition show, Watch Out For The Big Grrrls. Our #AllBodies Report finds that “big grrrls” are extremely underrepresented on television. Just 6.3% of the top television shows feature fat women leads. Lizzo’s Big Grrrls is truly changing the game, which is what the show was intended for. In her acceptance speech, Lizzo shared that she didn’t have the representation she needed when she was growing up so she made it herself.
Award shows have not been quick to progress, as shown in our past Oscar and Emmy Reports. Despite this, creators have been putting together incredible projects to undeniable success. Abbott Elementary, Squid Game, and Watch Out For The Big Grrrls show that audiences are more than ready for dynamic representation–they want it!
Take Action! Continue to be critical of what media is awarded in our culture, and celebrate the media that is doing a good job to further intersectional representation for women and other underrepresented groups.